California Courts Pro-Privacy Decisions Make it Easier for Consumers to Sue Companies

California’s biggest tech companies will be facing new consumer claims after privacy incidents and the California Court System is preparing to make it even easier for consumers to bring new actions. The New California Consumer Privacy Act goes into effect on Jan 1, 2020 and federal courts in California are lowering the bar for consumers to bring privacy suits against the big tech giants.

Facebook Inc., Apple Inc., and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have faced dozens of consumer class claims in California federal courts in recent years, after a series of high-profile privacy and security breaches. Plaintiffs have had an easier time convincing big tech’s home courts, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, that they have standing to sue the companies for privacy harms.

Courts in other regions of the country see far fewer privacy lawsuits, and tend to favor businesses, making California a magnet for the plaintiffs’ bar.

The two courts have an outsized impact on the privacy litigation of tech giants because of where they are located, the liberal makeup of the courts, and the Supreme Court’s unwillingness to question the courts’ tech decisions, privacy attorneys and academics said. And it is likely to stay that way.

“California federal courts are definitely shaping the privacy jurisprudence in a very pro-privacy way,” Amanda Fitzsimmons, privacy and litigation partner at DLA Piper in San Diego, said. Plaintiffs continue to file their claims in these courts as California federal judges have allowed privacy suits to proceed past the pleading stage, she said.

“California is likely to continue to be a hotbed for privacy litigation,” Fitzsimmons said.

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More on the case:

California Courts Set Privacy Litigation Standards for Big Tech