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Businesses in Texas that own or license computerized data will expect a shortened data breach notification deadline for any breach of sensitive personal information after January 1, 2020. Meanwhile, reporting to state attorney general (“AG”) will become mandatory if more than 250 Texans are involved in a single data breach.

A new Act amending the Texas state breach notification law was signed into law by Texas governor Greg Abbott on June 14, 2019. The amendments change the timeframe for providing notices to consumers and require that notice be provided to the AG within in the same timeframe.

Specifically, breaches must be reported to the AG within 60 days if the breach involves sensitive personal information of at least 250 Texan residents. In addition, the notices to the AG and to consumers must include the following information:

  • A detailed description of the nature and circumstances of the breach or the use of sensitive personal information acquired as a result of the breach
  • The number of Texas residents affected by the breach at the time of notification
  • Measures taken by the business regarding the breach
  • Measures that the business intends to take regarding the breach after the notification
  • Whether law enforcement is engaged in investigating the breach

With this amendment, Texas joins thirty other states that require notification to state AGs or to other state agencies in the event of a data breach.

The amended law also requires that Texas convene a Privacy Protection Advisory Council by September 1, 2019. The Council is tasked with studying data privacy laws in sister states and foreign jurisdictions, seemingly to prepare Texas for comprehensive privacy legislation in the coming years. The Council would gather the viewpoint from the legislature, industry representatives, the executive branch, nonprofit organizations, and academia. Its first report summarizing findings and recommendations will be due to the members of the legislature by September 1, 2020.

Companies that maintain or own sensitive personal data in Texas should plan to incorporate these new requirements into their cyber security program or policy by the effective date (January 1, 2020). Companies that conduct business and own or manage computerized data in Texas should consider taking advantage of the opportunity to participate in the Privacy Protection Advisory Council study in coming months.

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