On March 22, 2010, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed H.B. 1149 into law, making her state the second behind Minnesota to hold businesses and governmental entities responsible to financial institutions for certain costs arising from payment card information breaches. As of July 1, entities that process more than 6 million credit or debit card transactions annually who fail to reasonably safeguard card information can be required to reimburse financial institutions for the costs related to the re-issuance of cards as well as attorneys fees and costs in the event that a security breach involving payment card information is a proximate result.

On March 21, 2007, eight federal regulatory agencies (“Joint Agencies”) with jurisdiction over Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”) regulated “financial institutions” issued an interagency proposal for a new model privacy form. The proposal is the result of a lengthy process the Joint Agencies began in 2001 to improve the format of GLBA privacy notices to make them more comprehensible to consumers. In addition to a lack of clarity, the Joint Agencies and consumer and privacy advocates have been concerned about the length of notices and the overuse of legal terms.

Section 503 of the GLBA, 15 U.S.C. § 1603 and current rules, require financial institutions to provide their customers with a notice that describes, among other things, how they protect nonpublic personal information, the categories of nonpublic personal information collected, the affiliates and the nonaffiliated third parties to whom such information is disclosed, and a description of the customer’s right to prevent certain disclosures to nonaffiliated third parties. These notices must be provided at the outset of the institution’s relationship with a customer and, in the case of long-standing relationships, on an annual basis. Current rules do not mandate a standard format or particular wording for the notices, however, they provide sample clauses that financial institutions can use to satisfy the notice requirements.