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Utah legislature may take up cybersecurity, data privacy bills

Posted at 3:37 PM, Oct 18, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Legislature will consider bills to bolster data privacy and information security in the 2022 session.

"There are billions of attacks a day on our state government, on our universities," said Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton.

He's sponsoring a bill that would create a statewide cybersecurity task force focused on ensuring Utah's government databases are secure. Utah's Department of Technology Services has said state systems get nearly two billion attempts to penetrate its security every single day.

"It’s a real, real threat and we know how dependent we all are on technology," Rep. Handy said.

The bill may also try to allocate some resources to ensure systems are up to date.

"Shoring up, preventing, looking at what we need to do in the future to make sure we are well protected in the state of Utah. Primarily talking about government," he said.

The government obviously has a lot of information on people, but it's not the only one. Private businesses are amassing a lot of information (much of it willingly handed over by consumers). Another bill being contemplated would create data privacy laws in Utah.

"We need a framework in Utah so businesses know how to operate here and know that they’re operating within the bounds of the law so they’re not subject to liabilities and lawsuits by consumers," said Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Sandy. "But by the same token, we want consumers to have their rights protected and have recourse when businesses are doing things they didn’t disclose and they’re doing unlawfully."

Sen. Cullimore said the legislation he is considering would be similar to California's data privacy law, which informs you of how information is collected and what it's used for. There may also be potential recourse if there is a violation, either with the Utah Attorney General's Office bringing litigation or the consumer themselves.

With other states passing legislation on data privacy, Sen. Cullimore said it was time Utah got on board. He proposed a similar bill last year that did not pass.

"What we’d like to see is anybody that has to comply with California’s data privacy act will already be in compliance," he said in a recent interview with FOX 13. "Potentially, Utah will be a little bit less onerous, frankly a little more business-friendly, while still providing consumers that recourse through the business and through state agencies."

Any legislation will not be considered until the 2022 session that starts in January.