It seems like almost every week we learn of a massive new data breach, risking the loss of thousands of individuals’ personal and confidential information to a faceless hacker halfway around the world.
A quick internet search for the latest news about data breaches reveals the sheer volume of information hacked or leaked on a daily basis, ranging from our Social Security and bank account numbers to protected health information, our consumer preferences, and more. And, of course, where there are breaches, there is litigation. In fact, just this week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (covering Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin) ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a consumer class action case where the alleged hack resulted in disclosure of customer names, credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, and PINs.
But it’s not just consumer data that’s at risk – employers, too, collect and maintain the same kind of sensitive information and data about their employees as is often the subject of a data breach. A loss of control over that employee data can have a significant adverse impact on an employer’s credibility and bottom line.
State legislators are taking note of the risks and a patchwork of new data privacy laws are popping up around the country. We’ve written before about some existing laws impacting how employers collect and maintain employee biometric data, such as fingerprints and facial or retinal scans. However, the scope of information subject to the new laws’ protections is expanding, as are the notification requirements and penalties for failure to comply. To ensure compliance and protection of employee and consumer data alike, employers should therefore take note of the following state laws coming online in 2018:
Additionally, for employers doing business in Canada, new laws impose a $100,000 per person per day penalty on any covered entity, including banks, telecommunications and broadcasting companies, and trucking companies, for failure to meet the federal notice of breach requirements.
And, of course, the much discussed European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), applicable to companies that monitor or process the personal data of European citizens, has strict requirements as to how such personal data is collected, stored and maintained.
In short, because nearly all employers collect and maintain at least some information subject to protection under the growing number of data protection laws around the world, it is important to understand what data is protected, any obligations imposed on employers regarding data that is collected, and, in the event of a breach, how and when to notify the affected individuals.