Consumer Reports became an authorized agent, submitted opt-out requests on behalf of California consumers — and learned a lot.
1. Agent opt-out handling by companies is not standardized
We saw significant variation in the way companies handled agent opt-outs. Some companies claimed that the opt-out did not apply, others required extra steps for opt-out processing; many companies processed opt-outs only partially, and still others made it impossible to submit opt-outs in the first place.
2. Communication and design are crucial to agent effectiveness
Our requests often met confusing web forms and ambiguous communications from companies, which posed challenges in submitting opt-outs and gauging their effectiveness. Many companies did not confirm that the opt-out was received, in process, or completed. Without certainty about whether requests had been received and acted upon, it was hard to keep consumers informed on the status of the request.
3. Consumers are ready for agents
Consumers were enthusiastic about getting to use an authorized agent by CR. The pilot was oversubscribed after a single email announcement, no consumers dropped out once onboarded, and those participating reported they were highly likely to recommend CR’s authorized agent services to a friend. We are encouraged by our volunteers’ energy and grateful to all who participated in the pilot!
The opt-out agent was the first in a series of experiments CR Digital Lab plans to launch to explore what emergent, consumer-facing services are possible under the CCPA. If you’re a California resident and would like to participate in our upcoming CCPA experiments, you can sign up here.
We will be launching more data rights experiments in 2021 and welcome any questions about the pilot or ideas for future privacy products you’d like the Digital Lab to explore. Let us know what you think by commenting here or dropping us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.