In the age of digitization, personal information your business holds about your customers (or your customers’ customers) has become a strategic enterprise asset and should be treated as such.

Privacy considerations should be incorporated into your go-to-market strategies.

Gartner with some tips:

  • Customer-facing policies and communications should clearly explain what information is collected and why, as well as any applicable customer rights.
  • Policies should be readily accessible and understandable for customers — and are reinforced internally.
  • Managers and senior leaders should echo the standards in small team discussions, all-company meetings and other forms of messaging.
  • There should be a coherent approach to working with third parties. Codify what third parties can and can’t do with user data, and define consequences for failure to comply. Make sure to follow through and monitor compliance.
  • Compare your customers’ privacy appetite to your organization’s overall risk appetite — and be prepared to manage any gaps between the two.

Details from the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

Registration for the Privacy Summit is open.

Fox Rothschild’s Minneapolis Privacy Summit on November 8 will explore key cybersecurity issues and compliance questions facing company decision-makers. This free event will feature an impressive array of panelists drawn from cybersecurity leaders in major industries, experienced regulatory and compliance professionals and the Chief Division Counsel of the Minneapolis Division of the FBI.

Attendees receive complimentary breakfast and lunch, and can take advantage of networking opportunities and informative panel sessions:

GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act: Compliance in a Time of Change

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation has been in effect since May. Companies that process or control EU citizens’ personal data should understand how to maintain compliance and avoid costly fines. Many more businesses should also prepare for the next major privacy mandate: the California Consumer Privacy Act.

Risk Management – How Can Privacy Officers Ensure They Have the Correct Security Policies in Place?

Panelists offer best practices for internal policies, audits and training to help maintainn protected health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII) or other sensitive data. Learn the cutting edge strategies to combat the technology threats of phishing and ransomware.

Fireside Chat

Jeffrey Van Nest, Chief Division Counsel of the Minneapolis Division of the FBI, speaks on the state of affairs in regulation and enforcement, including how to partner with the FBI, timelines of engagement and the latest on cyber threat schemes. His insights offer details on forming effective cyber incident response plans.

Keynote Speaker – Ken Barnhart

Ken is the former CEO of the Occam Group, a cybersecurity industry advisor and the founder and principal consultant for Highground Cyber – a spin-off of the Occam Group’s Cybersecurity Practice Group. For more than a decade, he has helped companies of all sizes design, host and secure environments in private, public and hybrid cloud models. Prior to his work in the corporate sector, Ken served as a non-commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corp and is a decorated combat veteran of Operation Desert Shield\Storm with the HQ Battalion of the 2nd Marine Division.

Geared toward an audience of corporate executives, in-house chief privacy officers and general counsel, the summit will provide important take-aways about the latest risks and threats facing businesses.

Stay tuned for more agenda details. Registration is open.

On March 15, Fox Rothschild partner Scott Vernick will participate in a panel discussion on Developments in Data Privacy & Security as part of the 2017 Argyle Chief Legal Officer Leadership Forum. The Forum will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Convene Conference Center at 730 3rd Ave in New York City.

Scott L. Vernick, Partner, Fox Rothschild LLPScott and his fellow panelists will discuss the evolution of the GC role to include cybersecurity and data privacy, how cybersecurity fits into an organization’s risk management structure, as well as proactive risk assessments GCs can use to identify and prioritize critical assets and data for their business. Attendees will also receive information on new regulatory challenges, how GCs can best collaborate with and advise other organization leaders on the topic of cybersecurity, and working with outside counsel on these and related issues. The panel discussion is scheduled from 10:10 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

To register for the event, please visit the Argyle Forum event page.

For the second time in just four months, Yahoo has announced a massive cyberattack. The first attack, which occurred in 2014, set a record with the breach of 500 million user accounts. But the company now believes that twice as many accounts were compromised in a second data breach.

Search engine conceptAn internal investigation at the search engine company revealed a 2013 attack in which cyber criminals stole approximately 1 billion end user names, email addresses, telephone numbers, and dates of birth. Also stolen were hashed passwords as well as security questions and answers, some of which may have not been encrypted.

Yahoo did not explain why only some account recovery questions and answers were encrypted, but said it does not believe any financial data was stolen in the newly discovered earlier breach.

The news complicates Yahoo ongoing negotiations with Verizon for the $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo and could jeopardize the deal if Yahoo’s valuation decreases substantially.

The increasing frequency of data breaches underscores the need for privacy officers and legal counsel to be diligent. Plans should be in place to enable a quick response to unauthorized disclosures of data. Experts recommend collecting and storing only the minimum amount of data and limiting access to data only to those who need it to complete their job functions. An internal privacy policy is essential and keeping abreast of and adhering to industry best security practices can protect against and mitigate the consequences of a data breach.

In what may be the largest data breach ever publicly disclosed, Yahoo, disclosed that a 2014 cyberattack breached at least 500 million user accounts. The company said it believes state-sponsored actors were responsible and that the data stolen includes names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and hashed passwords.

Data privacy and securityThe data could also include security questions and answers, but Yahoo said that some accounts were encrypted. The company said its investigation did not reveal unhashed passwords or credit card or bank account information.

News of the breach comes soon after the $4.8 billion Verizon acquisition of Yahoo. Yahoo shares tumbled after the announcement but analysts said the Verizon deal is not likely to be affected by the news. With the disclosure, Yahoo joins a growing list of U.S. companies to suffer a serious data breach since 2013.

There are five fundamental truths that a company’s privacy officers and legal counsel must be aware of in order to protect consumer data:

Only Required Data Should Be Collected and Stored
Sweeping up and storing data beyond what is needed in order to provide a company’s services opens the door for cyber criminals to access and expose more consumer personal data. A company’s leadership must think very carefully about what personal data it is collecting and why it is collecting it from its consumers – collecting and storing unnecessary personal data exposes consumers and the company to additional risk that is avoidable.

Adhere to the Principle of Least Privilege
The Principle of Least Privilege is a restrictive computing practice that only allows a user to access the data necessary for its legitimate purpose. By only giving the least amount of access privileges to employees, a company can minimize the number of employees who will have access to consumer personal data, thus making the pool of employees who do have heightened access smaller and easier to manage.

Follow an Internal Privacy Policy
Having a privacy policy that establishes internal controls for who collects consumer personal data, how it is collected, where it is stored, and for how long it is stored is critical for protecting consumer personal data. The privacy policy should obligate every employee with access to consumer personal data to protect that data as well as obligating the company to provide annual training and updates to employees.

Plan for the Inevitable Breach
When, not if, a company is breached, it must stick to its breach plan to stay ahead of law enforcement, regulators, the media, and further disclosure of consumer personal data. The breach plan should be written alongside the company’s internal privacy policy – the documents go hand in hand and work together to help control a breach. Employees must know what their roles are during a breach, when they must act, and who they need to contact when they discover a breach. Not having a breach plan can lead to a reactive response, which makes investigating and containing the effects of the breach more difficult.

Industry Best Practices
Above all else, following industry best security practices is the best way to protect consumer personal data. Having a chief information security officer, legal staff and/or information technology director staying on top of trends, events and changes is the only way a company can minimize the potential of a data breach, but also to decrease the amount of data that is breached. Implementing and maintaining an updated and secure corporate network may be costly and scare executive management into inaction, but the cost of cleaning up a breach is far greater than finding money in the budget to hire security-minded staff and to harden the company’s systems.

It seems likely that the next decade will be difficult for IT professionals as breaches become increasingly common. Instead of fighting the trend, IT pros should embrace their fate and prepare for the inevitable breach.

 

The French data protection authority (CNIL) is placing Facebook’s EU-U.S. data transfer practices under new scrutiny over its use of the defunct Safe Harbor framework.

The agency issued a two-part order Feb. 8 requiring the social media company to stop using Safe Harbor to transfer data to the United States. Safe Harbor was nullified in October 2015 when the European Court of Justice invalidated the EU Commission’s Safe Harbor agreement with the U.S. The agreement had allowed U.S. companies to transfer EU citizens’ data to the U.S. from the EU.

The ECJ’s decision to invalidate Safe Harbor stemmed from an Austrian citizen’s complaint – filed in the aftermath of revelations about U.S. National Security Agency data collection practices – that Facebook violated his privacy rights by transferring his personal data to the U.S. The decision imperiled 4,000 U.S. companies’ ability to transfer data from the EU to the U.S.

The new CNIL order is based on Facebook continuing to include language detailing its use of Safe Harbor on its France privacy policy page. Part two of the order accuses Facebook of using cookies to track non-users’ activity without their consent, a violation of French law, according to CNIL. It gives Facebook three months to stop tracking non-users without their consent, or face potential fines.

The order comes at an tumultous time for U.S.-EU data transfer policy. EU and US officials agreed to a new EU-U.S. Privacy Shield transatlantic data transfer pact on Feb. 2nd,  but many of the details, including language and legal implications of the agreement are in flux. Critics say details are so scarce that the agreement is not the basis for a working policy. While many in the EU have criticized the U.S. government’s data collection practices, critics point out that the EU may want to take a look in the mirror since many of its member states spy on their own citizens.

It all leads to massive uncertainty. No one is sure how things will develop over the next few months.

If you or your company have questions or concerns about preparing for or responding to new privacy regulations, or you are interested in creating and/or implementing a cybersecurity plan, contact the author or a Fox Rothschild Privacy & Data Security team member.

New innovations come hand in hand with new privacy issues.  Privacy policies may seem like a last minute add-on to some app developers but they are actually an important aspect of an app.  Data breaches are an imminent risk and a business’s first defense to potential problems is a privacy policy.

Fordham University in New York hosted its Ninth Law and Information Society Symposium last week where policy and technology leaders came together to discuss current privacy pitfalls and solutions.  Joanne McNabb, the California attorney general’s privacy education director and a leader in policies affecting the privacy agreements of companies such as Google and Apple, emphasized in a panel that she “wants to make the case for the unread privacy policy.”  She noted that the policy mainly promotes “governance and accountability [and] it forces an organization to be aware of their data practices to some degree, express them and then therefore to stand behind them.”  The privacy policy still matters because it protects businesses from the risks associated with having a high level of data. It is especially necessary for those businesses that depend solely on private information because they are at a higher risk of breach.

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has suggested using an approach called “Privacy By Design” which is a method of imbedding privacy protections into the infrastructure of the app.  This approach removes the concern of implementing privacy policies post-development. Another method of simplifying the privacy policy is the alert prompt that some apps have employed to consistently give consumers notice of when and where their information is used. McNabb and her fellow panelists found this method of “short, timely notices” helpful in closing the gap between the unread privacy policies and the claimed “surprise” of consumers who blame an app for the dissemination of information.

As the industry moves forward, privacy will become an even greater part of the equation. Whether a privacy policy is read is insignificant. The protections it puts in place for all parties involved are crucial. As apps and technologies become more connected to the private preferences of consumers, businesses with a leg up on privacy protections will thrive against the backdrop of those who view privacy as a second tier requirement.

For more information on “Privacy By Design” click here.

The freedom from automated calls at random hours of the evening may seem like the true American dream these days as more and more companies rely on these calls to reach out and communicate with customers.  Unfortunately, now that the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) voted to expand the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) to include stringent yet vague restrictions on telemarketing robocalls, it may not be a dream for everyone. 

In June of this year, in a 3-2 vote, the FCC voted on adding the rule to the TCPA that entails barring companies from using “autodialers” to dial consumers, disallowing more than one phone call to numbers that have been reassigned to different customers, and mandating a stop to calls under a customer’s wishes.  These restriction may seem reasonable but dissenting Commissioner, Ajit Pai, recognized that the rule’s broad language will create issues because it does not distinguish between legitimate businesses trying to reach their customers and unwanted telemarketers.  Some attorneys have further commented on the rule stating that its use of “autodialer” opens up a can of worms of interpretations and can really be viewed as any device with even the potential to randomly sequence numbers, including a smartphone.  Companies using even slightly modernized tactics to reach out to their customer base are now at risk of facing litigation—and it won’t stop there.  Businesses that legitimately need to reach out to their customers will be caught between a rock and a hard place as they face a one-call restriction now and may also open themselves up to litigation if a customer decides to take that route.

The FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, attempted to quash concerns by stating that “Legitimate businesses seeking to provide legitimate information will not have difficulties.”  This statement unfortunately won’t stop plaintiff’s attorneys from greasing their wheels to go after companies who even make “good faith efforts” to abide by the new rule.  Attorneys who defend businesses have recognized that the rule is ridden with issues that could potentially harm companies that simply do not have the mechanisms to fully control and restrict repeated calls or the technology that makes those calls.  But, long story short, just because this rule has been put in motion, does not mean it will stand as is. Litigation and court action will likely be a natural consequence and that may result in changes for the future.  For now, businesses that utilize automated phone calls should be wary of the technology used and attempt to at least keep track of numbers and phone calls made.  When in doubt, talk to an attorney to make sure you are taking the appropriate precautions.

With 2013 being dubbed as the “Year of the Mega Breach” it comes as no surprise that the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), on June 30, 2015 published “Start with Security: A Guide for Businesses” to educate and inform businesses on protecting their data.  The FTC is tasked with protecting consumers from “unfair” and “deceptive” business practices and with data breaches on the rise, it has come to take that job much more seriously.  The lessons in the guide are meant to aid businesses in their practices of protecting data and the FTC cites to real examples of its data breach settlement cases to help companies understand each lesson and the real world consequences that some companies have faced.  Here are the lesson headlines:

  1. 1. Start with security;
  2. 2. Control access to data sensibly;
  3. 3. Require secure passwords and authentication;
  4. 4. Store sensitive personal information securely and protect it during transmission;
  5. 5. Segment networks and monitor anyone trying to get in and out of them;
  6. 6. Secure remote network access;
  7. 7. Apply sound security practices when developing new products that collect personal information;
  8. 8. Ensure that service providers implement reasonable security measures;
  9. 9. Implement procedures to help ensure that security practices are current and address vulnerabilities; and
  10. 10. Secure paper, physical media and devices that contain personal information.

  Katherine McCarron, the Bureau of Consumer Protection attorney, explained that the Bureau “look[s] at a company’s security procedures and determine[s] whether they are reasonable and appropriate in light of all the circumstances” when evaluating an organization’s conduct.  It is likely that this guide will become the FTC’s road map for handling future enforcement actions and will help businesses to remain on the safe side of the data breach fence.

Whether you run a mom and pop shop or a multi-million dollar company, this guide is a must-read for any business that processes personal information.

Start reading here.

https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/start-security-guide-business

On July 20, 2015, in Remijas v. Neiman Marcus Group, LLC, No. 14-3122 (7th Cir. 2015), the Seventh Circuit held that the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois wrongfully dismissed a class action suit brought against Neiman Marcus after hackers stole their customers’ data and debit card information.  The District Court originally dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims because they had not alleged sufficient injury to establish standing.  The District Court based its ruling on a United States Supreme Court decision, Clapper v. Amnesty Int’l USA, 133 S.Ct. 1138 (2013), which held that to establish Article III standing, an injury must be “concrete, particularized, and actual or imminent.”

However, the Seventh Circuit clarified that Clapper “does not, as the district court thought, foreclose any use whatsoever of future injuries to support Article III standing.”  Rather, “injuries associated with resolving fraudulent charges and protecting oneself against future identity theft” are sufficient to confer standing.

In Remijas, the Seventh Circuit explained that there is a reasonable likelihood that the hackers will use the plaintiffs’ information to commit identity theft or credit card fraud.  “Why else would hackers break into a store’s database and steal consumers’ private information?” – the Seventh Circuit asked.  The Seventh Circuit held that the plaintiffs should not have to wait until the hackers commit these crimes to file suit.

The Seventh Circuit also considered that some of the plaintiffs have already paid for credit monitoring services to protect their data, which it held is a concrete injury.  Neiman Marcus also offered one year of credit monitoring services to its customers affected by the breach, which the Seventh Circuit considered an acknowledgment by the company that there was a likelihood that their customers’ information would be used for fraudulent purposes.

Ultimately, this decision may serve to soften the blow dealt by Clapper to data breach plaintiffs.  Specifically, based on this ruling, plaintiffs who have not incurred any fraudulent charges, but have purchased credit monitoring services, or have spent time and money protecting themselves against potential fraud may argue that they have standing.