State Attorneys General

Recently, Colorado’s governor signed into law House Bill 18-1128 “concerning strengthening protections for consumer data privacy” (the “Bill”), which takes effect September 1, 2018. Among other provisions, the Bill (1) amends the state’s data breach notification law to require notice to affected Colorado residents and the Colorado Attorney General within 30 days of determining that a security breach occurred, imposes content requirements for the notice to residents and expands the definition of personal information; (2) establishes data security requirements applicable to businesses and their third-party service providers; and (3) amends the state’s law regarding disposal of personal identifying information.

Key breach notification provisions of the Bill include:

  • Definition of Personal Information: The Bill amends Colorado’s breach notification law to define “personal information” as a Colorado resident’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with one or more of the following data elements: (1) Social Security number; (2) student, military or passport identification number; (3) driver’s license number or identification card number; (4) medical information; (5) health insurance identification number; or (6) biometric data. The amended law’s definition of “personal information” also includes a Colorado resident’s (1) username or email address in combination with a password or security questions and answers that would permit access to an online account and (2) account number or credit or debit card number in combination with any required security code, access code or password that would permit access to that account.
  • Attorney General Notification: If an entity must notify Colorado residents of a data breach, and reasonably believes that the breach has affected 500 or more residents, it must also provide notice to the Colorado Attorney General. Notice to the Attorney General is required even if the covered entity maintains its own procedures for security breaches as part of an information security policy or pursuant to state or federal law.
  • Timing: Notice to affected Colorado residents and the Colorado Attorney General must be made within 30 days after determining that a security breach occurred.
  • Content Requirements: The Bill also requires that notice to affected Colorado residents must include (1) the date, estimated date or estimated date range of the breach; (2) a description of the personal information acquired or reasonably believed to have been acquired; (3) contact information for the  entity; (4) the toll-free numbers, addresses and websites for consumer reporting agencies and the FTC; and (5) a statement that the Colorado resident can obtain information from the FTC and the credit reporting agencies about fraud alerts and security freezes. If the breach involves a Colorado resident’s username or email address in combination with a password or security questions and answers that would permit access to an online account, the entity must also direct affected individuals to promptly change their password and security questions and answers, or to take other steps appropriate to protect the individual’s online account with the entity and all other online accounts for which the individual used the same or similar information.

Key data security and disposal provisions of the Bill include:

  • Definition of Personal Identifying Information: The Bill defines personal identifying information as “a social security number; a personal identification number; a password; a pass code; an official state or government-issued driver’s license or identification card number; a government passport number; biometric data…; an employer, student, or military identification number; or a financial transaction device.”
  • Applicability: The information security and disposal provisions of the Bill apply to “covered entities,” defined as persons that maintain, own or license personal identifying information in the course of the person’s business, vocation or occupation.
  • Protection of Personal Identifying Information: The Bill requires a covered entity that maintains, owns or licenses personal identifying information to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices appropriate to the nature of the personal identifying information it holds, and the nature and size of the business and its operations.
  • Third-Party Service Providers: Under the Bill, a covered entity that discloses information to a third-party service provider must require the service provider to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices that are (1) appropriate to the nature of the personal identifying information disclosed and (2) reasonably designed to help protect the personal identifying information from unauthorized access, use, modification, disclosure or destruction. A covered entity does not need to require a third-party service provider to do so if the covered entity agrees to provide its own security protection for the information it discloses to the provider.
  • Written Disposal Policy: The Bill requires covered entities to create a written policy for the destruction or proper disposal of paper and electronic documents containing personal identifying information that requires the destruction of those documents when they are no longer needed. A covered entity is deemed in compliance with this section of the Bill if it is regulated by state or federal law and maintains procedures for disposal of personal identifying information pursuant to that law.

Recently, Vermont enacted legislation (H.764) that regulates data brokers who buy and sell personal information. Vermont is the first state in the nation to enact this type of legislation.

  • Definition of Data Broker. The law defines a “data broker” broadly as “a business, or unit or units of a business, separately or together, that knowingly collects and sells or licenses to third parties the brokered personal information of a consumer with whom the business does not have a direct relationship.”
  • Definition of “Brokered Personal Information.” “Brokered personal information” is defined broadly to mean one or more of the following computerized data elements about a consumer, if categorized or organized for dissemination to third parties: (1) name, (2) address, (3) date of birth, (4) place of birth, (5) mother’s maiden name, (6) unique biometric data, including fingerprints, retina or iris images, or other unique physical or digital representations of biometric data, (7) name or address of a member of the consumer’s immediate family or household, (8) Social Security number or other government-issued identification number, or (9) other information that, alone or in combination with the other information sold or licensed, would allow a reasonable person to identify the consumer with reasonable security.
  • Registration Requirement. The law requires data brokers to register annually with the Vermont Attorney General and pay a $100 annual registration fee.
  • Disclosures to State Attorney General. Data brokers must disclose annually to the State Attorney General information regarding their practices related to the collection, storage or sale of consumers’ personal information. Data brokers also must disclose annually their practices, if any, for allowing consumers to opt out of the collection, storage or sale of their personal information. Further, the law requires data brokers to report annually the number of data breaches experienced during the prior year and, if known the total number of consumers affected by the breaches. There are additional disclosure requirements if the data broker knowingly possesses brokered personal information of minors, including a separate statement detailing the data broker’s practices for the collection, storage and sale of that information and applicable opt-out policies. Importantly, the law does not require data brokers to offer consumers the ability to opt out.
  • Information Security Program. The law requires data brokers to develop, implement and maintain a written, comprehensive information security program that contains appropriate physical, technical and administrative safeguards designed to protect consumers’ personal information.
  • Elimination of Fees for Security Freezes. The law eliminates fees associated with a consumer placing or lifting a security freeze. Previously, Vermont law allowed for fees of up to $10 to place, and up to $5 to lift temporarily or remove, a security freeze.
  • Enforcement. A violation of the law is considered an unfair and deceptive act in commerce in violation of Vermont’s consumer protection law.
  • Effective Date. The registration and data security obligations take effect January 1, 2019, while the other provisions of the law take effect immediately.

In a statement, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan said, “This bill not only saves [Vermonters] money, but it gives them information and tools to help them keep their personal information secure.”

Recently, Louisiana amended its Database Security Breach Notification Law (the “amended law”). Notably, the amended law (1) amends the state’s data breach notification law to expand the definition of personal information and requires notice to affected Louisiana residents within 60 days, and (2) imposes data security and destruction requirements on covered entities. The amended law goes into effect on August 1, 2018. Continue Reading Louisiana Amends Data Breach Notification Law, Eliminates Fees for Security Freezes

On June 2, 2018, Oregon’s amended data breach notification law (“the amended law”) went into effect. Among other changes, the amended law broadens the applicability of breach notification requirements, prohibits fees for security freezes and related services provided to consumers in the wake of a breach and adds a specific notification timing requirement. Continue Reading Oregon Amends Data Breach Notification Law

On April 11, 2018, Arizona amended its data breach notification law (the “amended law”). The amended law will require persons, companies and government agencies doing business in the state to notify affected individuals within 45 days of determining that a breach has resulted in or is reasonably likely to result in substantial economic loss to affected individuals. The old law only required notification “in the most expedient manner possible and without unreasonable delay.” The amended law also broadens the definition of personal information and requires regulatory notice and notice to the consumer reporting agencies (“CRAs”) under certain circumstances. Continue Reading Arizona Amends Data Breach Notification Law

On October 31, 2017, the New York and Vermont Attorneys General (“Attorneys General”) announced a settlement with Hilton Domestic Operating Company, Inc., formerly known as Hilton Worldwide, Inc. (“Hilton”), to settle allegations that the company lacked reasonable data security and waited too long to report a pair of 2015 data breaches, which exposed over 350,000 credit card numbers. The Attorneys General alleged that Hilton failed to maintain reasonable data security and waited more than nine months after the first incident to notify consumers of the breaches, in violation of the states’ consumer protection and breach notification laws. Continue Reading Hilton Agrees to Settle Data Breach-Related Claims by NY and VT Attorneys General

On September 29, 2017, Samanage USA, Inc. (“Samanage”), a North Carolina-based technology company that provided cloud-based IT support services as a subcontractor for Vermont’s health care exchange (“Vermont Health Connect”), agreed to a $264,000 settlement with the Vermont Attorney General in relation to a breach that exposed the Social Security numbers of 660 Vermont Health Connect users.

Continue Reading Samanage USA, Inc. Agrees to Pay to Settle Vermont AG’s Data Security Investigation

On September 5, 2017, the FTC announced that Lenovo, Inc. (“Lenovo”) agreed to settle charges that its preloaded software on some laptop computers compromised online security protections in order to deliver advertisements to consumers. The settlement agreement (the “Settlement”) is between Lenovo, the FTC and 32 State Attorneys General.  Continue Reading FTC Announces Settlement with Lenovo Regarding Preinstalled Laptop Software

Recently, Virginia passed an amendment to its data breach notification law that adds state income tax information to the types of data that require notification to the Virginia Office of the Attorney General in the event of unauthorized access and acquisition of such data. Under the amended law, an employer or payroll service provider must notify the Virginia Office of the Attorney General after the discovery or notification of unauthorized access and acquisition of unencrypted and unredacted computerized data containing a Virginia resident’s taxpayer identification number in combination with the income tax withheld for that taxpayer.  Continue Reading Virginia Adds State Income Tax Provision to Data Breach Notification Law

On November 7, 2016, Adobe Systems Inc. (“Adobe”) entered into an assurance of voluntary compliance (“AVC”) with 15 state attorneys general to settle allegations that the company lacked proper measures to protect its systems from a 2013 cyber attack that resulted in the theft of the personal information of millions of customers. Under the terms of the AVC, Adobe must pay $1 million to the attorneys general and implement new data security policies and practices. Continue Reading Adobe Settles Multistate Data Breach Enforcement Action