One of the most bedeviling aspects of data privacy and security law concerns the concept of “reasonable” data security, which has become the default statutory and common law standard.  The FTC began articulating a reasonableness standard in the early aughts, when the Commission first began scrutinizing companies’ data security practices.  Companies for years quietly grumbled about the vagueness of this standard, which isn’t defined in any regulations or federal statutes. Critics obtained a recent victory when the Eleventh Circuit, in LabMD v. FTC, struck down an FTC judgment on grounds that the relief sought by the FTC against LabMD– implementation of reasonable data security practices — was too vague to be enforceable. Continue Reading What Does “Reasonable” Data Security Mean, Exactly?

The New York Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”) has adopted a regulation that requires “consumer credit reporting agencies” (“CCRAs”) to register with the NYDFS, prohibits CCRAs from engaging in certain practices, and requires CCRAs to comply with certain provisions of the NYDFS cybersecurity regulation. Continue Reading NYDFS Requires Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies to Comply with Cybersecurity Regulation

South Carolina has become the first state to enact a version of the Insurance Data Security Model Law, which was drafted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in 2017. Governor Henry McMaster signed the South Carolina Insurance Data Security Act into law on May 14, 2018. The Act will become effective on January 1, 2019.

South Carolina Insurance Director Raymond G. Farmer chaired the NAIC Cybersecurity Working Group that drafted the model law. The South Carolina Act appears to follow the Model Law closely, and bears similarities to cybersecurity laws and regulations enacted in other states and at the federal level – including the New York Department of Financial Services cybersecurity regulations, the new Alabama data breach law, and HIPAA/HITECH data security/breach notification requirements. Continue Reading South Carolina Enacts First Insurance Data Security Act

The fallout from the Yahoo data breaches continues to illustrate how cyberattacks thrust companies into the competing roles of crime victim, regulatory enforcement target and civil litigant.

Yahoo, which is now known as Altaba, recently became the first public company to be fined ($35 million) by the Securities and Exchange Commission for filing statements that failed to disclose known data breaches. This is on top of the $80 million federal securities class action settlement that Yahoo reached in March 2018—the first of its kind based on a cyberattack. Shareholder derivative actions remain pending in state courts, and consumer data breach class actions have survived initial motions to dismiss and remain consolidated in California for pre-trial proceedings. At the other end of the spectrum, a federal judge has balked at the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request that a hacker-for-hire indicted in the Yahoo attacks be sentenced to eight years in prison for a digital crime spree that dates back to 2010. Continue Reading The Hacked & the Hacker-for-Hire: Lessons from the Yahoo Data Breaches (So Far)

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently announced that it will hold a hearing on May 16, 2018, to receive information on potential hazards with Internet of Things (IoT) products.

In its public notice, the CPSC explained that the “purpose of the public hearing . . . is to provide interested stakeholders a venue to discuss potential safety hazards created by a consumer product’s connection to IoT or other network-connected devices; the types of hazards (e.g., electrical, thermal, mechanical, chemical) related to the intended, unintended, or foreseeable misuse of consumer products because of an IoT connection; current standards development; industry best practices; and the proper role of the CPSC in addressing potential safety hazards with IoT-related products.” The notice also clarifies that the hearing “will not address personal data security or privacy implications of IoT devices.”

So why does this matter? 

Continue Reading Data Security Litigation: CPSC to Hold Hearing on The Internet of Things and Consumer Product Hazards

The virtual world offers opportunities and obligations not found in nature.

For a couple of years, my wife has followed the adventures of a bonded eagle couple, Liberty and Freedom, residing in the hills near Hanover, Pennsylvania. A strategically positioned webcam offers a round-the-clock view of nesting activities. Last year the pair hatched two eggs and cared for the eaglets until they fledged.

This year, it appears as if calamity struck. Liberty has disappeared, and a new female, Lucy, has taken her place in the nest, destroying one of the eggs. Although the other egg remains in the nest, it is widely believed that the disturbance has rendered it unviable and that it will not hatch. It is possible that Lucy fought with the older Liberty and killed her.  The body has not been found.  It is also possible that Freedom and Lucy will now bond, but most viewers do not expect them to produce eggs this year.

In the virtual world, health care providers, health plans, health care clearinghouses, and their business associates have a responsibility to protect the treasured asset of individually identifiable information from predators and other dangers. But unlike eggs, which cannot be recovered if stolen or damaged, data is retrievable. Continue Reading Springtime for HIPAA

South Dakota (site of Ballard’s newest office) has become the 49th State to enact a data breach notification law.  South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed SB 62 into law on March 21, 2018.  The law will take effect on July 1, 2018.

As with similar measures pending in other state legislatures, SB 62 was introduced in the South Dakota Senate on January 9, 2018, in the wake of the disclosures relating to the Equifax breaches. The law generally mirrors those of many other states, but includes a few new wrinkles. Continue Reading South Dakota Enacts Data Breach Notification Law

On February 21, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved the release of Interpretive Guidance relating to public company disclosures of cybersecurity risks and incidents. This guidance replaces staff guidance from the Division of Corporate Finance issued way back in October 2011 – on the same day that iPhone 4 was released.

Although the Commission voted unanimously to release it, some Commissioners do not view the new guidance as going much beyond the 2011 staff guidance. In fact, Commissioner Kara Stein wondered whether the new guidance would cause public companies to step up their cybersecurity disclosures – or “will law firms simply produce a host of client alerts reaffirming their alerts from years past.” We sense a challenge. Continue Reading SEC Releases Guidance on Public Company Cybersecurity Disclosures

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has made another foray into data security, announcing today an order settling charges against AMP Global Clearing LLC (AMP) stemming from AMP’s failure to supervise the implementation of its information systems security program. Between June 21, 2016 and April 17, 2017, AMP stored thousands of customer records  in an improperly protected internal network. This fact was discovered after an unknown third-party, with no affiliation to AMP, accessed AMP’s network and copied 97,000 files containing personally identifiable information. The third party then contacted federal authorities, and later AMP.  Although AMP cooperated with the CFTC and worked to fix the issue, the CFTC later brought charges against the company for failing to supervise the implementation of critical provisions of AMP’s information systems security program. Continue Reading CFTC Settles Charges Against AMP Global Clearing for Failing to Supervise Implementation of its Security Program

Lyft recently confirmed that it is investigating whether its employees were accessing its customer database without appropriate authorization to obtain personal information, including rides taken by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The investigation was announced less than six months after Uber entered into a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) consent order to resolve allegations of similar behavior by its own employees.

The investigation demonstrates the importance of revisiting internal compliance measures in the wake of legal developments that may be relevant to a particular company or industry. Companies need to maintain comprehensive privacy programs to ensure the confidentiality of the personal information that they collect.  Such programs should include, at a minimum: Continue Reading Lyft Employees Demonstrate Need for Privacy Compliance Management