State Senate Enhances Protections for Consumers with Data Breach Notification Law
Alabama and South Dakota are the only states in the nation that don’t require companies to report the theft of electronic consumer information. On Thursday morning, the State Senate moved to protect consumers by passing the Alabama Data Breach Notification Act, which will require private companies and state agencies to report data breaches to affected consumers. The measure, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), was approved by a 24-0 vote.
“Equifax reported this week that 2.4 million Americans were affected by a breach last year of the company’s data,” Orr said. “Virtually all of our vital personal information – including Social Security numbers, military IDs, drivers’ licenses, bank account numbers, and medical data – is now online. With this bill, consumers will know if their information has been compromised and what steps a company is taking to recover and protect consumers’ data.”
If hackers steal sensitive personal information from a private company or a state agency, the Data Breach Notification Act requires the company or agency to notify the affected consumers within forty-five days of the breach’s discovery. Should a breach affect more than 1,000 people, the company or agency must notify the state Attorney General’s office, and if the breach concerns more than 500,000 people, the company or agency must post notices online, and in the newspapers, TV, and radio stations where the affected consumers live.
“I appreciate Attorney General Steve Marshall for partnering with me on this legislation. It is imperative we do everything we can to protect the privacy of Alabamians’ medical and financial information,” Orr remarked.
If a company or state agency fails to notify consumers of a data breach, the Attorney General’s office can assess fines of $5,000 per day and file a lawsuit on behalf of the affected individuals.
“I want to thank Senator Orr for partnering with my office to ensure that Alabama’s consumers share in the same protections afforded to the citizens of 48 other states when it comes to their personal information,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said. “This is a strong piece of pro-consumer legislation and we applaud the Senate’s action today.”
Senator Orr’s proposal now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.