June 2010

The Australian government recently released an exposure draft of legislation that would fundamentally reform the Australian Privacy Act and would unify public and private sector privacy principles.  The exposure draft includes thirteen principles intended to protect individuals from the risks associated with the sharing of personal information.

Of particular interest to the international business community, Principle 8 addresses the cross-border disclosure of personal information.  The principle states that an entity must take reasonable steps to ensure that an overseas recipient does not breach the Australian Privacy Principles with respect to personal information being disclosed, but provides an exception if the entity reasonably believes that (i) the recipient of the information is subject to a law or binding scheme that provides protection that is substantially similar to protections provided by the Australian Privacy Principles, and (ii) there are mechanisms available for affected individuals to enforce such protection.

Continue Reading Australian Government Publishes Draft Legislation to Reform Privacy Act

On June 24, 2010, the Article 29 Working Party adopted Opinion 2/2010 (the “Opinion”) providing further clarification on online behavioral advertising.  The Working Party also issued a press release on this topic.  Although the scope of the Opinion is limited to online profiling, its interpretation of Article 5(3) of the amended e-Privacy Directive provides some useful clarifications regarding the legal framework applicable to online behavioral advertising and the use of cookies.  We provide a short analysis of the Opinion below.

Opt-in?  Browser setting as opt-in?  Opt-out?  The Opinion clarifies the Working Party’s interpretation of the new Article 5(3) and Recital 66 of the e-Privacy Directive.  According to the Working Party, Article 5(3) and Recital 66, along with the General Data Protection Directive (“Directive 95/46/EC”), require prior opt-in consent since “prior opt-in consent mechanisms are better suited to deliver informed consent.”

Continue Reading Article 29 Working Party Issues Opinion on Online Behavioral Advertising

Twitter has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers and put their privacy at risk by failing to safeguard their personal information.  The charges stem from alleged lapses in the company’s data security that permitted hackers to access tweets that users had designated as private and to issue phony tweets from the accounts of some users, including then-President-elect Barack Obama.  According to the FTC’s complaint (main document, exhibits), these attacks on Twitter’s system were possible due to a failure to implement reasonable safeguards, including:

  • requiring employees to use hard-to-guess administrative passwords that are not used for other programs, websites or networks;
  • prohibiting employees from storing administrative passwords in plain text within their personal email accounts;
  • suspending or disabling administrative passwords after a reasonable number of unsuccessful login attempts;
  • providing an administrative login webpage that is made known only to authorized persons and is separate from the login page for users;
  • enforcing periodic changes of administrative passwords by, for example, setting them to expire every 90 days;
  • restricting access to administrative controls to employees whose jobs required it; and
  • imposing other reasonable restrictions on administrative access, such as by restricting access to specified IP addresses.

The proposed settlement agreement contains a consent order requiring Twitter to implement data security safeguards and submit to periodic independent security audits.  The FTC’s press release contains more details.

On June 17, 2010, the French data protection authority (the “CNIL”) reported that it had conducted an on-site investigation at Google on May 19 to examine activities by Google’s Street View cars.  This investigation followed Google’s May 14 announcement that it had inadvertently captured Wi-Fi signals emitted in locations where its vehicles were taking photos.

Continue Reading French Data Protection Authority Investigates Google Street View

On June 18, 2010, the data protection authority of the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein published a press release and a comprehensive legal opinion on cloud computing.  The opinion provides an overview of cloud computing and discusses various practical and legal matters, including:

  • Applicable law issues
  • The legal basis for cloud computing and related processor and controller issues
  • Problems associated with the possibility of third-party access
  • The minimum requirements for data processor relationships and service provider contracts under the new German data protection law
  • Technical and organizational security measures
  • The legal landscape for clouds located outside the European Union

Continue Reading German DPA Issues Legal Opinion on Cloud Computing

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal recently announced that his office will lead a multistate investigation into the “deeply disturbing” unauthorized collection of personal data from wireless computer networks by Google’s Street View cars.  Attorney General Blumenthal noted that Google “must provide a complete and comprehensive explanation of how this unauthorized data collection happened, why the information was kept if collection was inadvertent and what action will prevent a recurrence.”  A significant number of states are expected to participate in the investigation. 

Blumenthal’s press release is available on the Connecticut Attorney General’s website.

On June 17, 2010, the French data protection authority (the “CNIL”) published its Annual Activity Report for 2009 (the “Report”) in which it outlines some of its priorities for the upcoming year.

In February 2009, the CNIL published a report on online targeted advertising. Among other things, the CNIL voiced its concern regarding online behavioral and advertising activities and analyzed the risks of increasing user profiling.  In 2010, the CNIL is expected to issue a joint opinion with the Article 29 Working Party on targeted advertising and behavioral analysis.  The CNIL also will open a dialogue with several stakeholders from the marketing sector to work on adopting a code of best practices.

Continue Reading French Data Protection Authority Unveils 2009 Annual Activity Report

Reporting from Israel, legal consultant Dr. Omer Tene writes:

The Israeli Law, Information and Technology Authority (“ILITA”), Israel’s privacy regulator, continues to up the ante for data controllers in Israel.  This week ILITA imposed a $70,000 (NIS 258,000) fine against a company illicitly trading personal data.

Continue Reading Israel’s Privacy Regulator Imposes a $70,000 Fine for Illegal Trading of Personal Data

Breaking — The Supreme Court has issued its decision in City of Ontario, California v. Quon, ruling unanimously that the police department did not violate an officer’s Fourth Amendment rights when supervisors reviewed text messages transmitted using a work-issued pager.  In reaching this decision, the Court did not resolve whether the officer had a reasonable expectation of privacy, rather the Court based its decision on a determination that the search itself was reasonable.

Read our previous coverage of this case.

As reported in BNA’s Privacy Law Watch, the Federal Trade Commission intends to agree to temporarily exempt health care providers from the FTC’s Identity Theft Red Flags Rule.  The Red Flags Rule implements Sections 114 and 315 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.  In relevant part, the Rule requires creditors and financial institutions that offer or maintain certain accounts to implement an identity theft prevention program.  The FTC previously has stated that health care providers could be deemed “creditors” under the Rule.  The agreement will grant relief to health care providers until the resolution of litigation pending before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in which the American Medical Association and other health groups have asked the court to prevent the FTC from applying the rule to physicians.  As we reported in our previous blog post, the FTC has delayed enforcement of the Red Flags Rule until December 31, 2010, to allow Congress to take action to clarify the Rule’s scope.