While the federal government attempts to move forward with a more uniform national law, Connecticut joined California, Colorado, Utah, and Virginia in passing a comprehensive consumer privacy law.
The legislation signed by Connecticut’s governor in May 2022, will take effect on July 1, 2023. However, provisions related to a task force to be convened by the state legislature take effect immediately, and the task force is charged with studying issues including information sharing among health care providers, algorithmic decision-making, and possible legislation regarding children’s privacy.
While businesses consider how to comply with Connecticut’s new privacy law, they should also be taking into account some of the data protection laws already in effect in the state. The following is an overview of just some of the other laws to keep in mind.
Obligation to Safeguard Personal Information and SSNs
Connecticut law already obligates businesses possessing “personal information” to
safeguard the data, computer files, and documents containing the information from misuse by third parties.
See Section 42-471. The term “personal information” under this law means
information capable of being associated with a particular individual through one or more identifiers, including, but not limited to, a Social Security number, a driver’s license number, a state identification card number, an account number, a credit or debit card number, a passport number, an alien registration number or a health insurance identification number.
This law also requires businesses that collect Social Security numbers (SSNs) to create and publish a policy that (i) protects the confidentiality of SSNs, (ii) prohibits unlawful disclosure of SSNs, and (iii) limit access to SSNs.
Obligation to Destroy Personal Information
The same law discussed above that requires businesses to safeguard personal information, also requires businesses to “destroy, erase or make unreadable such data, computer files and documents prior to disposal.” For this reason, a record retention policy should address not only how long personal information (and other confidential business information) should be retained, but also a secure process for destroying it once the retention period has expired.
Data Breach Notification Law
When the safeguards contemplated above fail to prevent an unauthorized access or acquisition of computerized personal information (a “breach of security”), Connecticut’s breach notification law is triggered, which was updated and enhanced in 2021 by An Act Concerning Data Privacy Breaches.
Persons that own, license, or maintain computerized personal information and experience a breach of security involving such information may be required to notify affected Connecticut state residents. This law provides a more specific definition of personal information – an individual’s first name or initial and last name in combination with any one or more of the following:
- Social security number;
- driver’s license number or state identification card number;
- financial account number in combination with any required security code, access code, password that would permit access to such financial account;
- credit or debit card number;
- 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 which consists 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; or
- user name or electronic mail address, in combination with a password or security question and answer that would permit access to an online account.
In general, notice must be made without unreasonable delay but not later than 60 days after the discovery of a breach, which also must include notice to the State’s Attorney General. However, if, after an appropriate investigation the business reasonably determines that the breach will not likely result in harm to the affected individuals whose personal information has been acquired or accessed, notification is not required. If notification is required, and if the breach involved a resident’s SSN or taxpayer identification number, the business shall offer the resident “appropriate identity theft prevention services” for not less than 24 months.
In the unfortunate event that a business experiences a breach of security potentially affecting Connecticut residents, it will need to carefully consider these and other provisions of the law.
The long and short of the requirements above (which also exist in many other states) is that businesses need a comprehensive written information security program, which includes robust incident response and record retention and destruction plans. If you have questions about developing a privacy and data compliance plan for Connecticut law or related issues please reach out to a member of our Privacy, Data, and Cybersecurity practice group.