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PORTLAND, Maine — New regulations are impacting your online experience in 2020–the websites you visit, the social media sites you enjoy, and the apps that you use. 

A new law went into effect on January 1st called the CCPA, the California Consumer Privacy Act. 

What’s it all about?

  • CCPA regulates how companies collect and store data.
  • Affects companies that make more than 25 million in revenue, have over 50,000 people’s personal data, or make more than 50% of their revenue selling data.
  • California residents can demand to know what data of theirs is stored and have it deleted upon demand.

Why now? 

  • It is being driven by scandals like Cambridge Analytica and Equifax Data Breach.
  • People and law makers are taking privacy more seriously.

Does it impact Mainers?

  • It is indirectly impacting Mainers. We can review how these companies are storing our data, but we can’t demand they delete it.
  • Many other states are considering similar laws and there’s a push for a federal law.
  • If you run a company that meets any of the criteria, California residents can demand to know what data your storing and have it deleted.

Another thing impacting websites these days is ADA compliance, the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

What’s going on there?

  • While not a new law, there’s a new focus on ADA compliance on websites and apps.
  • Websites are supposed to be accessible for people with disabilities, but compliance has been spotty.
  • Recent lawsuits have gotten the attention of businesses in Maine and beyond.

What type of things make a site compliant or not?

  • There are different levels of compliance; A, AA, and AAA. AAA has the tightest requirements.
  • If you’re providing information in a format that not everyone can access, you need to share that information in another manner as well.
  • What I found surprising is that even color blindness is covered. To get a higher level of compliance, you need to make sure there’s high contrast in both fonts and photos.
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What happens if a website isn’t in compliance?

  • Nothing if no one complains. But with more successful lawsuits, it might be in the best interest of Maine businesses to get ahead of this.
  • There are tools online that can help as well as companies that can audit and remedy any compliance issues.
  • Google has started to pay attention to ADA compliance, and usually when Google pays attention to something, it becomes a factor in search engine optimization. So, in the future, sites that are ADA compliant may rank higher in the search engines.

What can someone do if they come across a website they can’t use fully and they feel it’s an ADA issue?

  • You can register your complaint at ADA.gov.
  • Call a lawyer who specializes in ADA compliance.
  • You might want to reach out to the company and raise awareness first.

The CCPA and the ADA…what do you think this means?

  • For good and bad, the government is looking to exert some control over the internet, or at least business on the internet.
  • How these laws are interpreted and implemented can be vague, which is difficult for businesses.
  • Some of this can be challenging for small businesses like the kind we have here in Maine.

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