Category Archives: Security & Privacy Alerts

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

HHS OCR Guidance on Ransomware Attacks: They Constitute a “Security Incident” and Are Likely a Data Breach

On July 11, 2016, the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released guidance on HIPAA covered entities’ responsibilities in a ransomware attack, a type of cyber-attack that has targeted the health care sector extensively in recent months. This guidance comes in the wake of a June 20, 2016 “Dear Colleague” letter from HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell highlighting ransomware issues. The most notable of OCR’s statements is that ransomware attacks often constitute breaches subject to the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule.… 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

iPhone Access Gets Attention, ‘Stingrays’ Fly Under The Radar

Previously published in Law360, April 5, 2016. Posted with permission.

While eyes have been peeled on the U.S. Department of Justice’s efforts to obtain a court order to hack the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers, garnering far less scrutiny is law enforcement’s more routine use of powerful cellular tracking devices before a defendant is even charged. Called cell-site simulators,… 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.


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

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

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.…
  2. 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

Don’t Put Off That New HIPAA Business Associate Agreement: September 23, 2014 Deadline Looms

It’s been a while, but we have another HIPAA deadline just around the corner: September 23, 2014.

September 23, 2014 is the date by which all HIPAA business associate agreements need to be in compliance with the current HIPAA regulations (often called the Omnibus Rule). The current rules went into effect on March 26, 2013, but certain then-existing HIPAA BAAs were grandfathered and did not have to be updated immediately.… More

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

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.

Federal Judge Rules That Lawyers Need Not Comply With Red Flags Rules

In an order entered this morning, Federal District Judge Reggie B. Walton granted the American Bar Association’s (ABA) request that lawyers be excluded from enforcement of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) controversial Red Flags Rules. This comes as the legal community steeled itself for the FTC’s imminent November 1st enforcement deadline.

ALERT: Massachusetts Proposes Revised Information Security Regulations, Delays Enforcement Until March 1, 2010

Today, the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations (OCABR) issued proposed amendments to the Massachusetts information security regulations, 201 CMR 17.00 to 17.05 (.doc). The highlights of the proposed regulations include the following:

  • Enforcement of the regulations is postponed until March 1, 2010.
  • Businesses affected by the regulations include anyone that “receives, maintains or otherwise has access to personal information in connection with the provision of goods or services or in connection with employment.”…
  • More

FTC Releases “Template” Identity Theft Prevention Program for Red Flags Rules Compliance

On Wednesday, May 13, 2009, the FTC released a "template" identity theft prevention program (.pdf) to guide businesses subject to a "low risk" of identity theft through the process of complying with federal Red Flags Rules.  The FTC template was first announced on May 1, 2009 when the agency postponed enforcement of the general purpose Red Flags Rules until August 1, 2009 (see our posting here or our more detailed client alert here).… More

Last Minute Reprieve: FTC Postpones Deadline for Red Flags Compliance Until August 1, 2009 – Will Release “Template” For Compliant Identity Theft Prevention Program

On Thursday, April 30, 2009, the day before federal Red Flags Rules were set to go into effect for a wide range of businesses, the FTC published a notice on its website indicating that it is postponing the deadline (yet again) until August 1, 2009. Importantly, this delay appears to be imposed so that the FTC can provide businesses, many of which are confused about how to comply, a “template” identity theft prevention program. “For entities that have a low risk of identity theft, such as businesses that know their customers personally, the Commission will soon release a template to help them comply with the law.” The FTC indicates that it will make the template available through their website.

Class Action Lawsuit Continues Against Blockbuster For Making Video Rental Information Available to Facebook Users

On April 15, 2009, a federal district court issued a decision that keeps alive a woman’s suit "against Blockbuster and the way it offers information to the social networking site Facebook."  This was reported in the Dallas Business Journal.  In the ruling (.pdf), the court denied Blockbuster’s motion to compel arbitration by holding that an arbitration clause in the "Terms and Conditions" of Blockbuster Online was unenforceable. 

The case is being brought as a class action under the Video Privacy Protection Act,… More

Swine flu and privacy in the workplace

With swine flu on everybody’s mind right now (even leading President Obama’s news conference this evening), employers and employees should understand what questions can be asked and what information can be obtained from employees in the midst of apparent pandemic.  At the federal government’s pandemic flu website, the basic rules are set out.  In general, during a pandemic, employers may require employees to disclose whether they have been exposed to pandemic influenza. … More

Limits of Privacy in Schools: Supreme Court Hears Arguments on School Strip Search Case

Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Safford Unified School v. Redding, a dispute concerning the propriety of a school-ordered a strip-search of a 13-year-old student who was believed to be in possession of prescription strength ibuprofen in violation of the school’s zero-tolerance drug policy.  The case has received a good deal of media coverage (see the New York Times article for an example) because the facts are attention grabbing. … More

ALERT: Massachusetts Gives Businesses Until January 1, 2010 to Adopt Information Security Programs To Comply With Recent Identity Theft Regulations

On Thursday, February 12, 2009, the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) issued a public statement indicating that it is extending the May 1, 2009 deadline to comply with recent Massachusetts identity theft regulations until January 1, 2010. 

The Massachusetts identity theft regulations affect entities that own, license, store or maintain personal information, including social security numbers, state identification numbers and financial account information,… More

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.