The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), passed in 2018 and taking effect January 1, 2020, is considered the most expansive state privacy law in the United States, and sparked a flurry of state privacy law legislative proposals, in particular in Washington state. This January, a group of state senators in Washington introduced the Washington Privacy Act, SB 5376 (WPA), slightly updated in late February. On March 6th, the bill passed the Senate with a nearly unanimous vote, and now heads to the House for review. If approved, the WPA will take effect July 31, 2021.

Unlike other states that are modeling their bills largely on the CCPA (e.g. Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico), the WPA would establish more GDPR-like requirements on businesses that collect personal information related to Washington residents. In fact, the WPA’s legislative findings explicitly state that Washington residents “deserve to enjoy the same level of privacy safeguards”, as those afforded to EU residents under the GDPR. In addition to requirements for notice, and consumer rights such as access, deletion, and rectification, the WPA would impose restrictions on use of automatic profiling and facial recognition.

Below are key aspects of the WPA:

  • Jurisdictional Scope. The WPA would apply to legal entities that conduct business in Washington or produce products or services intentionally targeted to residents of Washington, and that satisfy one or more following thresholds: Controls or processes data of 100,000 consumers or more; or Derives over 50% of gross revenue from the sale of personal information and processes or controls personal information of 25,000 consumers or more. The bill includes exemptions for personal data regulated by HIPAA, HITECH, or the GLBA, and data sets maintained for employment record purposes. Personal data is defined vaguely to include any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.
  • Consumer Rights. Washington residents are afforded the power to request that controllers of their personal data:
    • provide them with confirmation whether their personal information is being processed by the controller or sold to a third-party;
    • provide them with a copy of the personal data undergoing process;
    • correct inaccurate personal data;
    • delete their personal data under specified circumstances
      (g. personal data is no longer necessary in relation to the purpose for which it was collected, the processing is for direct marketing purposes, personal data has been unlawfully processed).
  • In general, businesses in the U.S. are used to needing only implied or negative consent from customers with respect to the collection and use of their data. The WPA would require consent to be a “clear affirmative act establishing a freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous indication of a consumer’s agreement to the processing of personal data relating to the consumer, such as by a written statement or other clear affirmative action.”
  • Controllers and Processors. In general, controllers determine the purposes and means of processing personal data, while processors process personal data on behalf of the controllers. Thus, under the WPA, controllers would be responsible for meeting the requirements of the WPA, while processors are responsible for following the instructions of their controllers and assisting them with meeting the requirements of the law. Contracting between the parties will be critical.
  • Controllers must be transparent and accountable for processing of personal data by making a “meaningful,” “clear,” and “reasonably accessible” privacy notice available (although the language in the bill is less than clear). Notice must include: the categories of personal data collected, the purpose for which personal data is disclosed to third parties, the rights the consumer may exercise, the categories of personal data shared with third-parties, the categories of third-parties with whom the controller shares data.
  • Risk Assessments. Controllers must conduct and document risk assessments covering the processing of personal data prior to the processing of such personal data whenever there is a change in processing that materially impacts the risk to individuals, and on at least an annual basis regardless of changes in processing.
  • A controller in violation of the law is subject to an injunction and liable for a civil penalty of not more than $2,500 for each violation or $7500 for each intentional violation.

 It is worth noting that unlike California’s CCPA which leaves open the possibility of application to employee data, the WPA explicitly states that a protected “consumer” does not include an employee or contractor of a business acting in their role as an employee or contractor. Moreover, as already mentioned above, data sets maintained for employment record purposes are exempt from the jurisdictional scope. That said, the WPA is not yet final, and could be revised during the legislative process to include employee data.

States across the country are contemplating ways to enhance their consumer privacy and security protections. For example, we recently spotlighted New Jersey in two posts (available here and here), detailing several NJ Assembly bills relating to privacy and security, currently under consideration.   Organizations, regardless of their location, should be assessing and reviewing their data collection activities, building robust data protection programs, and investing in written information security programs (WISPs).

 

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Photo of Joseph J. Lazzarotti Joseph J. Lazzarotti

Joseph J. Lazzarotti is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He founded and currently co-leads the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group, edits the firm’s Privacy Blog, and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP)…

Joseph J. Lazzarotti is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He founded and currently co-leads the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group, edits the firm’s Privacy Blog, and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) with the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Trained as an employee benefits lawyer, focused on compliance, Joe also is a member of the firm’s Employee Benefits practice group.

In short, his practice focuses on the matrix of laws governing the privacy, security, and management of data, as well as the impact and regulation of social media. He also counsels companies on compliance, fiduciary, taxation, and administrative matters with respect to employee benefit plans.

Privacy and cybersecurity experience – Joe counsels multinational, national and regional companies in all industries on the broad array of laws, regulations, best practices, and preventive safeguards. The following are examples of areas of focus in his practice:

  • Advising health care providers, business associates, and group health plan sponsors concerning HIPAA/HITECH compliance, including risk assessments, policies and procedures, incident response plan development, vendor assessment and management programs, and training.
  • Coached hundreds of companies through the investigation, remediation, notification, and overall response to data breaches of all kinds – PHI, PII, payment card, etc.
  • Helping organizations address questions about the application, implementation, and overall compliance with European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and, in particular, its implications in the U.S., together with preparing for the California Consumer Privacy Act.
  • Working with organizations to develop and implement video, audio, and data-driven monitoring and surveillance programs. For instance, in the transportation and related industries, Joe has worked with numerous clients on fleet management programs involving the use of telematics, dash-cams, event data recorders (EDR), and related technologies. He also has advised many clients in the use of biometrics including with regard to consent, data security, and retention issues under BIPA and other laws.
  • Assisting clients with growing state data security mandates to safeguard personal information, including steering clients through detailed risk assessments and converting those assessments into practical “best practice” risk management solutions, including written information security programs (WISPs). Related work includes compliance advice concerning FTC Act, Regulation S-P, GLBA, and New York Reg. 500.
  • Advising clients about best practices for electronic communications, including in social media, as well as when communicating under a “bring your own device” (BYOD) or “company owned personally enabled device” (COPE) environment.
  • Conducting various levels of privacy and data security training for executives and employees
  • Supports organizations through mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations with regard to the handling of employee and customer data, and the safeguarding of that data during the transaction.
  • Representing organizations in matters involving inquiries into privacy and data security compliance before federal and state agencies including the HHS Office of Civil Rights, Federal Trade Commission, and various state Attorneys General.

Benefits counseling experience – Joe’s work in the benefits counseling area covers many areas of employee benefits law. Below are some examples of that work:

  • As part of the Firm’s Health Care Reform Team, he advises employers and plan sponsors regarding the establishment, administration and operation of fully insured and self-funded health and welfare plans to comply with ERISA, IRC, ACA/PPACA, HIPAA, COBRA, ADA, GINA, and other related laws.
  • Guiding clients through the selection of plan service providers, along with negotiating service agreements with vendors to address plan compliance and operations, while leveraging data security experience to ensure plan data is safeguarded.
  • Counsels plan sponsors on day-to-day compliance and administrative issues affecting plans.
  • Assists in the design and drafting of benefit plan documents, including severance and fringe benefit plans.
  • Advises plan sponsors concerning employee benefit plan operation, administration and correcting errors in operation.

Joe speaks and writes regularly on current employee benefits and data privacy and cybersecurity topics and his work has been published in leading business and legal journals and media outlets, such as The Washington Post, Inside Counsel, Bloomberg, The National Law Journal, Financial Times, Business Insurance, HR Magazine and NPR, as well as the ABA Journal, The American Lawyer, Law360, Bender’s Labor and Employment Bulletin, the Australian Privacy Law Bulletin and the Privacy, and Data Security Law Journal.

Joe served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Laura Denvir Stith on the Missouri Court of Appeals.

Photo of Jason C. Gavejian Jason C. Gavejian

Jason C. Gavejian is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and co-leader of the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group. Jason is also a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) with the International Association of Privacy…

Jason C. Gavejian is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and co-leader of the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group. Jason is also a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) with the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

As a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US), Jason focuses on the matrix of laws governing privacy, security, and management of data. Jason is co-editor of, and a regular contributor to, the firm’s Workplace Privacy, Data Management & Security Report blog.

Jason’s work in the area of privacy and data security includes counseling international, national, and regional companies on the vast array of privacy and security mandates, preventive measures, policies, procedures, and best practices. This includes, but is not limited to, the privacy and security requirements under state, federal, and international law (e.g., HIPAA/HITECH, GDPR, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), FTC Act, ECPA, SCA, GLBA etc.). Jason helps companies in all industries to assess information risk and security as part of the development and implementation of comprehensive data security safeguards including written information security programs (WISP). Additionally, Jason assists companies in analyzing issues related to: electronic communications, social media, electronic signatures (ESIGN/UETA), monitoring and recording (GPS, video, audio, etc.), biometrics, and bring your own device (BYOD) and company owned personally enabled device (COPE) programs, including policies and procedures to address same. He regularly advises clients on compliance issues under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and has represented clients in suits, including class actions, brought in various jurisdictions throughout the country under the TCPA.

Jason represents companies with respect to inquiries from the HHS/OCR, state attorneys general, and other agencies alleging wrongful disclosure of personal/protected information. He negotiates vendor agreements and other data privacy and security agreements, including business associate agreements. His work in the area of privacy and data security includes counseling and coaching clients through the process of investigating and responding to breaches of the personally identifiable information (PII) or protected health information (PHI) they maintain about consumers, customers, employees, patients, and others, while also assisting clients in implementing policies, practices, and procedures to prevent future data incidents.

Jason represents management exclusively in all aspects of employment litigation, including restrictive covenants, class-actions, harassment, retaliation, discrimination, and wage and hour claims in both federal and state courts. He regularly appears before administrative agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights, and the New Jersey Department of Labor. Jason’s practice also focuses on advising/counseling employers regarding daily workplace issues.

Jason’s litigation experience, coupled with his privacy practice, provides him with a unique view of many workplace issues and the impact privacy, data security, and social media may play in actual or threatened lawsuits.

Jason regularly provides training to both executives and employees and regularly speaks on current privacy, data security, monitoring, recording, BYOD/COPE, biometrics (BIPA), social media, TCPA, and information management issues. His views on these topics have been discussed in multiple publications, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle (SFGATE), National Law Review, Bloomberg BNA, Inc.com, @Law Magazine, Risk and Insurance Magazine, LXBN TV, Business Insurance Magazine, and HR.BLR.com.

Jason is the co-leader of Jackson Lewis’ Hispanic Attorney resource group, a group committed to increasing the firm’s visibility among Hispanic-American and other minority attorneys, as well as mentoring the firm’s attorneys to assist in their training and development. He also previously served on the National Leadership Committee of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) and regularly volunteers his time for pro bono matters.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Jason served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Richard J. Donohue on the Superior Court of New Jersey, Bergen County.