October is Cybersecurity Month. The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) typically uses this opportunity to educate businesses and consumers alike about how best to keep consumer data safe.

But this year, thanks to the support and leadership of Governor Evers and Secretary-designee Pfaff, we’re not stopping there. I’m proud to announce that DATCP is forming an Advisory Committee on Data Privacy and Security to better understand how we can effectively keep consumer data secure in our ever-changing technological economy.

Participating in today’s digital economy means your personal identifying information is stored, shared, and sold like any other good or service. By some accounts, the data storage market is estimated to grow from $56.8 billion in 2019 to $102.2 billion by 2024. This growth is driven by the constant, widespread use of smartphones, laptops and tablets, cloud computing and other factors.

While the storage and sharing of our personal consumer data is profitable business, keeping that data secure can be a challenge. Large-scale data breaches have become common place. According to research by Risk Based Security, in the first seven months of 2019 alone, there have been over 3,800 publicly disclosed data breaches, resulting in over 4.1 billion compromised records. These are just the breaches that have been reported.

These data breaches raise important questions: what expectation can consumers have that their data will remain private and secure? How will they be notified when their data is exposed and what recourse should they have if basic security measures were not in place to prevent exposure? DATCP’s Advisory Committee on Data Privacy and Security will bring industry leaders, government officials and consumer advocates together to discuss these issues and recommend next steps.

Wisconsin was once considered a national leader in Consumer Protection, but our data privacy laws have not evolved with the pace of technology. Using their expertise in data privacy and security, the members of the Advisory Committee will ask how Wisconsin can modernize its laws to address the threats posed by today’s marketplace.

We invite you to be part of this important conversation. To share your thoughts, you can email a comment to datcpdataadvisory@wisconsin.gov. Or you can attend one of our public meetings around the state, where we will invite industry members and consumers to provide feedback on this critical issue.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is dedicated to serving as a resource as Wisconsin looks to the future of consumer protection. Data privacy and security are top priorities that affect all of us. We look forward to working with stakeholders, advocates and consumers alike to meet the challenges of today’s marketplace.

Lara Sutherlin is the administrator of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Division of Trade and Consumer Protection.