California wants to make the long-winded, frequently confusing privacy policies of internet businesses easier for you to understand. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris released a guide on Wednesday outlining how companies can make their practices more transparent to consumers after a new state privacy law went into effect on January 1st. The 28-page document includes recommendations to use straightforward language, avoid legal jargon, and provide full disclosure about who is collecting a user's personal information and why.

We appreciate the willingness to engage industry in developing some of the thinking.

Entitled Making Your Privacy Practices Public, the guide was issued to assist companies in complying with the recent changes. The response to Harris's publication has been generally positive. "HP commends the work of California in establishing expectations-based guidance for privacy as it strikes the right balance between innovation and the protection of legitimate consumer rights," said Hewlett-Packard's Vice President Scott Taylor in the press release. In a statement to the New York Times, Microsoft echoed this sentiment saying, "We appreciate the willingness to engage industry in developing some of the thinking."

According to the amendment made to the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA), sites are now required to disclose their response to "do not track" requests but not obligated to comply with them. "Do not track" is a mechanism that allows users to opt out of having their movements on the Internet tracked. While the feature is built into a number of browsers, few websites honor these signals. The "do not track" issue is a long-standing problem stemming from nebulous definitions and a lack of unified specifications. In 2012, Yahoo announced that it would no longer recognize "do not track" requests, citing that "do not track" standards were not finalized as of yet.