On Thursday, the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (“OCABR”) revised and postponed — for the second time — its comprehensive data security regulations. The new deadline for all covered entities to achieve full compliance with the Massachusetts regulations is January 1, 2010. This fixed deadline replaces a tiered-compliance schedule established by OCABR in November 2008 that would have given covered entities until May 1, 2009 to install certain data security safeguards, including encrypting personal information on laptops, and until January 1, 2010 to implement more aggressive security measures. (See our prior post here.)

Responding to the concerns of the regulated community, the OCABR’s revised regulations, 201 CMR 17.00, do not require covered entities to obtain written certification of compliance with the regulations from third party service providers handling personal information on their behalf. Instead, covered entities need only take steps to verify that third party service providers are able to, and do, employ the kind of personal information security measures required by 201 CMR 17.00. The revised regulations are otherwise nearly identical to the OCABR’s earlier version, which is described here.

In the OCABR’s Thursday press release, Undersecretary Daniel Crane expressed the importance of the new regulations to Massachusetts consumers and the need for businesses to take steps toward compliance. As to the revised compliance timeframe, Crane said “[w]e understand the impact of the current business environment, and feel this is an appropriate timeframe for companies to implement the necessary protections.”