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Montana becomes the ninth state to enact comprehensive privacy legislation

Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues State Legislation Montana Consumer Protection

Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

On May 19, the Montana governor signed SB 384 to enact the Consumer Data Privacy Act (CDPA) and establish a framework for controlling and processing consumer personal data in the state. Montana is now the ninth state in the nation to enact comprehensive consumer privacy measures, following California, Colorado, Connecticut, Virginia, Utah, Iowa, Indiana, and Tennessee. The CDPA applies to any person that conducts business in the state or produces products or services targeted to state residents and, during a calendar year, (i) controls or processes personal data of at least 50,000 consumers (“excluding personal data controlled or processed solely for the purpose of completing a payment transaction”), or (ii) controls or processes personal data of at least 25,000 consumers and derives 25 percent of gross revenue from the sale of personal data. The CDPA provides several exemptions, including nonprofit organizations, registered securities associations, financial institutions, data governed by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and certain other federal laws, and covered entities governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Highlights of the CDPA include:

  • Consumers’ rights. Under the CDPA, consumers will be able to access their personal data; correct inaccuracies; request deletion of their data; obtain a copy of their data in a portable format; and opt out of the sale of their data. A consumer may also designate an authorized agent to act on the consumer’s behalf to opt out of the processing of their personal data.
  • Data controllers’ responsibilities. Data controllers under the CDPA will be responsible for, among other things, (i) responding to consumer requests within 45 days unless extenuating circumstances arise and providing requested information free of charge, one for each consumer during a 12-month period; (ii) establishing a process to allow consumer appeals within a reasonable time period after a controller’s refusal to take action on a consumer’s request; (iii) establishing clear and conspicuous opt-out methods on a website that require consumers to affirmatively and freely choose to opt out of any processing of their personal data (and allowing for a mechanism that lets consumers revoke consent that is at least as easy as the mechanism used to provide consent); (iv) limiting the collection of data to what is adequate, relevant, and reasonably necessary for a specified purpose; (v) securing personal data from unauthorized access; (vi) processing data in compliance with state and federal anti-discrimination laws; (vii) obtaining consumer consent in order to process sensitive data; (viii) providing clear and meaningful privacy notices; and (ix) conducting data protection assessments and ensuring deidentified data cannot be associated with a consumer. The CDPA also sets forth obligations relating to contracts between a controller and a processor, including ensuring that contracts between a controller and a processor do not waive or limit consumer data rights.
  • No private right of action but enforcement by state attorney general. The CDPA explicitly prohibits a private right of action. Instead, it grants the state attorney general excusive authority to enforce the law.
  • Right to cure. Upon discovering a potential violation of the CDPA, the attorney general must give the data controller notice. The data controller then has 60 days to cure the alleged violation before the attorney general can file suit. The cure provision expires April 1, 2026.

The CDPA takes effect October 1, 2024.