January 2011

Connecticut’s newly-elected Attorney General George Jepsen recently announced an agreement with Google, Inc. concerning the company’s refusal to comply with a Civil Investigative Demand brought by his predecessor, freshman Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).  According to a January 28, 2011 press release, to facilitate settlement discussions with the Connecticut-led, 40-state coalition, Google will stipulate that “payload data” compiled in 2008 and 2009 “contained URLs of requested Web pages, partial or complete e-mail communications or other information, including confidential and private information” transmitted by individuals across unsecured wireless networks. Continue Reading Connecticut Reaches Agreement with Google in Street View Investigation

On January 28, 2011, the Centre for Information Policy Leadership at Hunton & Williams LLP filed comments with the United States Department of Commerce in which the Centre stressed privacy governance based on data stewardship by accountable organizations.  The Centre was one of a number of organizations that submitted comments in response to the Department of Commerce’s privacy paper, “Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework,” which was released in December 2010.  The theme of today’s comments is similar to that which the Centre suggested earlier this month in its comments responding to the European Commission’s consultation paper.

Continue Reading The Centre Calls for Data Stewardship and Organizational Accountability

In the past two months, lawmakers in three states have introduced legislation that would expand the scope of certain security breach notification requirements.

Virginia SB 1041

On January 11, 2011, Virginia lawmakers introduced SB 1041, which would amend the state’s health breach notification statute to impose notification requirements on businesses, individuals and other private entities, in the event unencrypted or unredacted computerized medical information they own or license is reasonably believed to have been accessed and acquired by an unauthorized person.  The law currently applies only to organizations, corporations and agencies supported by public funds.  In addition to broadening the scope of the law’s applicability, the amendment would permit the Virginia Attorney General to impose a civil penalty of up to $150,000 per breach (or series of similar breaches that are discovered pursuant to a single investigation), without limiting the ability of individuals to recover direct economic damages for violations.

Update: On February 11, 2011, BNA’s Privacy Law Watch reported that SB 1041 had failed and would not be carried over to the next legislative session.

Continue Reading Legislation Aims to Expand Breach Notification Obligations

On January 24, 2011, the data protection authority of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate issued a press release regarding significant breaches of data protection law by companies that maintain websites and create user profiles. Continue Reading German DPA States that Companies’ Website Privacy Practices Violate Data Protection Law

The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it is extending the deadline for public comments on its December 1, 2010 report, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: a Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policy Makers.”  In light of the complex issues raised by the report, a number of organizations requested an extension of the original January 31, 2011 deadline.  Stakeholders now have until February 18, 2011, to submit their comments.

On January 19, 2011, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in National Aeronautics and Space Administration v. Nelson, finding that questions contained in background checks NASA conducted on independent contractors are reasonable, employment-related inquiries that further the government’s interests in managing its internal operations.  Stating that “[t]he challenged portions of the forms consist of reasonable inquiries in an employment background check,” the Court reversed a Ninth Circuit decision that the questions NASA asked of the contractors invaded their privacy.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Upholds NASA Background Checks

While much of the attention of the privacy policy community in Washington, D.C. has been focused on the two reports issued in December 2010 by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, a third government report has received far less press attention, but may have a greater impact on U.S. business and consumers.  The work of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (“PCAST”) and its Health Information Technology Working Group, the report, “Realizing the Full Potential of Health Information Technology to Improve Healthcare for Americans: The Path Forward,” was released by the White House on December 8, 2010.

Continue Reading President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Release Health IT Report

On January 17, 2011, the Centre for Information Policy Leadership at Hunton & Williams LLP (the “Centre”) released a response to the European Commission’s consultation paper, “A comprehensive approach on personal data protection in the European Union.”  In its response, prepared by Richard Thomas, former UK Information Commissioner and Global Strategy Advisor of the Centre, the Centre calls for a modernized European framework for data protection that addresses the realities of the digital age.

Continue Reading Centre’s Response to the EU Consultation Paper

On January 14, 2011, the European Network and Information Security Agency (“ENISA”), which was created to enhance information security within the European Union, published a report entitled “Data breach notifications in the EU” (the “Report”).

Currently, there is wide debate throughout the EU regarding data breach notification requirements.  The debate stems from recent high-profile data breach incidents and the introduction of mandatory data breach notification requirements for telecommunication service providers imposed by EU Directive 2009/136/EC (amending EU Directive 2002/58/EC, the “e-Privacy Directive”), which must be integrated into EU Member States’ national laws by May 25, 2011.  The goal of the Report is to assist Member States, regulatory authorities and private organizations with their implementation of data breach notification policies.

Continue Reading European Network and Information Security Agency Publishes Report on Data Breach Notification in the EU

On January 13, 2011, a Bill (Projet de loi organique relatif au Défenseur des droits) containing several amendments to the French Data Protection Act was preliminarily adopted by the French National Assembly.  If enacted, the Bill would amend several key provisions of the French Data Protection Act, including revisions regarding the powers of the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”), and the role of Chairman of the CNIL.  The amendments are summarized below.

Continue Reading French National Assembly Votes on Amendments to Data Protection Act