Apr 232019

From the Washington Attorney General’s Office yesterday, a press release on an expansion of the breach notification requirements. Of special note, under the new law, a hacker acquiring a name in combination with a student ID would trigger notification obligations, but only if the information was not secured or made unusable (e.g., by encryption) AND  the breach is reasonably likely to subject consumers to a risk of harm. If there’s no reasonably likely risk of harm, then there is still no notification obligation, it seems — unless I’m reading the bill text incorrectly. I expect a number of law firms will be blogging about these amendments to the state law.

OLYMPIA — Today, with a unanimous, bipartisan vote, state legislators passed a bill requested by Attorney General Ferguson that strengthens data breach notification laws.

The bill expands consumer data breach notification requirements to include more types of consumer information. It also reduces the deadline to notify consumers to 30 days from 45 days. Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland, sponsored the bill, which passed the House in a unanimous, bipartisan vote on March 1.

“My office has seen the number of Washingtonians impacted by data breaches increase year after year,” Ferguson said. “Data breaches are a serious threat to our privacy, and this law will arm consumers with information to protect their sensitive data.”

“Not only is the amount of data being collected and stored about consumers increasing, the number of breaches of secure storage of the data is increasing at an alarming rate as well.“ Kloba said. “This bill updates our consumer protection laws to shorten the notification time from 45 days to 30 days, so that consumers are made aware of a breach more quickly and can take protective action.  Additionally, companies who collect and store data will need to pay more attention to safeguarding it against internal and external threats.”

Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-White Center, sponsored a companion bill in the Senate.

“Time and time again, millions of Americans have had their most private information stolen and abused due to poor corporate stewardship over the data we entrust them with,” Nguyen said. “This legislation will ensure that we have mechanisms for accountability put in place so that when a data breach occurs, we can act quickly and decisively to mitigate further harm.”

Without this new law, a business or government organization affected by a data breach is only required to notify consumers if a hacker obtains a consumer’s name in combination with social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, state ID numbers or financial account information.

The new law requires organizations to also notify consumers if a hacker accesses a consumer’s name in combination with the following:

  • Full birth dates
  • Health insurance ID numbers
  • Medical history
  • Student ID numbers
  • Military ID numbers
  • Passport ID numbers
  • Usernames and passwords
  • Biometric data, such as DNA profiles or fingerprints
  • Electronic signatures

The bill also requires notice to the Attorney General within 30 days of the discovery of a data breach.

Data breaches are a growing threat to Washington residents, businesses and agencies. Data breaches affected nearly 3.4 million Washingtonians between July 2017 and July 2018, a 26 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Attorney General’s Office third annual data breach report.

Source: Washington Attorney General’s Office

Apr 032019

Cory Doctorow reports:

A new bill from Senator Elizabeth Warren proposes personal, criminal liability for top executives of companies turning over more than $1B/year when those companies experience data breaches and scams due to negligence (many of the recent high-profile breaches would qualify, including the Equifax giga-breach, as well as many of Wells Fargo’s string of scams and scandals).

It is part of a raft of excellent policy proposals that Warren has introduced in conjunction with her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination (I am a donor to her campaign, as well as the Bernie Sanders campaign): lowering drug prices with federally commissioned generics, an annual wealth tax on family fortunes over $50m, antitrust breakups of Big Tech, an end to the Electoral College and a national Right to Repair law for farm equipment.

Read more on BoingBoing.

To be clear, as I don’t think Cory’s article was, this bill may be in conjunction with her bid for the Democratic nomination, but this is not the first time Warren has proposed legislation relating to breaches. If you search this site for her name, you will find coverage of other breach-related activities on her part going back to 2014.

Mar 212019

Daniel R. Stoller reports:

The District of Columbia’s top lawyer has unveiled a proposal that would expand the city’s data breach notification law and give the attorney general’s office greater enforcement power.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) announced the Security Breach Protection Amendment Act March 21. It would regulate companies that faced “major data breaches that have put tens of millions of consumers, and hundreds of thousands of District residents, at risk of identity theft and other types of fraud.”

Read more from Bloomberg Law.

Mar 212019

Tim Murphy reports:

MPs have revised privacy legislation to avoid a risk of ‘notification fatigue’ in which holders of data would be forced to advise the public of even minor data breaches.

Parliament’s justice select committee has raised the threshold in the Privacy Bill for when mandatory notifications to the Privacy Commissioner and affected individuals would be required from a breach causing “harm” to one of “serious harm”.


Now, the judgment of “serious harm” from a breach would be determined by a range of factors set out in the revised bill including: the actions a holder of data has taken to reduce the harm; the sensitivity of the information; the nature of the harm; those to whom the information might be disclosed; and whether the information is protected by security measures.

Read more on Newsroom. I wish they had linked to the actual language of the legislation. I’ll go look for it.

Update: Thanks to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for the link to the actual text:


Mar 212019

Amber Thomson, Liisa Thomas, Elfin Noce, and Kari Rollins of SheppardMullin write:

Ohio recently followed South Carolina as the second state to adopt cybersecurity legislation modeled after the NAIC’s Insurance Data Security Model Law. The Ohio law, Senate Bill 273,applies to insurers authorized to do business in Ohio and goes into effect today, March 20, 2019 (the first day of Spring). Companies have, under the law, a year to put the security measures into place. The law, like the NAIC model, requires insurance providers to take several steps to protect personal information, including conducting risk assessments and having a written information security program and incident response plan.

Read more on Eye on Privacy.