As 2021 comes to a close, so does our 12 Days of Data series, but we will see you on the other side in 2022 with more posts on the top privacy and data protection issues. 2021 was an interesting year. While vaccinations spread and some sense of normalcy started to return, new strains of COVID-19 led to additional waves of shutdowns that stalled many of the debates. In 2022, we anticipate that the move toward a new normal will continue, and we will once again start to see traction on some of these data, privacy, and cybersecurity issues. As a preview, here are some of the key areas where we expect to see potential developments in 2022.

Continue Reading Closing out the 12 Days of Data: What to Expect in 2022

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

Cyber SecurityWhat Is Tax-Related Identity Theft?

Fraudulent tax refunds issued as a result of identity theft occur when an individual steals a victim’s personally identifiable information (PII), such as a Social Security number (SSN), and files a tax return claiming to be the victim. More than 89,000 Americans filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reporting tax fraud linked to identity theft in 2020. Similarly, businesses may also fall victim to tax fraud, where an individual steals a business’s employer identification number (EIN) to file fraudulent returns. In both scenarios, the victims usually discover they have fallen victim to such fraud when their tax returns are rejected, or when the business receives notice about Forms W-2 they didn’t file with the Social Security Administration or notices for balances due to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that are not owed. Most frequently, neither businesses nor individuals will have any reliable information as to how their information has been exposed. The IRS has noted such tax fraud tends to increase during tax season and time of crisis, and cybercriminals have undeniably taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to unleash an unprecedented number of tax fraud schemes to steal information from taxpayers.
Continue Reading Best Practices to Avoid Tax-Related Identity Theft

In news that is likely to concern individuals and privacy activists alike, it has been reported that the NHS booking system for COVID-19 vaccinations has led to complaints that it could be used to reveal the vaccination status of individuals through the use of simple personal information.

The website allows users to book appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations, either by means of their NHS number, or by entering certain basic personal data, (including names, dates of birth and postcodes).  The website then provides a variety of responses based on the user’s vaccination status, with different responses being provided based on whether the individual has received no vaccinations, one vaccination, or both.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Vaccination Booking Site May Reveal Vaccination Status

In encouraging news for UK-based organizations involved in the processing of personal data, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has adopted two Opinions on the draft UK adequacy decisions which, if approved, would allow the transfer of personal data from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the UK to continue freely.

The first Opinion (Opinion 14/2021) relates to the GDPR and considers general data protection issues and also government access to personal data transferred from the EEA for national security and law enforcement purposes set out in the draft adequacy decision. The second Opinion (Opinion 15/2021) relates to the Law Enforcement Directive (LED) and considers various issues.
Continue Reading European Data Protection Board Adopts Two Opinions on Draft UK Adequacy Decisions

remote workThe UK Information Commissioner (ICO) has launched a new toolkit for organizations which are planning to use personal data for data analytics as part of the ICO’s priority work on artificial intelligence (AI).

The toolkit outlines some important personal data protection considerations which organizations should take into account at the beginning of any scheme involving such personal data processing and follows the ICO’s recent publications ‘Explaining decisions made with AI’ and ‘Guidance on AI and data protection’.
Continue Reading UK Information Commissioner Launches Data Analytics Toolkit

The debate surrounding vaccine passports to assist with the easing of lockdown restrictions and controlling the spread of COVID-19 continues to raise a number of concerns in the UK.

Although the use of such passports is apparently under consideration, such proposals raise a number of different ethical, scientific and legal issues. A recent Royal Society report sounded a note of caution, suggesting that 12 tests should be met by any such proposal. Among other things, vaccine passports would need to meet various ethical and legal standards, including in respect of data protection.
Continue Reading Possible Use of COVID Vaccine Passports Raises Data Protection Concerns

GDPROrganizations which fail to implement appropriate technical and organizational security measures to protect personal data and suffer personal data breaches as a result, increasingly may find themselves facing the double whammy of both enforcement action by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), (which can include significant financial penalties) and potentially also group-style legal actions brought by data subjects.

British Airways, which suffered a cyber incident that is believed to have started in June 2018 and led to a personal data breach involving almost 500,000 of its customers, has found itself on the receiving end of such an action.

Continue Reading UK Group-Style Data Breach Actions Continue

Article29On 17 December 2020, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) published its new Data Sharing Code of Practice, as required under the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA18).

The new Code provides practical guidance for controllers that share personal data with other controllers on how to ensure that data sharing complies with applicable data protection requirements. The new Code is a statutory code and updates the ICO’s previous data sharing code, which was published in 2011. The ICO has also instigated a new data sharing information hub which provides further support for organizations involved in data sharing.
Continue Reading UK Information Commissioner Publishes New Data Sharing Code of Practice

On March 6, 2020, the China Standardization Administration and the State Administration for Market Regulation jointly released an updated version of the Personal Information Security Specification (the “Specification”) which will become effective on October 1, 2020.[1] The updated Specification updates the current Specifications[2] that have been in effect since May 1, 2018, and is the result of a revision effort by the Specification’s drafters, that included a series of interim drafts published for public comment on January 30, 2019, June 21, 2019, and most recently, on October 22, 2019, in order to address certain loopholes and practices leading to excessive collection of personal information.
Continue Reading China Updates its Personal Information Security Specification