Check out this month’s edition of The Privacy Advisor, a publication of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), for Aaron Lancaster and Divonne Smoyer’s and Q&A with Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan. As attorney general, he has taken an active role in advocating for consumers’ rights with respect to privacy and
The update to the existing Massachusetts data breach notification statute (set to go into effect on April 11, 2019) introduces novel requirements for notices to both affected individuals and regulators and requires credit monitoring services to be offered in some instances for at least 18 months. The legislation updates the statute in a number of particulars, but we focus here on the most notable new requirements.
Notices to affected individuals. The updated statute may require an organization to provide affected individuals with multiple (that is, repeat) notifications if after the initial notice the organization discovers information that updates or corrects the information required to be in such notifications. Other breach notification laws, like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and Canada’s breach notification law, may impose an ongoing obligation on organizations to notify regulators with updated information about breaches, but the Massachusetts statute may apply that same obligation to individual notices. The statute also sets forth additional content categories that the notices must contain.Continue Reading Notable challenges from the updated Massachusetts data breach notification law
Arizona and its Attorney General’s office have emerged as key players in the effort to prioritize data security on the national stage. Since his inauguration in 2015, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has struck a balance between supporting innovation and protecting Arizonans’ privacy rights. With the support of Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona is taking active steps to broaden the scope of state privacy protection initiatives.
As the current Chair of the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG), AG Brnovich will host CWAG’s 2018 Chair Initiative in Scottsdale, Arizona on May 3 and 4, focusing specifically on data privacy, cybersecurity, and digital piracy. The meeting will bring together AGs from around the country as well as thought leaders and key stakeholders in the private sector to tackle new horizons on issues such as breach notification, the European Union’s data protection regulations, national security, and FinTech. To read more about AG Brnovich’s 2018 Chair Initiative, and his take on how attorneys generals are tackling privacy and data security issues, check out Reed Smith Partner Divonne Smoyer and Associate Kimberly Chow’s recent Q&A with AG Brnovich on the website of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.Continue Reading Arizona emerges as privacy innovator as its AG and Governor lead the charge
In February, we reported that South Dakota and Alabama were the last two U.S. states without data breach notification laws. Since then, both states have enacted data breach laws.
South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard signed South Dakota Bill No. 62 into law on March 21, making it the 49th state to pass a data breach notification law. The law integrates contemporary principles found in other recently enacted state data breach laws. These principles include a broad definition of personal information—for example, employee ID numbers together with an access code or biometric data fall within the scope of the definition. The law requires companies to disclose a breach to affected consumers no later than 60 days from the date of discovery or notification of the security incident. Affected consumers include any South Dakota resident whose “personal or protected information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, acquired by an unauthorized person.”Continue Reading A complete quilt: South Dakota and Alabama are final two states to enact data breach laws
The International Association of Privacy Professionals and Reed Smith’s Washington, D.C. office co-hosted the Association’s KnowledgeNet Chapter meeting, “Key Federal and State Regulatory and Enforcement Trends in Privacy to Watch in 2018 – Direct from the Regulators” on February 27, 2018.
Reed Smith partner Divonne Smoyer moderated a panel discussion featuring Utah Attorney General Sean…
A Washington Legal Foundation legal opinion titled “The FTC’s Black-Box Determination of Information’s Sensitivity Imperils First Amendment and Due-Process Rights” and written by Gerry Stegmaier, Wendell Bartnick, and Kelley Chittenden illustrates the troubling fact that although businesses are tasked with implementing “reasonable” data security that hinges, in part, on the sensitivity of information, the Federal…
Over the last several years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has regularly used its authority under Section 5 of the FTC Act to bring cases against companies due to their allegedly unreasonable data security measures. The FTC has paid particular attention to the safeguards that manufacturers have implemented in electronic devices sold to consumers. Recently, D-Link Systems Inc., a router manufacturer, successfully challenged the FTC’s position that a Section 5 claim can be supported based solely on the existence of a data security vulnerability without any evidence that the vulnerability was actually exploited resulting in consumer harm.
The FTC’s Authority. Under Section 5 of the FTC Act, the FTC can investigate and obtain injunctive and equitable relief against companies that engage in unfair or deceptive acts or practices. To establish that a company’s practices are unfair, the FTC must show that the practices cause or are likely to cause substantial injury to consumers that is not reasonably avoidable by them, and that is not outweighed by countervailing benefits to them.
The FTC’s Position is that “Unreasonable” Data Security Is an “Unfair” Practice. In its complaints, the FTC commonly alleges that a company’s unreasonable data security measures are an unfair act or practice that violates Section 5. Typically, to support its position that consumers were harmed, the FTC points to evidence of both (a) a vulnerability created by the allegedly unreasonable data security practices, and (b) exploitation of such vulnerability to gain unauthorized access to data or systems. It would seem that exploitation is necessary to create a nexus between a vulnerability and any consumer harm. But, to the surprise of many, the FTC has also filed complaints against companies alleging only the existence of a vulnerability, without evidence that such vulnerability actually was exploited. In at least two cases, the FTC has alleged that the risk of cyber attack from a vulnerability was alone enough to satisfy the Section 5 requirement that the practice “causes or is likely to cause substantial consumer injury.”
Continue Reading Court Deals Blow to FTC’s Position on Unfair Data Security Practices
On August 17, 2017, Delaware Governor John Carney signed into law House Substitute 1 for House Bill 180, making the first significant amendment to Delaware’s data breach notification law since 2005. The bill, scheduled to go into effect April 14, 2018, requires private organizations to maintain reasonable security policies and procedures; expands the definition of “personal information” to include medical information, biometric identifiers, and electronic signatures; and adds additional breach notification and credit monitoring requirements. The bill comes on the heels of other amendments to data breach notification requirements by states such as California, Illinois, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Arizona.
Reasonable Data Security
Delaware’s amended data breach law now requires that any “person” that conducts business in Delaware and “owns, licenses, or maintains” personal information shall “implement and maintain reasonable procedures and practices” for the protection of personal information collected or maintained in the course of business.
Delaware now joins at least 13 other states with data breach laws that affirmatively require private organizations to maintain reasonable security procedures and practices. Under Delaware’s amended data breach law and similar state statutes, private organizations may incur liability for failing to maintain adequate security controls, even where breach notifications to residents are not required.
Breach Notification and Credit Monitoring
Delaware’s amended data breach law also requires that organizations shall provide notice to Delaware residents that their personal information was breached or is reasonably believed to have been breached without “unreasonable delay,” and no later than 60 days after the discovery of the breach, unless a shorter notification period is required by federal laws (e.g., HIPAA or the GLBA), or law enforcement requests a delay. Organizations are not required to provide notice if an investigation reveals that the breach was unlikely to result in harm to the affected residents.
The amended law also does not require notification for the breach of encrypted data, unless the breach includes an encryption key that the organization reasonably believes could render the encrypted information readable or useable.
In addition, the amended law now requires organizations to provide one year of credit monitoring to Delaware residents whose Social Security numbers may have been exposed as part of the breach. This provision mirrors similar provisions in California and Connecticut.
Continue Reading Delaware Amends Data Breach Notification Law to Require Reasonable Data Security and Expand the Scope of Personal Information Requiring Notice
Three bipartisan Senate bills are up for consideration in Congress that would attempt to modernize the legal standards under which the U.S. government can access communications electronically stored by email service providers and cloud computing companies.
The proposed bills, introduced July 27, 2017, each provide a different scheme in updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which has been criticized for being woefully outdated, given the rise of the Internet of Things and how people currently share, store, and use information. Accordingly, many have publicly called for Congress to completely overhaul the Reagan-era statute.
Current Framework: The ECPA
Although ECPA has undergone amendment since its passage in 1986, the most scrutinized aspects of the law, such as those related to email retention, remain unchanged from when it was passed more than 30 years ago.
ECPA currently requires law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant in order to access data less than 180 days old. A warrant requirement is a strict legal standard, requiring that any request be supported by probable cause – a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based on articulable facts.
However, if the data is more than 180 days old, ECPA considers those older communications to be abandoned, and therefore not subject to a reasonable expectation of privacy. Thus, law enforcement officials are entitled to access those emails and other electronic communications without a warrant. Instead, government officials need only issue a subpoena for the information or obtain a court order.
Continue Reading ECPA Reform Legislation on the Horizon (Again)
Having proper internal systems and procedures in place to manage data security is essential for organizations storing personal information in any industry. But health care organizations that rely on external vendors to process, store, or otherwise use such information must take extra steps to ensure those vendors take proper security measures, because a failure on…