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The recently announced multistate settlement between credit reporting company Equifax Inc. and the Attorneys General of 48 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia (the AGs) demonstrates the increasingly active role of state regulators in policing the privacy and security practices of businesses that handle consumers’ personal information. The multistate settlement is part of a comprehensive agreement between Equifax, the AGs, and other state and federal regulators, under which Equifax will pay at least $575 million and up to $700 million to resolve investigations and litigation arising out of a 2017 data breach alleged to have affected over 147 million consumers.
Continue Reading Equifax agrees to enhanced security and privacy measures and will pay states and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at least $575 million to resolve multistate investigation of 2017 data breach.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a joint state-and-federal initiative, “Operation Call It Quits,” which targets illegal telemarketing practices that violate the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).

The TSR, which applies to interstate telephonic marketing communications intended to “induce the purchase of goods or services or a charitable contribution,” makes it illegal to engage in “abusive” acts and practices like failing to transmit caller identification information, calling telephone numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry, and using certain types of prerecorded messages or “robocalls.” The TSR also makes it illegal to engage in “deceptive” acts and practices while on a telemarketing call, like processing billing information without authorization, failing to fully disclose certain information before a customer consents to pay for goods or services, and misrepresenting material details of a sale. As part of this latest sweep of TSR enforcement, the FTC announced four newly filed actions:

  • In the first action, the FTC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against corporate and individual defendants alleged to have made illegal robocalls to “financially distressed consumers” with offers of “bogus credit card interest rate reduction services.”
  • In the second action, the FTC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against individual and corporate defendants accused of using illegal robocalls to sell “fraudulent money-making opportunities.”
  • The third action, filed on the FTC’s behalf by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the Middle District of Florida, targeted the “informational technology (IT) guy” alleged to have developed and operated computer-based “autodialer” technology used to make millions of illegal robocalls.
  • The fourth action, filed by the DOJ on the FTC’s behalf in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that a business and its individual owners sought to develop marketing leads for home solar energy companies by making millions of illegal robocalls and engaging in other abusive practices, including making more than 1,000 calls to a single telephone number in one year.

Continue Reading FTC and state law enforcement officials step up efforts against illegal telemarketing

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) recently announced settlement with background check provider SecurTest, Inc. shows the agency remains vigilant regarding businesses’ claims that they comply with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework (Privacy Shield). Privacy Shield provides U.S. businesses with a legally recognized mechanism for receiving personal data in the United States from the EU. In its complaint against SecurTest, the FTC alleges that for several months SecurTest falsely claimed on its website that it complied with Privacy Shield when in fact it had not self-certified its Privacy Shield compliance with the U.S. Department of Commerce. The terms of the FTC’s decision and order prohibit SecurTest from misrepresenting its Privacy Shield compliance status and require it to submit to compliance monitoring and recordkeeping requirements.

Along with announcing its settlement with SecurTest, the FTC noted that, rather than beginning enforcement proceedings, it has issued a number of warning letters to businesses over similar alleged inaccurate statements about compliance with cross-border privacy and data security transfer programs like Privacy Shield:Continue Reading FTC settlement and warning letters over cross-border personal data transfers

BREAKING: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (AG) announced a proposed series of amendments to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that would:

  • Expand consumers’ private right of action to include all alleged violations of their rights under the CCPA;
  • Eliminate businesses’ 30-day opportunity to “cure” alleged violations prior to being subject to civil enforcement by

Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, 740 ILCS 14/1 et seq. (BIPA) stands out among state biometrics statutes nationwide in that it includes a private right of action for anyone “aggrieved” by a private entity’s failure to comply with BIPA’s compliance requirements. The Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled that a plaintiff may assert that they are

Massachusetts state Senator Cynthia Creem has introduced a consumer data privacy bill, SD 341, that would give Massachusetts consumers the right to sue in the event their personal information or biometric data is improperly collected or distributed or for any other potential violation of the new law. Under SD 341, and similar to Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), consumers may not be required to demonstrate or have suffered monetary or property losses in order to seek damages for an alleged violation. Any violation of the proposed new law could be grounds for a valid private action.

The proposed bill is the latest signal that state legislatures are going to be increasingly active in regulating data protection issues. California’s new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is considered an expansion of privacy-related regulation beyond any existing federal or state law. Although the CCPA will not go into effect until January 2020, businesses are busy implementing compliance policies and procedures, including making plans now to ensure they can adequately and accurately respond to consumers’ requests regarding the type and nature of personal information they may possess on California residents. The Massachusetts bill appears to have many of the same characteristics as the CCPA, but its private right of action provision would be a boon for the plaintiff’s bar. Like Illinois’ BIPA and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which have spawned scores of class action lawsuits, SD 341 does not require proof of actual damages. It states that “a violation of this chapter shall constitute an injury in fact to the consumer who has suffered the violation, and the consumer need not suffer a loss of money or property as a result of the violation in order to bring an action for a violation of this chapter.” A prevailing plaintiff can receive the greater of $750 “per consumer incident” or actual damages and can also receive attorneys’ fees.Continue Reading Comprehensive data privacy legislation introduced in Massachusetts – includes private right of action without a need to prove harm