A recent decision in Indiana highlights the data security liability risks facing employers based on the actions of their employees, extending vicarious liability even to cases where the employees were acting wholly for personal purposes. In SoderVick v. Parkview Health Sys., Inc., the Court of Appeals of Indiana reversed summary judgment in favor of the defendant, reviving claims of respondeat superior against Parkview Health Systems, Inc. (“Parkview”) where the hospital’s employee texted personal health information to a third party. No. 19A-CT-2671, 2020 WL 2503923 (Ind. Ct. App. May 15, 2020). We recently noted a decision of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in WM Morrison Supermarks plc v. Various Claimants (“Morrison”) where the Court made the contrary determination, ruling that the large supermarket chain Morrison could not be held vicariously liable as a matter of law for the intentional acts of a rogue employee who posted the payroll data of Morrison employees on the Internet. But as we also explained, businesses that collect personal information should be cautious about reading too much into that ruling: while the Court allowed the appeal in favor of Morrison, the decision turned on the particular facts of the case (where the rogue employee actively tried to damage his employer). The Parkview Health decision further underscores this need for caution, especially with increased remote work due to COVID-19 where the risk of employers being sued over security breaches caused by their employees is, unfortunately, ever-increasing. READ MORE
On May 5, 2020, the Seventh Circuit held in Bryant v. Compass Group USA, Inc. that a plaintiff who asserted a violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act’s (“BIPA’s”) notice and consent requirements had Article III standing to pursue her claim in federal court. With respect to BIPA’s retention schedule posting requirement, however, the Seventh Circuit found that allegations of a statutory violation did not, on their own, suffice to confer Article III standing. This decision will make it easier for defendants to keep BIPA claims in federal court, and its standing analysis has significant implications for BIPA cases, as well as other privacy and data security cases more broadly.
Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to allow the appeal in WM Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants may on first glance look like a significant setback to privacy advocates. However, the court’s unanimous judgment should be viewed with some relief by those arguing for greater privacy protections. Whilst the Supreme Court ruled that, on the facts, WM Morrisons Supermarkets plc (“Morrisons”) could not be held liable for the actions of its rogue former employee, the court said that, had it been necessary to decide the question, it would have held that the statutory data protection regime did not exclude the imposition of vicarious liability on employers. Furthermore, the decision also provides no protection to companies who have been held to be at fault for a data breach, since data subjects will have a direct right of action against the company in those cases and will not be relying on establishing vicarious liability. READ MORE
Cybercriminals are known to attack networks and individuals at inopportune times of crisis—and the coronavirus pandemic unfortunately presents just such an opportunity as millions are accessing corporate networks and databases from home. This past weekend New Jersey and Connecticut joined the growing list of jurisdictions (e.g., California, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, and New York) to issue orders effectively requiring non-essential workers to avoid the workplace, and in some cases, to shelter-in-place. READ MORE
The decision to appeal a regulatory finding is never taken lightly. By the time a regulator has completed its investigation and notified a company of its intention to fine, the company will have invested significant time and money in responding to the regulatory investigation. As such, there is a real temptation to accept the fine and the accompanying statement from the regulator and move on.
However, in the case of recent regulatory findings, fines and intentions to fine issued by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (the “ICO”) against British Airways, Marriott and Dixons Carphone, all three companies have appealed or indicated an intention to appeal despite the significant difference in the levels of the fines/intentions to fine. In our view, this is related to the spectre of an emerging class action litigation culture in the UK that increases the stakes for any company facing negative regulatory findings.
In this UK-focused blog we explore the potential motivation behind these decisions to appeal, why we expect to see more companies taking this approach in the future, and the steps to be taken in order to appeal decisions by the ICO and we also consider whether the companies that have failed to appeal and are now facing class actions made the right decision when they elected not to appeal.
Happy New Year! At long last, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (“CCPA”) went into effect yesterday, January 1, 2020. For those who have not yet heard, the CCPA establishes a comprehensive legal framework to govern the collection and use of personal information, both online and offline, and provides unprecedented privacy rights to California consumers, in effect becoming the de facto national standard for U.S. privacy law. The law introduces new legal risks and considerations for companies that collect information from California consumers, due to the law’s expansive scope, broad definition of personal information, increased disclosure obligations, enhanced consumer rights, potential for statutory fines and, in the event of a security incident, the potential for consumer class action litigation. READ MORE
Since the first enforcement actions have been initiated, some with significant fines, many companies may find themselves somewhat at a loss as they may not fully know how to assess the risks involved and how to react should an enforcement action be initiated against them. Here we will give a high-level overview on risks and strategies in enforcement actions. READ MORE
With the January 1, 2020 effective date of the California Consumer Privacy Act (the “CCPA”) rapidly approaching, all eyes have been on the California legislature’s consideration of a robust suite of amendments that would clarify ambiguities and address discrepancies underlying the prominent privacy statute. On October 11, 2019, six CCPA amendments were signed into law by the California Governor, as well as an amendment to the state’s breach notification statute. The rest of the CCPA amendments have either failed or will have to wait until next year for further consideration.