On May 11, 2023, Tennessee’s Governor signed Senate Bill 0073, the Tennessee Information Protection Act, making the state the eighth state to pass consumer privacy legislation. Tennessee joins  CaliforniaColoradoConnecticutIndiana, IowaUtah, and Virginia which have previously passed consumer privacy statutes.

Tennessee’s law will take effect July 1, 2025.

When does this law apply?

The law will apply to persons that conduct business in the state of Tennessee or produce products or services that are targeted to Tennessee residents and that:

  • During the calendar year, control or process personal information of at least 100,000 consumers; or,
  • Control or process the personal information of at least 25,000 consumers and derive more than 50% of gross revenue from the sale of personal information.

Covered persons hereafter are referred to as controllers.

Are there exemptions?

Among the entities not subject to the Act include Tennessee and state agencies, financial institutions, HIPAA-covered entities and business associates, not-for-profit organizations, and institutions of higher education.

There also are several categories of personal information exempted from the Act, including without limitation personal information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.

Who is protected by the law?

Under the statute, individuals referred to as “consumers” are protected. A consumer is defined as a natural person who is a resident of the state of Tennessee and acts only in a personal context.

What personal information is protected by law?

Under the statute, personal information is protected, which includes:

  • Identifiers such as a real name, alias, unique identifier, online identifier, internet protocol address, email address, account name, social security number, driver’s license number, passport number, or other similar identifiers
  • Information that identifies, relates to, describes, or could be associated with, a particular individual, including, but not limited to, signature, physical characteristics or description, address, telephone number, insurance policy number, education, employment, employment history, bank account number, credit card number, debit card number, or other financial, medical, or health insurance information
  • Characteristics of protected classifications under state or federal law;
  • Commercial information, including records of personal property, products, or services purchased, obtained, or considered, or other purchasing or consuming histories or tendencies
  • Biometric data;
  • Internet or other electronic network activity information, including, but not limited to, browsing history, search history, and information regarding a consumer’s interaction with an internet website, application, or advertisement
  • Geolocation data
  • Audio, electronic, visual, thermal, olfactory, or similar information
  • Professional or employment-related information;
  • Education information that is not publicly available information

Personal information also includes “sensitive data” which means:

  • Personal information revealing racial or ethnic origin, religious beliefs, mental or physical health diagnosis, sexual orientation, or citizenship or immigration status;
  • The processing of genetic or biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person;
  • The personal information collected from a known child; or
  • Precise geolocation data.

Personal information does not include information that is:

  • Publicly available
  • De-identified or aggregate consumer information

What are the rights of consumers?

Under the statute, consumers have the right to:

  • Confirm whether a controller is processing the consumer’s personal information and to access the personal information.
  • Correct inaccuracies in the consumer’s personal information.
  • Delete personal information provided by or obtained about the consumer.
  • Obtain a copy of the consumer’s personal information that the consumer previously provided to the controller.
  • Request information about personal information the controller sold or disclosed to third parties.
  • Opt-out of the controller selling the personal information of the consumer.

What obligations do controllers and processors have?

Under the statute, a controller shall respond to requests from a consumer without undue delay, but no later than 45 days from the date of receipt of the request. If the controller declines to take action upon a consumer’s request, the controller shall inform the consumer without undue delay but no later than 45 days from receipt.

The controller is required to take certain steps to ensure transparency of its processing including:

  • Limit the collection of personal information to what is adequate, relevant, and reasonably necessary in relation to the purpose for which the data is processed
  • Establish, implement, and maintain reasonable administrative, technical, and physical data security practices.
  • Not process “sensitive data” without obtaining the consumer’s consent, provided that in the case of a child, the controller does so in accordance with the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.  

Controllers shall conduct and document a data protection assessment of each of the following processing activities:

  • The processing of personal information for purposes of targeted advertising
  • The sale of personal information
  • The processing of personal information for purposes of profiling where the profiling presents a foreseeable risk
  • The processing of sensitive data
  • The processing of personal information presents a heightened risk of harm to consumers.

Upon receipt of an authenticated consumer request, a controller must provide a “reasonably accessible, clear, and meaningful privacy notice” the contents of which are similar to but not as expansive as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

With respect to processors, the Act requires they adhere to the instructions of controllers, such as assisting the controller with responding to consumer requests. Contracts between controllers and processors are required and must include certain provisions, such as (i) instructions for processing personal information, (ii) the nature, purpose, and duration of the processing, and (iii) the type of data subject to the processing. Other required provisions include (i) a requirement for processors to make available all information in the processor’s possession to demonstrate the processor’s compliance with the Act, (ii) cooperating with reasonable assessments of compliance by the controller (or arrange for a qualified and independent assessor), and (iii) obligating the processor to push the Act’s required provisions down to the processor’s subcontractors.

How is the law enforced?

The attorney general and reporter have exclusive authority to enforce the statute, which may include bringing an action in a court of competent jurisdiction.

The Act requires controllers or processors to create, maintain, and comply with a written privacy program that reasonably conforms to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) privacy framework entitled “A Tool for Improving Privacy through Enterprise Risk Management Version 1.0.” Among the requirements for a privacy, program is that it discloses the commercial purposes for which the controller or processor collects, controls, or processes personal information. Maintaining such a program is not only important for compliance purposes, but it also provides an affirmative defense to a cause of action for a violation of the law.

For additional information on Tennessee’s new privacy statute and other data privacy laws and regulations, please reach out to a member of our Privacy, Data, and Cybersecurity practice group.

Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
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.