November 30, 2020

Volume X, Number 335

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Does the CCPA Treat Some Types of Personal Information As More “Sensitive” Than Others?

Yes and no.

The CCPA references directly, or by incorporating definitions from other code provisions, 55 data types that may fall under the broad definition of “personal information.”  While the CCPA does not label any data type as being more, or less, sensitive than another, the Act does confer special rights on a subset of data.  Specifically, the Act only permits consumers to bring suit if one of the following fourteen data types (in conjunction with the consumer’s name) is breached as a result of a failure to implement reasonable security:[1]

  1. Social Security Number

  2. Driver’s License Number

  3. California Identification card number

  4. Tax identification number

  5. Passport number

  6. Military identification number

  7. Other unique identification number issued on a government document used to verify identity.

  8. Account number

  9. Credit card number (with required security code or password)

  10. Debit card number (with required security code or password)

  11. Medical information

  12. Health insurance information

  13. Unique biometric data

  14. Username and password that would permit access to an online account.

It should be noted that the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (the “CPRA” or “Proposition 24”) – which will be on the California ballot in November – would create a new subcategory of data types that would be explicitly referenced as “sensitive.”  While this new subcategory overlaps with the data fields about which a consumer law suit could be brought there is not a perfect symmetry:

Data Fields About Which a Lawsuit Could Be Brought Following a Breach

Data Fields Identified as “Sensitive Personal Information” Under the CPRA[2]

Social Security Number

Social Security Number

Driver’s License Number

Driver’s License Number

California Identification card number

California Identification card number

Tax identification number

 

Passport number

Passport number

Military identification number

 

Other unique identification number issued on a government document used to verify identity.

 

Financial account number (which permits access to the account)

Financial account number (which permits access to the account)

Credit card number (with required security code or password)

Credit card number (with required security code or password)

Debit card number (with required security code or password)

Debit card number (with required security code or password)

Medical information

 

Health insurance information

 

Unique biometric data

 

Username and password that would permit access to an online account.

 

 

Precise geolocation

 

Racial origin

 

Ethnic origin

 

Religious beliefs

 

Philosophical beliefs

 

Trade union membership

 

Contents of consumer’s mail

 

Contents of consumer’s email

 

Contents of consumer’s SMS texts

 

Genetic data

 

Biometric information

 

Health information

 

Sex life or sexual orientation

[1] CPRA Section 1798.150(a)(1) (incorporating by reference Cal. Civil Code 1798.81.5(d)(1)(A)(i)-(vi)).

[2] Proposed Section 1798.140(ae).

©2020 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. All rights reserved. National Law Review, Volume X, Number 297
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About this Author

David A. Zetoony Privacy Attorney Greenberg Traurig
Shareholder

David Zetoony, Co-Chair of the firm's U.S. Data, Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice, focuses on helping businesses navigate data privacy and cyber security laws from a practical standpoint. David has helped hundreds of companies establish and maintain ongoing privacy and security programs, and he has defended corporate privacy and security practices in investigations initiated by the Federal Trade Commission, and other data privacy and security regulatory agencies around the world, as well as in class action litigation. 

David receives regular recognitions from clients and peers for...

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