Privacy/Data Protection

On 17 June 2022, the UK government released its much anticipated response to the consultation on the reform of the UK data protection regime. As part of the UK’s post-Brexit national data strategy, the consultation gathered responses on proposals aimed at reforming the UK’s data protection regime to boost the UK economy. In its response, the UK government has signalled which of the proposals it will be proceeding with and are likely to appear in an upcoming Data Reform Bill.

Overall, these reforms do not overhaul the existing UK data protection compliance regime, which is derived from EU legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation and ePrivacy Directive. Instead, the proposals are incremental and largely modify obligations that organizations will be familiar with under the existing regime. As expected, these reforms are largely business-focused, with an overall aim of reducing compliance burdens faced by businesses of all sizes and facilitating the use (and re-use) of data for research.

Continue Reading UK Government Publishes Its Response on the Reform of the UK Data Protection Regime

At a meeting of the California Privacy Protection Agency (“CPPA”) on June 8, we learned additional information about the initial batch of proposed regulations (“Proposed Regulations”) to the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”) that were published on May 27. The Proposed Regulations keep much of the pre-existing California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) regulations but modify and add some key provisions. Because the CPRA was drafted as an amendment to the CCPA, the Proposed Regulations reference the CCPA (as amended by the CPRA). The Proposed Regulations focus on data subject rights, contractual requirements, and obligations related to disclosures, notices, and consents. Additional proposals will cover cybersecurity audits, privacy risk assessments, and automated decision making, among other areas. While we expect significant changes as the Proposed Regulations proceed through the formal rulemaking process, which the CPPA has not yet officially started, we provide our key takeaways below:

Continue Reading Recent Activity from the California Privacy Protection Agency

On April 28, 2022, the Connecticut General Assembly passed SB 6, the Act Concerning Personal Data Privacy And Online Monitoring (the “Connecticut Privacy Act”) by a vote of 144-5, which puts Connecticut on course to become the fifth state to enact a comprehensive data privacy law, following California, Virginia, Colorado, and Utah. The bill, which passed the state senate 35-0, now awaits the signature of Governor Ned Lamont. If it becomes law, the bulk of the statute is set to take effect July 1, 2023.

The bill passed by Connecticut legislature closely follows the structure of similar laws enacted in other states, giving support to the Colorado legislature’s claim, that “states across the United States are looking to [the Colorado Privacy Act, enacted in 2021] and similar models to enact state-based data privacy requirements and to exercise the leadership that is lacking at the national level.” One of the Connecticut bill’s sponsors and its key proponent in the state senate, Sen. James Maroney, compared the legislation to Colorado’s statute, saying that both SB 6 and the Colorado law are less aggressive than the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) but provide more privacy protections that similar bills passed by other states.

Continue Reading Connecticut Becomes the Fifth State to Pass a Comprehensive Data Privacy Law

Data, privacy & cybersecurity partners Ed McNicholas and Fran Faircloth and counsel Kevin Angle authored a chapter in Chambers Global Practice Guide Cybersecurity 2022 on “USA Law & Practice and Trends & Developments.” The chapter provides an overview of cybersecurity regulation in the United States and provides insights on the multitude of cybersecurity

On Friday 25 March President Biden and the President of the European Commission jointly announced that they had reached an agreement in principle on a revised trans-Atlantic data flow mechanism.  The timing could not have been better, as I was moderating a panel on “International Data Transfers in 2022 and Beyond” at the Privacy + Security Forum Spring Forum on the same day.

The panel was made up of William Malcolm, Director of Privacy at Google, Vivienne Artz, OBE Chair of the International Regulatory Strategy Group Data Committee, and Joe Jones, Deputy Director International Data Transfers Data Policy Directorate at the UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport.  Our plan was to facilitate a discussion focused on recent enforcement actions and statements by data protection authorities in the EU and UK that had highlighted the increasingly complex challenges organizations face in complying with GDPR when transferring personal data out of Europe.  Instead we had a very engaging hour discussing how important data transfers are in a digital economy, noting that at the EU-US summit the discussion of data was second only to discussions of the situation in Ukraine; and that although the EU-US announcement had set Twitter feeds alight, it provided no information as to what the actual agreement was or how it would avoid falling foul of being challenged as Schrems III, IV or V. Finally, we brainstormed some ideas as to the direction or detail that could be contained in the new EU-US agreement and which could really drive change in the regulation of international data flows.

It was clear to all that following the CJEU’s ruling in Schrems II, which invalidated the EU-US Privacy Shield and made use of Standard Contractual Clauses more challenging for business, commercial organizations find themselves in the situation in which data transfers are becoming an impediment to business when really they should be the soil of the digital society in which services and societal benefits can grow globally.

Continue Reading International Data Transfers in 2022 and Beyond

The California Attorney General’s office (OAG) recently released its first formal written opinion on the scope of the rights granted to consumers under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), specifically, the right for a consumer to know about the personal information that a business collects from them. The opinion comes in response to a question submitted by California Assembly member Kevin Kiley as to whether a consumer’s right to know the specific pieces of personal information that a business has collected about that consumer applies to internally generated inferences the business holds about them. The OAG asserted that the right to know does apply to such inferences, albeit with certain key exceptions.

Continue Reading California Attorney General’s Office Releases First Formal CCPA Opinion

On March 24, 2022, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed into law the Utah Consumer Privacy Act (“UCPA”), which was unanimously passed by the state legislature earlier this month. Utah is the fourth U.S. state to pass a comprehensive privacy law, following California, Virginia, and Colorado. The UCPA will go into effect on December 31, 2023.

The Utah law generally resembles the three existing state privacy models, but closely tracks with the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA) and Colorado Privacy Act (CPA), suggesting that states are shifting away from California’s more stringent strand of privacy regulation toward a version that balances the spirit of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), in terms of purpose limitation and consumer protection, against the need to avoid overly burdening companies. In fact, the UCPA is seen by some as more business-friendly than legislation passed in Virginia and Colorado: Utah’s law does not require businesses to conduct data protection assessments and does not compel companies to provide a mechanism for consumers to appeal denials of requests to exercise personal data rights.

Continue Reading Utah Passes Comprehensive Privacy Law

On March 1, 2022, the Senate passed a data breach and cybersecurity bill that could vastly expand data breach notice requirements. The Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act (the “Senate Bill”), which now shifts to the House of Representatives, would require organizations in certain critical infrastructure sectors to report substantial cybersecurity incidents to the Department of Homeland Security within 72 hours after the organization reasonably believes the cyberincident has occurred, among other measures intended to enhance the nation’s cybersecurity posture. Covered organizations would also be required to report ransom payments within 24 hours of making a payment in response to a ransomware attack. These provisions are not limited to data breaches affecting personal data and would significantly expand the breadth of data breach reporting requirements to many commercial enterprises that have not focused on consumer privacy issues.

While the bill was criticized by FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco for shifting cyber-focus from the DOJ/FBI to DHS/CISA, it remains likely to pass the House, where similar legislation was supported last year as part of the annual defense authorization package. In addition to its breach reporting provisions, the Senate Bill would also require or encourage new cybersecurity measures for federal agencies, clarify the roles of certain cybersecurity officials and authorize the federal contractor cybersecurity FedRAMP program for five years.

Continue Reading Senate Approves Breach Reporting Legislation; Likely to Pass House

In a unanimous decision issued on February 3, 2022, the Illinois Supreme Court held in McDonald v. Symphony Bronzeville Park that the Illinois State Workers’ Compensation Act (“WCA”) did not bar claims under the Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). In doing so, the court eliminated one significant defense commonly raised in such cases, since many BIPA class actions are brought in the context of employment (many of which were stayed pending the decision in McDonald). Critically, though, the decision does not preclude other potential defenses including claims of federal preemption.

BIPA is one of the most actively litigated privacy statutes in the United States. Among other things, it requires that businesses obtain consent prior to collecting biometric information (fingerprints, facial geometry information, iris scans and the like), issue a publicly available data retention policy, and refrain from certain data sales and disclosures. Because BIPA provides for a private right of action along with statutory damages of $1,000 to $5,000 per violation, it has proved fertile ground for the plaintiff’s bar.

Continue Reading Illinois Supreme Court Finds Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act Not Preempted By State Workers’ Compensation Law

A recent decision by the Austrian Supervisory Authority (“SA”) casts a spotlight on the complexities of data transfers and cookie use, and highlights a shift in regulatory focus onto these topics in the year ahead. Regulators around Europe are increasingly beginning to weigh in on such transfers, and the outcomes of their deliberations will shape the data transfer compliance landscape in the months to come. These decisions present complex questions about the future of data transfers in the EU and UK.

Continue Reading Increased EU Scrutiny of US Data Transfers Through Cookie Use