Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA)

In this guide:

Key details of the VCDPA

As of January 1, 2023, the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA) grants Virginia residents formal data privacy rights, which provide consumers greater control over their personal data. At a time when Data Brokers and People Search Sites are profiting more than ever off of data collected by websites and sold to third parties, the VCDPA is aligning with current global trends emphasizing transparency, accountability and consumer rights. This act is modeled after the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and legally recognizes personal information as a prized commodity for various entities while empowering individuals to access, revise and delete their personal and sensitive information.

In the digital age, the thousands of data points a user creates every day have transformed into a valuable asset for many types of businesses around the world. The VCDPA’s enactment reverberates beyond Virginia’s borders as any organization processing residents’ data must be compliant, and it introduces a higher level of data protection that hopefully will continue to inspire other states to follow suit. In a digital landscape marred by data breaches and cyber threats, the VCDPA aligns with the overarching goal of fortifying cybersecurity defenses.

The VCDPA gives Virginia consumers the following rights:

  • The right to confirm if a controller is actually processing their personal data, and obtain copies of the data collected previously.
  • The right to correct inaccuracies in the personal data collected by the controller.
  • The right to delete personal data, whether provided directly or obtained in another way.
  • The right to opt out of the processing of personal data for targeted advertising, selling on to others, and any additional profiling.

Quick definition: a “controller” is any person or organization determining the “why” and “how” your data is being processed. If a company is deciding the purposes and means for processing personal data, then they are a data controller. This is a wide-ranging term and effectively means any individual or organization managing personal data is considered a data controller.

With the implementation of this act, special attention is given to the processing of sensitive data. Although this may seem basic at first, sensitive data is a specific category of information including race, religion, health information and precise geolocation data, which businesses are required to secure with heightened diligence.

Virginia stands as a trailblazer in the realm of data privacy legislation in the United States, joining just a handful of states with active data privacy legislation. As the digital ecosystem expands, the need for robust data protection mechanisms becomes increasingly apparent. The VCDPA serves as a beacon for other states and nations, inspiring a collective effort to safeguard individuals’ personal data in an interconnected world. By understanding and adhering to the principles enshrined within the VCDPA, businesses can forge a path toward enhanced cybersecurity and external data privacy, ultimately fostering a safer and more respectful digital landscape for all if done effectively.

Source: Attorney General of Virginia Website

What this means for businesses

The VCDPA introduces a series of fundamental shifts in how businesses collect, process, and manage consumer data. By granting individuals a greater say in how their personal information is used, the act places the onus on businesses to ensure compliance with stringent data protection requirements.

For most organizations collecting or processing personal data—that’s just about any modern business with a website today—of Virginia residents, there are now additional legal requirements to maintain compliance. Thus, the first step is to assess if the VCDPA requirements apply to your business.

High-level, the VCDPA applies if your business targets Virginia consumers and falls into either of the following two categories:

  • Controls or processes the personal data of at least 100,000 consumers.
  • Controls or processes the personal data of at least 25,000 consumers and derives over 50% of gross revenue from the sale of personal data.

These categories reflect the act’s commitment to protecting a broad range of individuals and underscores the need for most businesses to heed its provisions. In addition, businesses must obtain valid and informed consent before processing sensitive data.

Businesses must ensure that their consent mechanisms are clear, explicit, and easily understandable for consumers. Plus, data processing activities require regular data protection assessments and the implementation of “reasonable” security measures across the organization and all associated vendors, especially for sensitive data. These assessments must identify and mitigate potential privacy risks. As such, businesses need to develop a robust methodology for conducting these assessments and take steps to address identified vulnerabilities, all of which should be verifiable in a court of law.

The goal is to ensure organizations are establishing processes to shield consumer data from unauthorized access, breaches and cyber threats. Simply put, a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy is absolutely necessary to guard sensitive information and prevent data breaches. Complying with the VCDPA is not just about meeting regulatory requirements; it’s about fostering trust, demonstrating responsibility, and cultivating a culture of data privacy within an organization. In doing so, companies can get ahead of threat actors and even differentiate their brand or services from the competition.

If your organization is large enough and meet certain criteria, it may also be necessary to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) to oversee data protection practices, serve as the point of contact for consumers and ensure the organization is compliant with the VCDPA.

Manage personal data with ease

It’s in the best interest of every consumer and business to make External Data Privacy a focus moving forward. Today, reactive cybersecurity measures simply aren’t enough to mitigate the risk of identity theft or a company-wide data breach. A proactive approach to data management and deletion is the only way to close the protection gap.

With your authorization, Privacy Bee actively limits the public exposure of you and your family’s personal information. From a business perspective, this extends to your employees and customers who rely on your organization to effectively safeguard their personal data. Our approach encompasses the expansive realm of the internet, including the elusive dark web, to notably diminish the attack surface that cybercriminals can exploit. By bringing on a professional service to monitor all the locations where sensitive and personal data is exposed today, manage deletion requests automatically, and manually craft messaging to compel businesses to comply, you can rest easy knowing the important people in your life are protected.

The rise of several hundred Data Brokers and People Search Sites has accelerated the data processing and selling industry, which today boasts a billion-dollar valuation. These entities profit from handling (and mishandling) your sensitive data, frequently transferring it to obscure and uncontrollable parties. The consequences of having your confidential information exposed on the internet are extensive, presenting grave risks if obtained cybercriminals. A solitary incident of identity theft can cast a cloud over months at a time, destroying productivity and peace of mind, and it takes hours upon hours to submit all of the takedown requests necessary to scrub away your personal information.

By meticulously identifying every corner of the internet housing your data and promptly working to remove it, Privacy Bee bridges the gap in data security. For businesses, remember this: 100% of companies involved in a data breach had cybersecurity measures in place. That is a given today, and threat actors have adapted. With new technology at their disposal, cybercriminals can scale their efforts and tailor attacks more easily than ever. Instead of waiting for an attack to happen, go on the offensive and get personal information removed.

We believe data privacy is a human right, and we’re here to help individuals and businesses who embrace this same ideology get back to what we all want: the ability to navigate the internet without fear of financial ruin.

Privacy Bee protects users against:

  • Identity theft
  • Telemarketer calls
  • Cyberstalking
  • Swatting
  • Doxxing
  • Blackmail
  • Spam

Whether you’re an individual looking to proactively protect yourself and your family, or a business looking to guard employees and customers alike, Privacy Bee is here to give you back control of your private data.

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