In the digital age, data privacy has become an increasingly important concern. In response to this growing need for protection, Colorado has introduced the Colorado Privacy Act (CPA). This comprehensive legislation aims to enhance data privacy rights and empower individuals to have more control over their personal information. For nonprofits operating in Colorado or doing business with individuals in the state, understanding and complying with the CPA is crucial to ensure data protection and maintain public trust. In this article, we will delve into the key aspects of the CPA and outline what nonprofits need to address to ensure compliance.
Understanding the Colorado Privacy Act
The Colorado Privacy Act, passed in 2021 and effective on July 1, 2023, is modeled after similar privacy regulations, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Its primary objective is to protect the personal data of Colorado residents by granting them certain rights and imposing obligations on businesses that collect or process their information.
However, unlike other existing privacy protection legislation, the Colorado Privacy Act does not exclude nonprofit organizations from compliance. All organizations operating in Colorado or that “process or control the personal data of at least 25,000 consumers” in the state of Colorado must ensure that they have measures in place to function within the law or face stiff penalties.
Key Provisions of the Colorado Privacy Act
The CPA provides consumers with several rights, including the right to access their personal data, the right to correct inaccuracies, the right to delete data, and the right to opt-out of data processing for targeted advertising and the sale of personal data.
Transparency and Notice
Nonprofits must be transparent in their data processing practices. They need to provide clear and concise notices to consumers detailing the categories of data collected, purposes of processing, and the rights available to consumers.
Nonprofits should collect and process only the necessary data required to fulfill their intended purpose and must refrain from processing personal data beyond the stated purpose without obtaining additional consent.
Data Protection Assessments
Nonprofits are required to conduct regular data protection assessments to identify and mitigate risks associated with their data processing activities. These assessments ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect personal data.
Nonprofits must implement reasonable security measures to protect personal data from unauthorized access, use, destruction, or disclosure.
Data Breach Notification
In the event of a data breach that poses a risk to consumers, nonprofits must promptly notify affected individuals and the Colorado Attorney General’s office.
Steps Nonprofits Should Take Immediately to Ensure Compliance
Conduct Data Inventory
Perform a thorough inventory of the personal data collected, stored, and processed by your nonprofit. This inventory will help in assessing compliance gaps and implementing necessary measures.
Review Privacy Policies and Notices
Ensure that privacy policies and notices are updated and include the required information mandated by the CPA. Review the language used to ensure it is clear, concise, and easily understandable by consumers.
Establish Consent Mechanisms
Nonprofits should implement mechanisms to obtain valid and informed consent from consumers for processing their personal data. These mechanisms should allow consumers to exercise their rights effectively.
Develop Data Protection Policies
Nonprofits should create comprehensive data protection policies that outline the organization’s commitment to safeguarding personal data, including security measures, access controls, and data retention policies.
Educate employees about the CPA and the organization’s data protection policies. Training should cover data handling procedures, privacy practices, and the importance of maintaining data security and confidentiality.
Implement Data Security Measures
Nonprofits must assess their existing data security measures and ensure they are aligned with the CPA’s requirements. This may include encryption, access controls, regular security audits, and employee awareness programs.
Establish Data Breach Response Plan
Develop a comprehensive data breach response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a data breach. This plan should include procedures for timely detection, containment, investigation, and notification to affected individuals and relevant authorities.
Nonprofits should review their relationships with third-party vendors and service providers to ensure they meet the data protection requirements outlined by the CPA. Contracts and agreements should include provisions for data protection and specify the responsibilities of each party.
Regular Compliance Monitoring
Establish mechanisms to regularly monitor and assess compliance with the CPA. This may involve periodic audits, internal reviews, and ongoing assessments of data processing activities.
Consequences of Non-Compliance
At this time, after July 1, 2023, any organizations that fail to comply with the Colorado Privacy Act may face significant consequences, including penalties and potential legal actions. The CPA is enforced exclusively by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, and each violation carries a penalty between $2,000 and $20,000 per person affected, or $10,000 to $50,000 per violation against a person over age 65.
Additionally, as a result of Colorado Consumer Protection Act oversight, CPA violations can also lead to criminal charges. Criminal penalties are not common in privacy law internationally, but they do exist.
Where Will the CPA Impact Nonprofits the Most?
The short answer: In every part of their marketing.
The Colorado Privacy Act has a significant impact on marketing strategies for nonprofits, particularly in terms of targeted advertising and the creation of “lookalike” audiences, but also when it comes to using donor transaction data to create lists for future appeals and other important fundraising campaigns.
Nonprofits need to quickly adapt their marketing practices to comply with the CPA while still effectively reaching their key audience. Here are some important considerations:
The CPA grants consumers the right to opt-out of data processing for targeted advertising. Nonprofits must provide easily accessible and user-friendly mechanisms for consumers to exercise this right. This may involve implementing “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” links on websites or providing clear instructions on how to opt-out of data processing.
Data Collection and Consent
Nonprofits must review their data collection practices and ensure they have obtained valid consent from consumers for marketing purposes. The CPA requires clear and specific disclosures regarding the categories of data collected and the purposes of processing. Nonprofits should assess their consent mechanisms to ensure they meet the CPA’s requirements and provide an easy way for consumers to withdraw their consent.
While the CPA imposes limitations on data processing for targeted advertising, it does not prohibit personalized marketing entirely. Nonprofits can still tailor their marketing messages based on non-sensitive information and preferences that consumers voluntarily provide. By focusing on obtaining explicit consent and leveraging non-personalized data, nonprofits can continue to deliver effective and relevant marketing campaigns.
Nonprofits often collaborate with third-party vendors and service providers to execute marketing campaigns. Under the CPA, nonprofits bear the responsibility of ensuring that these partners comply with data protection requirements. Reviewing and updating contracts and agreements to include provisions for data protection is crucial to protect both the nonprofit and its constituents.
Transparency in Marketing Practices
The CPA emphasizes transparency in data processing practices. Nonprofits should ensure that their marketing materials, including advertisements, clearly communicate how consumer data is used and provide information on how consumers can exercise their privacy rights. Transparent marketing practices not only foster consumer trust but also demonstrate the nonprofit’s commitment to privacy and data protection.
Data Analytics and Insights
Nonprofits often rely on data analytics to gain insights into their audience and optimize marketing efforts. While the CPA imposes certain limitations on data processing, nonprofits can still leverage aggregated and anonymized data for analytics purposes. By focusing on privacy-conscious data analytics techniques, such as data anonymization and aggregation, nonprofits can continue to derive valuable insights while respecting consumer privacy.
Ongoing Compliance Monitoring
Marketing strategies and data processing practices evolve over time. Nonprofits must establish mechanisms for ongoing compliance monitoring to ensure that marketing campaigns align with the requirements of the CPA. Regular reviews and assessments of marketing processes and data handling procedures will help identify any compliance gaps and enable timely corrective actions.
When in Doubt, Count Them Out
If a nonprofit relies on a large donor database for their marketing, but they’ve not been given explicit consent from Colorado residents to use their personal information to market to them, using filtering tools to remove those individuals when segmenting their marketing lists could potentially save hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Nonprofits must adapt all of their data collection and use practices to align with the Colorado Privacy Act’s requirements while maintaining effective communication with their audience. By focusing on transparency, obtaining valid consent, and employing privacy-conscious data handling practices, nonprofits can continue to engage with their constituents while respecting their privacy rights. Adapting marketing strategies in line with the CPA not only ensures compliance but also enhances consumer trust, which is crucial for the long-term success of any nonprofit organization.
With over 20 years experience in traditional and digital marketing, Beth Brown has spent the bulk of those serving the nonprofit sector. Organizations and institutions that have relied on her strategy and skills include ChildFund International, Creighton University, University of North Dakota, Virginia Community College System, and the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.