California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris recently announced the creation of the Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit in the state’s Department of Justice. This team will focus its efforts on prosecuting state and federal privacy laws regulating collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of private or sensitive information by individuals, organizations, and the government. It will also educate consumers on privacy matters and form partnerships with industry. According to a press release issued by the AG’s office: "The Privacy Unit will police the privacy practices of individuals and organizations to hold accountable those who misuse technology to invade the privacy of others." The Privacy Unit will operate within the eCrime Unit and will be staffed by California Department of Justice employees, including six prosecutors who will concentrate on privacy matters. Joanne McNabb, formerly of the California Office of Privacy Protection, will serve as the Director of Privacy Education and Policy and will oversee the Privacy Unit’s education and outreach efforts.
TIP: Constitutions in ten states, including California, expressly recognize a right to privacy. Based on this recent announcement by California’s Attorney General, companies should expect increased enforcement of state and federal privacy laws in California, such as online privacy, health privacy, identity theft, financial privacy, and data breaches.