Vainieri Huttle: In Absence of Federal Regulation, NJ must Become Leader in Cybersecurity & Data Protection

Assemblywoman says NJ Must Enact Strong Data Privacy Laws to Help Protect Sensitive Data & Make NJ More Competitive in Emerging Cybersecurity Market

With cyber threats on the rise and the absence of a nationwide data privacy law, Assembly Homeland Security & State Preparedness Committee Chair Valerie Vainieri Huttle on Tuesday said New Jersey must position itself as a leader in cybersecurity protection by adopting strong measures that will not only protect, but present economic opportunities for the state.

“After the breaches at Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Equifax, people are rightfully concerned about how their personal data is being used,” said Vainieri Huttle. “The absence of federal regulation presents an opportunity for New Jersey to become a dominant force in the digital landscape by enacting legislation that will not only give residents the protections they are looking for, but will help position the state as an optimal location for tech companies that do this work.”

Earlier this month, Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) invited several security experts to speak before the Homeland Security & State Preparedness Committee, including Kenneth Rashbaum, an attorney who advises multinational corporations, financial services organizations and life sciences organizations in the areas of privacy and cybersecurity. Rashbaum explained how multinational organizations increasingly require cybersecurity and privacy protocols and compliance as a condition of doing business with them, and will look to locate in states with strong laws and robust enforcement.

Vainieri Huttle said Dr. David Weiss of New Jersey City University, who also spoke at the hearing, further reiterated this point when he testified about the importance and need to further advance innovation for businesses focused on data protection to compete in the global market place.

“A stronger, more comprehensive data protection policy for New Jersey will provide more transparency leading to more commercial opportunities for our business community that manages, stores and transfers data,” she added.

Vainieri Huttle said New Jersey can take lessons from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, which takes effect this week and will give citizens greater control over their data.

The law, while far from perfect, is based on the premise that consumers should have control over their personal data. “That’s what consumers want and deserve,” said Vainieri Huttle. “Whichever direction we go in as a state needs to have this ideal as its foundation.”

Vainieri Huttle said she plans to introduce a bill to raise awareness about data privacy as a starting point, and will user her position as chair of the Assembly Homeland Security & State Preparedness Committee to help make New Jersey a strong leader and competitor in an industry that is growing at such a rapid pace, it is having a hard time keeping up.

According to industry experts, there are roughly half a million cybersecurity-related job openings in the United States, but the gap between available workforce and demand is growing.

By 2019, there will be 6 million job openings for information security professionals, but only 4.5 million security professionals to fill these roles.

“Other states are already taking advantage of this boom and investing in infrastructure to attract these companies. New Jersey is already home to a thriving tech industry and top-notch institutions of higher education. We have a history of innovation. We can either be active participants in this boom, or watch from the sidelines as other states reap the benefits,” said Vainieri Huttle.