Class Actions

California Sets the Standard With a New IoT Law

This past September Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 327, which is the first state law designed to regulate the security features of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The bill sets minimum security requirements for connected device manufacturers, and provides for enforcement by the California Attorney General. The law will come into effect on January 1, 2020, provided that the state legislature passes Assembly Bill 1906, which is identical to Senate Bill 327. READ MORE

Making Your Head Spin: “Clean Up” Bill Amends the California Consumer Privacy Act, Delaying Enforcement But Making Class Litigation Even MORE Likely

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (the “CCPA” or the “Act”), which we reported on here and here continues to make headlines as the California legislature fast-tracked a “clean up” bill to amend the CCPA before the end of the 2018 legislative session. In a flurry of legislative activity, the amendment bill (“SB 1121” or the “Amendment”) was revised at least twice in the last week prior to its passage late in the evening on August 31, just hours before the legislative session came to a close. The Amendment now awaits the governor’s signature.

Although many were hoping for substantial clarification on many of the Act’s provisions, the Amendment focuses primarily on cleaning up the text of the hastily-passed CCPA, and falls far short of addressing many of the more substantive questions raised by companies and industry advocates as to the Act’s applicability and implementation. READ MORE

Did California Open (Another) Floodgate for Breach Litigation?

Game-changing Calif. Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 puts statutory breach damages on the table

The recently-enacted California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 is a game-changer in a number of respects.  The Act imports European GDPR-style rights around data ownership, transparency, and control.  It also contains features that are new to the American privacy landscape, including “pay-for-privacy” (i.e., financial incentives for the collection, sale, and even deletion of personal information) and “anti-discrimination” (i.e., prohibition of different pricing or service-levels to consumers who exercise privacy rights, unless such differentials are “reasonably related to the value provided to the consumer of the consumer’s data”).  Privacy teams will be hard at work assessing and implementing compliance in advance of the January 1, 2020 effective date. READ MORE

Standing Only Gets You So Far. Scottrade Offers Tactics to Win the Data Breach Class Action War

A recent skirmish about standing in data breach class actions (this time in the Eighth Circuit), involving securities and brokerage firm Scottrade, suggests that, even if plaintiffs win that limited question, there are other key battles that can win the war for defendants.  As we reported with Neiman Marcus, P.F. Chang’s, Nationwide, and Barnes & Noble, the Eighth Circuit’s decision in Kuhn v. Scottrade offers important proactive steps that organizations should consider taking that can mitigate post-breach litigation exposure.  READ MORE

Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Predicts $1 Billion Settlement in Data Breach Case – But Where’s the “Harm”?

This week, a high profile plaintiffs’ firm (Edelson) stated that “if done right,” the data breach class actions against Equifax should yield more than $1 billion in cash going directly to more than 143 million consumers (i.e., roughly $7 per person).

No defendant to date has paid anything close to $1 billion.  In fact, the largest class settlements in breach cases hardly get close:  Target Stores paid $10 million (cash reimbursement for actual losses) and The Home Depot paid $13 million (cash reimbursement for actual losses + credit monitoring).  Will Equifax be different?

Part of the answer revolves around the increasingly debated role and importance of “consumer harm” in resolving data breach disputes. READ MORE

Will I Get Sued After a Data Breach? D.C. Circuit Broadens Scope of Data That Gives Rise to Identity Theft in CareFirst

In the latest sign that data breach class actions are here to stay—and, indeed, growing—the D.C. Circuit resuscitated claims against health insurer CareFirst BlueCross and Blue Shield, following a 2015 breach that compromised member names, dates of birth, email addresses, and subscriber identification numbers of approximately 1.1 million individuals.  The decision aligns the second most powerful federal appellate court in the nation with pre-Spokeo decisions in Neiman Marcus and P.F. Chang and post-Spokeo decisions in other circuits (Third, Seventh, and Eleventh).  In short, an increased risk of identity theft constitutes an imminent injury-in-fact, and the risk of future injury is substantial enough to support Article III standing.

The D.C. Circuit’s holding is an important development.  First, the D.C. Circuit went beyond credit card numbers and social security numbers to expand the scope of data types that create a risk to individuals (i.e., names, birthdates, emails, and health insurance subscriber ID numbers).  Second, the decision makes clear that organizations should carefully consider the interplay between encryption (plus other technical data protection measures) and “risk of harm” exceptions to notification, including exceptions that may be available under HIPAA and GLBA statutory regimes. READ MORE

2016 Data Breach Legislation Roundup: What to Know Going Forward

2016 U.S. State Data Breach Legislation Roundup Data Breach Hacker Information Incursion Image of Confernce Table with Businessperson pointing to Data Breach on Screen

States were busy updating their data breach notification statutes in 2016. With 2016 in the rear view, let’s take a look back at the legislative changes that will impact corporate incident response processes and what those trends portend going forward.

Expanded Definition of “Personal Information”

Login Credentials. In 2016, Rhode Island, Nebraska and Illinois (effective January 2017), joined the ranks of states that include usernames (or email addresses) and passwords in the definition of “personal information” that triggers notification obligations. As of this writing, the following eight states may require notification when login credentials are compromised: California, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, North Dakota, Nevada, Rhode Island and Wyoming.

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Keep Reading: Standing Affirmed, but Barnes & Noble Data Breach Class Action Halted

It was about time for data breach defendants to get a win. The District Court for the Northern District of Illinois delivered one to Barnes & Noble in its long-running class action that stems from a breach suffered in 2012. Plaintiffs’ case was dismissed in its entirety on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). This development—just days after the Sixth Circuit in Nationwide had aligned itself with the Seventh Circuit’s Neiman Marcus and P.F. Chang’s decisions that found standing to sue for breach plaintiffs—shows that the legal battle over “harm” may start with standing, but goes nowhere absent alleged damages that tightly match the substantive elements of each claim.

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Data Breach Standing Goes Nationwide; Sixth Circuit Says Plaintiffs Have Standing to Sue

Data Breach Class Action Standing Galaria et al. v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company Sixth Circuit opinion

The Sixth Circuit joined the growing trend of appellate courts holding that plaintiffs had demonstrated standing for data breach class actions in Galaria et al. v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.  In a recent order, the Sixth Circuit highlighted yet another fact that supports standing, that clients should consider in their post-breach response efforts:  a recommendation that consumers set up fraud alerts and place security freezes on credit reports, without an accompanying offer to pay for the security freeze itself.

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FCC Privacy Regulations: The Next Litigation Trend?

Last month the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) closed the comment period for its proposed privacy regulations, which we previously wrote about here.  The million dollar question on everyone’s minds is whether the final regulations will be broader or narrower in scope than the initial proposal, which included not only a significant expansion of the definition of personal information, but also sweeping new obligations and raised serious questions in areas where the obligations could become even stricter still.[1]  Accordingly, companies subject to the new regulations are bracing for tighter FCC Enforcement Bureau scrutiny of broad data collection and handling practices.

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