Virginia Postpones Consideration of a New Privacy Bill until 2021
By Michael A. Shapiro, Senior Counsel and Director, Data Privacy
Virginia was one of several states that introduced new comprehensive privacy bills in January of 2020. The proposed Virginia Privacy Act, HR 473, would have given Virginia consumers the right to know whether a business is processing consumer’s personal data and whether data has been sold to a data broker, the right to access, correct and delete personal data, the right to obtain personal data in portable format, as well as the rights to restrict processing and object to processing, including for targeted advertising.
The bill would have required a controller, defined as a person that, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data, to facilitate data subject access requests. In addition, the bill would have (i) required transparent processing of personal data through a privacy notice, (ii) required controllers to disclose whether they process personal data for direct marketing or sell it to data brokers, and (iii) required controllers to conduct a risk assessment of each of their processing activities involving personal data and an additional risk assessment any time there is a change in processing that materially increases the risk to consumers.
The Act was designed to apply to any legal entity that conducts business in Virginia or produces products or services that are intentionally targeted to Virginia residents and that (a) controls or processes personal data of not fewer than 100,000 consumers or (b) derives over 50 percent of gross revenue from the sale of personal data and processes or controls personal data of not fewer than 25,000 customers. A violation of the Privacy Act would have been made a prohibited practice under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, which includes a private right of action.
Apparently recognizing the complexity of the proposed legislation, the Chair of the State House Committee on Communications, Technology and Innovation opted to send the proposed Privacy Act and a companion bill on protection of minors online for a study. That decision effectively postponed consideration of both bills until the next legislative session in 2021.
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