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Workplace Privacy, Data Management & Security Report

Maryland Attorney General Gansler Forms Internet Privacy Unit

Linking his announcement to National Privacy Day, January 28, 2013, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler informed the public that his office has formed an Internet Privacy Unit. (See similar step taken by Connecticut AG)

The stated purpose of the Unit is to protect the privacy of online users. The Unit will be charged with "monitor[ing] companies to ensure they are in compliance with state and federal consumer protection laws." In addition, the Unit will "examine weaknesses in online privacy policies" and help to create awareness about privacy rights. Of course, the Unit also will pursue enforcement actions to ensure consumer protection.

As in other states, such as Massachusetts and California, Maryland has a Personal Information Protection Act.  The Act provides, in part:

To protect personal information from unauthorized access, use, modification, or disclosure, a business that owns or licenses personal information of an individual residing in the State shall implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices that are appropriate to the nature of the personal information owned or licensed and the nature and size of the business and its operations.

Md. Code Ann. Comm. Section 14-3503. The Attorney General’s Office has published some guidance about the data breach provisions of the law.

Maryland businesses and businesses which maintain personal information about Maryland residents should review their online privacy statements, as well as the policies and procedures for safeguarding personal information. In his press release, Attorney General Gansler acknowledged "the emergence and evolution of the Digital Age has created new and significant privacy risks for both consumers and businesses." Businesses need to be prepared to address these risks and defend against enforcement activities.