There are steps companies can take now, merger and non-merger related, to address data privacy issues.

When it comes to evolving privacy restrictions, corporations should be careful what they wish for.

Digital technology inherently develops fast; the federal government, also inherently, tends to move slow. This inertia stifled consumer privacy concerns. So as corporations sought clarity on privacy issues, various states stepped in to fill the regulatory vacuum. The result: vexing confusion.

For example, California, New Mexico, Maine, and Virginia already have significant consumer privacy laws. New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Hawaii have new laws in the works. Nearly 25 states are at various stages of the legislative process, ranging from holding out altogether to playing the waiting game.

This patchwork approach creates a daunting challenge for any organization with a nationwide footprint to navigate. It’s already making a significant impact on the administrative and financial overhead of compliance professionals, as well as their organizations’ potential exposure.

Recently, as corporations sought additional clarity on privacy issues, the feds stepped in. The result: more vexing confusion.

The Situation (for Now)

For starters, the Biden administration made its changes through an executive order instead of through the legislative process. Such orders work through federal agencies rather than court-enforced legislation. This gives regulators the authority to enforce policy goals. But if the past is any guide, if the White House switches parties, the next two paragraphs would vanish with the stroke of a pen.

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