When I tell people I’m a data privacy lawyer, they often ask what I do on a day-to-day basis. While privacy and cybersecurity are hot topics at large companies (that often have robust internal privacy programs), small and medium-sized businesses don’t always understand the importance of data privacy or the role of a data privacy lawyer. The reality, however, is that smaller businesses are a growing target for online criminals who count on these companies to have lax security, and many small businesses that suffer such an attack do not survive. State legislatures and other regulatory authorities have enacted rules that require businesses to take steps to protect the personal information of their customers, yet many owners of small and medium-sized business aren’t aware that these laws exist or that they are required to follow them.
A data privacy lawyer can help your business navigate this growing minefield in the following ways:
Compliance with Laws and Regulations
Did you know that the North Carolina Identity Theft Protection Act limits how businesses (including sole proprietorships) can collect and use social security numbers? Or that it requires businesses to take reasonable measures to prevent unauthorized access to personal information when disposing of that information? Have you ever wondered if your company must comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation or California’s Consumer Privacy Act? A privacy lawyer can answer these questions and make sure you understand your company’s legal obligations.
When a data breach occurs, time is of the essence. Be prepared with a comprehensive response plan. A privacy lawyer can also help your business recover from the breach and determine its notification obligations.
Businesses often outsource the handling of customer information to third-party vendors. It’s important to make sure your agreements with these vendors require them to take appropriate measures to protect this information. A privacy lawyer can draft contracts with language that protects your business if vendors fail to live up to these obligations.
Business Identity Theft
A data breach or hack is a risk not only to your clients but to your business as well. Confidential information can be compromised, and bad actors can use the information obtained to open financial accounts in your business’s name or steal business assets. A privacy lawyer can help you minimize the damage and regain control of assets after the theft of your business identity.
Employee Policies and Procedures
A company’s internal policies and procedures are an essential part of any information management program. From data retention and destruction policies to policies governing your employees’ use of technology, solid policies can reduce risk to your employees, customers, and business. Working with a privacy lawyer can help you identify the policies applicable to your business and draft policies that fit your unique needs.