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Insurance and data privacy safeguards muddled

Adequate cybersecurity measures are difficult enough for any business to achieve. When it comes to the privacy and protection of customer data, the lack of a national standard means companies must adhere to different requirements for each state they do business in.

Cybersecurity insurance presents a logical choice for companies looking to protect themselves from the consequences of a data breach, but even so, exclusions and evolving threats leave policyholders vulnerable.

The Cybersecurity Association of Maryland (CAMI) shone some light on where these problems overlap at a Sept. 27 Breakfast Club event hosted by the University of Maryland University College at the College Park Marriott & Conference Center in Hyattsville.
Presenters Howard Feldman, a partner in the Whiteford, Taylor and Preston law firm’s Baltimore office, and Cyber Risk Expert Mike Volke of PSA Insurance & Financial Services of Baltimore, led the discussion.

Mike Volke (left), PSA Insurance Cyber Risk Expert, and Howard Feldman, a partner with Whiteford, Taylor and Preston, illustrated the challenges posed to businesses, by a lack of national data privacy standards at a CAMI event in September.

Throughout the United States, cybersecurity laws and regulations change nearly every day, said Feldman.

“Lawyers like well-settled principles of law,” he said. “That’s what having a stable legal and regulatory market promotes, but [in this environment] it’s hard for businesses to plan, adjust and know what to do.”

So far, Feldman said, Congress has only taken a sector-by-sector approach as different problems arise, while it has been the states themselves that have thought more globally. That disconnect has resulted in a labyrinth of consumer notification laws and regulations for large retailers like Target or Home Depot to follow when they experience a data breach.

“If you represent companies that do business nationwide or state to state … it’s a real pain to try to comply with all 50 state laws,” he said.

Default Standard

Members of the European Union (EU) began enforcing the data privacy and protection requirements of the organization’s universal General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May this year.

In the months that followed, the state of California enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, something Feldman considers troubling because the hastily written law has already been amended and is expected to be amended several more times before taking effect in early 2020.

Companies doing business in the state and collecting data from California consumers — meaning virtually every company in the United States — will have to comply with the legislation.

“Unless Congress acts, that’s going to become the default law for the country for data security,” Feldman said.

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, representative for Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District, acknowledged that California has a powerful economy, but said he believes local officials will fight for what is best for their own citizens and business community.

“I’m confident we can all work together toward robust data privacy standards,” he said. “More effort at the federal level to make sure these issues are ironed out before the California law goes into effect would certainly be common sense.”

Too Many Cooks

Many industries in the United States have lobbied Congress to establish national cybersecurity privacy and data protection standards for a number of years.

“[The GDPR] may be a very onerous standard, but at least you have one standard that applies across the entire European economic group,” Feldman said.

Ruppersberger, however, cautioned against rushing legislation based off the European model, despite its positive privacy measures.

“I am glad more American businesses are proactively protecting online users – like the Cybersecurity Tech Accord and other [measures] — without a legislative intervention,” he said. “Consumers over the last few years are learning so much more about how much of their personal data is held, traded, and sold by the private sector, such as Google and Facebook, and many are demanding to know more about how their data is used. That should push us to create better solutions for our constituents.”

“The main issue has been committee jurisdiction,” he said. “Issues like cybersecurity and technology policy are very hard to tackle in Congress because the fault lines lie across many different committees. This is why I’ve co-sponsored legislation to fix how issues such as cyber are delegated in the House.”

Cyber Insurance

According to Volke, cybersecurity insurance requirements are beginning to appear in more business contracts as companies try to protect themselves against the high cost of data breaches.

“Some will exclude liquidated damages and contractually assumed liability, so it’s important to understand what you have in your policy,” he said. “It’s not always possible to push that liability to a third party … through a contract.”

Aside from covering liability, cybersecurity insurance policies can be useful tools that provide forensics experts, legal obligation reviews and other resources in response to a cyber attack, and can also cover costs associated with system damage, malware removal and lost revenue due to business interruption.

The product is still in its infancy, however, with industry experts still struggling to figure out how to underwrite risk without the means to do an intrusive network assessment or require customers to provide one.

While insurers can monitor what a company does to control risk, there’s no way to monitor a completely dynamic threat environment.

“At some point there’s going to be a way for the insurance carriers to get better data and information about the risk they’re underwriting, but it’s not a traditional model for insurance,” Volke said.

On the national level, state legislatures and Insurance Commissioners are currently evaluating cybersecurity regulations, Ruppersberger said, and a few states have actually passed laws dealing with the insurance issue.

“I think Congress has been reluctant to preempt the states on this one, but the passage of state laws has certainly been good for the community as a whole,” he said. “The more businesses and local entities that are having discussions around cybersecurity standards and models, the more secure we will all be in the long run.”



Are you recycling or ‘wish-cycling’?

First eat the pizza. Then eat the residue that sticks to the box. Then recycle.

Really, here’s the dish on pizza boxes: it depends on the saturation level, explained Richard Bowen, recycling program manager in Anne Arundel County: “If the box has a couple of tiny grease spots, that can go in your recycling. If it has sauce and cheese on the bottom panel, rip off the top and trash the saturated side. There’s no reason to throw the whole box away.”


What happens to the pizza box next? It’s collected by a variety of contracted private haulers, who take it directly to the Waste Management Recycle America facility in Elkridge. This facility handles recycling from Anne Arundel and Howard counties.
There, the pizza box gets dumped onto its first conveyor belt, which runs past four human sorters – the facility employs 41 sorters who work eight-hour shifts – and they begin to pick out what amounts to the absurd things people should never have put in their recycle bins to begin with.

In under a minute, the sorters pick out a mangled metal-and-plastic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle saucer-sled, the lining to what must have been a trench coat, four plastic bags that may be filled with recyclables or trash, and more than 10 empty grocery bags. This is “wish-cycling,” where consumers simply drop stuff into their bins and hope for the best.

And that’s just the worst for sorters, said Michael Taylor, director of recycling operations for Waste Management, a Texas-based company and the largest environmental solutions provider in North America.

Taylor manages the plant in Elkridge along with several others across the region, and the stuff that ends up in recycling bins is befuddling, even after his 25 years in the industry. “You wouldn’t believe the bowling balls we’ve found,” he said. “I don’t know why.”
And: helium containers that are a fire hazard, a myriad of small electronic devices with potentially flammable parts, milk jugs full of hypodermic needles that get squished and explode all over the facility floor.

In 2006, when the facility first opened, about six percent of the intake was non-recyclable items that should never have gone in the bin. Today, the “wish-cycle” rate is about 16 percent, Taylor said, perhaps because more people are recycling but, at the same time, they are either uneducated or apathetic about what can and can’t go into their bins.


After the initial sorting, the pizza box rides another conveyor belt and enters a screener that, in an action that looks like a pinball machine, bounces stuff around to shake out items of a certain size and weight. During this phase, recyclables are separated into more recognizable categories – newspaper, other paper, cans, cardboard – and again fed onto conveyor belts, where human sorters once again pick out items that don’t belong.
The pizza box is then baled into a square that stacks into tractor trailers with the perfection of a Rubik’s cube. The Elkridge facility bales 900 tons of material a day. Where does it go?

All items dumped into the recycling bin is sorted by hand at the recycle center on Kit Kat Road in Elkridge.

A lot of cardboard goes to Vietnam, India and Egypt, said Bowen, whereas it used to go to China. “Currently, China has a one percent contamination level requirement which is really difficult to meet,” he said. In this case, “contamination” means items that aren’t cardboard have nonetheless been placed in a cardboard bale.

Cardboard – notwithstanding the new regulations from China – is still the most marketable recycling commodity. But the most valuable bale is actually aluminum cans, said Taylor. “Paper is used to make new paper, but the fibers get broken down,” he explained, “whereas the aluminum can – a lot of cans go to Alcoa — comes back pretty perfectly as an aluminum can. It’s the perfect recyclable.”

What we often label as cardboard is actually “old corrugated containers,” or two flat exterior layers of paper. Last year, old corrugated containers were worth $104.72 per ton, according to Recycling Today.

Though it’s harder to sell recycled bales to China, in fact other markets are available, said Taylor, “and some Chinese paper mill groups have actually bought U.S. paper mills. It’s a global business and a constantly changing marketplace.”

As the bales get loaded onto trucks, Taylor said the best rule of thumb for residents is, when in doubt, don’t just drop an item into your recycle bin and hope for the best.

“We’re here processing this stuff, and every day is different,” he said. “You put that bin on the curb, and it goes away, and people get mad when it doesn’t. Try to think about what has happened when you come home and that bin is empty.”

Recycling Rules

To learn how to be a better recycler, visit the county website:
In Anne Arundel County, visit: https://www.aacounty.org/departments/public-works/waste-management/Materials_Accepted
In Howard County, visit: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Public-Works/Bureau-Of-Environmental-Services/Recycling

Howard County Seeks Health Board Members


Howard County Executive is seeking three consumers and two family members to serve on the county’s Local Behavioral Health Authority Board. Comprised of 28 members, board members serve five-year terms and are responsible for advising the county health officer and the county executive.

To be eligible, candidates must be county residents, at least 18 years of age and have an interest in behavioral health. Applicants should send a resume and a brief letter explaining why they want to serve on the Board to Howard County Government, Office of the County Executive, Attn: David Lee, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, Md., 21043. The deadline to apply is Friday, Nov. 30.

AAMC Receives ‘A’ for Patient Safety


Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) has been awarded an ‘A’ from The Leapfrog Group’s Fall 2018 Hospital Safety Grade. The designation recognizes AAMC’s efforts in protecting patients from harm and meeting the highest safety standards in the U.S. The Leapfrog Hospital Survey reports on hospital performance to empower consumers to find the highest-value care and to make informed decisions.

Developed under the guidance of a national expert panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice per year. AAMC was one of 855 hospitals across the U.S. awarded an A in the fall 2018 update of grades.

Main Street Upgrade Includes New Amenities


In the wake of major floods in July 2016 and May 2018 that destroyed much of downtown Ellicott City, Howard County has unveiled plans for its potential redesign that would increase its capacity to handle such disasters. They could include a pedestrian bridge over the Patapsco River, and a concert stage, a riverfront park and more parking.

The firm hired to create the vision, Mahan Rykiel Associates, of Baltimore, recommended that Howard County consider replacing 10 buildings on lower Main Street with an open space and the concert stage. The footprint of the buildings, which would be demolished to widen the Tiber River channel, could be outlined with metal frames.

Mahan Rykiel also recommended the county widen sidewalks, raise crosswalks and add a flood warning system, though the county and the firm are limited in the approach to the project due to balancing any plan with historic guidelines; however, it must be built on a hard surface and be designed to handle debris from storms.

One building is proposed to be demolished on upper Main Street, which the firm recommended be converted to a mixed-use that would include a studio area, as well as parking and public facilities.

Hunting Generates $401M in Spending


A new organization, Hunting Works For Maryland, estimates that hunters in the state generate $401 million in economic activity, much of which is spent at locally-owned businesses throughout Maryland. More than 65 organizations have signed on to be part of the free initiative.

“More than 88,000 people hunt in Maryland each year. Each of these hunters spends, on average, $3,000 a year. This spending is felt throughout the economy of Maryland,” said Deb Carter, executive director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds and a co-chair of Hunting Works For Maryland.

“Hunting generates $32 million in state and local taxes, which obviously benefits everyone who lives in Maryland,” said Sen. John Astle, a Hunting Works For Maryland co-chair who represents District 30 in the state senate. “Here’s something a lot of non-hunters don’t know: Hunters pay a tax on their equipment, known as the Pittman-Robertson Act. After it’s collected, this money is reallocated to every state and used for the express purpose of conserving wild habitat. That benefits non-game animal species, and it benefits everyone who enjoys the outdoors – hikers, campers and birdwatchers. These are the kinds of facts we want to make common knowledge.”

“In addition to generating tax revenue, hunting also supports thousands of jobs in the state of Maryland and draws as many as 19,000 out-of-state hunters each year as well,” said Ruth Toomey, a co-chair, and executive director of the Maryland Tourism Coalition. “Maryland hunters spend $50 million on trip-related expenses each year, and another $128 million per year on equipment.”

Vantage House Opens Memory Care Apartments


Residences at Vantage House, of Downtown Columbia, has opened Monterey Place, a dedicated memory care neighborhood, within its community. Vantage House recently underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation and expansion for residents to provide specialized memory care, additional dining venues, fitness and recreational spaces, as well as other enhancements. Also announced as part of the community’s overall evolution is a rebranding and renaming of the community to Residences at Vantage Point.

Monterey Place includes 24 private apartments and homelike shared spaces. Assistance is provided with daily living needs, such as bathing, dressing and meals, as well as medication management, with 24/7 staff availability. Monterey Place is a Hearthstone Institute Certified Center of Excellence, and follows an innovative evidence-based approach to improve quality of life and reduce common symptoms of memory loss.

Conservancy Unveils Plastic Campaign


The Howard County Conservancy, of Woodstock, is asking residents, students and businesses to “Take a Pass on Plastic” and rethink their use of single-use plastics such as straws, shopping bags, utensils and plastic water bottles.

On Thursday, Nov. 15, to coincide with National America Recycles Day, locals are invited to stop by from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m., visit the nature center and trails, receive a free reusable shopping bag and spork, and learn more about the campaign and ways to get started. For more information about the Howard County Conservancy, visit www.hcconservancy.org or call 410-465-8877.

“Our county alone produces 30,500 tons of recycling, but 11 percent still ends up as garbage in landfills,” said Meg Boyd, executive director of the Howard County Conservancy.  “We’re trying to educate and encourage people to make small changes in their lives by taking a pass on plastic: saying no to plastic utensils and straws with carry-out, bringing your own water bottle or asking for alternatives to Styrofoam, as examples.”

Grace Selects La Force as CEO


The board of directors of Columbia-based W. R. Grace & Co. announced that it elected Hudson La Force as president and CEO, with Chairman and CEO Fred Festa moving to the role of non-executive chairman.

“After 15 years, Fred Festa hands off an industry-leading specialty chemicals company with strong market positions, a focused portfolio and clear growth opportunities. On behalf of our entire board, we thank Fred for his exceptional leadership,” said Christopher Steffen, lead independent director. “We congratulate Hudson on his new role, and have absolute confidence in his strategic vision, proven leadership and focus on value creation.”

La Force joined Grace in 2008 as senior vice president and chief financial officer and became president and chief operating officer in February 2016. He was elected to the Grace board in November 2017.

Carroll Baldwin Hall Renovations Funded


Howard County has announced the beginning of a $600,000 project to restore deteriorated portions of historic Carroll Baldwin Hall, in Savage. The project will restore the historic Foundry Street and Williams Street facades, while also making the facility more accessible to users with disabilities. It will also renovate the room that once served as the county’s Savage Branch library by replacing its aging flooring and HVAC system.

The project was initiated by the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) following the state’s designation of the North Laurel-Savage area as a Sustainable Community, a neighborhood revitalization program that provides funding opportunities for community enhancement projects.

Improvements to the site’s exterior will also include constructing a new ramp to bring the building into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act; installing a new underground storm drainage system; and upgrading deteriorated walkways that lead into the building. The project is expected to be completed in spring 2019.

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