Much of the focus on US privacy has been US state laws, and the potential of a federal privacy law. This focus can lead one to forget, however, that US privacy and data security law follows a patchwork approach both at a state level and a federal level. “Comprehensive” privacy laws are thus only one piece of the puzzle. There are federal and state privacy and security laws that apply based on a company’s (1) industry (financial services, health care, telecommunications, gaming, etc.), (2) activity (making calls, sending emails, collecting information at point of purchase, etc.), and (3) the type of individual from whom information is being collected (children, students, employees, etc.). There have been developments this year in each of these areas.

On the industry law, there has been activity focused on data brokers, those in the health space, and for those that sell motor vehicles. The FTC has focused on the activities of data brokers this year, beginning the year with a settlement with lead-generation company Response Tree. It also settled with X-Mode Social over the company’s collection and use of sensitive information. There have also been ongoing regulation and scrutiny of companies in the health space, including HHS’s new AI transparency rule. Finally, in this area is a new law in Utah, with a Motor Vehicle Data Protection Act applicable to data systems used by car dealers to house consumer information.

On the activity side, there has been less news, although in this area the “activity” of protecting information (or failing to do so) has continued to receive regulatory focus. This includes the SEC’s new cybersecurity reporting obligations for public companies, as well as minor modifications to Utah’s data breach notification law.

Finally, there have been new laws directed to particular individuals. In particular, laws intended to protect children. These include social media laws in Florida and Utah, effective January 1, 2025 and October 1, 2024 respectively. These are similar to attempts to regulate social media’s collection of information from children in Arkansas, California, Ohio and Texas, but the drafters hope sufficiently different to survive challenges currently being faced by those laws. The FTC is also exploring updates to its decades’ old Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Putting It Into Practice: As we approach the mid-point of the year, now is a good time to look back at privacy developments over the past six months. There have been many developments in the privacy patchwork, and companies may want to take the time now to ensure that their privacy programs have incorporated and addressed those laws’ obligations.