HHS Announces HIPAA Settlement with UMass

On November 22, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”)  announced a $650,000 settlement with University of Massachusetts Amherst (“UMass”), resulting from alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) Privacy and Security Rules.  Continue Reading

France Adopts Class Action Regime for Data Protection Violations

On November 19, 2016, the French government enacted a bill creating a legal basis for class actions against data controllers and processors resulting from data protection violations. The bill, which aims to facilitate access to justice for French citizens, establishes a general class action regime and includes specific provisions regarding data protection violations. These provisions go beyond the class action provisions already in place for consumers by adding, within the context of the French Data Protection Act of 1978 (“Loi Informatique et Libertés”), a right to class actions for data protection violations regardless of industry sector. Continue Reading

UK Information Commissioner Confirms Forthcoming Regulatory Guidance on GDPR

On November 21, 2016, against the backdrop of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) and Brexit, UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham delivered a keynote speech at the Annual Conference of the National Association of Data Protection and Freedom of Information Officers. During the address, Denham discussed the UK ICO’s ongoing preparations for the GDPR, reiterating the government’s position that the GDPR will be implemented in the UK.  Continue Reading

Merkel Calls for Balanced Approach to Data Protection Regulation

Recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke at Germany’s 10th National IT Summit, and called for EU Member States to take a pragmatic approach to the application of EU data protection laws. Chancellor Merkel warned that a restrictive interpretation of data protection laws risks undermining the development of big data projects in the EU. Ahead of the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation throughout the EU in May 2018, Merkel argued that, more than simply preventing the excesses of personal data use, data protection law should serve to enable emerging data developments. Chancellor Merkel’s comments are significant given that Germany typically has taken a hard-line approach to data protection law interpretation and enforcement, particularly with respect to data minimization requirements that can pose challenges to big data developments in the digital economy.

Dutch Court Decides WhatsApp Data Protection Case

On November 23, 2016, Bloomberg BNA reported that the Hague Administrative Court in the Netherlands upheld a decision by the Dutch Data Protection Authority that WhatsApp was in breach of the Dutch Data Protection Act (the “Act”) on account of its alleged failure to identify a representative within the country responsible for compliance with the Act, despite the processing of personal data of Dutch WhatsApp users on Dutch smartphones. WhatsApp reportedly faces a fine of €10,000 per day up to a maximum of €1 million.

U.S. and APEC Leaders Reaffirm Implementation of the APEC CBPR

On November 20, 2016, the heads of state of the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (“APEC”) forum reaffirmed the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules (“CBPR”) system in their Leaders’ Declaration at the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, Peru as follows: “We recall the APEC Leaders 2011 Honolulu Declaration and recognize the importance of implementing the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules System, a voluntary mechanism whose participants seek to increase the number of economies, companies, and accountability agents that participate in the CBPR system.” The fact that the CBPR system is mentioned in the Leaders’ Declaration reflects its priority status on the APEC agenda. Continue Reading

CIPL Issues White Paper on the DPO’s Role under the GDPR

On November 17, 2016, the Centre for Information Policy Leadership (“CIPL”) at Hunton & Williams LLP issued a white paper on Ensuring the Effectiveness and Strategic Role of the Data Protection Officer under the General Data Protection Regulation (the “White Paper”). The White Paper sets forth guidance and recommendations concerning the interpretation and implementation of the GDPR’s provisions relating to the role of the Data Protection Officer (“DPO”). Continue Reading

UK Parliament Approves Investigatory Powers Bill

On November 16, 2016, the UK Investigatory Powers Bill (the “Bill”) was approved by the UK House of Lords. Following ratification of the Bill by Royal Assent, which is expected before the end of 2016, the Bill will officially become law in the UK. The draft of the Bill has sparked controversy, as it will hand significant and wide-ranging powers to state surveillance agencies, and has been strongly criticized by some privacy and human rights advocacy groups.  Continue Reading

FINRA Fines Brokerage Firm $650,000 After Cyber Attack

On November 14, 2016, Lincoln Financial Securities Corp. (“LFS”), a subsidiary of Lincoln Financial Group, entered into a settlement (the “Settlement”) with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), requiring LFS to pay a $650,000 fine and implement stronger cybersecurity protocols following a 2012 hack into its cloud-based server. Continue Reading

NIST Issues Guidance on Cybersecurity for Internet-Connected Devices

On November 14, 2016, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) published guidance on cybersecurity for internet-connected devices, Systems Security Engineering: Considerations for A Multidisciplinary Approach in the Engineering of Trustworthy Secure Systems (the “Guidance”). Citing “the continuing frequency, intensity, and adverse consequences of cyber-attacks,” the Guidance “addresses the engineering-driven perspective and actions necessary to develop more defensible and survivable systems.” Continue Reading