In this video, MSK attorneys Susan Kohn Ross and Timothy Carter discuss contact tracing: what it is, what it means for employers and employees, and the impact it may have on your privacy right. If you are interested in learning more broadly about contact tracing or have any questions on this topic, please email Su at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tim at email@example.com. Continue reading MSK Minute: Su Ross and Tim Carter Discuss Contact Tracing
Written by Susan Kohn Ross and Timothy Carter As contact tracing ramps up in states across the country, state and local officials are increasingly warning of a rise in fraudulent contract tracers seeking to wrongfully obtain personal and financial information. We have previously written about contact tracing – long considered to be “a central pillar” of traditional infectious disease control – and how it works. In order to … Continue reading Return to Work: Beware of Fraudulent Contact Tracers
While much attention and focus has rightly been placed on the California Consumer Privacy Act and the dramatic expansion of privacy rights for California residents that it heralds, a number of other states have quickly followed suit, working to strengthen their respective data security and privacy laws. Signed into law on July 25, 2019 by Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York enacted the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act (the “SHIELD Act” or the “Act”). The SHIELD Act amends New York State’s data breach notification law, by broadening existing the state’s data breach notification requirements and requires covered businesses to have “reasonable” data security safeguards. Continue reading “Amidst A Pandemic, New York Quietly Implements Its Enhanced Data Security Law”
Privacy Protection Acts Introduced in Connection with Contact Tracing
Across the globe, governments are harnessing surveillance-camera footage, mobile location data, and consumer purchase records to help track the recent movements of coronavirus patients, monitor those potentially exposed, and establish virus transmission chains. In China, for example, the government has installed surveillance cameras outside and inside quarantined individuals’ homes. A few thousand miles away, Israel’s internal security agency is primed to mine a cache of mobile phone location data, initially collected for counterterrorism operations, in order to pinpoint possible COVID-19 exposure among its citizens. Continue reading “Tracing Concerns”
As the individual states struggle to define how best to reopen in a manner that minimizes the renewed spread of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19, the subject of contact tracing has become a major focus. To aid in this effort, Apple and Google announced late last week a joint contact tracing project that would leverage Bluetooth technology to identify and selectively alert individuals who have been in close proximity to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Once alerted, that user could self-isolate or seek testing. Individuals who are diagnosed with COVID-19 can self-report their diagnosis, and any users who have been in recent contact with that individual will receive a notification. Public health agencies would be responsible for checking and verifying test results provided by users in order to prevent spoofing or fabrication. Continue reading “Contact Tracing: COVID-19”
Amazon’s Alexa, Google devices such as Google Assistant and Google Home, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana are now commonplace in many homes. These devices and other lesser-known counterparts allow users to control nearly everything in their homes with only their voice. That convenience, however, comes at the cost of some degree of privacy. While seldom viewed as presenting a live microphone inside one’s home or office, these otherwise passive listening devices begin recording upon initiation of a verbal cue. While the use (or even presence) of such voice assistants may present privacy concerns when used in consumers’ homes, with millions of people working remotely across the world due to COVID-19, these potential privacy concerns can quickly escalate to a much broader concern, especially for attorneys, who, as we discussed earlier, are bound to maintain confidentiality regarding information concerning the representation of their clients. But this concern extends far beyond “just” attorneys, because so many business dealings involve the exchange of confidential information. What one thinks of as a private or confidential discussion with a business partner is now taking place at home, perhaps with others around, but all too frequently in close proximity to these devices. Continue reading “Privacy Takes Many Forms”
Cybersecurity Concerns with Remote Work
While likely not the first topic that comes to mind amidst a global pandemic, organizations and businesses that now find themselves entirely (or almost entirely) remote would be remiss not to consider the potential data and cybersecurity issues raised by this sudden and unexpected shift to remote work. For much of the country, COVID-19 has resulted in an abrupt shift in the way we work. Even for those businesses that maintained robust work-from-home policies and systems, this shift presents a learning curve. The more traditional data and cybersecurity concerns ever-present in normal business operations are compounded by the difficulties presented by an extensive remote workforce. Preoccupied remote workers can be more susceptible to online threats such as phishing emails or malware and ransomware, thereby “opening the door” and providing unauthorized access to bad actors. The other, often lesser considered concern is accidental disclosure of confidential business information. Continue reading “Careful With The Remote”
As the COVID-19 crisis rapidly evolves, the health and safety of our employees, clients and our communities remain our highest priority. We wanted to share with you what we are doing as a firm. We have instructed attorneys and staff in all of our offices to work remotely (with rare exception for certain critical functions). This is happening seamlessly as part of our business continuity plan. We have been working round-the-clock in counseling clients on today’s mission-critical issues, from employment to immigration to tax, as it relates to the outbreak of COVID-19. Like you, we are constantly monitoring the situation, and we will provide additional updates in the coming days and weeks as appropriate. In the meantime, we want you to know that our thoughts are with you and your families, and we hope that you remain healthy and safe.
In an effort to support you during these uncertain times, we have assembled a firm-wide COVID-19 response team from all of our practice areas. For the coming weeks, and starting today in this alert, we intend to send a consolidated communication alert on a regular basis that touches on breaking news and relevant items that could affect you or your business across a range of topics. If there is anything else that we can do to help you during this challenging time, please do not hesitate in reaching out.
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is, to the say the least, fluid and scary. The ultimate outcome of the disruption to the business community is also unclear. There are nonetheless a couple of topics we can talk about right now with some degree of certainty on which businesses may want to focus as we all struggle to deal with the very human toll of this pandemic. One is employee privacy and is addressed in this edition. The cybersecurity topics worthy of immediate attention will be covered in a subsequent blog post.
We start here with the confidentiality obligation of employers regarding information about the health of their employees. If someone on your staff becomes infected, as a general proposition, as the employer, you may not share that information with other employees. The Centers for Disease Control published an Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers, and stated: “If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.” Since COVID-19 has spread to many different countries, the privacy laws in those countries also need to be considered. For example, the European privacy law – the GDPR – addresses privacy around health data, plus local public health authorities in those countries will have their own protocols to follow.
The California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) took effect on January 1, 2020. In October 2019, the California Attorney General (“CA AG”) published proposed regulations. In the lead up to January 1, 2020, the CA AG repeatedly made the point that those subject to the CCPA should plan for compliance with its broad principals by the first of the year, while admitting enforcement would not start until the regulations were final, meaning July 1, 2020. As part of this process, the CA AG advised he did not expect there to be significant changes to the regulations between October and July. However, upon receiving comments to those October proposed regulations, he changed his mind and on February 7, 2020 revised regulations were issued. A subsequent notice on February 10, 2020 corrected the earlier publication, which omitted certain updates.
To be clear, some of the changes were long awaited (such as what the “Do Not Sell My Personal Data” button looks like), while others were unexpected (such as the change to the training requirement by raising the level of records from four million to ten million). This Alert will summarize the key proposed changes. Continue reading “New Revisions to the CCPA”