On July 19th, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the formation of a new Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit within the state’s Department of Justice. The move is widely seen as a means of stepping up the state’s enforcement activities involving privacy issues.
The Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit will be organized under the state’s new eCrime Unit, which was formed in August 2011, and will centralize a number of existing California Justice Department programs intended to enforce privacy laws, combat identity theft, educate consumers, and create partnerships with private industry under one umbrella. The new unit’s mission is broad: it will enforce federal and state laws regulating the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of private or sensitive information by individuals, organizations, and the government. In addition to traditional online privacy, the unit’s mandate covers health privacy, financial privacy, identity theft, government records, and data breach laws. The unit will be staffed by California Department of Justice employees, including six dedicated prosecutors.