GDPR vs CCPA: Key Differences and Similarities

Vector Representation of GDPR vs CCPA
Key Differences and Similarities between GDPR vs. CCPA

Both CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) are similar in their primary purpose, which is to protect the right to privacy of the respective people of California and the Europe Union. But apart from the apparent difference in the two different demographics they aim to protect, GDPR and CCPA have many more key differences.

Introduction to CCPA and GDPR

In May 2018, GDPR was mandated all over the EU. GDPR is regarded as the strictest privacy law in the world, and its arrival sent ripples across the globe. Soon after, California came up with its own privacy protection law, CCPA, to defend data privacy laws for Californians. CCPA has often been termed the “GDPR” of California. This is because many privacy rights included in CCPA are similar to GDPR. CCPA came into effect on January 1, 2020, in the United States and is the first big legislation in the USA implemented for an entire state.

What is GDPR?

The GDPR is a European Union legislation that regulates the processing of the personal data of its data subjects.

It was created to protect the privacy of EU data subjects and applies to all companies and organizations that offer goods or services within EU countries.

It gives people control over their personal data and requires organizations to disclose any data breaches they experience.

What is CCPA?

CCPA is a law that gives California residents specific rights to control how their personal information is used.

The CCPA was signed into law in June 2018 and came into effect on January 1st, 2020. It applies to all businesses that collect data on Californians or have a physical presence in the state.

The CCPA limits how companies can use consumer data and requires them to provide consumers with access to their personal information and a clear way of opting out of receiving future marketing messages from the company.

GDPR vs CCPA: Differences and Similarities

As per Article 25 of GDPR, the law stresses Data Protection by design and by default, thereby encouraging an opt-in model of privacy protection. While CCPA ensures transparency in privacy protection through an opt-out model. While GDPR allows EU residents the power to withdraw their consent from sharing personal data. Both GDPR and Thus, there are many stark differences between the two, more of which we jot down below.

Personal Information vs Personal Data

Both "personal data" as defined by the GDPR and "personal information" as defined by the CCPA have broad definitions. CCPA defines personal information as any potential information that can identify, relate, describe, associate, or link a particular data subject (user) or their household. CCPA defines personal information as a broad subset of information that may either be of the data subject or the household.

In contrast, personal data in the case of GDPR remains focused on the individual’s personal and sensitive data. Thus, GDPR defines personal data as something that explicitly refers to individuals. Inferences may be subject to its rules even though the GDPR does not specifically address them (the CCPA does), as long as they are related to named or identifiable individuals, as per the definition of "personal data" in the GDPR.

Privacy Policy and Disclosures

In a nutshell, CCPA lets users choose whether to provide access to personal information, while GDPR asks for grounds upon which data is being processed. The GDPR enlists six grounds based on which an organization can process the user's personal data, while CCPA has none. This means that organizations can sell the personal data of Californians unless they choose to opt-out of it.

Meanwhile, under GDPR, organizations must ask for consent to acquire, process, and further forward the data. The CCPA manifests itself in the form of a button that all CCPA-compliant websites need to provide on their website. This button has aptly been named "Do Not Sell My Personal Information."

Information Access Requests

Under CCPA, Californians have the right to request where their data is stored and which third-party websites it has been shared. To comply with these requirements, organizations must keep track of their internal consumer and employee data flow. On the other hand, GDPR asks for consent whenever their data is being processed or retrieved. GDPR stresses asking for consent through a written and easily comprehendible request so that users know the details of how their data will be processed. Thus, CCPA allows people to know about their personal data’s processing when requested, while GDPR aims to keep users informed.

Breach Response

Under CCPA, in case of a breach, the organization must first notify any California resident whose unencrypted personal information has been breached. After this, they can file the claim and then “cure” the breach within 30 days. However, it is not highlighted in CCPA how a business will “cure” the breach.

GDPR is much more rigorous in this respect than CCPA, wherein the business must notify both the authorities and the data subjects 72 hours after discovering the breach. The breach can be notified through various mediums to the data subjects like email, phone, and public announcements.

Penalty and Fines

GDPR is a cut above in terms of fines and penalties. While CCPA charges around the ballpark of $2,500 per violation and $7,500 per intentional violation, GDPR, on the other hand, levies up to €20 million or 4% of global revenue. Thus, a GDPR violation would obviously be much heavier on the purse than its Californian counterpart. In either case, any violations are taken very seriously, and fines are often non-negotiable. CCPA is already retroactively investigating data breaches from corporations like Amazon, Zoom, and TikTok. The biggest GDPR fine that has been levied by Amazon — €746 million ($877 million).

Consumers vs Data Subjects

While CCPA aims to protect consumers' privacy rights, GDPR, on the other hand, does the same for Data Subjects. CCPA defines a consumer as a natural person who is a resident of California. This implies that all other individuals, even those residing in the US, are regarded as non-residents and thus, not protected under CCPA.

GDPR defines its data subjects as identifiable natural persons. GDPR is not limited to EU citizens. Instead, it protects the rights of anyone who is within the EU boundaries. For example, if you are an American Tourist in one of the EU countries, then you will be protected as an EU data subject under GDPR. So any data that will be processed within the EU has to be processed under GDPR-recommended guidelines. Thus, GDPR defines data subjects as any natural person within the EU.



The GDPR states that in order for the controller to be able to respond to requests for the rights of the data subject, the only situation in which the controller must reidentify a dataset is when the data subject gives the additional information permitting his or her identification.

According to the CCPA, businesses are not compelled to reidentify or otherwise relate information that is not retained in a way that would be considered personal information when consumers ask them to disclose the categories and particular pieces of data they have gathered.

CCPA and GDPR Compliance are just a click away with Scrut

Now that we know the difference between CCPA and GDPR, it might seem confusing to go about getting compliant with them. But do not worry; Scrut is here to ensure you get compliant and stay compliant with CCPA or GDPR.

Scrut Automation is an innovative and radically simple Governance, Risk, and Compliance automation platform for growing startups and mid-market enterprises. With Scrut, Compliance teams can reduce ~70% of their manual effort in continuously maintaining compliance towards SOC 2, ISO 27001, GDPR, PCI DSS, and privacy laws like HIPAA, GDPR, and CCPA. Schedule your demo today to see how it works.


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