Changes urged in new Consumer Privacy Act

I believe in the American Dream because I am lucky enough to be the American Dream. And I’m not alone; there are millions of business owners in California and I imagine some of them share my success story.

As we built our businesses, we relied on our nation’s democracy to make our dreams come true and now I’m using that very democracy to keep my dreams alive. I’m writing today to specifically advocate for a legislative fix to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) by asking my representatives to continue to allow the use of tailored online advertising.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) ensures that consumers have the right to know the information any business has collected on them.

These rights are important, but some aspects of the law are incredibly challenging for small businesses like mine to implement. Other aspects of the law are vague and unintentionally wipe out major sources of revenue, most notably the language related to online advertising.

Before any of these issues were a part of my lexicon, though, I was just a girl born to immigrant parents who came to this country from the Philippines to escape poverty and to give my three sisters and me a chance at success.

We were on a strict budget growing up. I worked as many as three jobs simultaneously, moved many times, and my poverty mentality caught up with me as I amassed credit card debt. Eventually, I began to heal my complicated relationship with money and decided to blog about it in hopes of helping others.

It’s common for white men to write about finance, wealth, and money management, but I felt strongly that a young, female Filipina would provide a different perspective to many online users – especially millennials who are struggling due to rising living costs and exorbitant student loans. Thus, my blog Baller on a Budget was born.

Through this blog, I chronicled my path to financial freedom. I accomplished feats I never thought possible: At 23, I paid off my credit card debt; I bought my own car with cash; made almost $40,000 during my second year of blogging, and purchased my own home at the age of 26 with my boyfriend.

The blog discusses both the good and the bad experiences I encountered along the way. To support and monetize this content, I turned to advertisements. This allows anyone to access my blog without having to pay a subscription fee. Now, the advertisements make up a significant amount of my income and my blog remains free for anyone who wants to read it.

We need clarifying language to assure that online entrepreneurs like myself can continue to make a living like this and also protect consumers’ privacy.

As my practice currently stands, I don’t handle any personal information of any readers or process any payments. The online advertising I use relies on privacy practices in which identifiers that are not directly tied to a person are transferred. Advertisers do not need to know a reader’s name, address, or any other personally identifiable information.

I rely on “ad networks” to make this all happen as I cannot run my own advertisement program, nor would I even begin to know what ads would even be relevant to my readers. This is a separate business in its own right.

As the CCPA currently stands, all of this would be jeopardized. And in some way, so too would the free flow of information, which is at the very heart of our democracy.

While online news and information sources are increasingly moving towards a subscription-based model, I hold tight to the hope Baller on a Budget can stay free because somewhere, some other little girl born to immigrant parents and working three jobs might be inspired to dream big too.

The new California privacy law will hurt Sacramento small businesses

As an entrepreneur and longtime small business owner in the Sacramento community, I consider my path to be very fortunate— and perhaps inevitable. It’s safe to say carnations, roses and baby’s breath have adorned our family tree for generations, with my father founding Relles Florist in 1946 and my brother and myself taking over the family business in 1972. That’s 73 years of arranging and delivering flowers to the greater Capital community.

But as I learn more about the recently passed California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), I am concerned that my business could be harmed. I’m in favor of safeguarding people’s personal information, but I rely on the internet to find customers and market my business. The florist business is highly competitive, and family-owned businesses face stiff competition from other retail operations.

As they consider changes to the CCPA, I hope Gov. Newsom and the Legislature will consider how the act will impact smaller businesses that have a limited budget for advertising and a need to use that budget wisely to reach people in our area or outside of where we are located through internet sales, digital marketing and social media.

To understand why the act will hurt me, consider a consumer who’s searching online for a dozen roses for a loved one, or a delicate corsage for a wedding or prom date. The search engine that individual is using provides my advertisement to that individual and if I am fortunate, the consumer visits my store to purchase that floral arrangement.

We have a small website; we keep records of calls; we text customers; we have a “leads” database; we buy digital ads. We do not “collect” data. But under the provisions of the CCPA, we would be considered to be collecting “personal information,” even when it is not linked to an individual.

Even as a small business, my company would suffer from CCPA because it would diminish the value and effectiveness of the online marketing tools I’m using now. And if I hit a certain threshold for sales or customer interactions, then I have a whole set of daunting legal compliance obligations. In response, our company would be required to collect more information about consumers than we need and provide it to the consumer upon request. Relles Florist is not a big tech company. The compliance costs of such an effort, in terms of person-hours and data capture, would be hard to bear.

If my online marketing capabilities are eroded, my potential customers may not see my ads or be directed to my store. Relles Florist is not a large company that can afford television or newspaper advertisements. It’s a high-tech version of the same old story: small businesses will be at a competitive disadvantage in competing with larger players.

The internet has been a great equalizer for small businesses, allowing us to use inexpensive digital advertising, and consumers to shop wisely and access the best prices. But larger, corporate-owned retail chains will always have an advantage in their ability to use other means of advertising and marketing to attract market share. If we cannot depend on digital ads, our efforts to attract new customers will become less nimble, less effective and more expensive.

The CCPA goes into effect in 2020. The California Legislature must act to fix the significant problems and keep the internet available for small business. If they don’t, the California Consumer Privacy Act will betray its good intentions and make it more difficult for people who need that special flower arrangement, decorative plant or precious keepsake to find my store.