Rhode Island’s Data Breach Notification Law states:

  • Any municipal agency, state agency, or person that stores, owns, collects, processes, maintains, acquires, uses, or licenses data that includes personal information shall provide notification as set forth in this section of any disclosure of personal information, or any breach of the security of the system, that poses a significant risk of identity theft to any resident of Rhode Island whose personal information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, acquired by an unauthorized person or entity.
  • The notification shall be made in the most expedient time possible, but no later than forty-five (45) calendar days after confirmation of the breach and the ability to ascertain the information required to fulfill the notice requirements contained in subsection (d) of this section, and shall be consistent with the legitimate needs of law enforcement as provided in subsection (c) of this section. In the event that more than five hundred (500) Rhode Island residents are to be notified, the municipal agency, state agency, or person shall notify the attorney general and the major credit reporting agencies as to the timing, content, and distribution of the notices and the approximate number of affected individuals. Notification to the attorney general and the major credit reporting agencies shall be made without delaying notice to affected Rhode Island residents.
  • Each reckless violation of this chapter is a civil violation for which a penalty of not more than one hundred dollars ($100) per record may be adjudged against a defendant.
  • Each knowing and willful violation of this chapter is a civil violation for which a penalty of not more than two hundred dollars ($200) per record may be adjudged against a defendant.
  •  Whenever the attorney general has reason to believe that a violation of this chapter has occurred and that proceedings would be in the public interest, the attorney general may bring an action in the name of the state against the business or person in violation.

Take our HIPAA Training to learn more.

Find the data breach notification laws in your state.

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



  • 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).

Take our HIPAA Training to learn more.

Find the data breach notification laws in your state.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.