Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
Stephen Adams, the former New England small-business advocate for the U.S. Small Business Administration, wrote an op-ed piece in today’s Boston Business Journal discussing our amended Data Security regulations. Give it a read:
A dramatic new economic development effort was launched last week by the Patrick administration but received scant attention. The new initiative will save Massachusetts small businesses hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Yet it was accomplished without ceding a dime of tax revenue, expending a dollar of government subsidy or compromising one inch on consumer or employee protections.
The author of this economic boon is neither an economist or economic development professional. Rather, she is a lawyer and consumer advocate — Undersecretary for Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Barbara Anthony. She produced this major economic stimulus by rewriting state data privacy rules so that small businesses could comply without taking on unnecessary costs.
It is true that these gains come from scaling back costly new regulations imposed by the Patrick administration in the first place. But this case demonstrates that state government can produce strong economic benefits simply by being attentive to the way its rules and regulations hit small businesses and by being thoughtful in their design.
Late last year the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, in response to a legislative mandate to protect consumer and employee data, adopted the most demanding data security regulations in the nation.
Moreover, the onerous requirements would be applied equally to all businesses. That meant that the smallest mom-and-pop would be required to adopt the same data security measures as the largest financial services firms.
OCABR staff had estimated that the new rules would cost a 10-person firm $3,000 in upfront costs and another $6,000 every year. This is a dramatic underestimate, according to some data security experts, who placed the upfront small-business costs at nearly $40,000.
Enter Barbara Anthony. Anthony and her team rewrote the rules to take into consideration the size of a business and the amount of personal information it handles. The revisions require “safeguards that are appropriate to the size, scope and type of business handling the information; the amount of resources available to the business; the amount of stored data; and the need for security and confidentiality of both consumer and employee information.” By designing the requirements around a company’s ability to comply, the revised rules will sharply reduce the cost to small firms and increase compliance.
The news is not all good. The revised regulations will still add a new layer of state costs and requirements to existing Federal data security rules. Nonetheless, if Anthony’s accomplishment can be repeated across the rest of state government, the economic benefit to the commonwealth will be enormous.
Stephen Adams was the New England small-business advocate for the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2005 to 2009.
Craigslist Scam Alert: How You Could You Be Paying Someone to Steal Your Personal Info posted on Jul 24
Over the past week, the Consumer Hotline has received two complaints about a scam on Craigslist where buyers are scamming sellers out of money and their personal information. Callers reported being scammed when trying to sell an item on Craigslist. Online buyers would offer to …Continue Reading Craigslist Scam Alert: How You Could You Be Paying Someone to Steal Your Personal Info
First Time Homebuyers Prepare Themselves posted on Mar 13
Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases a consumer will ever make. Although buying and owning a home may seem daunting, prospective Massachusetts homeowners have a wealth of resources to prepare themselves. HUD-approved housing counseling agencies and Community Development Corporations around Massachusetts provide …Continue Reading First Time Homebuyers Prepare Themselves
Subfreezing Temperatures Don’t Have to Freeze Your Bank Account posted on Jan 9
As the nation has endured subfreezing temperatures this week and consumers are putting their thermostats to work, it might be a good idea to check in and see how efficient your heating system is running. In Massachusetts, MassSave, a statewide program sponsored by Massachusetts energy companies, supports …Continue Reading Subfreezing Temperatures Don’t Have to Freeze Your Bank Account