Category Archives: Legislation & Regulation

Additional Clarification regarding HHS OCR Phishing Email Alert

More information from HHS OCR about the phishing threat:

  • On November 28, 2016, the HHS Office for Civil Rights issued a listserv announcement warning covered entities and their business associates about a phishing email that disguises itself as an official communication from the Department. The email prompts recipients to click a link regarding possible inclusion in the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Rules Audit Program,…
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More on HIPAA Audits for 2016 and 2017–Desk Audits and On-Site Audits

As part of the ongoing HHS OCR HIPAA audit initiative, it is conducting “HIPAA desk audits.”  These audits don’t involve auditors coming in your facility.  Instead, covered entities are being asked to submit documents on:

     (1) their risk analysis and risk management plans under the HIPAA security rule;

     (2) the content and timeliness for following the HIPAA breach notification rule; or

     (3) the notice of the entity’s privacy practices for health information and patients’… More

Cybersecurity 2017 – The Year In Preview: The Changing Face of State Law and Enforcement

Editor’s Note:  This is the second in a continuing end-of-year series.  Stay tuned for our next installment, discussing HIPAA compliance.

In the patchwork of state and federal law regulating the use and maintenance of personal confidential information, states play a significant role and can often be the most important regulator and law enforcement authority.  Recent events have signaled changes in how states interpret and enforce their data privacy standards —… More

Cybersecurity: Are You Ready for the Next Attack?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says that all employees need to know the signs of a cyber-attack, not just those who work in the IT field. This is increasingly important as more companies move business operations online. The Department stresses employees should make passwords complex, beware of phishing emails and report all suspicious activity to their company’s IT department.

Last week, attorney Chris Hart joined the Boston Business Journal’s Table of Experts program to provide insights into how to protect a company from a cyberattack,… More

Sharing Consumer Health Information? Look to HIPAA and the FTC Act

Does your business collect and share consumer health information? Check out these tips from the FTC for complying with HIPAA and the FTC Act.

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HIPAA
The HIPAA Privacy Rule applies to HIPAA covered entities— a health plan, most health care providers, or a health care clearinghouse. It also applies if you are a business associate – a person or company that helps a covered entity carry out its health care activities and functions.… More

How Can Yahoo E-Mail Scanning Impact the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield?

Reuters reported earlier this month that, according to three former employees, Yahoo Inc. had “complied with a classified U.S. government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo mail accounts at the behest of the NSA or FBI.” Yahoo responded that the article was misleading, but did not deny the scanning had occurred.

The New York Times reported further details about this scanning:  Yahoo had modified a system intended to scan emails for child pornography and spam in order to satisfy a secret court order requiring it to search for messages containing a computer “signature” tied to the communications of a state-sponsored terrorist organization.… More

What to Expect from the EU’s New Network and Information Security Directive

On July 6, 2016, the European Union adopted Directive (EU) 2016/1148, “concerning measures for a high common level of security of network and information systems across the Union,” otherwise known as the Network and Information Security Directive. (A directive, in EU parlance, is an instruction to member states to achieve a particular objective and a general framework for how to do so.  This differs from a regulation, which is immediately binding on all member states.)  Pursuant to this Directive,… More

Cybersecurity News and Notes – September 13, 2016

In Case You Missed It:  The Federal Trade Commission has opened a public comment period to evaluate its Safeguards Rule (16. C.F.R. § 314.3).  Under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), which regulates financial institutions, the FTC is empowered to promulgate regulations governing how financial institutions secure consumer information.  The Safeguards Rule, as currently in force, does not have specific “how-to” requirements, but rather broad and flexible standards that financial institutions can use as guidelines in assessing risks to the data they maintain and in developing viable security plans. … More

Article 29 Working Party on the EU-US Privacy Shield: A Number of Concerns Remain But Let’s See How It Works

Article 29 Working Party on the EU-US Privacy Shield:

The EU’s Article 29 Working Party analyzed the final version of the Privacy Shield and issued a statement on July 26, 2016.  What does this mean?

  • Recap: Where are we and how did we get here?

On February 29, 2016, the European Commission issued a draft adequacy decision reflecting the outcome of its negotiations with US authorities in relation to the Privacy Shield,… More

Cybersecurity News and Notes – July 25, 2016

In Case You Missed It: U.S. Major party platforms address cybersecurity.  The two major parties have released their 2016 election platforms, both of which include cybersecurity planks.  The Republican platform’s perspective of cybersecurity is an element of national security and international relations. The platform called for harsh responses to cyber-attacks against American businesses, institutions, and government, applauded the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, and pledged to “explore the possibility of a free market for Cyber-Insurance.” The Democratic platform is largely as a continuation of President Obama’s cybersecurity policies.… More

At Long Last, US-EU Privacy Shield Adopted By EU Member States

Key takeaways:

  • The Privacy Shield will now go into effect.
  • The preliminary start date for companies to be certified under the Privacy Shield is August 1, 2016.
  • Expect more challenges to the Privacy Shield before all is said and done.

The Details:

Following the invalidation of the US-EU Safe Harbor by the European Court of Justice in the Schrems case,… More

Pokémon Go Catches More Than It Bargained For

Pikachu figure characterThe recently-released Pokémon Go has quickly emerged as a cultural phenomenon, with legions of players using their phones to “catch” Pokémon that emerge all around them, visible (thankfully) only to players.  While catching Pokémon by phone is far less cumbersome than collecting boxes upon boxes of Pokémon cards, as some of us did in the early aughts, it does come with its own set of pitfalls.  Specifically,… More

Cybersecurity News & Notes – July 5, 2016

In Case You Missed It: Ruling in FTC v. Amazon Suggests a Way Forward for Companies Responding to Actions Brought by the FTC after a Data Breach.  The FTC’s recent actions in the realm of data security have been predicated on its claim of statutory authority to seek injunctive relief for the failure to maintain reasonable and appropriate data security practices.  A U.S. District Court ruling last week casts some doubt on that authority. … More

Cybersecurity News and Notes: June 27, 2016

In Case You Missed It

The FTC settled with mobile advertising company InMobi for $950,000 in civil penalties, along with the implementation of a privacy program, based on the FTC’s charges that InMobi impermissibly tracked the locations of both adult and child consumers for the purpose of geo-targeted advertising.  The latter, of course, also implicated allegations of violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) rule. … More

DHS Issues New Rules Governing Sharing of Cyberthreat Data

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) released its Final Rules for private-sector information-sharing under the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (“CISA”). CISA permits private companies to share cyber threat information with the U.S. government and shields those companies from liability for doing so.  The new CISA Rules outline exactly how this information-sharing will work, namely: how information is submitted; what information gets submitted; and what happens to the information after submission.… More

New Data Protection Obligations In Europe: Data Protection Officers and Impact Assessment under the New General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The full text of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was published on 4 May 2016. Although the GDPR will not be effective until 25 May 2018, it is worth looking into it right now given the major changes it makes to the rules in the 1995 Directive.

Application of the GDPR

The GDPR applies to the processing of personal data by companies having an “establishment” in the European Union,… More

Cybersecurity News & Notes – June 20, 2016

In Case You Missed It: Illinois strengthened its data privacy and security law, with the amendments going into effect in January 2017.  The amendments include expanding the definition of “personal information” to include a username or email address of an Illinois resident in conjunction with a password or security question answer that would permit access to an online account.  The definition is also expanded to include medical and health insurance information. … More

Cybersecurity News & Notes – June 13, 2016: A Brief Digest of Cybersecurity News You Can Use

In Case You Missed It:  The SEC fined Morgan Stanley $1 million for a 2014 data breach.  While the FTC had declined to pursue an enforcement action, blaming the breach on technical issues rather than any actions or omissions on the part of Morgan Stanley, the SEC reached a different conclusion.  The  SEC faulted Morgan Stanley for, among other things, failing to have adequate and up-to-date cybersecurity policies and for failing to correct gaps and flaws in its security systems. … More

Join Us June 23: Cybersecurity Challenges and Solutions for Emerging Managers

Hedge Fund Association Symposium in Boston

The Securities and Exchange Commission has reiterated that cybersecurity threats and the adoption of sufficient policies and procedures will remain a compliance and examination priority for 2016. Please join us for a discussion of the primary threats facing managers of private funds, particularly emerging managers, and practical steps that they should be taking to protect their business from cybersecurity threats.

This event is complimentary for HFA members and friends of Foley Hoag. … More

Watch: HIPAA Crimes Webinar – How the New Crime Wave Affects You

Unfortunately, health care providers are the perfect mark for theft and extortion because they have huge amounts of sensitive information and maintain such information in computer databases at risk of infiltration. On May 17, Foley Hoag presented a webinar discussing the ongoing crime sprees involving theft of patients’ identities and health information; ransomware involved in these crimes; related data security issues affecting health care providers; and how they implicate law enforcement and the criminal law aspects of HIPAA.… More

Obama Signs Defend Trade Secrets Act Into Law: Important New Tool for Victims of Data Breach

On May 11, 2016, President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (“DTSA”) into law.  Previously, companies could only bring misappropriation of trade secrets claims under state law.  (Unless they were able to convince federal prosecutors to bring criminal charges under the Economic Espionage Act, which rarely ever happens.)  Now, companies have the option of pursuing a federal cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets,… More

Cybersecurity, Corporate Governance, and Risk Management: Best Practices

As litigators, we help clients resolve conflicts that have matured into disputes.  In the realm of cybersecurity, we defend claims brought by private parties or governmental entities against companies facing the fallout from a data breach.

In advising clients in the context of litigation, we have identified tools that are available to mitigate or prevent the types of breaches that we see in litigation.  In the area of cybersecurity,… More

EU General Data Protection Regulation Adopted

After years of intense discussions, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was finally adopted on 14 April 2016.

The GDRP sets out uniform new rules in the field of data protection across the EU, rules that will standardize the law in the 28 EU Member States and have an impact on both European and non-European companies.  For example:

  • data controllers (companies collecting and using personal information) will have a wide range of new obligations,…
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EU-US Privacy Shield: Working Party Urges European Commission to Improve Current Scheme

After the invalidation of the Safe Harbor by the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) last October in the Schrems case, negotiations between the European Commission and US authorities led to a new agreement called the EU-US Privacy Shield.  However, the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive provides that the Article 29 Working Party (“WP29”) has to issue an opinion on this kind of agreements and it did so on April 13.… More

The Future of Data Privacy Regulation in Massachusetts? AG’s Office Foreshadows State Action on Consumer Data in First-of-its Kind Conference

What is the future of data privacy regulation in Massachusetts?

On March 24, 2016, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office gave us a glimpse. In collaboration with Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and MIT’s Internet Policy Research Initiative and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the AG’s Office convened a “Forum on Data Privacy.”  In this first-of-its-kind conference,… More

IRS Warns of “Surge” in Tax Season Phishing Scams

tax iconTax season ‘tis the season to be phishing, according to the IRS.  The IRS has issued a warning to payroll and human resources professionals about a “surge” in phishing emails seen this year.  One of the preferred tactics of identity thieves this year appears to be impersonating CEOs and sending emails to company payroll and human resources departments asking for employee W-2s. … More

Details of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework Unveiled

The content of the Privacy Shield was made public yesterday and today.us eu

The new framework dedicated to the EU / US flow of personal data is in fact a combination of several documents issued by the US and the EU.

On the US side, we have a letter sent by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on 23 February 2016 to EU Commissioner Věra Jourová including the “package of EU-US Privacy Shield materials” (of 128 pages) which is made of 6 letters issued by various US officials (see details at the end of this article).… More

President Obama Signs the Judicial Redress Act (H.R.1428/S.1600)

As part of implementing the EU-US Privacy Shield, on February 24, 2016, President Obama signed the Judicial Redress Act (H.R.1428/S.1600). This law is designed to give EU citizens the right to sue the U.S. government for privacy violations.  In particular:

  • It authorizes the U.S. Department of Justice to designate specific foreign countries or regional economic integration organizations (i.e., the EU) whose natural citizens may bring civil actions under the U.S.…
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Reminder: March 1, 2016 Effective Date for Information Systems Security Programs Including Cybersecurity for NFA Members

As noted in our earlier Foley Adviser, March 1, 2016 is the effective date for NFA member firms (including futures commissions merchants, commodity trading advisors, commodity pool operators, introducing brokers, retail foreign exchange dealers, swap dealers, and major swap participants) to adopt and enforce written policies and procedures to secure customer data and access to their electronic systems.

If you have any questions regarding implementation of these policies and procedures,… More

FTC Announces COPPA Settlements Based on Persistent Identifiers

The COPPA Rule requires website and online service operators to give notice to parents and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting children’s “personal information” online.  16 CFR §§ 312.4, 312.5.  The definition of “personal information” encompasses some obvious pieces of data – name and address, for example – and some less-obvious ones, such as screen names, geolocation data, and “persistent identifiers.”  A “persistent identifier” is a piece of information “that can be used to recognize a user over time and across different web sites or online services,” such as “a cookie,… More

EU Commission and United States agree on new framework for transatlantic data flows: EU-US Privacy Shield

What follows below is the EU’s press release regarding the agreement on a replacement for the EU-US Safe Harbor.  We are working to get details and will schedule a webinar on the new framework shortly.

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The European Commission and the United States have agreed on a new framework for transatlantic data flows: the EU-US Privacy Shield.

Today, the College of Commissioners approved the political agreement reached and has mandated Vice-President Ansip and Commissioner Jourová to prepare the necessary steps to put in place the new arrangement.… More

The Cybersecurity Act of 2015: Implications for Threat Sharing

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 (The “Act”), legislation designed to combat online threats to the federal government, state and local governments, and private entities. Within the Act are four titles, the most significant of which is Title I, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (“CISA”) (which begins at p. 694).

CISA addresses the manner in which the federal government and non-federal entities may share information about cyber threats and the defensive measures they may take to combat those threats.… More

Massachusetts Health Information Management Association Winter Meeting: Compliance Beyond HIPAA

On January 22, 2016, I had the pleasure to present to the Massachusetts Health Information Management Association’s Winter Meeting, to discuss “Compliance Beyond HIPAA.”  The presentation slides from the program are available here, and reflect discussion of:

EU Safe Harbor Update: No Solution in January?

As we have noted previously, in the wake of the ECJ’s decision that undid the US-EU Safe Harbor, we were told that there would be no enforcement of the EU Directive until after January 31, to allow the US and EU to hammer out a new regime. However, Isabelle Falque-Perrotin, the chair of the EU’s Article 29 Working Party, has stated that the next meeting of the Working Party will take place on February 2.  … More

Amendment to the Annual Privacy Notice Delivery Obligations of Financial Institutions under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act contained in the FAST Act

On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (the ‘‘FAST Act’’) into law. Although the FAST Act’s main focus is on improving the country’s surface transportation infrastructure, the law also contains a provision that modified the annual privacy notice requirement under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”).

Previously under the GLBA privacy regulations, financial institutions (which includes registered investment advisers,… More

HIPAA Privacy Regulations Amended to Allow Disclosures of Mental Health Information for Firearm Background Checks

On January 4, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) modified the HIPAA Privacy Rule to expressly permit certain covered entities to disclose to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) the identities of those individuals who, for mental health reasons, already are prohibited by Federal law from having a firearm.  According to HHS, “This modification better enables the reporting of the identities of prohibited individuals to the background check system and is an important step toward improving the public’s safety while continuing to strongly protect individuals’… More

European Union Agrees On a New Data Protection Framework To Replace the 95/46/CE Directive: Meet the “General Data Protection Regulation”

On 15 December 2015, the three main European institutions, the Commission, the Parliament and the Council, agreed on the final text of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has been on the table since January 2012. This is a major achievement, given the number of obstacles that still needed to be overcome a few weeks ago in order to meet the end of 2015 deadline for finalizing the GDPR. … More

Wyndham and FTC Settle Data Breach Lawsuit: Implications

Today, Wyndham and the FTC settled the enforcement action brought by the FTC that had led to a significant decision by the Third Circuit in August of this year.  (Wyndham’s statement on the settlement can be found here; the FTC’s statement can be found here; my earlier analysis of the Third Circuit’s decision can be found here.)  While the details of the settlement are interesting in their own right – Wyndham will not be paying anything by way of a fine or monetary damages and is not required to admit liability,… More

Guidance on EU-US Data Flow Delayed by New Terrorist Threats in Brussels

Today, the Article 29 Working Party (the advisory body on data protection and privacy composed of representatives from the national data protection authorities of all EU Member States) was to meet in Brussels to discuss, amongst other things, the consequences of the European Court of Justice ruling of 6 October 2015 in the Maximilian Schrems case, with EU-US data flow at the top of its agenda.

However,… More

WATCH: Webinar on US-EU Safe Harbor

On November 19, Foley Hoag and UK Trade & Investment presented a webinar discussing the latest developments following ECJ’s decision to invalidate the US-EU Safe Harbor system. Watch the recording here:

 

Click here to download the slides. More

US-EU Safe Harbor: A Webinar on the Latest Developments

Hosted by Foley Hoag LLP and UK Trade & Investment, The British Consulate General in Boston

On October 6, 2015, the European Court of Justice issued a landmark decision invalidating the US-EU Safe Harbor system. In practice, this means that US organizations can no longer rely on the Safe Harbor system to permit the transfer of personal data from the European Union to the US consistent with Directive 95/46/EC.… More

Cybersecurity and Risk Management: “Navigating the Digital Age: The Definitive Cybersecurity Guide for Directors and Officers”

A timely new resource for business executives, technology professionals, and lawyers alike is the newly-published Navigating the Digital Age:  The Definitive Cybersecurity Guide for Directors and Officers from the New York Stock Exchange and Palo Alto Networks.  At 355 pages, the guide provides information from dozens of contributors from around the country and from various backgrounds. The guide explores 46 separate topics, focusing on such issues as prevention,… More

Cybersecurity and Information Sharing Act Clears Senate Hurdle; House Action Unclear

The Cybersecurity and Information Sharing Act (S.754), or CISA, cleared an important hurdle on Thursday when the Senate voted 83-14 to end debate on several amendments to the bill.  CISA creates a cyberthreat information sharing system to, in the words of the bill, “improve cybersecurity in the United States.”  Specifically, as currently drafted, the bill requires various government actors and agencies (such as the Attorney General and the Department of Homeland Security) to create specific policies and regulations relating to the sharing of cyberthreat data from private entities and within government entities.  … More

The FTC’s Broad Authority and FTC v. Wyndham: Thinking about the Future of Data Privacy Regulations

What makes data privacy law interesting for academics, challenging for lawyers, and frustrating for businesses is its shape-shifting structure in the face of rapidly changing technology.  The recent change in the invalidation of US-EU “safe harbor” system is a useful reminder of the differences between the way the European Union and the U.S. handle questions of data privacy:  whereas, generally speaking, in the EU data privacy standards are relatively uniform,… More

The European Court of Justice Invalidates Safe Harbor

The European Court of Justice has just issued a decision (ECJ 6 October 2015 Case C-362/14, Maximillian Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner) that invalidates the so-called US-EU “Safe Harbor” system. Suddenly, what 3,500 U.S. Companies (including some of the largest companies in the world) have been doing with personal data now potentially becomes illegal.

What is the background to this decision?

In 1995,… More

What is reasonable? The emerging legalities of cybersecurity post-Wyndham

This month’s edition of the Advanced Cyber Security Center’s newletter includes my discussion of lessons to be learned from the Wyndham decision:

Historically, security was an issue reserved in a back room for the IT department, if there were even a budget and ample resources. To the public, cybersecurity meant identity theft and proceeded with business as usual with the comfort of an anti-virus protection that may have come with their computer.… More

Google and the Right to be Forgotten: The French Data Protection Authority Takes the Matter Further

On June 12, 2015 the French Data Protection Authority (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés – CNIL) issued a notice ordering Google to draw all the consequences of the CJEU May 13, 2014 ruling and to apply delisting not only to the national domain of the individual who requests delisting but on all of the search engine’s domains, including google.com (see our article The Right to be Forgotten: Another Scuffle between Google and The French Data Protection Authority | Security,… More

The SEC Charges Investment Adviser with Violating Regulation S-P by Failing to Adopt Cybersecurity Policies and Procedures

In recent years, the SEC has been focused on cybersecurity. It has issued risk alerts, conducted examinations and provided guidance about what the agency sees as widespread weaknesses in many policies and procedures to protect against cyberthreats. The SEC has now taken the next step: a few days ago, the SEC brought its first-ever enforcement action for a violation of Regulation S-P, 17 C.F.R. § 248.30(a) – known as the “Safeguards Rule” – against an investment adviser that was itself the victim of a security breach in which hackers stole customer information.… More

SEC Issues Risk Alert Announcing Second Round of Examinations of Registered Investment Advisers and Broker-Dealers

From our colleagues Catherine Anderson and Lauren Tran, we present this update on OCIE’s 2015 Cybersecurity Examination Initiative:  Second Round of Cybersecurity Examinations to Begin

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On September 15, 2015, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a Risk Alert announcing a second round of examinations of registered investment advisers and broker-dealers under its cybersecurity examination initiative.… More

COPPA, Meet DOPPA – Delaware AG Action Leads to New Child-Protection Data Privacy Laws

Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn is serious about online privacy, and aims to make Delaware “the safest state in America for kids to use the internet.” This August, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed into law four online privacy bills drafted by the Attorney General, the most substantial of which is the Delaware Online Privacy and Protection Act.

DOPPA goes further than its federal cousin,… More

The FTC, COPPA, and Riyo’s “Face Match to Verified Photo Identification”

Webcamera on laptop staring at you(clipping path)The FTC’s COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) Rule requires website operators to obtain “verifiable parental consent” prior to collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children. Though the COPPA Rule enumerates several methods for obtaining consent, the FTC, sensitive to how fluid technological developments in this space can be, also allows pre-approval of new methods not listed in the Rule. 16 CFR 312.12(a).… More

The Right to be Forgotten: Another Scuffle between Google and The French Data Protection Authority

On 13 May 2014 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a judgment which Google called a “landmark ruling” (Google v. Costeja Gonzalez case, C-131/12). The court held, based on the 95/46 Directive on protection of personal data that “the operator of a search engine is obliged to remove from the list of results displayed following a search made on the basis of a person’s name links to web pages,… More

Federal Data Breach Bill Stalled in Congress

A key distinguishing feature of U.S. data privacy laws is their patchwork nature.  There are industry-specific data privacy laws at the federal level (think HIPAA or the GLBA), yet there are no comprehensive federal standards that governs an entity’s obligations in the event of a data breach like the EU’s Data Privacy Directive.  For data breach response, in addition to the possible application of an industry-specific law or regulation,… More

Reflections on “Privacy in the Modern Age”

With the heart of the summer vacation season upon us, it seems like a good time for some reflection. Here, it comes in the form of excerpts from an essay by privacy maven, Deborah Hurley. The one time Director of the Harvard Information Infrastructure Project at Harvard University, she has been thinking and writing about privacy issues for two decades.  Her entire essay can be found in the book,… More

Understanding ISO 27018 and Preparing for the Modern Era of Cloud Security

This seminar was presented by Foley Hoag LLP and and a panel of industry experts on ISO 27018, the new international standard governing the processing and protection of personal information by public Cloud Service Providers (CSPs). Even though this new standard is voluntary, it is widely expected to become the benchmark for CSPs going forward.

As the first and only international privacy standard for the cloud,… More

Obama Executive Order Targets International Cyberattacks Against U.S. with New Sanctions

By Gwen Jaramillo and Shrutih V. Tewarie

As part of a series of measures aimed at increasing preparedness and defenses against international cyberattacks on U.S. industries and government agencies, on April 1, President Obama issued Executive Order No. 13694, authorizing the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to sanction foreign individuals or entities committing such attacks. The new sanctions will allow the Treasury Department to block or freeze the assets of those outside the U.S.… More

Privacy Issues in Smart Electrical Grids: Another Internet of Things Problem

Smart grids – electrical grids that allow two-way communication between utilities and consumers – represent an exciting frontier in the Internet of Things, with ramifications for energy efficiency, weather resiliency and climate change, among others. As the Department of Energy writes, “[t]he Smart Grid represents an unprecedented opportunity to move the energy industry into a new era of reliability, availability, and efficiency that will contribute to our economic and environmental health.”

But like many aspects of the Internet of Things,… More

Update on President Obama’s “Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection,” Part III: Five Key Lessons for Business

Concluding our three-part analysis of the White House’s first Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection, we turn to some practical advice coming out of the Summit’s afternoon session, including an address by Maria Contreras-Sweet, the administrator of the Small Business Administration (“SBA”), and a panel discussion among financial sector leaders moderated by Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin.

Here are five takeaways for companies large and small:

  1. Companies are only as secure as their most vulnerable employee.…
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Update on President Obama’s “Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection,” Part II: The Executive Order

As a follow up to our summary of the key takeaways from the White House’s first Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection, the centerpiece of which was President Obama’s signing of a new Executive Order, “Promoting Private Sector Cybersecurity Information Sharing,” what follows is an analysis of that Order.

What does the Order actually do?

The Order “promotes…encourages…and…allows” but does not require anything.… More

Update on President Obama’s “Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection,” Part I

The first ever Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection was convened today at Stanford University, keynoted by President Obama.  The purpose of the summit:  to “bring[] together major stakeholders on consumer financial protection issues to discuss how all members of our financial system can work together to further protect American consumers and their financial data.”  These stakeholders, a number of public and private sector leaders,… More

SEC Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations Releases Cybersecurity Examination Sweep Summary of Investment Advisers and Broker-Dealers

Our colleagues Catherine M. Anderson and Kate Leonard of our Investment Management group have summarized the February 3, 2015 findings by the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of its Cybersecurity Examination Sweep, which sought to evaluate the breadth of cybersecurity policies implemented by investment advisers (as well as by broker-dealers). For more details on the sweep, see our previous Foley Adviser update: SEC Issues Risk Alert on Cybersecurity Initiative for Investment Advisers.… More

FCC Enters the Data Security Enforcement Field with $10 Million Fine on Telecoms

In a first for the FCC, it announced on October 24 that it intends to fine two telecom companies $10 million for data security violations:

The FCC intends to fine TerraCom, Inc. and YourTel America, Inc. $10 million for several violations of laws protecting the privacy of phone customers’ personal information. According to an investigation by the Enforcement Bureau, TerraCom and YourTel apparently stored Social Security numbers, names,… More

New COPPA Safe Harbor Added By iKeepSafe

Last week, the FTC announced approval of a new Safe Harbor Program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), called iKeepSafe. The program was created by the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, a nonprofit organization that describes its goal as the “creation of positive resources for parents, educators and policymakers who teach youths how to use new media devices and platforms in safe and healthy ways.”

The COPPA Rule affords some flexibility in compliance through use of a safe harbor provision,… More

App Developers Should Note Revisions to COPPA FAQs

The FTC’s July 10, 2014 complaint filed against Amazon has left app developers with concerns about how to make apps that target kids and still comply with the law. The complaint, brought under Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, alleged that Amazon failed to obtain parents’ or account holders’ informed consent to in-app charges incurred by children. While the complaint was not brought under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA),… More

In Riley v. California, Supreme Court Rules Police Must Obtain Warrant before Searching Cell Phones

In a unanimous decision issued today, the Supreme Court ruled that police cannot search the cell phones of arrested individuals without a warrant. In reaching its decision, the Court recognized that there is an immense amount of personal information on smart phones and held that access to that information would constitute a significant invasion of individual privacy. With the relatively recent invention of cell phones and the sudden pervasiveness of smart phones in the United States,… More

The Revised COPPA Rule and “Personal Information” – One Example that Balances Anonymity and Interactivity

The revised Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) Rules, as discussed here previously were meant to bring regulations in line with, in the FTC’s words, the “rapid-fire pace of technological changes to the online environment” that  have taken place since COPPA was passed in 2000.  This week’s Boston Globe article about the new public television production, WGBH’s “Plum Landing,” provides an interesting illustration of the impact of the revised COPPA Rule.… More

State Securities Regulators in Massachusetts and Illinois Survey Investment Advisors on Cybersecurity Practices

Picking up on the SEC’s initiative to assess cybersecurity preparedness discussed here previously, state securities regulators in Massachusetts and Illinois sent to investment advisors registered in their respective states a survey on their cybersecurity practices.

The Massachusetts surveys were sent on June 3 and a response is due on June 24. William F. Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth, whose jurisdiction includes the Massachusetts Securities Division,… More

The SEC’s Power to Take Enforcement Action Against Cybersecurity Violators

To buttress the SEC’s initiative to assess cybersecurity preparedness in its risk alert discussed here previously , the SEC also has the power to bring enforcement actions against registered entities that fail to meet cybersecurity requisites. Specifically, the SEC may bring an enforcement action against registered entities that violate the safeguards rule of Regulation S-P (17 CFR § 248.30(a)) (commonly referred to as the “Safeguards Rule”).… More

SEC Issues Risk Alert on Cybersecurity Initiative for Investment Advisers

Our colleagues Catherine M. Anderson and Jennifer M. Macarchuk have summarized the recent SEC Risk Alert regarding its initiative to assess cybersecurity preparedness and threats in the securities industry, including examinations of more than 50 SEC-registered investment advisers and broker-dealers.

The full text of the Risk Alert is available here.

SEC-registered investment advisers should review the Risk Alert,… More

Health Insurer Hit With A Record HIPAA Penalty: What Does It Mean?

Triple-S Salud Inc., a Puerto Rican health insurer, has been hit with a $6.8 million penalty from the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services for a massive data breach.  Triple-S (known as ASES in Spanish) has posted a notice on its website regarding the breach. 

The penalty, which also is described in a securities filing, is based a breach involving 13,336 of Triple-S’s Dual Eligible Medicare beneficiaries. … More

Rare Massachusetts Superior Court Decision Interpreting the CFAA Takes the Narrow View Without Squarely Addressing the Broad

This is a cross-post from our sister blog, Massachusetts Noncompete Law:

Judge Peter M. Lauriat of the Massachusetts Superior Court decided late last year that an employee who takes confidential documents from her employer’s electronic document system to use in a discrimination lawsuit against her employer is not liable to the employer under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), especially when the employer knew about the lawsuit but nonetheless did not restrict the employee’s access to those documents while she was working for the employer. … More

HHS OCR Issues HIPAA Guidance on Sharing Information Related to Mental Health

On February 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR) released new guidance explaining how the HIPAA Privacy Rule operates to protect individuals’ privacy rights with respect to their mental health information and in what circumstances the Privacy Rule permits health care providers to communicate with patients’ family members and others to enhance treatment and assure safety.

The guidance is essentially a set of answers to frequently asked questions. … More

Privacy Concerns “Cloud” Storage of Student Data

Privacy concerns have threatened the plans of the New York State Department of Education to use third party contractor, inBloom, to store and integrate student data in a cloud-based system.  On January 10, the Department announced that it would delay release of additional student data to inBloom.  The delay, which the Department said is normal for a project of its size, comes after a class of parents filed suit in November and New York legislators proposed a bill requiring parental consent before sharing such data.… More

Want to Read Up on Cyber Issues Over the Holidays?

Have you wanted to read up on the many cyber security issues that have arisen over the past year but which you did not have time to follow in detail?  We have just the thing — four reports from the Congressional Research Service, the low-key public policy research branch of the U.S. Congress (so low-key that they do not have a web site).

Four recent CRS reports on timely cyber topics are:

Massachusetts Federal Court Refuses to Dismiss CFAA Claim But Permits the Defendants to Ask Again Later

In the cross-post from our Noncompete Blog, another CFAA decision is discussed.

***

Echoing a new theme in the federal district court in Massachusetts, last month Chief Magistrate Judge Leo T. Sorokin refused to dismiss a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) claim brought against the former CEO of a company, but did so without prejudice, meaning that the defendants could ask the Court to dismiss the claim again later in the case.… More

Federal Judge Rules NSA Phone Record Collection Likely Unconstitutional

In a 68 page order issued earlier today, a federal district court judge ruled in favor of five plaintiffs challenging the NSA’s collection of phone record information, finding that the plaintiffs:

  • “have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Government’s bulk collection and querying of phone records metadata”;
  • “have demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their Fourth Amendment claim”;…
  • More

Should the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Only Apply to Acts That Are Hard to Do?

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California recently refused to dismiss a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) claim with an unusual twist:  the defendant allegedly circumvented an IP address block after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the plaintiff and therefore is alleged to have acted “without authorization” in violation of the CFAA.

The dispute began with Craigslist Inc.… More

“A Million Here, a Million There”… WellPoint Settles HIPAA Breach and Security Claims with HHS OCR for $1.7 Million

Managed care company WellPoint Inc. has agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services $1.7 million to settle potential HIPAA Privacy and Security Rule violations committed in 2009 and 2010.   

As so often happens, HHS OCR began its investigation following a self-report of the breach by WellPoint.  That report “indicated that security weaknesses in an online application database left the electronic protected health information (ePHI) of 612,402 individuals accessible to unauthorized individuals over the Internet.… More

Revised COPPA Rules Go Into Effect July 1, 2013

In order to “keep up with technology,” the FTC revised the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) in 2012.  As a result of those revisions, some companies that may not have been covered by COPPA may now be covered, and the effective date of those changes is today, given the July 1st effective date of the revised COPPA Rule.  To streamline your response to these issues, the FTC has developed a six-step COPPA compliance guide:

Step 1: Determine if Your Company is a Website or Online Service that Collects Personal Information from Kids Under 13.… More

FTC Issues Revised Business Guide on ‘Red Flags’ Identity Theft Rule

The Federal Trade Commission has issued revised guidance designed to help businesses comply with the requirements of the Red Flags Rule, which protects consumers by requiring businesses to watch for and respond to warning signs or “red flags” of identity theft.

 The guidance outlines which businesses – financial institutions and some creditors – are covered by the Rule and what is required of businesses to protect consumers from identity theft. … More

The Split in the Circuit Courts Over the Proper Interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Actually Goes Three Ways

Posted on March 15th, 2013 by
on our sister blog, Massachusetts Noncompete Law.
 
            I’ve written many times More about the significant split in circuit courts’ interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which affects whether an employer can sue an employee for violating computer use restrictions, usually embodied in a confidentiality agreement or company IT policy, when an employee downloads confidential information he is permitted to access but then takes that information to a competitor. …

HIPAA “Omnibus” Regulations Published in Federal Register

The revised HIPAA regulations were formally published today in the Federal Register.  In this form, they only take up 138 pages!

Law360 has a brief piece on the revised HIPAA rules, with the perspectives of various attorneys (including me) on the changes.  While I’m not sure I agree with the quote that “This is a paradigm shift in the privacy world,” I do agree that this is “definitely something for all businesses to pay attention to.”  Similarly,… More

The Wait Is Over! HHS Finally Issues Revised HIPAA Privacy and Security Regulations

Nearly four years after the passage of the HITECH Act and its amendments to HIPAA, and nearly three years after it proposed regulatory amendments, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has finally issued major revisions to HIPAA’s privacy and security regulations.

While we are still making our way through all 563 pages of the regulations and related regulatory comments (and will have a more detailed analysis shortly in this space),… More

NLRB Confirms that Comments Posted on Social Media May Be Entitled to Protection

In a post from earlier today, my colleagues, Lyndsey Kruzer and Mike Rosen, discuss the NLRB’s conclusion that social media comments can be protected activity:

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued a significant decision – solidifying the position it has staked out over the past 18 months – that an employee’s posts on social media may be entitled to protection under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA),… More

Law360: “HHS Data-Scrubbing Guidance Backs Strict Privacy Definitions”

Today’s Law360 addresses “HHS Data-Scrubbing Guidance” with quotes from me and others on the subject:

Clarifying the types of data that need to be removed from data sets can also help companies maximize the value of the information that they hold as the value of and ability to use this data for research and public health purposes increases, Foley Hoag LLP security and privacy practice co-chair Colin Zick added.… More

HHS OCR Issues Guidance Regarding Methods for De-identification of PHI in Accordance with HIPAA

On November 26, HHS OCR released guidance regarding methods for de-identification of protected health information in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. This guidance fulfills the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) mandate that HHS issue such guidance.

Following the passage of ARRA, OCR collected research and views regarding de-identification approaches, best practices for implementation and management of the current de-identification standard and potential changes to address policy concerns.… More

FTC Chair Sees E.U. “Moving” Toward U.S. Standards; Is Seeing Believing?

At the end of what was an interesting, but rather ordinary interview in the Wall Street Journal, FTC Chair Jon Leibowitz dropped this interesting nugget:

MS. ANGWIN: The EU has a very different approach to privacy, and there has been concern about whether we’re going to move in that direction. What’s your view?

MR. LEIBOWITZ: My sense is you might see Europe moving a little bit more to our approach of allowing some advertising and allowing some collection of data.… More

FTC Announces Agenda for Workshop Exploring Practices, Privacy Implications of Comprehensive Collection of Web Data

The FTC has announced a preliminary agenda for a program it calls “The Big Picture: Comprehensive Data Collection.”  This workshop “will explore the practices and privacy implications of comprehensive data collection.”

The program will be held in Washington, DC, on Dec. 6, 2012, and is free and open to the public.

The workshop will be webcast live and a link will be available on FTC.gov. … More

Another Massachusetts Health Care Provider Hit with Big HIPAA Settlement: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Pays $1.5 Million

Late yesterday, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) announced that it had reached a $1.5 million settlement with Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Associates, Inc. (“MEEI“) to settle potential HIPAA Security violations.  As part of the settlement, MEEI also agreed to a Corrective Action Plan to improve policies and procedures to safeguard the privacy and security of its patients’… More

Judicial Privacy and Deliberations Protected by Massachusetts High Court Decision

In a case that has received wide attention, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has issued a decision barring ethics investigators from asking a Massachusetts judge how he reached individual decisions during his 21 years on the bench. This is one of the few published decision to recognize a deliberative privilege for the judiciary, with the court concluding that: “the best approach is to consider this privilege narrowly tailored but absolute.”… More

New Hampshire Federal Court Interprets the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act More Narrowly Than Massachusetts Federal Court and Dismisses Claims Based on Violations of Computer Use Restrictions

As posted earlier today by Brian P. Bialas on the Massachusetts Non-Compete blog, a recent case from the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire highlights the split between the District of New Hampshire and the District of Massachusetts over the proper interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. § 1030, in particular the phrase “exceeds authorized access.”… More

White House States Support for Sen. Lieberman’s Cybersecurity Act of 2012

The Obama Administration officially put its weight behind Sen. Lieberman’s Cybersecurity Act of 2012, with the issuance of the following Statement of Administration Policy:

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY

S. 3414 – Cybersecurity Act of 2012

(Sen. Lieberman, I-CT, and 4 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly supports Senate passage of S. 3414, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. While lacking some of the key provisions of earlier bills,… More

Join Me on Tomorrow’s Free Webinar, “CT, HI, and VT – Oh my! What Do The Latest Privacy Regulation Updates Mean To You?”

In the past few months, data privacy and security laws in Connecticut, Hawaii and Vermont have been updated, without much fanfare. Although these are not revolutionary changes, they are material and they raise the compliance bar.

This webinar will review the details of these legislative updates and spell out what they may mean for your organization. The program will include before and after comparisons of language, in order to highlight what firms will need to do differently under the new rules.… More

Want to Learn HIPAA Just Like Your State Attorney General? Now You Can!

As you may recall, the Health Information Technology for Clinical and Economic Health (HITECH) Act  gives state Attorneys General the authority to bring civil actions on behalf of state residents for violations of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules.  Some states, like Massachusetts, have already started to use this authority to bring and settle cases

To advance state enforcement, HHS OCR has developed HIPAA Enforcement Training modules,… More

A Few Thoughts from Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity, Mark Weatherford, Department of Homeland Security

On May 16, Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity, Mark Weatherford, spoke to the Advanced Cyber Security Center about DHS’s cyber security priorities: Information Sharing, R&D, and the Advanced Persistent Threat.

On Information Sharing:  This is a continuing challenge, in part because of the way the federal government shares information.  At present, the federal government provides cyber threat information to private sector organizations,… More

Stanford Law Review’s Privacy Symposium

The Stanford Law Review has an interesting series of articles on privacy in its most recent edition:

A Reasonableness Approach to Searches After the Jones GPS Tracking Case by Peter Swire
In the oral argument this fall in United States v. Jones, several Supreme Court Justices struggled with the government’s view that it can place Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking devices on cars without a warrant or other Fourth Amendment limit.… More

Will Massachusetts Adopt the Uniform Trade Secrets Act?

A bill to adopt the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”) has been pending in the Massachusetts Legislature since late January. Forms of the UTSA have been adopted in 46 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Only New York, Texas, North Carolina, and Massachusetts have not adopted the UTSA.

The bill would supersede the definitions, procedures, and remedies applied in Massachusetts chapter 93A actions (regulating unfair and deceptive trade practices) for trade secret misappropriation.… More

FTC Releases Final Report: “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: Recommendations for Businesses and Policymakers”

FTC has today, at last, released the final version of its original 2010 Report “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: Recommendations for Businesses and Policymakers.”  As we have discussed previously, comments on the draft report were taken through January 31, 2011 and the final report had been expected in 2011.

The FTC received over 450 comments from businesses,… More

New Case Highlights Split of Authority Interpreting the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Employers increasingly are suing former employees who have left to join or form competing companies using the civil remedies available under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1030. They use the CFAA to prevent their former employees from using sensitive information obtained from the former employer’s computer system. The scope of the CFAA, however, is subject to hot debate among the federal courts,… More

Breaking Down the White House Privacy Framework–a Video Blog

Here is a video discussion I had with LexBlog on the new White House Data Privacy report, “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy.” In this conversation, we discussed the report’s four primary elements:

  • a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights,
  • a multistakeholder process to specify how the principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights apply in particular business contexts,…
  • More

Court Sides with Facebook, Finds Social Networking “Experience” Website Violated CAN-SPAM and Other Data Security Statutes

In a case brought by Facebook, a U.S. district court recently concluded that a website that offered to integrate multiple social networking accounts into a single social networking “experience” violated the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (“CAN-SPAM Act”), the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), and California Penal Code § 502. Facebook, Inc. v. Power Ventures,… More

White House Releases Long-Anticipated Privacy Report

The White House has finally released its long-anticipated report on consumer privacy.The 60-page White House report, “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy,” is the start of what promises to be a fascinating legislative and regulatory process. 

It is curious that the Department of Commerce has been charged with "work[ing] with other Federal agencies to convene stakeholders,… More

The Right To Be Deleted

If you haven’t Googled yourself in a while, this might be a good time. My own self-search reveals, among other things, a page at mylife.com.  I didn’t put it there, and I’d rather it not be there. However, right now, there isn’t a right to have your personal or professional information be deleted from social media, review sites, and other types of websites that gather your personal information.  However, legislation may be coming that will address this concern.… More

Google Disables Its iPhone Tracking

Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about Google’s iPhone tracking.

Google Inc. and other advertising companies have been bypassing the privacy settings of millions of people using Apple Inc.’s Web browser on their iPhones and computers—tracking the Web-browsing habits of people who intended for that kind of monitoring to be blocked.

The companies used special computer code that tricks Apple’s Safari Web-browsing software into letting them monitor many users.… More

Is Public-Private Information Sharing Needed to Respond to the Massive Increase in Cyber Attacks?

Interesting article in Friday’s Wall Street Journal on potential cybersecurity legislation to improve information sharing between industry and government.  Perhaps the best part of the article is the citation of statistics from Symantec’s annual Internet Security Threat Report:  Trends for 2009 and 2010 on how many customer has updates Symantec sent out to address new attacks customers were facing:

  • 2002:  20,254 updates
  • 2003:  19,159 updates
  • 2004:  74,981 updates
  • 2005:  113,081 updates
  • 2006:  167,069 updates
  • 2007:  708,742 updates
  • 2008:  1,691,323 updates
  • 2009:  2,895,802 updates
  • 2010:  10,000,000 updates
  • More

Cybersecurity Legislation to Come to Senate Floor in January 2012

According to a November 16, 2011 letter from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to his Republican counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, it is his "intent to bring comprehensive cyber security legislation to the Senate floor for consideration during the first Senate work period next year." 

This is by no means a guarantee of legislative action, but it is the latest sign that cybersecurity will be a priority in Congress come 2012.… More

“Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in Cyberspace”

With an inflammatory title like “Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in Cyberspace,” the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive’s “Report to Congress on Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage, 2009-2011” is tough to ignore.

The Report’s conclusions are equally notable for their candor about the recent actions of the Chinese and Russian governments:

  • “Chinese actors are the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage.…
  • More

More Consumer Data Security and Privacy Legislation Introduced

The latest legislator to enter into the federal data security and privacy sweepstakes is Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) who introduced legislation, S. 1535, on September 8.  This bill, if passed, would require companies dealing with consumers to strengthen their data security and privacy policies.  In particular, Senator Blumenthal’s bill, “The Personal Data Protection and Breach Accountability Act,” would required businesses that collect the personal information of over 10,000 customers to employ specific privacy and security measures,… More

Another Big HIPAA Settlement: The UCLA Health System Settles for $865,000

In another sign that OCR is continuing to seek significant penalties for HIPAA violations, it announced on July 7 that the UCLA Health System ("UCLAHS") has agreed to settle potential violations of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules for $865,500 and has committed to a corrective action plan aimed at remedying gaps in its compliance with those rules.  This follows on the heels of Massachusetts General Hospital’s $1 million settlement with OCR.… More

Supreme Court Strikes Down Vermont Data Mining Law

The Supreme Court this morning voted 6-3 to strike down a Vermont statute that sought to impose significant restrictions on pharmaceutical data mining activities. Justice Kennedy’s opinion in the closely-watched case of IMS v. Sorrell held that the Vermont statute was an unconstitutional regulation of commercial speech.

The first paragraph of Justice Kennedy’s opinion provides a brief summary of the posture of the case and of the Court’s decision:

Vermont law restricts the sale,… More

2011: The Year of the Breach

We are six months into 2011, and it seems destined to be “The Year of the Breach.”  In just the past few months, major American (and multi-national) corporations and institutions have reported that they have been the victims of some kind of security breach:

Does Briar Group’s Massachusetts Settlement Create a New Legal Standard That Businesses Must Meet to Protect Personal Information?

A recent settlement in a data breach case exemplifies how the government can go beyond a statutory scheme and use private industry standards to protect personal information and impose sanctions on violators.

The Massachusetts AG filed suit against the Briar Group, the owner of a number of bars in the Boston area (including two of my personal favorites, the Harp and Ned Devine’s) in the wake of a 2009 data breach involving credit card numbers and other personal data. … More

Information Security In the Age of WikiLeaks

InformationWeek has published an interesting Analytics Brief on "Information Security in the Age of WikiLeaks."  (Subscription required.)  The brief discusses the following subjects:

  • Could a Major Security Breach Be on the Horizon?
  • The Smartphone Dilemma
  • What Elements Are Currently Covered in Your Organization’s Security Awareness Program?
  • Security Budgets Fare Well
  • Implementing Risk Management Disciplines
  • Do You Really Know Who Your Friends Are?…
  • More

White House Releases Framework for National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

On April 15, the White House formally released its National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. As we noted earlier, the “trusted identity” concept is intended to allow the public and private sectors to collaborate in order to raise the level of trust associated with the exposure of the identities of individuals, organizations, networks, services and devices in online transactions:

The goal of NSTIC is to create an “Identity Ecosystem”… More

Obama Administration Seeks “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights”

In March 16, 2011 testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the Obama Administration formally asked Congress to pass a "consumer privacy bill of rights" enforced by the FTC:

Legislation to provide a stronger statutory framework to protect consumers’ online
privacy interests should contain three key elements. First, the Administration recommends that legislation set forth baseline consumer data privacy protections—that is, a “consumer privacy bill of rights.”… More

Online Advertising Company Chitikia Enters FTC Consent Agreement for Deceptive “Opt-Out” Policy

Targeted online advertising has been the focus of much discussion since the release of the FTC’s “Do Not Track” proposals late last year. User tracking for advertising purposes is also the focus of the FTC’s latest privacy enforcement action, which has resulted in a consent agreement with an online advertising company, Massachusetts-based Chitika, Inc., which creates ads for such major publishers as the Hearst Corporation and Salary.com.… More

What Is Inside Mass General’s $1 Million HIPAA Settlement?

As we noted earlier this month, Massachusetts General Hospital recently entered into a $1 million Resolution Agreement  and Corrective Action Plan with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights.  This settlement stemmed from an incident on March 9, 2009, when a MGH employee was commuting on the subway, "removed documents containing PHI from her bag and placed them on the seat beside her. The documents were not in an envelope and were bound with a rubber band.… More

Supreme Court Rules Corporations Do Not Have Privacy Rights under FOIA

In a March 1, 2011 decision that has received much publicity (despite stating a fairly obvious conclusion), the Supreme Court ruled that the term "personal privacy" does not apply to corporations, at least in the context of the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"). 

The decision, FCC v. AT&T Inc., reflects the Supreme Court application of a particular exemption to FOIA.  Exemption 7(C) covers law enforcement records the disclosure of which “could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”… More

500 Is a Magic Number: Health Information Breaches Impacting 499 or Fewer Patients Likely Go Uninvestigated By OCR

In the recently-released fiscal 2012 budget for HHS, a dirty little secret has been acknowledged:  the Office of Civil Rights does not have the resources to review all reported breaches of health information.  In fact, if you have a breach that impacts up to 499 people, you are unlikely to hear from OCR at all:

Current OCR practice is to validate, post to the HHS website,… More

Online Privacy Bills Planned for 2011

If Tuesday night’s failure to give fast-track approval to an extension of certain surveillance powers under the Patriot Act is any indication, Congress is in the mood to protect individual privacy. As such, a series of anticipated online privacy protection bills are likely to garner bipartisan support in the weeks and months ahead.

Proposals will come from both sides of the aisle. According to Hillicon Valley,… More

NIST Launches Web Site for National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a federal agency within the Department of Commerce, has launched a web site detailing the President Obama’s proposed National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). NSTIC, initially released for public comment in June 2010, was developed in response to the Obama Administration’s 2009 Cyberspace Policy Review, which called for the creation of a “cybersecurity-based identity management vision and strategy that addresses privacy and civil liberties interests,… More

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds NASA Background Checks

In NASA v. Nelson, decided today by the U.S. Supreme Court, the high court rejected a challenge to “a section of a form questionnaire that asks employees about treatment or counseling for recent illegal-drug use . . .  [and] to certain open-ended questions on a form sent to employees’ designated references.”

This particular challenge came from 28 employees of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (“JPL”).  JPL is staffed exclusively by contract employees. … More

Genetic Privacy Rights Group Publishes Guide to the World’s DNA Databases

The Council for Responsible Genetics has published a guide to the world’s DNA databases.  According to the guide, 56 countries (and in the U.S., all 50 states) maintain DNA databases.

CRG describes itself as a "catalyst and thought leader in the movement to steer biotechnology toward the advancement of public health, environmental protection, equal justice and respect for human rights."  Although CRG has its own unique perspective on whether DNA databases should exist and how they should be used,… More

FTC Proposes Privacy Framework That Will Impact the Business Model of All Online and Mobile Advertising Companies

Our colleagues in Foley Hoag’s Emerging Enterprise Center have summarized the FTC preliminary staff report, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change:  A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers,” which we posted on December 1.  We are cross-posting the analysis from their blog below.

It seems likely that the next two years will bring significant changes to this area,… More

NIST Releases Guidance On Protecting Our Digital Energy Infrastructure (Or, Is Big Brother in Our Power Lines?)

The following item was posted recently on Foley Hoag’s Law and Environment blog, and we thought it would be of interest to our readers.

Posted on September 17, 2010 by Rebecca L. Puskas

Discussion of the Smart Grid usually focuses on efficiencies that may be achieved by a system that responds to real time information about energy production, distribution and consumption. But the development of this advanced digital infrastructure,… More

Public Discussion on Confidentiality and Privacy Issues Related to Psychological Testing

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”), in close cooperation with the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), is conducting a study of the “Confidentiality and Privacy Issues Related to Psychological Testing Data.”  This study was specifically called for in section 13424 of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act.

HIPAA’s Privacy Rule includes special protections relating to the use and disclosure of psychotherapy notes;… More

Patient Privacy Trumps Subpoena in Physician Disciplinary Action

Does the “compelling need” for patient records by a state body that oversees and regulates physicians trump the statute that protects the confidentiality of psychotherapy records?  Not in Massachusetts, according to a September 2, 2010 decision of the Supreme Judicial Court, Board of Registration in Medicine v. John Doe, No. SJC-10556.

At issue in this case were the treatment practices of a board-certified psychiatrist who specialized in “pain management.” Due to a concern that inappropriate prescriptions for pain medication were being written and that Doe himself was impaired,… More

ALERT: FTC Delays Enforcement of Red Flags Rule Through December 31, 2010

Today, the Federal Trade Commission issued a press release and an Enforcement Policy extending the deadline for enforcement of the FTC’s Red Flags Rule through December 31, 2010. The agency cited requests from members of Congress for a postponement of the deadline while legislators tinker with federal law to exclude certain businesses from application of the Rule.

Rep. Boucher and Stearns Release Discussion Draft of Comprehensive Federal Privacy Legislation

Earlier this month, Congressmen Rick Boucher and Cliff Stearns released a discussion draft of comprehensive federal privacy legislation (.pdf).

Among the many provisions of the draft bill is the requirement that any entity that collects information on individuals such as name, address, email address and telephone number, maintain “appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards” to secure the personal information.  The draft bill would also require the FTC to implement new privacy rules and police the new safeguards.… More

One More Thing to Worry About — Hard Drives on Digital Copiers

Many digital copiers are now able to store the scanned documents on flash memory or hard drives.  This could pose a privacy/security risk, if the drives are improperly accessed, or if they are lost or resold without being scrubbed first.

Even the simple act of making a photocopy now poses privacy risks.  In response to a letter from Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey, the FTC has responded and agreed to investigate the privacy risks posed by digital copiers that store information on internal hard drives.… More

Coming This Month — Proposed HIPAA Regs!

The Department of Health and Human Services announced it will release proposed HIPAA/HITECH Act regulations later this month, according to the HHS’s recently-published regulatory agenda, available at 75 Fed. Reg. 217821.  The announcement itself was pretty cryptic:

120. MODIFICATIONS TO THE HIPAA PRIVACY, SECURITY, AND ENFORCEMENT RULES
UNDER THE HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOR ECONOMIC AND CLINICAL HEALTH ACT

Legal Authority: PL 111-5,… More

Regulators Provide Online Privacy Notice Builder to Help Financial Institutions Comply with Gramm Leach Bliley Act

Last week a number of federal regulatory agencies rolled out an online privacy notice builder for financial institutions subject to one or more of the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA) regulations.   The agencies involved include the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Office of Comptroller of Currency (OCC), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC ),… More

Update on HIPAA Business Associate Regulations — OCR Says They Still Aren’t Ready, Gives No Date

In a notice apparently posted March 17, 2010, the Office of Civic Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services (“OCR”) acknowledged its delay in issuing regulations for HIPAA business associate agreements.  Those regulations are now a month overdue and from OCR’s language, they do not appear imminent:

OCR will implement important privacy and security provisions of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act through notice and comment rulemaking,… More

Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines: Three Important Privacy and Security Dates

In the past several days, three important information privacy and security deadlines have arrived.  To recap, they are:

  • February 17, 2010:  the provisions of the HITECH Act regarding HIPAA business associates went into effect (albeit without regulations, which are expected to be issued any day now).  Many HIPAA covered entities have been revising their Business Associate Agreements in an effort to comply with what they think the regulations will say. …
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Doctors and Other Health Care Professionals Challenge Application of FTC Red Flags Rule

The FTC Red Flags Rule faces another likely challenge, based on a January 27, 2010 letter sent to the FTC by the American Medical Association, the American Osteopathic Association, the American Dental Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association.  In that letter, the four health care organizations requested that the Red Flags Rule not be applied to health care professionals (based on the reasoning of the recent court decision that it does not apply to lawyers).  I assume that if the FTC rejects this request,… More

Is the FTC “Moving to a Post-Disclosure Era” for Online Consumer Privacy?

Is the FTC moving to a "Post-Disclosure Era," in which consumer online privacy would be regulated in a radically different manner than the status quo?  That was a suggestion made by the chairman of the FTC, Jon Leibowitz, and David Vladeck, chief of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, during a recent on-the-record discussion about online privacy, reported in the New York Times

For some time, I have been asking the question,… More

Bill to Narrow Red Flags Rules Moves Forward

It appears that certain groups, such as the American Bar Association (ABA), may be partially successful in their efforts to convince Congress to narrow the scope of the FTC Red Flags Rules, which are currently scheduled to go into effect on November 1.  According to the BNA Privacy & Security Law Report, the House Financial Services Committee has sent H.R. 3763, titled a bill “To amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide for an exclusion from Red Flag Guidelines for certain businesses,”… More

Massachusetts Holds Public Hearing on Information Security Regulations — Regulators Contemplating Additional Revisions in Final Rulemaking

This morning, the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations (OCABR) held a public hearing in connection with its promulgation of revisions to the Commonwealth’s information privacy regulations, 201 CMR 17.00.  The standing-room-only crowd endured a modest, unventilated conference room in the Transportation Building to make comments on the stringent regulations.  OCABR Undersecretary Barbara Anthony led the meeting with OCABR Deputy General Counsel Jason Egan and Assistant Attorney General Diane Lawton. … More

Incident of the Week: NCUA Issues Fraud Alert Based On Fake NCUA Fraud Alert (Which Turns Out To Be Part of Security Consultant’s Penetration Testing)

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) issued an official NCUA Fraud Alert on August 25, 2009 reporting that someone was sending around a fake NCUA Fraud Alert (.pdf) with CDs purporting to contain security software updates, but instead contained malware.  The NCUA warned “Should you receive this package or a similar package DO NOT run the CDs.”  The NCUA, which regulates federally insured credit unions,… More

Still Wondering What Changes Massachusetts Made to the State’s Information Security Regulations? Here’s a Redline of the Revisions to 201 CMR 17.00.

As we reported on August 17th, the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) has promulgated a revised set of information security regulations (201 CMR 17.00 et seq.) and will hold a meeting for public comment on September 22, 2009.  For those who are still wondering what revisions were made, here is a redline comparison of the amendments (.pdf). More

ALERT: FTC Announces Delay in Red Flags Enforcement Until November 1, 2009.

Amidst calls from the legal community, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) announced this morning that it was delaying enforcement of the FTC’s Red Flag Rules until November 1, 2009.  The FTC’s announcement of the delay emerged almost as a footnote to a public statement devoted largely to the FTC’s "redoubled" efforts to "provid[e] additional resources and guidance to clarify whether businesses are covered by the Rule and what they must do to comply." … More

House Subcommittees Hold Joint Hearing On Behavioral Advertising

On June 18, 2009, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection held a joint hearing with the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet on the topic of “Behavioral Advertising: Industry Practices and Consumer Expectations.” The subcommittee members explained that they hoped the hearing would help determine the need and possible parameters for new legislation governing privacy and behavioral advertising. More

Lawsuit Challenges Legality of HITECH Act

A federal suit has been filed that challenges the legality of the federal HITECH Act.  In the course of 30 often rambling pages, this complaint alleges that "HIPAA codified the Hippocratic Oath" and that HITECH improperly undermines both.  This complaint appears to be the work of a gadfly or two.  The plaintiff’s lawyer is her husband; interestingly, he was described by a federal judge as filing claims that were "without merit [and which] would have been perceived as such by any objectively reasonable attorney." … More

ABA Urges Congress and FTC to Exempt Lawyers from Red Flags Rules

Earlier this week, on Monday, June 22, 2009, the American Bar Association (ABA) President H. Thomas Wells, Jr. issued a public statement urging Congress and the FTC to exempt lawyers from the requirements of the federal Red Flags Rules, stating:

The Rule, adopted under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, or FACT Act, is noble in its intent.  However, the Commission’s application of the Rule to lawyers is unnecessary and not supported by law. … More

European Service Providers To Begin (or Continue) Recording Data on All Electronic Communications

On March 15, 2006, the European Parliament issued Directive 2006/24/EC (.pdf), outlining a new program that woud require internet service providers (ISPs) and telecommunications carriers to begin retaining comprehensive records of customer communications.  Specifically, the Directive required member states to ensure that a range of communications data be retained by service providers, including:

  1. The names, addresses, telephone numbers, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and user IDs involved in Internet access,…
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Bill Seeks Changes Massachusetts Data Security Law

With the deadline for complying with the Massachusetts identity theft law just six months away, at least one state senator is still seeking changes to that law.  In Senate Bill S173, which until now  has received little public notice, State Senator Michael Morrissey proposes to make it easier for small businesses to comply, by requiring the state’s regulations to take account of a business’s resources as it requires compliance: … More

Privacy Panel Recommends Updates to Privacy Act, Privacy Officers for Federal Agencies

On May 27, 2009, Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (ISPAB) issued a report entitled “Toward A 21st Century Framework for Federal Government Privacy Policy” (.pdf) that calls on Congress to amend the Privacy Act of 1974, establish the position of Chief Privacy Officer in numerous executive agencies and develop a Chief Privacy Officers’ Council. ISPAB is a group that advises the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST),… More

ABA to Consider Asking FTC and Congress to Exempt Lawyers from Red Flags Rules

A contact at the American Bar Association (ABA) confirmed by telephone today that the ABA Board of Governors is meeting this Saturday, June 13, 2009 to determine what position the ABA will take on whether lawyers and law firms are (or should be) considered "creditors" subject to federal Red Flags Rules.  Many among the legal community are hoping that the ABA urges the FTC and Congress to exempt lawyers from compliance with federal Red Flags Rules or takes some other action to limit the scope of the FTC’s enforcement. … More

FTC Chairman Pushes for Increasingly Specific “Self” Regulation of Behavioral Advertising

In recent weeks, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has encouraged the behavioral advertising industry to adopt increasingly specific "self" regulatory measures to address privacy concerns. Behavioral advertising, which the FTC has described as the practice of  “tracking of a consumer’s activities online . . . in order to deliver advertising targeted to the individual consumer’s interests” is a concern for consumer groups.  Consumers’ concerns range from the transparency of the process to the adequacy of security measures in place to protect information compiled,… More

New Law Would Require ISPs to Retain User Logs and Subscriber Records for Two Years

In February, Senator John Cornyn (R-Tx.) and Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Tx.) introduced the Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today’s Youth ("SAFETY") Act of 2009 (S. 436, H.R. 1076), which contains a proivision that would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to keep subscriber data for "at least" two years.  Specifically, Section 5 of the bill requires that ISPs retain "all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address."… More

Electronic Access to Court Filings Potentially Exposing Sensitive, Personal Information

In an April 2009 press release (.pdf), the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system (“PACER") announced that 99% of all federal courts nationwide have implemented electronic systems allowing litigants to file and review documents online. The near-complete implementation of these online systems marks an important technological and environmental milestone for the legal profession; however, it comes with considerable risks to individuals’ privacy and security: potentially limitless filings that inadvertently contain individuals’… More

New Cybersecurity Legislation Introduced in the Senate

As I noted a few weeks ago, Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) were drafting new cybersecurity legislation.  Last week the Senators introduced two bills.  The first, S.778 (text of the bill not yet available), would establish an Office of National Security Advisor within the Executive Office of the President.  The second, S.773 (text of the bill not yet available), entitled the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, gives the President the power to limit or shut down Internet traffic to and from any federal government or United States infrastructure network. … More

EU Working Party Issues Opinion on Standard Contract Clauses for Transfer of Data

On March 5, 2005, the Article 29 Working Party, an independent European advisory body on data protection and privacy, adopted Opinion 3/2009 (.pdf). The opinion comments on European Commission proposals designed to ensure that all data processors, including contractors hired by other data processors, are contractually required to protect sensitive data.

Senate Drafting Cybersecurity Law – Seeks To Appoint National “Cybersecurity Czar”

Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) are drafting cybersecurity legislation that would establish a permanent national security czar reporting directly to the White House, according to a recent announcement from Senator Nelson and other reports.  The proposed legislation would also

  • require intelligence and Homeland Security officials to perform vulnerability assessments;…
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The FTC Strikes Back: (Essentially) Everyone Should Be Complying With Red Flags Rules, Especially The Healthcare Industry

In a recent letter (.pdf) to the healthcare industry, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has issued its clearest pronouncement yet on which entities must comply with federal “Red Flag Rules” — the identity theft regulations that will go into effect for many businesses on May 1, 2009 (and have been in effect for banks and financial institutions since November 1, 2008). This latest guidance strongly suggests that if you are wondering whether the new federal regulations apply to you — then they probably do. In this post, we will recap the FTC’s recent guidance on who should be complying with the Rules.

EU Data Protection Working Party Issues Guidance on Cross Border Discovery

On Wednesday, February 11, 2009, the Data Protection Working Party, an independent European advisory body on data protection and privacy, released its Working Document 1-2009 (.pdf) on pre-trial discovery for cross border civil litigation.  The Working Document attempts to reconcile the tension between U.S. discovery rules and the European Union’s Directive 95/46/EC (.pdf), which outlines the EU’s privacy requirements.  What follows is a summary of the Working Document and an analysis of how it begins to bridge the gap between U.S.… More

Rep. Mary Bono Mack Introduces Informed P2P User Act To Combat Inadvertent File Sharing

On Thursday, March 5, 2009, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Congressman John Barrow (D-GA) and Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) introduced the Informed P2P User Act (H.R. 1319) which requires peer-to-peer ("P2P") software makers to make certain changes to their software to prevent users from inadvertently sharing files from their computers.  The proposed law would require both "clear and conspicuous notice" of what files the P2P software would being sharing and "informed consent"… More

Newly released opinions on privacy shed light on past government practices

On Monday the Department of Justice released a previously classified opinion entitled “Authority for Use of Military Force To Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States” (.pdf), which concluded, among other things, that “the Fourth Amendment [of the U.S. Constitution] does not apply to domestic military operations designed to deter and prevent further terrorist attacks.” This may come as a shock to some because the Fourth Amendment expressly prohibits the government from searching or seizing individuals or their property absent a warrant and probable cause,… More

Has the Consumer Privacy Legislative Forum Decided to Abandon Efforts to Draft Federal Privacy Legislation?

In early February, I noted that a group called the Consumer Privacy Legislative Forum (“CPLF”), which includes companies such as eBay, Microsoft, Google and Hewlett Packard, had released a statement calling for comprehensive harmonized federal privacy legislation and would be outlining recommendations for such legislation this month. Apparently, the CPLF’s focus has shifted. According to a BNA Privacy & Security Law Report, 8 PVLR 331, the CPLF “has decided to abandon efforts to develop a set of principles for omnibus U.S.… More

Cracking Down: FCC Initiates Enforcement Action Against Hundreds of Telecommunications Carriers For Failing to Certify Compliance With Customer Privacy Rules

On Tuesday, February 24, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an Omnibus Notice of Apparent Liability alleging that more than 600 telecommunications carriers have violated Section 222 of the Communications Act which "imposes the general duty on all telecommunications carriers to protect the confidentiality of their subscribers’ proprietary information" and the EPIC Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) Order (22 FCC Rcd 6927), which requires each carrier to certify compliance with the regulations governing customer information. … More

Adding to the Patchwork: HITECH Act Sets New “Floor” for Data Breach Notification of Certain Patient Information

On Tuesday, February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the widely-debated federal economic stimulus package, officially titled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and with it, enacted the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act). Much of the media attention on the HITECH Act has focused on the policies promoting health information technology a topic that President Obama touted throughout his campaign. However, the HITECH Act also contains myriad regulations that expand the security and privacy provisions of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA"),… More

Do The Red Flags Regulations Apply to Me? — Understanding Whether You Are A “Creditor” Under Federal Law

If you are confused about whether you, your company or your clients are subject to federal identity theft regulations, you are not alone. When the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on October 22, 2008 that they were delaying enforcement of the new Red Flags regulations by six months, until May 1, 2009 (which we reported here and here), the FTC admitted that the primary reason for the delay was that many businesses,… More

Isn’t There Already A Federal Standard Governing Information Security? — Re-Examining the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act

By Stacy Anderson and Gabriel M. Helmer.

As an ever-increasing number of states enact legislation governing identity theft, customer data and personal information, pressure for clear federal legislation governing information security has mounted. For example, in December 2008, the FTC joined the growing number of voices calling on Congress to enact a legislation to create a single federal standard for the handling of personal information. (See our report here.) As we see movement towards a unifying federal standard,… More

Senator Feinstein Introduces Two New Security/Privacy Bills

On January 6, 2009, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.) introduced two bills related to data breaches and protection of social security numbers. Bill S. 139, entitled the "Data Breach Notification Act," would require any federal agency or business entity to notify an individual of a security breach involving personal information “without unreasonable delay.” The proposed bill defines “reasonable delay” as including “any time necessary to determine the scope of the security breach,… More

FTC Chief Privacy Officer Mark Groman Presents At The Boston Bar Association

On Wednesday, January 14, 2009, the Boston Bar Association’s Privacy Law Committee hosted FTC Chief Privacy Officer Mark Groman for a brown bag lunch presentation entitled “The View from the Federal Trade Commission’s Chief Privacy Officer.” Here are a couple of highlights from the presentation:

  •  Mr. Groman views law firms as businesses subject to FTC Red Flags regulations (“we regulate you, too”), so law firms should be developing identity theft prevention programs to comply with the regulations by the May 1,…
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FTC Issues Guidance to Businesses on How To Handle Social Security Numbers

Anyone mystified by what practices the FTC wants businesses to improve on or abandon in response to federal “Red Flags” regulations received some specific guidance in December, when the FTC released the report Security in Numbers – SSNs and ID Theft. For anyone subject to new federal and state identity theft regulations, the Report helps identify some specific steps they should consider implementing by May 1, 2009, the deadline for businesses to adopt compliant identity theft prevention programs.

ALERT: Massachusetts Gives Businesses Until May 1, 2009 to Adopt Comprehensive Information Security Programs To Comply With Recent State Identity Theft Regulations

On Friday, November 14, 2008, Massachusetts regulators announced that they will give affected businesses until May 1, 2009 to comply with new identity theft regulations. This move parallels the October announcement by the Federal Trade Commission that it is delaying enforcement of federal identity theft regulations until the same day.

ALERT: FTC Gives Businesses Until May 1, 2009 to Adopt Identity Theft Prevention Plans that Comply With Recent FTC “Red Flags” Regulations

On Wednesday, October 22, 2008, the Federal Trade Commission issued an Enforcement Policy Statement that it will delay some elements of enforcement of recent “Red Flags” regulations until May 1, 2009, instead of the original November 1, 2008 date. Citing uncertainty and confusion within many industries over whether they are covered by the new regulations, the FTC indicated that it will not seek to enforce the regulations on November 1, 2008, when all affected businesses were originally required to come into compliance.