On January 10, 2019, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation amending the state’s data breach law. The amendments take effect on April 11, 2019.
Key updates to Massachusetts’s Data Breach Notification Act include the following:
- The required notice to the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation will need to include additional information, including the types of personal information compromised, the person responsible for the breach (if known) and whether the entity maintains a written information security program. Under Massachusetts 201 CMR § 17.03, any entity that owns or licenses personal information about a Massachusetts resident is currently obligated to develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive written information security program that incorporates the prescriptive requirements contained in the regulation.
- If individuals’ Social Security numbers are disclosed, or reasonably believed to have been disclosed, the company experiencing a breach must offer credit monitoring services at no cost for at least 18 months (42 months, if the company is a consumer reporting agency). Companies also must certify to the Massachusetts attorney general and the Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation that their credit monitoring services are compliant with state law.
- The amended law explicitly prohibits a company from delaying notice to affected individuals on the basis that it has not determined the number of individuals affected. Rather, the entity must send out additional notices on a rolling basis, as necessary.
- If the company experiencing a breach is owned by a separate entity, the individual notice letter must specify “the name of the parent or affiliated corporation.”
- Companies are prohibited from asking individuals to waive their right to a private action as a condition for receiving credit monitoring services.