Privacy Law and Regulation

On March 20, 2019, the Supreme Court refused to address the adequacy of a $8.5 million Google privacy class action settlement and instead remanded to a lower court to determine whether the class action plaintiffs had standing to assert a claim under the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”).  The Court’s holding serves as a reminder that

The FTC has proposed amendments to its 2003 Safeguards Rule and the 2000 Privacy Rule, applicable to financial institutions under the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA). The proposed changes are informed by the FTC’s enforcement experience and are intended to keep pace with technological developments.
Continue Reading FTC Seeks Comment on Proposed Amendments to Safeguards and Privacy Rules

Following numerous privacy complaints, the State Office for Data Protection Supervision (BayLDA) recently conducted a random audit on 40 companies and found widespread problems with their cookie disclosures. The purpose of the audit was to determine whether website users were able to obtain transparent information regarding the use and tracking of their information by third-party

New proposed legislation in California, backed by state Attorney General (AG) Xavier Becerra, would amend the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) to make it easier for private plaintiffs and public officials to sue for violations while further increasing regulatory uncertainty and compliance costs for businesses.  Specifically, SB 561 would expand the CCPA’s private right of action, remove the Act’s public enforcement “cure” provision, and eliminate the ability of affected companies to seek compliance guidance from the AG.

The CCPA is a sweeping new privacy law which goes into effect in January 2020.  It gives California residents substantial control over personal data held by certain California businesses, requiring disclosure of what personal information the business collects, how that information is used or sold, and allowing consumers to control or delete that information upon request.  It currently allows private plaintiffs to seek statutory damages of up to $750 per violation for certain violations, and it allows the AG to seek civil penalties of up to $2,500 for most violations, and up to $7,500 for violations found to be intentional.
Continue Reading California Legislation Would Make CCPA Even Worse for Businesses

The Equifax and Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandals, coupled with the proliferation of state privacy and security laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)—as well as proposed laws in Washington and Massachusetts—have increased demand for a comprehensive national privacy law.  Last week, the Senate announced plans to hold hearings to discuss a proposed privacy law.  The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just released its report recommending that Congress develop comprehensive privacy legislation to enhance consumer protections. 
Continue Reading Government Accountability Office Recommends Comprehensive Privacy Legislation

The Illinois Supreme Court held on January 25, 2019, that plaintiffs filing suit under the Biometric Information Privacy Act—which regulates how private entities disclose and discard biometric identifiers—do not need actual damages for standing. The decision has serious implications for companies collecting biometric data from Illinois residents.

The Act provides a private right of action to individuals “aggrieved” by any violation, allowing them to seek, among other remedies, liquidated or actual damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs. However, there has been widespread uncertainty as to whether an aggrieved individual asserting a private action under the Act needed to show that he or she suffered an actual injury as a result of an alleged violation, or if a violation of the Act in and of itself conveys standing.
Continue Reading Illinois Supreme Court: No ‘Actual Harm’ Required for Biometric Information Privacy Act Claims

The prevailing wisdom after last year’s enactment of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was that it would result in other states enacting consumer privacy legislation. The perceived inevitability of a “50-state solution to privacy” motivated businesses previously opposed to federal privacy legislation to push for its enactment. With state legislatures now convening, we have

As we turn the page on 2018, let’s reflect on some of the key privacy and cybersecurity issues that will continue to occupy our hearts and minds in 2019.

Owning the Mega-Breach

2018 was the year in which data breaches in mergers and acquisitions became the iceberg in full view. This fuller realization of cyber risk in transactions, though, actually has its origin in September 2016 – when Yahoo and Marriott were in the midst of deals that would involve some of the largest data breaches on record.
Continue Reading Some Thoughts on the Year in Privacy and Data Security Law

Hold the date: Phil Yannella, Ballard Spahr partner and co-chair of the firm’s Privacy & Data Security Group, will participate in an ACC webcast on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 titled “The State of US State Privacy Laws.” The webcast will focus on the recent proliferation of US state privacy and data security laws, some of

For good reason, there has been much discussion about the new privacy rights created by the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), which becomes effective January 1, 2020. Perhaps one of the most significant provisions of the CCPA, though, will be one that has been somewhat overlooked: Section 1798.150, which provides for statutory damages of between $100 and $750 per consumer per incident for certain data breaches. Indeed, had California enacted Section 1798.150 alone, it would have garnered scores of articles on how its statutory damages remedy will likely lead to an explosion in “bet-the-company” private class action litigation over data breaches. The fact that it was enacted as just one provision in a first-in-the-nation privacy law has resulted in commentators spending less time analyzing its impact on businesses.

We will try to remedy this by taking a look at this provision and analyzing how it will apply to businesses covered by the CCPA. We begin by discussing existing California laws that are referenced in the CCPA’s private right of action. We then track the private right of action through its various forms, starting with the ballot measure and ending with its current version as reflected in Senate Bill 1121. Finally, we discuss how the private right of action likely will be used by private litigants and what steps businesses should take to avoid costly litigation.
Continue Reading Analyzing the California Consumer Privacy Act’s Private Right of Action