Many states have enacted privacy laws to regulate the collection, storage, and use of an individual’s personal information by the government and public and private organizations. Privacy laws exist to help protect consumers from having their data lost or stolen, which may result in identity theft, unlawful access to financial or credit card accounts, or sensitive medical or other personal information.
State consumer protection laws also prohibit companies from acting deceptively or unfairly in their collection, handling, and use of consumers’ data. Recent enactment of broad privacy laws by the European Union and California provide extensive regulatory requirements on companies that are even more extensive. This landscape of privacy legislation is very much in flux as use of technology, and collection and commercial use of consumers’ data, increases.
Responsibilities that fall to attorneys general in privacy protection:
- Enforcing data breach notification and consumer protection laws to address businesses that fail to take adequate measures to protect consumers’ personal information and privacy.
- Enforcing privacy and consumer protection laws to address businesses that act deceptively or unfairly with respect to consumers’ data.
- Enforcing federal privacy legislation, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Under the leadership of NAAG, coalitions of attorneys general have written to federal agencies and organizations to request information on privacy issues:
- In 2020, NAAG sent a letter to Apple and Google urging them to remove from their platforms contact tracing apps that were not affiliated with public health authorities due to privacy concerns.
- In 2018, NAAG sent a letter to the Social Security Administration asking the acting commissioner to prioritize the implementation of a new database system that would help prevent identity theft.
In 2018, NAAG wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demanding answers about the company’s privacy protections and business practices. Find out how attorneys general serve the public in other areas of consumer protection or learn how to contact your attorney general’s consumer protection office.