Consumer data has been a hot-button issue in recent years with celebrities, artists, consumer advocacy organizations, and politicians on both sides of the aisle advocating for stronger digital privacy measures. The California Consumer Privacy Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, has been widely lauded as the “most sweeping data privacy law in the US.” However, some companies, including Facebook, are refusing to comply with the legislation.

The law essentially requires that companies inform their users as to what data they’re collecting about them, allow California users to opt-out of their data being sold, and informing companies that they would like them to delete any information that’s been collected. It requires that all companies provide an opt-out measure on their site, typically in the form of a “do not sell my data” link or button.

However, Facebook and other sites have said that the law does not apply to them because they do not actually “sell” user data- instead they “share” it with “partners” (i.e. advertisers who have paid for space on their site). In an official press release on their website, Facebook made the following distinction:

“We encourage advertisers and publishers that use our services to reach their own decisions on how to best comply with the law. To help them manage their compliance, we are making updated contractual commitments available to clarify that we will only use our partners’ data for the business purposes described in our contracts with them. We will continue to be an active listener to best support our business partners and we’ll evolve our approach in accordance with new developments in the law and in further pursuit of our global commitment to privacy.”

However, some experts are not buying it. In a statement to CNET, Mary Stone Ross, co-author of the CCPA and associate director at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, noted that “the definition of ‘sell’ is written in a way to include the sharing of personal information. They are playing fast and loose with the definition of ‘sell.'”