Wyoming Mulls Data-Privacy Protections


The devil is always in the details, no more so than when managing personal digital identities.

One concept is to use of a personal data trust that would hold personal data and then verify or attest to the data’s accuracy when third-parties submit queries against the data.

Establishing such entities, on the other hand, is proving challenging for many jurisdictions, including the Cowboy State.

In a recent meeting by the Wyoming Blockchain Task Force, the Wyoming Division of Banking noted that any enabling data-privacy legislation would need to adopt a consumer-protection model or a property-rights model as a foundation.

The consumer-protection model would be similar to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation in that it would provide people with the statutory right to demand to know what personal data a firm is holding, update that data, correct that data, delete the data, and prohibit the firm from selling the data to third parties, according to Christopher Land, general consul at the Wyoming Division of Banking and who spoke during the meeting.

The consumer-protection model also would not require third-party intermediaries, such as personal data trusts.

“It is kind of the same thing that happens today where the individual companies hold their data, and you have certain consumer protection rights against that company,” he said.

California and Nevada have adopted similar versions of this model.

However, in a personal property model, people would have rights to dominion control, leasing, dividing their interest in their data, and the duty to maintain the data’s hygiene. 

“As property, you shift the private data over to a trusted third-party and the liability shifts with the data to that third party,” added Albert Folkner, Commissioner of the Wyoming Division of Banking and who also participated in the meeting.

Having to choose between the consumer-protection and property models is a false dichotomy, according to State Senator and Wyoming Blockchain Task Force Co-Chair Chris Rothfuss.

“Even if my data is property, I still want consumer protection,” he added. “I want to have it at an entity that is good at securing it. You cannot abstract a way that someone else is holding it.”

Waiting to select which data-protection model Wyoming should adopt should not prevent the state from enacting the necessary legislation to enable personal data trusts, according to Rothfuss. “It seems that we have a few ways to do it and still have some value from a personal data trust.”