- 1798.100 – Consumers right to receive information on privacy practices and access information
- 1798.105 – Consumers right to deletion
- 1798.110 – Information required to be provided as part of an access request
- 1798.115 – Consumers right to receive information about onward disclosures
- 1798.120 – Consumer right to prohibit the sale of their information
- 1798.125 – Price discrimination based upon the exercise of the opt-out right
If a company receives a right to be forgotten request, does it have to delete the requestor’s IP address from its weblogs?
The term “personal information” is defined by the CCPA as “information that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household.”1 While the Act provides a list of examples of personal information – which explicitly includes “Internet Protocol Address” – it qualifies the examples by stating that they only fall within the definition of personal information if they identify, relate to, describe, are “capable of being associated with,” or “could be reasonably be linked” with a particular person.2 There is a strong argument that a dynamic IP address (which is assigned to different computers at different times) may not fall within the definition of “personal information” under the CCPA as it may not be capable of being reasonably linked with a particular person. There may also be an argument that many static IP addresses may not be “reasonably” linked to a consumer if they are not combined with other information that would permit the easy identification of that consumer.
Assuming that a court or a regulator were to determine that a particular IP address did fall under the definition of “personal information,” and a consumer were to make a right to be forgotten request in connection with that IP address, the right to be forgotten is not absolute.3 The CCPA provides ten exceptions pursuant to which a business can refuse a deletion request. That said, an amendment to the CCPA deferred the full impact of the Act upon employee data until January 1, 2021.4Of those ten exceptions, the following are most likely to apply to a request that a company delete an IP address from its weblogs:
- Detect wrongdoing. If personal information is collected from a consumer because it is needed to detect security incidents, or protect the business against illegal actions (e.g., fraud, deception, etc.), it does not need to be deleted.5 To the extent that a company maintains a weblog to identify potential malicious activity impacting its website (e.g., hacking, unauthorized attempts to access information, patterns of suspicious activity, possible denial-of-service attacks, etc.), this exception could be asserted to deny a deletion request.
- Repair errors. According to the CCPA, if personal information is necessary to “[d]ebug to identify and repair errors that impair existing intended functionality,” it does not need to be deleted.6 To the extent that a company maintains a weblog that contains IP addresses as part of its effort to identify and debug errors that may be occurring on its website (e.g., faulty page loads, broken links, etc.), this exception could be asserted to deny a deletion request.
- Exercise legal right. If personal information collected from a consumer is needed for the business to “exercise another right provided for by law,” it does not need to be deleted.7 To the extent that a company maintains a weblog as part of its right to communicate with third parties and/or a right to understand the identity of those third parties that attempt to communicate with it, this exception might be asserted to deny a deletion request.
- Internal uses aligned with consumer expectations. If personal information collected from a consumer will have “solely internal uses” for the business, and if those uses are “reasonably aligned with the expectations of the consumer based on the consumer’s relationship with the business,” the information does not need to be deleted.8 Note that, while the statute does not explicitly state whether a California court should look to the “expectations of the consumer” at the time that they provided the information to the business, presumably that is the relevant time period, as any other interpretation might render the exception a nullity (i.e., a consumer is likely to argue at the time of making a deletion request that they have no continued expectation of use). To the extent that a consumer would expect the company to collect IP addresses (e.g., such collection was disclosed as part of a privacy notice, or such collection has become industry standard practice), this exception might be available to deny a deletion request.
- Internal uses aligned with the context of collection. If personal information collected from a consumer will be used “internally” and in a manner that is “compatible” with the “context in which the consumer provided the information,” than the information does not need to be deleted.9 While this exception is similar to the previous exception, unlike the previous exception, the use need not be aligned with the consumer’s expectations so long as it is compatible with the context of the original collection. Again, in the context of IP addresses, if a company uses IP address in a context in which the consumer provided the information (e.g., as disclosed in a privacy notice), this exception might be available to deny a deletion request.
- Comply with legal obligations. If personal information collected from a consumer is needed to comply with a legal obligation (e.g., a statute that requires that the business maintain documentation relating to the consumer, a preservation hold issued as part of legal process, or a statute that requires that a company maintain weblogs as part of its overall security), the business is not required to delete the information.10In the context of IP addresses, if a company is required by law to maintain certain records – such as a weblog for security or audit trail purposes – this exception may be available to deny a deletion request.