Updated Colorado Data Breach Notification Advances: Reporting Period Cut to 30 Days

In January, a new data breach notification bill was introduced in Colorado that proposed updates to state laws to improve protections for residents affected by data breaches. The bill introduced a maximum time frame of 45 days for companies to notify individuals whose personal information was exposed or stolen as a result of a data breach. The definition of personal information was also updated to include a much wider range of information including data covered by HIPAA – medical information, health insurance information, and biometric data.

Last week, Colorado’s House Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs unanimously passed an updated version of the bill, which has now been passed to the Committee on Appropriations for consideration.

The updated bill includes further new additions to the list of data elements classed as personal information – passport numbers, military, and student IDs. There has also been a shortening of the time frame organizations have to issue notifications. Instead of the 45 days proposed in the original bill, the time frame has been cut to just 30 days following the date of determination that a security breach has occurred.

Typically, when states propose legislation to improve protections for state residents whose personal information is exposed, organizations in compliance with federal data breach notification laws are deemed to be in compliance with state laws.

However, the new bill clarifies that will not necessarily be the case. Healthcare organizations covered by HIPAA laws have up to 60 days to issue notifications to breach victims. The amended bill states that when federal laws require notifications to be sent, the breached entity will be required to comply with the law with the shortest time frame for issuing notices.

That means HIPAA covered entities who experience a data breach that impacts Colorado residents would have half as long to issue notifications.

The original bill required breached entities to issue notifications to the state attorney general within 7 days of the discovery of a breach impacting 500 or more Colorado residents. The amended bill has seen that requirement relaxed to 30 days following the discovery of a breach of personal information. Further, the state attorney general does not need to be notified of a breach if there has been no misuse of breached data or if data misuse is unlikely to occur in the future.

If the new legislation is passed, Colorado residents will be among the best protected individuals in the United States. Only Florida has introduced such strict time scales for sending notifications to breach victims. Colorado residents would also be much better protected when their data is exposed by a healthcare organization, with the time frame for notification cut in half.

Author: Steve Alder has many years of experience as a journalist, and comes from a background in market research. He is a specialist on legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA. Steve holds a B.Sc. from the University of Liverpool.