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Fifty States, Fifty Laws

The big news lately is that individual states are proposing their own privacy laws. California has the California Consumer Protection Act and now New York and Maine have also proposed laws. There has been discussion of a federal law, however it seems unlikely that any kind of landmark legislation on privacy passes through to be signed. How is a business to be ready for up to 50 different laws?

Many businesses already comply with a multitude of privacy laws. Different countries have vastly different frameworks for these laws, such as how the EU sees privacy as a human right, but the US does not see it as such from a legal standpoint. This means you need to rectify this difference with your policies to meet both requirements. However, this is not as difficult as it seems since the EU in this case is much stricter than the US.

You want to find the strictest and most prescriptive law and use that as the basis for your policy compliance. Focusing on the privacy notice for this example, choose whichever law has the most requirements for the notice to be the baseline. Once you have a list of what is needed to comply with that law, look for other laws with a requirement specific to that law, not being mentioned or called out in the baseline you used. Remember, if a law does not mention something, or has a less strict requirement, complying with a stricter law will comply with that as well.

For example, a law stating you must have consent to send someone an email, but states that implicit consent is fine, would be complied with if you gathered explicit, opt-in consent. By following a more prescriptive regulation, you comply with both laws.

Come 2020, when your boss or the executive board asks what needs to be done to comply with 20 plus privacy regulations, you will know what to do. Keep an eye out on news sites and resources, such as the IAPP or a Google alert you can set for yourself, for what laws are strictest and be ready to establish a baseline before calling out specific requirements.