As 2021 comes to a close, it is a great time to take stock of the present state of affairs with respect to U.S. privacy laws. With the relatively recent passage of comprehensive privacy laws in California, and additional countries adopting laws that closely follow the principles of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), along with increasing public concerns regarding how companies manage customers’ personal data, legal practitioners entered 2021 with high hopes that comprehensive federal privacy legislation may finally be on the horizon. Nevertheless, in a trend that is likely to continue in the year ahead, it was the states rather than federal legislatures that successfully added to the ranks of privacy laws with which businesses will soon need to comply.

Continue Reading Momentum Builds for State Privacy Laws but the Possibility of a Federal Law Remains Remote

Private employers in New York will now need to notify and obtain employee acknowledgement prior to engaging in any electronic monitoring under the provisions of S2628, signed by Governor Kathy Hochul on November 8, and effective May 7, 2022. With this law, New York joins Connecticut and Delaware in mandating that employers provide employee notice of monitoring, which, in practice, can be integrated into the sort of employee privacy notice required under the California Consumer Privacy Act.

Applicability and Obligations for Businesses

S2628 applies to any private employer with a place of business in New York that electronically monitors employees’ communications and internet activity. The law’s core provisions require that upon an employee’s hiring, the employer must provide prior written notice alerting the employee that their telephone conversations, e-mails, and internet access or usage may be monitored using any electronic device or system such as a computer, telephone, wire, radio, or electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo-optical systems. The notice must be in writing or electronic form and acknowledged by the employee in writing or electronically. Employers must also post the notice describing the electronic monitoring in a conspicuous place that is readily available for employees to view.

Continue Reading New York Law Will Require Employee Notice and Acknowledgement Prior to Electronic Monitoring by Employer

The Future of US Federal and State Regulation of Data Privacy

During the November 3rd session of Ropes & Gray’s conference, “The Future of Global Data Protection: Conflict or Coherence?” Ropes & Gray partner Chong Park moderated a discussion with Ropes & Gray’s data protection partner Fran Faircloth and Minh Ta, Vice President of Global Governmental Affairs at the Carlyle Group regarding the future of federal and state regulation of data privacy in the United States.

The group all agreed that there should be a comprehensive, US federal data privacy law, but expressed opposing views on the likelihood of such a federal law being implemented in the near future. Minh analogized it to the infrastructure bill debate in the United States, noting that there is bipartisan consensus to address the issue on some level, but the problem lies in the details—i.e., what specifically should be regulated is where people disagree. Fran, on the other hand, expressed a bit more optimism that a federal law on privacy would be passed in the future, but agreed the likelihood of imminent passage is unlikely. She noted that as more states pass their own versions of privacy laws, that eventually as a result a federal law would be passed.

Continue Reading The Future of US Federal and State Regulation of Data Privacy

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

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 Florida’s DNA Privacy Law Means For Health Care Providers

BillOn July 8, 2021, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed the Colorado Privacy Act (the “Colorado Law”), a comprehensive privacy law that will take effect on July 1, 2023, into law. Colorado is the third U.S. state to pass a comprehensive privacy law, following California (the CCPA, as modified by the CPRA) and Virginia (the CDPA).

The Colorado Law generally resembles both the California and Virginia privacy laws, but more closely tracks the Virginia CDPA in terms of structure, approach, and language. The Colorado Law also contains some notable deviations from either law, including novel provisions regarding a mandatory universal opt-out mechanism for targeted advertising or sales of personal data.
Continue Reading Colorado Privacy Law Signed Into Law

BillBuilding on the momentum of the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”)California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”), and the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (“CDPA”), and the consideration of similar laws in states like Washington and New York, Minnesota’s legislature is debating HF 36, introduced on January 7, 2021, and HF 1492, introduced on February 22, 2021. Significantly, HF 36 grants consumers a private right of action for any violation of its provisions—something that was considered but not ultimately included in the CCPA, which provides for a private right of action only in the event of a data breach.  In contrast, HF 1492 joins Virginia’s CDPA by relying on regulatory enforcement and generally pursuing  an approach that is closer to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). If passed, HF 36 would take effect on June 30, 2022, and HF 1492, also known as the Minnesota Consumer Data Privacy Act (“MCDPA”) on July 31, 2022.
Continue Reading Minnesota Debates New Privacy Bills

BillFlorida joined the fray of state legislatures vying to become the third state to enact comprehensive data privacy legislation following the passage of Virginia’s Consumer Data Protection Act (“CDPA”). Introduced in February with the support of Governor DeSantis, House Bill 969 (“HB 969”) shared many similarities with the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), including a private right of action. At the same time, the previously identical Senate Bill 1734 (“SB 1734”) was recently amended to limit the scope of the law and remove the private right of action.  As with some many other state laws, the Florida bills have died for the present legislative session due to the breakdown over the private cause of action. 
Continue Reading Florida House and Senate Privacy Legislation Fails to Pass

BillThe proposed Washington Privacy Act (WPA) continues to move forward with new enforcement provisions, including a limited private right of action. The Washington House Committee on Civil Rights and Judiciary narrowly approved the so-called “striker” amendment, which would enable state residents to sue companies for injunctive relief over alleged violations; but does not allow suit for monetary damages. The bill had already passed in the Washington Senate by a vote of 48-1.
Continue Reading Proposed Washington Privacy Act Gets a Different Set of Teeth with Private Right of Action for Injunctive Relief

The California Attorney General’s Office of Administrative Law has approved additional amendments to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) regulations, which went into effect March 15, 2021. A preliminary version of these new regulations were initially to be submitted as part of the CCPA regulations that went into effect on August 14, 2020, but were ultimately removed from that set of regulations. Instead these four new regulations were pulled from the proposal last minute and were not submitted for review, only to be reintroduced in October 2020 (see article here).
Continue Reading Yet Another Round of CCPA Regulations