ALTA Develops Data Privacy Principles

February 6, 2020

ALTA announced the release of its data privacy principles that recommend the development of a single, national standard to help protect consumer private information uniformly and consistently while maintaining an efficient homebuying and selling experience.

“The patchwork of state privacy laws creates inconsistent protection of data and confusion for both consumers and businesses seeking to understand these statutes and compliance obligations. Having a federal standard for data privacy would help eliminate the disparity and uncertainty,” said Diane Tomb, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “Protecting consumer information is a priority of the title and settlement industry. Since 2013, ALTA’s Best Practices have included requirements for a written privacy and information security program to protect non-public personal information.”

Key aspects of the principles include exemptions for entities already subject to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, personal information that is already publicly available and business-to-business relationships. In addition, the standards say data privacy laws should recognize the need for businesses to share personal information needed complete a transaction. Consideration also should be given to the impact on small business, with respect to the cost of compliance relative to the risk of consumer harm, the principles say. Other aspects of the standards discuss data breach notifications, a safe harbor and the right to cure.

“The conversation occurring at the federal level about data privacy is important, and we hope these principles provide a guidepost to the development of single standard that simplifies compliance and eliminates confusion,” Tomb said.

In addition to California, Connecticut and Nevada, another 15 to 20 other states are expected to consider legislation regarding data privacy in 2020. 

It's unlikely there will be any action regarding data privacy this year in Congress. The main policy conflicts at the federal level are federal preemption, private right to action and carve-outs. 

Four comprehensive data privacy bills have been discussed in Congress, including HR 2013: Information Transparency & Personal Data Control Act; HR 4978: Online Privacy Act of 2019; Draft: United States Consumer Data Privacy Act of 2019; and S 2968: Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act.

ALTA has developed many resources to help companies understand what they need to do to comply, if required, to data privacy laws.  

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or