Preeminent privacy scholar and George Washington University Law School professor, Daniel Solove joined Ropes & Gray’s virtual conference on “The Future of Global Data Protection,” for a wide-ranging discussion with Edward McNicholas, co-leader of the Ropes & Gray data, privacy & cybersecurity practice, in which the pair explored:

  • The state of complexity and inconsistency in the international privacy law landscape
  • The inherent flaws in the models on which privacy laws are currently based
  • The risks of moving toward a regulatory model
  • Theories of harm in data breach cases
  • The role of the courts in adjudicating privacy laws

Please see below for an overview of some of these topics, or to access a recording of the session please visit our blog: RopesDataPhiles.

Continue Reading How Data Breaches Are Shaping the Global Data Protection Debate

On October 27, 2021, the FTC updated its financial services cybersecurity Safeguards Rule and made other revisions to its associated privacy rule.  The FTC also issued a request for comment on a new proposed 30-day data breach notification rule for financial institutions subject to its jurisdiction.  The updated Safeguards Rule breaks new ground for the FTC by requiring specific security controls and accountability measures expressly modeled on the New York Department of Financial Services cybersecurity rule.  For entities covered by the Safeguards Rule, these changes will require prompt review, since many of the newly required controls will take time to implement if they are not already in place.  Among other things, the Safeguards Rule will now require multifactor authentication for any individual accessing information systems storing customer information (or compensating controls), encryption of all customer information both in transit and at rest (again with the option of alternative compensating controls), and updates to record retention procedures.  The revisions also dictate specific governance controls by requiring reporting, at least annually, to a board of directors or senior officer about the institution’s security posture and the adoption of a formal incident response plan.

Continue Reading FTC Updates Safeguards Rule To Specify Security Requirements

The Courts of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) held in its July 2020 Schrems II decision that, in order for entities in other countries to import personal data from the European Economic Area (EEA), the importer must be able to provide data protections ‘essentially equivalent’ to those the EEA offers under its General Data Protection Regulation. The CJEU expressed particular concern that United States’ national security intelligence gathering laws prevent U.S.-based entities from providing such protections. This decision has sharply limited the sharing of clinical research data from the EEA to the United States. After describing the pertinent aspects of the Schrems II decision, this article evaluates U.S. national security intelligence gathering frameworks, including Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Executive Order 12333. The article then leverages recent draft guidance from the European Data Protection Board to explain how entities may be able to adopt widely used contractual and technical measures, such as data pseudonymization, to provide ‘essentially equivalent’ protections in the clinical research context.

Continue Reading Demystifying Schrems II for the Cross-Border Transfer of Clinical Research Data

Modern smartphones, wearables and internet-enabled devices are capable of monitoring heart rate, blood oxygen levels, steps taken, prescription adherence, and other vital health-related activities. Contrary to popular belief, HIPAA does not cover many of these applications and devices. On September 15, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission issued a Policy Statement attempting to assert authority to police that gap.  The Policy Statement explains the FTC’s view that the Health Breach Notification Rule applies to mobile health applications. This Policy Statement signals increasing FTC scrutiny designed to safeguard sensitive health data on a variety of modern technologies that consumers use to monitor and improve their health.

Continue Reading FTC Warns Health Apps and Connected Device Companies to Comply With Health Breach Notification Rule

Law360 (October 4, 2021, 5:30 PM EDT) —
On June 29, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law H.B. 833, known as the Protecting DNA Privacy Act.

The act took effect on Oct. 1, and applies to the collection, use, retention, maintenance and disclosure of a DNA sample collected from an individual in Florida as well as the results of any subsequent DNA analysis. The act is self-executing and took effect without the need for creation of implementing regulations.

The act clarifies the extent to which individuals own their genetic information, and it creates new crimes for the unlawful collection, retention, analysis, disclosure or sale of an individual’s DNA sample and the results of a DNA analysis, subject to certain limited exemptions, such as use for specified clinical or research purposes.

The act also has important implications for secondary uses of data by health care providers and others that perform genetic testing and analyze genetic information.

Continue Reading What Fla. DNA Privacy Law Means For Health Care Providers

On August 20, 2021, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress promulgated the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), which will become effective on November 1, 2021. The PIPL is the first comprehensive national level personal information protection law in China, which systematically regulates the processing of personal information by entities and individuals. The PIPL, together with the Cybersecurity Law, which was promulgated in 2017, and the Data Security Law, which was promulgated earlier this year, form the three pillars of China’s comprehensive data protection legal regime.

This Alert provides a summary of the highlights of the PIPL, discusses the implications on domestic and foreign businesses operating in China, and compares the PIPL with the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has greatly influenced many of the concepts included in the PIPL. Continue Reading China Passes Personal Information Protection Law

On June 3, 2021, in a 6-3 decision that created a diverse majority—uniting the most recent conservative additions—Justices Barrett, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch—with the more liberal Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, the Supreme Court resolved a split among the Circuit courts regarding the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (the CFAA), The language of the CFAA creates civil and criminal liability for intentional access of a computer if that access is either “without authorization” or “exceeding authorized access.” In Van Buren v. United States, the Supreme Court granted review to determine whether someone who was authorized to use a computer system exceeded authorized access under the CFAA by using that computer system to access information for an unauthorized purpose. Justice Barrett wrote the majority opinion which determined that using information from a computer system for unpermitted purposes would not “exceed authorized access” under the CFAA if the user was otherwise authorized to access that information using the computer. Continue Reading

A recent SEC settlement has again demonstrated the Commission’s continued attention to public companies’ disclosures of cybersecurity incidents and its commitment to a broad notion of what constitutes such an incident. On August 16, the SEC entered a settlement agreement with Pearson plc, a UK-based educational publishing company that is publicly traded on both the London Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange via ADRs. While Pearson made no admissions in the agreement, it will pay a $1 million civil penalty to settle the SEC’s allegations that Pearson misled investors in its disclosures related to a 2018 cybersecurity breach.

Five key aspects of this settlement merit attention from a cybersecurity perspective because they are arguably more aggressive than the practices that have developed under state data breach laws:

Continue Reading

LockThe FTC’s recent settlement with Flo Health, announced on June 22, 2021, offers insights into what practices could invite FTC investigation, especially when companies that collect sensitive information make specific promises about high levels of health privacy and data security. More than 100 million consumers use Flo, an app developed by Flo Health Inc., to help women track their periods and fertility. Although the settlement contains no admissions by Flo, the agency alleged that Flo shared users’ health information with outside data analytics providers; an arrangement that is not uncommon for apps that deal with less-sensitive data, but one which contradicted the company’s promise to keep users’ personal information private. Continue Reading Recent FTC Settlement with Flo Health Focuses on Notice and Consent for Companies Sharing Sensitive Data

There were 887 million reasons why one GDPR story was dominating the press on Friday. But sneaking under the radar was a decision from the English High Court that I reckon should be more interesting to businesses in the UK.

In a nutshell, the High Court rejected a £5,000 claim for distress-related damages brought by an individual whose personal data were involved in a cyber-attack suffered by DSG, a British retailer that operates the Currys PC Worlds and Dixons Travel brands. The claim relied on breach of confidence, misuse of private information, breach of the DPA 1998 and common law negligence, and the judgment is short and easy to digest, so it’s well worth a read. Continue Reading De-stressing Distress Disputes