The Maryland Public Information Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Maryland. Maryland statutes 10-611 through 10-628 define the law.
Public records are defined by the Code of Maryland as documents in any form, made or received by a public body, which pertain to government business.
Md.Code Ann., State & Govt, 10-611 to 628
Sanctions for Noncompliance
Yes. The circuit court may enjoin the State, a political subdivision, or a unit, an official, or an employee of the State or og a political subdivision from withholding the public record or a copy, printout or photograph of the record; order the production of the withheld record or copy, printout or photograp;h, and award actual damages including attorneys’ fees to the complainant if the Court finds that the complainant substantially prevailed in the suit seeking enforcement of the Act. § 4-362(c), (f); but see ACLU v. Leopold, 223 Md. App. 97, 123 (2015) (“actual damages” under the statute does not include emotional damages). In addition, a person, including an officer or employee of a governmental unit, is liable to an individual for actual damages that the court considers appropriate if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person willfully and knowingly (1) allows inspection of a public record that names or identifies the individual (e.g., by address, description, fingerprint, picture) or (2) obtains, discloses or uses personal information. § 4-401(a). Further, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $ 1,000 if he/she/they willfully or knowingly violates any provision of the Act, fails to petition a court after a temporary denial, or by false pretenses, bribery, or theft, accesses a personal record, the disclosure of which is prohibited. § 4-402(a)-(b); see also § 4-362(d). Custodians found to have acted arbitrarily or capriciously in withholding a public record may be subject to disciplinary action. § 4-362(e). And custodians who fail to comply with a court order for production of a public record may be punished for contempt. § 4-362(e).
Since 2006, FOIA lawsuits have increased 57% and the cost of defending these lawsuits is millions of dollars.
With Evertel, we provide an efficient, proven, and effective manner to share FOIA documents to those requesting. Once your legal experts provide the policy, the executives auditing your agency’s platform can immediately release the approved documents in minutes, avoiding multi-year litigations and expensive legal costs.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s CJIS Security Policy sets the minimum security requirements to provide an acceptable level of assurance to protect the full lifecycle of Criminal Justice Information. Agencies using cloud-based services are required to make informed decisions on whether or not the cloud provider can offer services that maintain compliance with the requirements of the CJIS Security Policy.
The CJIS Security Policy integrates presidential and FBI directives, federal laws, and the criminal justice community’s Advisory Policy Board decisions, along with guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The Policy is periodically updated to reflect evolving security requirements.
The CJIS Security Policy defines 13 areas that private contractors such as cloud service providers must evaluate to determine if their use of cloud services can be consistent with CJIS requirements. These areas correspond closely to NIST 800-53, which is also the basis for the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) program.
The key agency requirements of CJIS compliance are summarized here:
Evertel signs the CJIS Security Addendum in states with CJIS Information Agreements. These tell state law enforcement authorities responsible for compliance with CJIS Security Policy how Evertel’s cloud security controls help protect the full lifecycle of data and ensure appropriate background screening of operating personnel with access to CJI. Evertel continues to work with state governments to enter into CJIS Information Agreements.
It is important to note upfront that HIPAA compliance requirements are primarily focused on health providers. Having said that, government agencies, and in particular 1st Responders, are typically transmitting HIPAA data daily and in non-compliant fashions. In today’s litigious world, it makes sense to comply with HIPAA requirements and remove or minimize the risk.
HIPAA violations are expensive. The penalties for noncompliance are based on the level of negligence and can range from $100 to $50,000 per violation (or per record), with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per year for violations of an identical provision. Violations can also carry criminal charges that can result in jail time.
Fines increase with the number of patients and the amount of neglect. The lowest fines start with a breach where you didn’t know and, by exercising reasonable diligence, would not have known that you violated a provision. At the other end of the spectrum are fines levied where a breach is due to negligence and not corrected in 30 days. In legalese, this is known as mens rea (state of mind). So fines increase in severity from no mens rea (didn’t know) to assumed mens rea (willful neglect).
The fines and charges are broken down into 2 major categories: Reasonable Cause and Willful Neglect. Reasonable Cause ranges from $100 to $50,000 per incident and does not involve any jail time. Willful Neglect ranges from $10,000 to $50,000 for each incident and can result in criminal charges.
While encryption is an addressable (rather than required) specification, it does not mean optional. The vast majority of data breaches are due to stolen or lost data that was unencrypted. When in doubt, you should implement the addressable implementation specifications of the Security Rule. Most of them are best practices.
Breaches can occur when employees lose unencrypted portable devices, mistakenly send PHI to vendors who post that information online and disclose personally identifiable, sensitive information on social networks.
These are all examples from actual cases. Employee training and adherence to security policies and procedures are extremely important.
Almost half of all data breaches are the result of theft. When laptops, smartphones, etc. are unencrypted the risk of a breach increases considerably. With Evertel, your data is safely stored off-premise; so that a lost or stolen mobile phone or laptop has no data on it and hence and no PHI is compromised.
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