Law & Order PEPU: California's New Privacy Enforcement And Protection Unit

Author:Ms Cynthia Larose
Profession:Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

In a move signaling increased enforcement of the state's data privacy and security regulations, California's Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has announced the creation of the Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit. The Privacy Unit will be staffed by California Department of Justice Employees, including six dedicated prosecutors, and will have broad authority to enforce federal and state laws relating to the collection, retention, disclosure and destruction of private and sensitive information, including medical, financial and government records, by individuals and public and private organizations. Effective immediately, a number of California Justice Department programs related to identity theft enforcement and education will be absorbed by the Privacy Unit, in an effort to centralize and streamline California's data privacy protection efforts. For California consumers, the creation of the Privacy Unit will likely result in easier access to education materials for protecting personal data. For businesses and organizations collecting, storing, transmitting or processing personally identifiable information, the Privacy Unit is one of many warning signs that California intends to take the enforcement of data privacy regulations seriously.

The creation of the Privacy Unit is the latest in a series of initiatives by the California Attorney General's office intended to address growing concerns about data privacy. In August 2011, Attorney General Harris announced the creation of the eCrime Unit, a division responsible for "investigating and prosecuting large scale identity theft and technology crimes with...

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