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Virginia will become just the second state to pass a consumer data privacy law


Virginia is expected to become just the second state after California to pass a law giving citizens the right to choose whether or not their consumer data will be sold and processed by certain companies, based on a bill in Virginia's senate.

The bill, SB 1392, is overwhelmingly bipartisan, with patronage by Sens. David Marsden and Jennifer Boysko (D-37, 33) and Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R-12) at prefiling back on Jan. 13 at the start of the 2021 General Assembly Session.

Now, with Gov. Ralph Northam expected to sign the bill to law within six weeks of session's close March 1, Virginia Sen. Frank Ruff (R-15), who serves Pittsylvania County, plans to vote "yea."

"I support the bill," Sen. Ruff told the Star-Tribune Friday afternoon.

The Consumer Data Protection Act, as it's called, is slated to go into effect Jan. 1, 2023, and will apply to commercial operations in Virginia that generate revenue from consumer data of 100,000 or more Virginians and/or serve at least 25,000 customers, from which the majority of sales can be traced to the exploitation of consumer data habits.

"The goal is to set a standard as to the process to deal with one’s data so that all platforms are using the same method," Ruff said. "It may not be perfect, but it will not go into effect for another year. This will give time for proponents and opponents to work on things that they believe could be dealt with better."

Two exceptions written into the bill are data used in the process of a credit check and data required by healthcare institutions.

The law would intentionally leave out small businesses, to allow them the use of consumer data in order to stay afloat in today's diffident economy.

Under the new law, Virginians could also opt out of purchaser profiling and request certain documented consumer habits be struck out.