(Editors’ note: Thanks to Orrick trainee associate, Arne Senger, for his help with this blog post.)
With its recent ruling in Bărbulescu v. Romania (application no. 61496/08), the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) made a decision of enormous impact for employers in Europe. The decision makes clear that even when private use of business resources is prohibited, employers do not have unlimited access to all communications that occur on corporate systems.
Companies should carefully review their policies to ensure that they can access their corporate IT equipment, at least to the extent permitted by European data privacy law. READ MORE
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
Today, Orrick announced the launch of our automated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Readiness Assessment Tool, which makes the EU’s new, complex, data privacy law, the GDPR, more accessible. The free tool is available to all organizations and allows businesses to stress test their compliance against the upcoming GDPR. It segments the GDPR into 14 workable themes and guides the user through a series of dynamic questions relating to each theme. Upon completion of the assessment, the tool provides a complimentary tailored report summarizing the likely key impacts of the GDPR for an organization. READ MORE
Shortly after the new year, the Federal Trade Commission filed suit in the Northern District of California against D-Link Corporation, a Taiwan-based maker of wireless routers, Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, and software used in consumer electronics (such as baby monitors). The complaint alleges that D-Link failed to reasonably secure its products from hackers. Notably, the FTC has not alleged that D‑Link products were exploited by hackers or that a data breach or cyberattack resulted from any alleged security vulnerabilities. Rather, the action is based squarely on security vulnerabilities that “potentially compromis[ed] sensitive consumer information, including live video and audio feeds from D-Link IP cameras” and marketing statements made by D-Link that touted the products’ security features.
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.
According to a press release of the Data Protection Supervisory Authority in the Land Mecklenburg Vorpommern of November 3, German supervisory authorities have randomly selected 500 companies in Germany and sent them requests for information on their international data transfers. The German supervisory authorities are undertaking this coordinated action in order to increase awareness among companies of the need to ensure data privacy compliance of international data transfers.
Last week, FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) issued a formal Advisory to Financial Institutions and published FAQs outlining specific cybersecurity events that should be reported through Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). This Advisory follows former FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery’s recent statements reminding “financial institutions to include cyber-derived information (such as IP addresses or bitcoin wallet addresses) in suspicious activity reports.” It also follows the launch of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (CAT). Although the Advisory does not change existing Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requirements or other regulatory obligations, the Advisory highlights a series of cybersecurity events–such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and ransomware incidents–that should be reported on SARs filed with FinCEN, even though they often (but not always) fall outside the traditional notion of a data breach or a compromise of personal information.
Even today, most companies—even technology companies—do not think they have information that the U.S. Government wants or needs, particularly as it might relate to a national security investigation. The reality is that as terrorists and others who threaten national security use a broader spectrum of technology resources to communicate and to finance and conduct operations, the U.S. Government has significantly increased its collection of data from technology companies and others.
What should companies do when ransomware hits? The FBI says: (a) report it to law enforcement and (b) do not pay the ransom. Given the recent onslaught in ransomware attacks—such as a 2016 variant that compromised an estimated 100,000 computers a day—companies should consider how their incident response plans account for decision-making in response to ransomware, and include this scenario in their next (or an interim) tabletop simulation.
FBI Public Service Announcement
In a September 15 announcement, the FBI urged companies to come forward and report ransomware attacks to law enforcement. The FBI acknowledged that companies may hesitate to contact law enforcement for a variety of reasons: uncertainly as to whether a specific attack warrants law enforcement attention, fear of adverse reputational impact or even embarrassment, or a belief that reporting is unnecessary where a ransom has been paid or data back-ups have restored services.
Notwithstanding these dynamics, the FBI is calling on companies to help in the fight: “Victim reporting provides law enforcement with a greater understanding of the threat, provides justification for ransomware investigations, and contributes relevant information to ongoing ransomware cases.”
The FBI also offered some best practices that companies should consider incorporating into their cybersecurity program and/or their disaster recovery and business continuity plans. These recommendations include: regular backups that are verified, securing backups, implementation of anti-virus and anti-malware solutions, increased employee awareness training, institution of principle of least privilege policies, and more. READ MORE
Just as it promised a year ago, New York State proposed new proscriptive, minimum cybersecurity requirements for regulated financial services institutions. The regulations go final after a 45-day notice and public comment period. At that point, entities regulated by the NYDFS will be subject to the nation’s first proscriptive set of cybersecurity requirements in contrast to the usual risk-based cybersecurity programs mandated by other financial regulators to date. Thus, unlike previous guidance and reports issued by financial regulators such as FINRA and the SEC, New York’s rules are specific requirements that all regulated financial institutions must adopt.. In this Part I, we review the proposed requirements, and offer some specific steps that regulated financial services institutions should begin to consider for compliance readiness.