Practical Computer Advice
from Martin Kadansky
Volume 4 Issue 4April 2010
In This Issue
Data Security: Does the new law apply to you?
Does the new Massachusetts "Protection of Personal Information" law apply to you? Here's my advice on the most likely answer.
Data Security: Does the new law apply to you?

Over the past few weeks I've mentioned this new law (Massachusetts Chapter 93H, implemented by regulation 201 CMR 17.00) to a variety of people, and I've noticed that:
  • Almost no one has heard about it.
  • Almost no one wants to hear about it.
  • Almost everyone thinks it doesn't apply to them.
Does the law apply to you? Take this quick test
As I wrote in last month's newsletter, if your organization (whether a business, nonprofit, or informal group):
  • Receives payment by check from any Massachusetts resident or organization, or
  • Has any Massachusetts employees on the payroll, or
  • Pays any Massachusetts contractors
then the new law applies to you. Why? You're handling names, bank account numbers (on those checks), Social Security numbers or Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN) or Employer Identification Numbers (EIN) on your 1099s and W-9s, exactly the kind of "Personal Information" specifically covered by this law.

If your organization also handles Driver's license numbers, credit or debit card numbers, or any other financial account numbers for any Massachusetts resident, then this law applies to you as well.

See "Data Security: The new Massachusetts law you can't ignore" ( for details.

Resistance vs. Acceptance
The resistance to this law reminds me of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' theory on the stages of grief:
  • Denial: "This law can't apply to me!" "I'll ignore it, they'll never catch me."
  • Anger: "Why should I have to deal with any of this?" "I'm busy!" "Can't someone else just do this for me?"
  • Bargaining: "What's the absolute minimum I can do?"
  • Depression: "I'm never going to get through this, it's impossibly complicated."
These reactions are understandable. I experienced all of them too, but the sooner you can work through to Acceptance ("Ok, let's break these requirements into smaller, manageable pieces and get moving; this will result in better protection for me and my customers"), the sooner you can get started on this important work.

As I learn about these issues and how to address them, I will share with you what I've learned and what changes I'm making in my own business and my habits.

If you know someone who might find this helpful, please feel free to forward it.
If you have any comments about this article, send me a reply!
If you have a topic that you'd like me to write about, I'd love to hear about it!
How to contact me:
phone: (617) 484-6657

On a regular basis I write about real issues faced by typical computer users. To subscribe to this newsletter, please send an email to and I'll add you to the list, or visit

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Copyright (C) 2010 Kadansky Consulting, Inc. All rights reserved.

I love helping people learn how to use their computers better! Like a "computer driving instructor," I work 1-on-1 with small business owners and individuals to help them find a more productive and successful relationship with their computers and other high-tech gadgets.

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