Earlier today, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the creation of the Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit in the Department of Justice which will focus on protecting consumer and individual privacy through civil prosecution of state and federal privacy laws.
The California Constitution guarantees all people the inalienable right to privacy. According to Harris, the Privacy Unit will police the privacy practices of individuals and organizations to hold accountable those who misuse technology to invade the privacy of others. Empowered with broad authority, the Privacy Unit centralizes existing Justice Department efforts to protect privacy, including enforcing privacy laws, educating consumers and forging partnerships with industry and innovators.
Specifically, the Privacy Unit will enforce laws regulating the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of private or sensitive information by individuals, organizations, and the government. This includes laws relating to cyber privacy, health privacy, financial privacy, identity theft, government records and data breaches.
The AG’s office will now have a dedicated team of six prosecutors who will concentrate on privacy enforcement, to the benefit of all Californians. According to the AG’s office, “combining the various privacy functions of the Department of Justice into a single enforcement and education unit with privacy expertise, California will be better equipped to enforce state privacy laws and protect citizens; privacy rights.”
CALPIRG was pleased to learn that Joanne McNabb, formerly of the California Office of Privacy Protection, will serve as the Director of Privacy Education and Policy, and will oversee the Privacy Unit’s education and outreach efforts.