Cybersecurity

California Consumer Privacy Act: Are You Ready? (Part 2)

Data Security system Shield Protection Verification

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By Susan Kohn Ross

In Part 1, we summarized the recent legislative changes regarding the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”). Bearing in mind the CCPA takes effect on January 1, 2020 and the Attorney General is required to issue regulations by July 1, 2020, these regulations both meet that time frame, but also seek to provide much-needed guidance to industry.

Most of the legislative changes focused on narrowing the definition of personal information, clarified the time frame which applies when a consumer demands information the business possesses about him or her, and also confirmed the CCPA applies to businesses, not non-profits or government entities. In this Alert, we summarize the regulations which were recently issued. However, even in the regulatory context, the starting point remains the same. Companies should begin by asking the following questions: (more…)

California Consumer Privacy Act: Are You Ready? (Part 1)

CCPA California Consumer Privacy Act Lock Orange and Gold

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By Susan Kohn Ross

In the last few weeks we have seen both regulatory and legislative action that has helped to clarify the scope and impact of the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”). By way of a refresher, the CCPA seeks to protect the personal information of California consumers by giving them greater knowledge about the nature and extent of the data collected about them, how it is used (sold or shared) by those who possess it, and how the individual consumer can control the use of his/her personal data. The CCPA applies to companies, regardless of where they are located, which:

  • Have annual gross revenues in excess of $25 million;
  • Alone or in conjunction with others annually buy, sell, receive or share for commercial purposes, the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices; or
  • Derive 50% or more of their annual revenues from selling consumer personal information.

This framework leaves companies to ask some very basic questions before deciding next steps:

  • What is our annual gross revenue (not limited to California income)?
  • Do we have the personal information of at least 50,000 consumers, households or devices located in California?
  • Do we sell the personal data we have of those California consumers, households or devices? If so, do we derive 50% or more of our annual revenues from those sales?
  • Even if we do not sell that personal data, do we disclose any portion of it to any third parties?

If you answered more than $25 million to the first question or yes to any of the remaining questions, you could be subject to the CCPA, but there is more to the analysis. The next important question is: do you hold personal data belonging to any California consumers, households or devices? If you answered no, you can breathe a sigh of relief. If not, get ready for the year-end push! (more…)

CA IoT Law: Devices at Risk?

Men dress up lifestyle hold smartphone screen shows the key in the Security online world. the display and technology advances in communications. The concept of advancement in living in the future.

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By Susan Kohn Ross

In the last week, both the Dept. of Homeland Security and the Food and Drug Administration have issued a consumer alert about the potential hacking risk regarding cardiac devices, specifically because those devices have no encryption on their software. The devices in question are implantable cardiac devices, clinic programmers and home monitors which are used to regulate one’s heartbeat rate – to speed it up or slow it down, as needed. The focus this time is on the Medtronic Conexus Radio Frequency Telemetry Protocol. Given this latest notice, one has to wonder what will be the impact of the California IoT law.

What both federal agencies had to say is short range access allows interference with, generation, modification or interception of communications. There is also the ability to read/write any valid memory location on the implanted device and, therefore, impact its intended functionality. (more…)

California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 – GDPR Lite?

By Susan Kohn Ross and Aaron Wais

In a compromise to avoid a ballot measure, at the very last moment on the very last day, just before the stroke of midnight, on June 29, 2018, the California legislature passed and Governor Brown signed into law the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (the “Act”), which takes effect on January 1, 2020. Many of its provisions are similar to the General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”), which took effect in Europe at the end of May, and required companies to institute new internal data privacy regimes. So, while those companies which prepared for the GDPR are well on their way to gaining compliance with this new law, there is still much to be done by them and especially those companies which were not impacted by the GDPR. (more…)

The GDPR is Coming – Are You Ready?

GDPR Webinar Invite l BackgroundBy Susan Kohn Ross and Aaron Wais

On May 25, 2018, important European regulations regarding data privacy and protection go into effect that will have a major impact on American companies, many of whom don’t realize they will be subject to compliance with its requirements. The General Data Protection Regulations (the “GDPR”) will have severe penalties for non-compliance (as high as €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover). The GDPR will also have very broad territorial reach applying not only to European entities, but also to entities located outside of Europe (including those in the U.S.) that process the personal data of living European individuals residing in the covered countries, including if the company:

  • Offers goods or services to individuals in the covered countries (e.g., e-commerce, capital raising, fund raising, immigration);
  • Employs individuals in one or more of the countries;
  • Monitors the behavior of individuals in any of these countries; and
  • Collects, stores, or processes the personal data of affected individuals on behalf of others.

For these purposes, the European definition of personal data mirrors nicely the American definition of personally identifiable information. Given the severe penalties and broad reach, it is important that each company in the U.S. consider whether the GDPR applies to its operations and, if so, how best to comply. (more…)

SEC Cyber Unit & Task Force

Security.

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By Melanie Figueroa

With increased attention to how securities laws may apply to digital token sales and the disruptive nature of increased cyber threats to the investor community, the Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) last week announced two new initiatives.  The SEC’s press release, found here, outlined the creation of the Cyber Unit (“Unit”) and the Retail Strategy Task Force (“RSTF”).

According to the press release the Unit will focus the Enforcement Division’s substantial cyber-related expertise on targeting cyber-related misconduct, including: (more…)

If You SEC Something, Say Something

Cybersecurity of network of connected devices and personal data security

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By Melanie Figueroa and Susan Kohn Ross

Just about every survey of General Counsels reveals the same #1 culprit of sleepless nights….. a cybersecurity hack. If you run a business in today’s global environment, it is hard to escape the fundamental reality that it is more than likely a matter of when, not if, you will face a cyber threat. And depending on the nature of your business, that threat can have a wide range of implications. If you are a public company, there is an additional issue to consider… what do you have to disclose to your investors and shareholders?

Being prepared for a hack with a comprehensive written information security plan and an equally robust incident response plan is just one component to be considered if you are a public company. You must also have a plan to meet your reporting and disclosure obligations to a variety of governmental bodies. While measuring your response needs in the wake of a hack, and determining if there are state, federal or international laws and regulations that require reporting, you must also pay close attention to possible disclosure obligations in your SEC filings. Specifically, if you have tripped a disclosure to a state attorney general or your company’s customers, then it is possible you may also have a disclosure obligation to your shareholders. (more…)

Data Breaches: An Employer’s Duty to Protect Employees’ Personal Information

By Aaron Wais

It is tax season, which means that criminals are busy trying to steal people’s tax information (e.g., names, addresses, social security numbers, income information), which they can use to file fraudulent tax returns and steal tax refunds.

As an employer, you likely maintain your employees’ tax information and, thus, are a target.  Indeed, criminals regularly target employers and hack their databases or pose as company executives and send a phishing email asking for all employees’ W-2s for accounting purposes.

As such, it is important to understand your duty to protect your employees’ personal information, as well as potential liability for failing to do so.  Most states, including California, make clear that employers have a legal duty to protect their employees’ personal information.  These courts also make clear that whether an employer has legally compliant, written policies for protecting private information and responding to data breaches will heavily inform whether and the extent of an employer’s liability for a data breach.

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Importance of Maintaining Cybersecurity Measures – Assessing the Ashley Madison Data Breach Settlement

By Aaron Wais

Daily headlines of data breaches, resulting class actions, governmental investigations and enforcement actions, and the settlements of those actions serve as constant reminders of the need to implement and maintain reasonable cybersecurity measures. Yet another example can be found in the recent announcement by the Federal Trade Commission, which states that the operators of Ashley Madison have agreed to settle the charges brought against them by the FTC and over a dozen state attorneys generals arising out of the July 2015 data breach of Ashley Madison’s network. Analyzing the settlement also provides additional guidance on what regulators mean when they refer to reasonable safeguards.

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Shielded but Not Covered – Privacy Demands Better Protection

By Susan Kohn Ross 

Yesterday, the Article 29 Working Party took action which some found surprising and others predicted. It found the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield did not contain adequate protections and needs further improvement. The Working Party’s statement can be found here.

While acknowledging the Privacy Shield contains “significant improvements” over the previous Safe Harbor, the Working Party also stated its objective is to “make sure that an essentially equivalent level of protection is maintained when personal data is processed subject to the provisions of the Privacy Shield.” (more…)