July saw a flurry of activity involving data security breach notification laws. 

  • On July 1, breach notification laws in Alaska and South Carolina went into effect.
  • On July 9, Missouri became the 45th state to enact a data breach notification law. 
  • On July 22, Senator Patrick Leahy reintroduced a comprehensive federal data security bill calling it one of his “highest legislative priorities.”
  • On July 27, North Carolina amended its breach notification law to require notification of the state attorney general any time consumers are notified of a breach involving their personal information.  The amendment also included content requirements for the attorney general’s notice.

On July 9, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed a data security breach bill into law leaving Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and South Dakota as the only remaining states without a breach notification requirement.  The Missouri law’s noteworthy provisions include a broad definition of personal information that encompasses medical and health insurance information and a requirement to notify consumer reporting agencies and the state attorney general if more than 1,000 consumers are being notified of a security breach.  The Missouri law goes into effect August 28, 2009.

On July 22, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) reintroduced a privacy bill that includes federal data security breach notification requirements.  The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act would require businesses engaged in interstate commerce to notify individuals if their computerized sensitive personally identifiable information (SPII) is subject to a data security breach.  Notably:

  • The bill requires notification of: (1) major media within any state where more than 5,000 individuals are affected by a breach; (2) consumer reporting agencies if more than 5,000 individuals are affected; and (3) the Secret Service if more than 10,000 individuals are affected or if the breach involves a federal database, national security officials or a database containing information on more than 1,000,000 individuals. 
  • Businesses that collect, use or access the SPII of more than 10,000 individuals must implement a comprehensive data security and privacy program (financial institutions that are subject to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB) and covered entities and business associates subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are exempt from this requirement). 
  • The notification provisions of the proposed federal law would not preempt existing state data breach notification laws, but they would supersede any other provision of federal law or any provision of any state law relating to notification by a business engaged in interstate commerce. 

Similar federal privacy legislation has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in prior sessions of Congress, but has never been voted upon by the full Senate.  Senator Leahy’s bill is the third major federal data privacy bill to be introduced in 2009.  Senator Diane Feinstein introduced a data breach notification law in January; in April, Representative Bobby Rush introduced H.R. 2221 (the Data Accountability and Trust Act), a bill  which is strongly supported by the FTC’s Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Finally, on July 27, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue signed a bill amending that state’s data breach notification law.  As of October 1, 2009, any time a business provides notice pursuant to the North Carolina statute, the business must also notify the Consumer Protection Division of the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office.  The notice must include information on the nature of the breach, the number of consumers affected, steps taken to investigate the breach, steps taken to prevent a similar breach in the future and information regarding the timing, distribution and content of the notice being sent to affected individuals.   Previously, North Carolina required notification of the state attorney general only when a business provided notice to more than 1,000 persons at one time, and such notification needed to include only the timing, distribution and content of the notice to consumers.