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New Jersey Enacts Stringent New Privacy Law Taking Effect in 2025

As the Compliance Countdown Begins it's Time to Start Building Ethical Data Fortresses Before the Bell Tolls

New Jersey has joined over a dozen other states in implementing its own comprehensive privacy legislation, with Governor Phil Murphy signing Senate Bill 332/A1971 into law on January 15, 2024. While not taking effect until January 2025, the law establishes strict new data protection obligations for companies meeting certain thresholds for collecting New Jersey resident consumer data or selling that data.

Defining protected "personal data" broadly as anything reasonably linkable to an identified person, the law sets handling restrictions around sensitive categories like financial information, health data, sexual orientation, and precise geolocation histories. Biometric data rules also limit certain processing tied to identifying individuals through biological characteristics.

Transparency and consent stipulations require covered businesses to disclose data activities through reasonably accessible privacy notices, while providing opt-out options for data sales or targeted advertising. Legal penalties for non-compliance will fall under the enforcement authority of the State Attorney General exclusively, without routes for individual private lawsuits.

While aligning with many aspects of the growing patchwork of state privacy laws, New Jersey introduces a few unique elements - such as lack of any revenue threshold alongside a consumer data volume test for applicability. The law also declines to distinguish employee information as exempt from personal data protections.

With a year-long runway until the law kicks into gear, all companies doing business in the state should audit their data collection, storage, and monetization practices against these new benchmarks. Aligning with both the letter and spirit of privacy rights will be critical for building New Jersey consumer trust in the digital age. Those laying the groundwork in 2024 may gain a competitive edge.

We advise immediate in-depth legal review of the Act’s specific obligations as they pertain to particular business models and data assets. Key preparatory steps also include cataloging all personal data storage procedures with heightened scrutiny of sensitive categories, plus identifying any gaps requiring consent, transparency enhancements or encryption upgrades.

Drafting comprehensive opt-out processes and access provisions aligned to individual rights takes lead time as well. We also recommend larger companies designate formal data protection officers to take point in implementing and maintaining rigorous privacy infrastructure from the top-down. While fines may seem a year away, negative PR from early missteps could prove more immediate and lasting. Get ahead of risks through proactive response - the hallmark of resilience.

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