UPDATE: On June 16, Gov. Ned Lamont signed HB 5310 into law which becomes effective October 1, 2021.

State legislatures across the nation are prioritizing privacy and security matters, and Connecticut is no exception. This week, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong announced the passage of An Act Concerning Data Privacy Breaches, a measure that will enhance and strengthen Connecticut’s data breach notification law. The Connecticut House of Representatives unanimously approved the bill on May 27th, and Senate followed with unanimous approval shortly after.  The bill now heads to Governor Ned Lamont for signage.

Connecticut has led the nation in data privacy for over a decade, and this legislation ensures that we will continue to do so. Since we passed one of our nation’s first laws protecting consumers from online data breaches, technology and risks have evolved. This legislation ensures that our laws reflect those evolving risks and continue to offer strong, comprehensive protection for Connecticut residents,

Attorney General Tong observed in his announcement of the data breach notification bill.

Key aspects of Connecticut’s enhanced data breach notification law include:

  • Expansion of the definition of “personal information.

Originally, Connecticut defined “personal information” as an individual’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with any one, or more, of the following data:

    • Social security number
    • Driver’s license number
    • State identification card number
    • Credit or debit card number
    • Financial account number in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that would permit access to such financial account.

The new law if enacted will look more like similar laws in California and Florida by including additional data categories:

    • Individual taxpayer identification number
    • Identity protection personal identification number issued by the IRS
    • Passport number, military identification number or other identification number issued by the government that is used to verify identity
    • Medical information regarding an individual’s medical history, mental or physical condition or medical treatment or diagnosis by a healthcare professional
    • Health insurance policy number or subscriber identification number, or any unique identifier by a health insurer to identify the individual
    • Biometric information consisting of data generated by electronic measurements of an individual’s unique physical characteristics and used to authenticate or ascertain the individual’s identity, such as a fingerprint, voice print, retina or iris image; and
    • User name or electronic mail address, in combination with a password or security question and answer that would permit access to an online account.
  • Notification Time and Content.

The new law would shorten the time a business has to notify affected Connecticut residents and the Office of the Attorney General of a data breach time from 90 days to 60 days. Remember, as with most other breach notification mandates, the timing requirement is “without unreasonable delay but not later than 60 days” in this case. In addition, if identification of a resident of the state whose personal information was breached or reasonably believed to have been breached will not be completed within 60 days, the business must provide preliminary substitute notice as outlined by the law, and proceed in good faith to work to identify affected residents and provide direct notice as expediently as possible. Incident response plans would need to be reviewed to ensure this requirement is incorporated.

  • Breach of Login Credential. 

The new law would add a section addressing unique notification requirements in the case of a breach of login credentials. In such a case, notice to an affected resident may be provided in electronic or other form that directs the resident to promptly change any password or security questions and answers, or to take other appropriate steps to protect the affected online account, or any account with the same login credentials.

  • HIPAA and HITECH Act Exception.

Any person subject to and in compliance with HIPAA and/or the HITECH Act privacy and security obligations is deemed in compliance of the new law with a couple of critical exceptions. First, as under New York’s SHIELD Act, a person subject to HIPAA or HITECH that is required to notify Connecticut residents of a data breach under HITECH still must notify Connecticut’s Attorney General at the same time residents are notified. Second,  if the person would have been required to provide identity theft prevention and/or mitigation services under Connecticut law, which is for a period of 24 months, that requirement remains.

  • Investigation Materials.

Under the new law, documents, material and information connected to the investigation of a breach of security would be exempt from public disclosure, unless required to be made available to third parties by the Attorney General in furtherance of the investigation.

This new law, if signed keeps Connecticut in line with other states across the nation currently enhancing their data breach notification laws in light of recent large-scale data breaches and heightened public awareness.  Organizations across the United States should be evaluating and enhancing their data breach prevention and response capabilities.

Below are several resources for understanding current trends in the state data breach notification law landscape:

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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.

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.