Update – On September 29, 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for the third time vetoed S.B. 1166.
California led the way in 2002 when it enacted the nation’s first data breach notification law. Last week, the State’s lawmakers sent Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger S.B. 1166 (pdf), which would mandate that data breach notification communications include more detailed information about the breach and that businesses experiencing data breaches affecting more than 500 Californians notify the State’s Attorney General.
Since California enacted its data breach notification law, lawmakers have been trying to make changes to it, with mixed results. Assembly Bill 1298 ("A.B. 1298"), which became effective January 1, 2008, expanded the application of the existing law to include medical and health information. However, to date, attempts to add content requirements to the notice and require notification to the State’s Attorney General have failed, despite similar requirements in the laws of a number of other states, such as Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina.
S.B. 1166 marks the third attempt by Senator Joe Simitian to amend the law in this manner. Both prior attempts were vetoed by the Governor Schwarzenegger. In addition to requiring notice to the State’s Attorney General for certain breaches, his current effort would require notices stating:
- a general description of the breach incident;
- the type of information breached;
- the date and time of the breach;
- whether the notification was delayed because of a law enforcement investigation; and
- a toll-free number of major credit reporting agencies if the breach exposed Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, or state identification card numbers.
Because many states have similar content requirements and there are a number of websites that report on data breaches, passage of S.B. 1166 should not impose a significant burden in breaches involving individuals in multiple states. Nonetheless, companies should be alert to developments in California and be prepared to update their California data breach notification policies should the measure pass.