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California's Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003 (OPPA)

Prepared By: Melissa C. Marsh, Los Angeles Business Attorney
Written: June 2007

California's Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003 (OPPA) Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003 (OPPA) became effective on July 1, 2004, and applies to all businesses that have a commercial website or online service that collects personally identifying information from consumers in California.

Although many companies already have online privacy policies, the new California law imposes specific requirements concerning both the form and the content of a website privacy policy.

First, OPPA requires each business that collects personally identifiable information from California consumers through an online service or commercial website to "conspicuously post" a privacy policy. This means that either the actual text of the privacy policy, or a link to the privacy policy, must appear on the homepage, as follows:

  • If a company uses an icon as a hyperlink, it must be included on the homepage, must include the word "privacy," and must also use a color that contrasts with the background color of the page.

  • If a company uses a text link, it must either include the word "privacy" and be written in capital letters equal to or greater in size than the surrounding text or be "written in larger type than the surrounding text, or in contrasting type, font, or color to the surrounding text of the same size, or set off from the surrounding text of the same size by symbols or other marks that call attention to the language."

  • If a company uses some other functional link, it must be displayed so that a "reasonable person" would notice it, and must be "reasonably accessible.

OPPA, further requires a privacy policy include the following information:

  1. The categories of personal information that will be collected-- personal information includes first and last name, street address, email address, telephone number, social security number, any other identifier by which a person can be contacted physically or online, and any other information that is collected from the user and maintained in an identifiable form;

  2. The categories of third parties with whom this personal information may be shared;

  3. A description of the process by which consumers can review or request changes to their personal information, if any such process exists;

  4. A description of the process by which consumers will be notified of any material changes to the privacy policy; and

  5. The effective date of the policy.

Companies that are notified of noncompliance have 30 days to comply. A failure to comply with these requirements could lead to civil fines or injunctions.

Companies that already have privacy policies posted on their websites may need to evaluate whether these policies are sufficiently accessible and contain the required information. However, before implementing any changes to your existing privacy policy, companies should be prepared to provide consumers with notice of the impending change, provide the consumer with a choice to either “opt-in” or “opt-out” with respect to previously collected data, and announce that such changes have and will occur. In some cases, providing adequate notice and an opportunity to "opt out" may be sufficient, but in other cases depending on the original privacy policy in place, "explicit, opt-in" consent may be required.

If you just have a few simple questions regarding Internet law, please schedule a low cost telephone consultation by completing our Telephone Consultation Request Form and Melissa Marsh will call you back at the time you select. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at 818-849-5206.

California business lawyer, Melissa C. Marsh, is based in Sherman Oaks and West Hollywood, and serves individuals and businesses throughout Los Angeles County, including: West Hollywood, Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, Century City, Santa Monica, Burbank, North Hollywood, Valley Village, Toluca Lake, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Encino, and Woodland Hills.

© 2007 Melissa C. Marsh. All Rights Reserved.

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Disclaimer: The information presented on this web site was prepared by Melissa C. Marsh for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information provided in my articles and alerts should not be relied upon, or used as a substitute for professional legal advice from an attorney you retain to advise or represent you. Your use of this Internet site does not create an attorney- client relationship. Transmission of this article is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. All uses of the contents of this site, other than personal uses, are prohibited. You may print or email a copy of any information posted on this web site for your own personal, non-commercial, use, but you may not publish any of the articles or posts on this web site without the Express Written Permission of Melissa C. Marsh.

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Located in Los Angeles, California, the Law Office of Melissa C. Marsh handles business law and corporation law matters as a lawyer for clients throughout Los Angeles including Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Woodland Hills, Hollywood, West LA as well as Riverside County, San Fernando, Ventura County, and Santa Clarita. Attorney Melissa C. Marsh has considerable experience handling business matters both nationally and internationally. We routinely assist our clients with incorporation, forming a California corporation, forming a California llc, partnership, annual minutes, shareholder meetings, director meetings, getting a taxpayer ID number (EIN), buying a business, selling a business, commercial lease review, employee disputes, independent contractors, construction, and personal matters such as preparing a will, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and more.