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Rhode Island strengthens privacy with new Data Transparency and Privacy Protection Act

Rhode Island becomes the 20th state to enact a privacy law, joining the growing list of states prioritizing consumer data protection

Keshawna Campbel
Privacy Research Manager, OneTrust Center of Excellence
June 28, 2024

Columns of a government building

On June 25, 2024, Rhode Island took a significant step toward enhancing data privacy with the passage of House Bill 7787 and Senate Bill 2500, collectively known as the Data Transparency and Privacy Protection Act. Passed by the state legislature earlier in June, this new law sets out clear guidelines for businesses operating in the state to ensure transparency and protect consumer data.

 

Scope and application of the Act

The Data Transparency and Privacy Protection Act mainly targets for-profit businesses operating in Rhode Island or those offering products or services to Rhode Island residents. It applies to companies that, in the previous calendar year:

  • Controlled or processed personal data of at least 35,000 customers, excluding data processed solely for payment transactions.

  • Controlled or processed personal data of at least 10,000 customers and derived over 20% of their gross revenue from selling personal data.

 

Exclusions from the Act

The Act doesn't cover specific types of information, such as:

  • Protected health information under HIPAA.

  • Identifiable private information collected in human research.

  • Data regulated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

  • Personal data managed under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

  • Employment-related data and data processed for state bodies, non-profit organizations, or financial institutions under the GLBA.

 

Key definitions

The Act defines several terms to clarify its scope, including controller, process, sale of personal data, and sensitive data. It defines personal data as “any information linked or reasonably linkable to an identifiable individual, excluding de-identified data or publicly available information.”

The Act also defines what activities are not considered 'targeted advertising' including:

  • Advertisements based on activities within a controller's own Internet websites or online applications;

  • advertisements based on the context of a customer's current search query, or current visit to an Internet website or online application;

  • advertisements directed to a customer in response to the customer's request for information or feedback; or

  • processing personal data solely to measure or report advertising frequency, performance, or reach.

Notably, the Act does not have a definition for personally identifiable information. 

 

Principles and obligations

The Act outlines principles for processing personal data, including implementing reasonable security practices and obtaining customer consent for processing sensitive data. Controllers are required to:

  • Create a privacy notice detailing data collection categories, third-party disclosures, customer rights, and contact information.

  • Clearly disclose if they sell personal data or use it for targeted advertising.

Processors must follow controllers' instructions and have contracts governing data processing. Controllers must also conduct data protection assessments for high-risk processing activities and document these assessments to comply with applicable laws.

 

Unique privacy notice requirements

The Act adopts a unique approach to privacy notices. Broader than the Act's general scope of application the information sharing provisions require commercial websites or internet service providers that collect, store and sell customers' personally identifiable information to disclose third parties to whom they sell or "may sell" such information. The scope of this requirement is unclear as the Act does not define "personally identifiable information." This ambiguity could pose challenges for businesses as they strive to comply.

 

Consumer rights

The Act grants consumers several rights, including:

  • The right to be confirm, access, correct, delete, and data portability.

  • The right to opt-out of targeted advertising, profiling in furtherance of  automated decisions with significant effects.

  • The right to use authorized agents for opt-out requests.

Controllers must respond to consumer requests within 45 days, free of charge once per 12-month period, with provisions for authentication.

 

Enforcement and timeline

The Rhode Island Attorney General has exclusive authority to enforce the Act, which will come into effect on January 1, 2026. 

 

Next steps for businesses

With the Data Transparency and Privacy Protection Act set to take effect in January 2026, businesses need to start preparing now to ensure compliance. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Review data practices: Audit your current data collection, processing, and sharing practices to ensure they align with the new requirements. Pay particular attention to the categories of personal data collected and how this data is shared with third parties.

  2. Update privacy notices: Given the Act’s unique privacy notice requirements, businesses should update their privacy policies to clearly disclose third parties to whom they sell or may sell personal data. Clarify any ambiguities around the term "personally identifiable information."

  3. Implement security measures: Establish and maintain robust administrative, technical, and physical data security practices. Ensure that sensitive data processing adheres to consent requirements.

  4. Develop consumer rights protocols: Create and implement processes for consumers to exercise their rights under the Act, including the right to access, correction, deletion, and opt-out of data processing for targeted advertising.

  5. Conduct Data Protection Assessments: Identify and document high-risk data processing activities. Regularly conduct data protection assessments to mitigate potential risks to consumer data.

  6. Train your team: Educate your teams about the new requirements and the importance of data privacy and security. Ensure that everyone understands their role in maintaining compliance.

  7. Monitor for updates: Stay informed about any legislative clarifications or amendments to the Act that may arise before the effective date. This is especially important given the ambiguity around certain definitions and requirements. For the latest updates and expert analysis, visit OneTrust DataGuidance

By taking these steps, businesses can better navigate the complexities of the Data Transparency and Privacy Protection Act and ensure they’re well-prepared for its implementation.

Request a demo to learn more about how OneTrust can help with your US privacy compliance efforts.


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