On May 27, 2023, Texas’ Governor signed Senate Bill 768 amending Texas’ data breach notification law. The law in question, Section 521.053 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code, sets out the specific requirements any person conducting business in the state who owns or licenses sensitive personal information in a computerized format must follow in the event of any breach of system security.
The amendment updates only the portion of the law requiring a business to notify the Texas Attorney General of any data breach affecting at least 250 Texas residents. Previously, the law required such persons to notify the Texas Attorney General within 60 days of discovering a breach affecting 250+ residents but did not specify a particular method of providing the notice. The amendment shortens the deadline from 60 days to “as soon as practicable and not later than 30 days” and requires such persons to submit the notification via an electronic form accessible on the Attorney General’s website.
The changes go into effect on September 1, 2023. However, the amendment does not disturb any of the other requirements of the law that are already in effect. Such persons are still required to provide notice of a data breach to affected individuals “without unreasonable delay” but not later than 60 days after discovering the breach. For breaches affecting more than 10,000 individuals, such persons are required to notify each consumer reporting agency without unreasonable delay. In the case of a person who maintains computerized sensitive personal information on behalf of another and experiences a breach of system security, notice must be provided to the owner or license holder of the information “immediately after discovering the breach.”
Although the amendment brings Texas’ rules more closely in line with some other states, there remains a complicated and often conflicting web of data breach rules nationwide. Connecticut, for example, imposes a 60-day requirement for notifying affected individuals (similar to Texas) but requires all data breaches to be reported to the state’s Attorney General (not only when the breach affects more than a specified number of residents). Also, Connecticut and four other jurisdictions require credit monitoring, and ID theft services be provided for a period of time at no cost to affected persons, though that is not the case in the Lone Star State. Florida, on the other hand, is both more and less strict than Texas, its law requires notifications to individuals within 30 days (stricter than Texas) but imposes a higher threshold (500 affected residents) before requiring a notification to the Attorney General. These are just a few of the nuances organizations must grapple with when facing a data breach affecting individuals in multiple states. Because Texas’ data breach law allows the business to choose to give notice under the laws where the individual is located or under Texas’ laws when a breach affects a non-resident, it can be advantageous to know the distinctions.
For additional information regarding Texas’ or another state’s data breach requirements, please reach out to a member of our Privacy, Data, and Cybersecurity practice group.