Alabama State Data Breach Regulation states:

  • Each covered entity and third—party agent shall implement and maintain reasonable security measures to protect sensitive personally identifying information against a breach of security.

In the event of a breach: 

  • Notice to individuals under subsection (a) shall be made as expeditiously as possible and without unreasonable delay, taking into account the time necessary to allow the covered entity to conduct an investigation in accordance with Section 4. Except as provided in subsection (c), the covered entity shall provide notice within 45 days of the covered entity’s receipt of notice from a third party agent that a breach has occurred or upon the covered entity’s determination that a breach has occurred and is reasonably likely to cause substantial harm to the individuals to whom the information relates.
  • Any covered entity or third-party agent who is knowingly engaging in or has knowingly engaged in a violation of the notification provisions of this act will be subject to the penalty provisions set out in Section 8—19-11, Code of Alabama 1975. For the purposes of this act, knowingly shall Page 13 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 2O 21 22 23 24 25 SB318 mean willfully or with reckless disregard in failing to comply with the notice requirements of Sections 5 and 6. Civil penalties assessed under Section 8—19—11, Code of Alabama 1975, shall not exceed five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) per breach.

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Federal Requirements: 

In general, State laws that are contrary to the Privacy Rule are preempted by the federal requirements, which means that the federal requirements will apply.

Privacy Rule:

  •  Each covered entity, with certain exceptions, must provide a notice of its privacy practices. The Privacy Rule requires that the notice contain certain elements. The notice must describe the ways in which the covered entity may use and disclose protected health information. The notice must state the covered entity’s duties to protect privacy, provide a notice of privacy practices, and abide by the terms of the current notice. The notice must describe individuals’ rights, including the right to complain to HHS and to the covered entity if they believe their privacy rights have been violated. The notice must include a point of contact for further information and for making complaints to the covered entity. Covered entities must act in accordance with their notices. The Rule also contains specific distribution requirements for direct treatment providers, all other health care providers, and health plans.
  • A covered entity must develop and implement written privacy policies and procedures that are consistent with the Privacy Rule.
  •  A covered entity must train all workforce members on its privacy policies and procedures, as necessary and appropriate for them to carry out their functions. A covered entity must have and apply appropriate sanctions against workforce members who violate its privacy policies and procedures or the Privacy Rule.
  •  OCR may impose a penalty on a covered entity for a failure to comply with a requirement of the Privacy Rule.  Penalties will vary significantly depending on factors such as the date of the violation, whether the covered entity knew or should have known of the failure to comply, or whether the covered entity’s failure to comply was due to willful neglect.  Penalties may not exceed a calendar year cap for multiple violations of the same requirement.

For violations occurring prior to 2/18/2009

For violations occurring on or after 2/18/2009

Penalty Amount

Up to $100

per violation

$100 to $50,000 or more

per violation

Calendar Year Cap

$25,000

$1,500,000

  • A person who knowingly obtains or discloses individually identifiable health information in violation of the Privacy Rule may face a criminal penalty of up to $50,000 and up to one-year imprisonment.  The criminal penalties increase to $100,000 and up to five years imprisonment if the wrongful conduct involves false pretenses, and to $250,000 and up to 10 years imprisonment if the wrongful conduct involves the intent to sell, transfer, or use identifiable health information for commercial advantage, personal gain or malicious harm.

Security Rule:

The Security Rule requires covered entities to maintain reasonable and appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards for protecting e-PHI.

Specifically, covered entities must:

  • Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all e-PHI they create, receive, maintain or transmit;
  • Identify and protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security or integrity of the information;
  • Protect against reasonably anticipated, impermissible uses or disclosures; and
  • Ensure compliance by their workforce.

Business Associates:

  • The Privacy Rule requires that a covered entity obtain satisfactory assurances from its business associate that the business associate will appropriately safeguard the protected health information it receives or creates on behalf of the covered entity. The satisfactory assurances must be in writing, whether in the form of a contract or other agreement between the covered entity and the business associate.
  • A “business associate” is a person or entity that performs certain functions or activities that involve the use or disclosure of protected health information on behalf of, or provides services to, a covered entity.

 

If you believe that a HIPAA-covered entity or its business associate violated your (or someone else’s) health information privacy rights or committed another violation of the Privacy, Security, or Breach Notification Rules, you may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

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Find the data breach notification laws in your state.

 

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