In the ever-expanding digital landscape, data privacy has emerged as a paramount concern for individuals and businesses alike. Two prominent regulations, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), have been at the forefront of the global privacy revolution. In this article, we will delve deep into the similarities, differences, and nuances of these privacy regulations.

Scope and Applicability

The CCPA was enacted in 2018, making California a trailblazer in privacy legislation. It primarily applies to businesses that collect and process personal information of California residents, regardless of their physical location. According to a study by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), nearly 500,000 companies were affected by CCPA compliance requirements in its first year.

GDPR, implemented in 2018, has a broader reach, encompassing all European Union (EU) member states. It applies to any organization that handles personal data of EU citizens, regardless of its location. Research conducted by DLA Piper revealed that GDPR fines reached a staggering €176 million ($199 million) within the first year of its enforcement.

Data Subject Rights

Under the CCPA, Californian consumers have the right to know what personal data is collected, request deletion of their data, opt-out of data sales, and sue companies in case of data breaches. According to a survey by Dimensional Research, 85% of companies reported receiving data subject access requests (DSARs) within the first year of CCPA enforcement.

GDPR grants EU citizens an array of rights, including the right to access their personal data, request its erasure, and object to processing. The European Data Protection Board reported that over 281,000 GDPR-related complaints were lodged within two years of its implementation, highlighting the significance of data subject rights.

Consent and Legal Basis

While the CCPA focuses on consumers’ right to opt-out of data sales, it does not explicitly require businesses to obtain explicit consent for data processing. However, businesses are required to provide clear notice to consumers about their data collection practices.

GDPR introduced a stringent consent framework, requiring organizations to obtain explicit and informed consent from data subjects before processing their personal data. This consent must be freely given, specific, and revocable at any time. The European Commission found that 72% of EU citizens were aware of their GDPR-given rights, indicating a growing awareness of consent requirements.

Penalties and Enforcement

Non-compliance with CCPA can result in penalties of up to $7,500 per violation. The California Attorney General’s Office reported that, in 2020 alone, they received over 500 data breach notifications and initiated multiple enforcement actions.

GDPR penalties can reach up to €20 million ($22 million) or 4% of the company’s global annual turnover, whichever is higher. The GDPR enforcement landscape has been robust, with significant fines imposed on companies such as Google and British Airways, reinforcing the importance of compliance.

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Defining PII: CCPA vs GDPR

CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) have distinct but somewhat similar definitions when it comes to Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Let’s compare how each regulation describes PII:

The CCPA defines PII 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. This includes but is not limited to identifiers such as names, postal addresses, email addresses, social security numbers, IP addresses, and biometric information.

The GDPR, on the other hand, uses the term “personal data” instead of PII. According to GDPR, personal data refers to any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person. It includes not only traditional identifiers such as names, addresses, and social security numbers but also extends to online identifiers like IP addresses, device IDs, and location data.

While both regulations broadly cover similar types of information, CCPA explicitly includes household information, which is not specifically mentioned in the GDPR. Additionally, GDPR emphasizes that personal data encompasses any information that could directly or indirectly identify an individual, highlighting a more comprehensive approach to data protection.

Children’s Rights: CCPA vs GDPR

CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) both prioritize the protection of children’s rights when it comes to the processing of their personal information. Let’s compare how each regulation addresses this important aspect:

The CCPA includes specific provisions concerning the collection and sale of personal information of minors under the age of 16. It requires businesses to obtain opt-in consent for the sale of personal information of minors, aged 13 to 16 years, unless they opt-out. For children under the age of 13, businesses must obtain parental consent before collecting or selling their personal information.


Similarly, the GDPR acknowledges the significance of protecting children’s personal data. It establishes that children merit special protection and introduces the concept of “age of consent” for children regarding online services. The specific age at which children can provide consent without parental authorization is determined by each EU member state but cannot be lower than 13 years. Member states can choose to set a higher age limit.

Both regulations recognize the vulnerability of children and the need for enhanced safeguards when processing their personal information. While the CCPA sets a specific age threshold and imposes consent requirements for children under 16 (with parental consent for those under 13), the GDPR allows member states to establish their own age limits for children’s consent.

It’s worth noting that the CCPA’s provisions on children’s rights are primarily focused on the sale of personal information, while the GDPR takes a broader approach, encompassing the processing of personal data in general.

Achieve GDPR and CCPA Compliance with BigID

BigID is the industry leading data management solution for privacy, compliance, security, and governance. Organizations looking to achieve and maintain compliance with privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA can use BigID’s comprehensive data-centric platform for streamlined privacy compliance.

Using advanced AI and machine learning, BigID automatically and accurately scans, identifies, and classifies all your organization’s enterprise data at scale— both on premise and in the cloud— giving you the bigger picture on all stored sensitive information with context.

The Privacy Suite features a wide range of tools to help automate and streamline consent management, fulfill DSAR requests, and conduct thorough Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA) to improve security posture and minimize privacy risk across your organization’s entire data landscape.

To learn more about how BigID can help your organization achieve compliance with GDPR and CCPA— get a 1:1 demo today.