On December 4, 2018, the New York Attorney General (“NY AG”) announced that Oath Inc., which was known as AOL Inc. (“AOL”) until June 2017 and is a subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc., agreed to pay New York a $4.95 million civil penalty following allegations that it had violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) by collecting and disclosing children’s personal information in conducting online auctions for advertising placement. This is the largest-ever COPPA penalty.
On November 19, 2018, The Register reported that the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) issued a warning to the U.S.-based The Washington Post over its approach to obtaining consent for cookies to access the service. Continue Reading UK ICO Issues Warning to Washington Post Over Cookie Consent Practices
On October 30, 2018, ATA Consulting LLC (doing business as Best Medical Transcription) agreed to a $200,000 settlement with the New Jersey Attorney General resulting from a server misconfiguration that allowed private medical records to be posted publicly online. The fine was suspended to $31,000 based on the company’s financial condition. Read the settlement. Continue Reading Medical Transcription Vendor Agrees to $200,000 Settlement with New Jersey Attorney General
On October 23, 2018, the parties in the Yahoo! Inc. (“Yahoo!”) Customer Data Security Breach Litigation pending in the Northern District of California and the parties in the related litigation pending in California state court filed a motion seeking preliminary approval of a settlement related to breaches of the company’s data. These breaches were announced from September 2016 to October 2017 and collectively impacted approximately 3 billion user accounts worldwide. In June 2017, Yahoo! and Verizon Communications Inc. had completed an asset sale transaction, pursuant to which Yahoo! became Altaba Inc. (“Altaba”) and Yahoo!’s previously operating business became Oath Holdings Inc. (“Oath”). Altaba and Oath have each agreed to be responsible for 50 percent of the settlement.
On November 1, 2018, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) released a draft bill, the Consumer Data Protection Act, that seeks to “empower consumers to control their personal information.” The draft bill imposes heavy penalties on organizations and their executives, and would require senior executives of companies with more than one billion dollars per year of revenue or data on more than 50 million consumers to file annual data reports with the Federal Trade Commission. The draft bill would subject senior company executives to imprisonment for up to 20 years or fines up to $5 million, or both, for certifying false statements on an annual data report. Additionally, like the EU General Data Protection Regulation, the draft bill proposes a maximum fine of 4% of total annual gross revenue for companies that are found to be in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) entered into a resolution agreement and record settlement of $16 million with Anthem, Inc. (“Anthem”) following Anthem’s 2015 data breach. That breach, affecting approximately 79 million individuals, was the largest breach of protected health information (“PHI”) in history. Continue Reading OCR Enters into Record Settlement with Anthem
On September 26, 2018, the SEC announced a settlement with Voya Financial Advisers, Inc. (“Voya”), a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer, for violating Regulation S-ID, also known as the “Identity Theft Red Flags Rule,” as well as Regulation S-P, the “Safeguards Rule.” Together, Regulations S-ID and S-P are designed to require covered entities to help protect customers from the risk of identity theft and to safeguard confidential customer information. The settlement represents the first SEC enforcement action brought under Regulation S-ID. Continue Reading SEC Fines Broker-Dealer $1 Million in First Enforcement Action Under Identity Theft Rule
On September 27, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement agreement with four companies – IDmission, LLC, (“IDmission”) mResource LLC (doing business as Loop Works, LLC) (“mResource”), SmartStart Employment Screening, Inc. (“SmartStart”), and VenPath, Inc. (“VenPath”) – over allegations that each company had falsely claimed to have valid certifications under the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework. The FTC alleged that SmartStart, VenPath and mResource continued to post statements on their websites about their participation in the Privacy Shield after allowing their certifications to lapse. IDmission had applied for a Privacy Shield certification but never completed the necessary steps to be certified. Continue Reading Four Companies Settle FTC Allegations Regarding False EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Certifications
On September 26, 2018, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation convened a hearing on Examining Consumer Privacy Protections with representatives of major technology and communications firms to discuss approaches to protecting consumer privacy, how the U.S. might craft a federal privacy law, and companies’ experiences in implementing the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”). Continue Reading Senate Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on Examining Consumer Privacy Protections
On September 26, 2018, Uber Technologies Inc. (“Uber”) agreed to a settlement (the “Settlement”) with all 50 U.S. state attorneys general (the “Attorneys General”) in connection with a 2016 data breach affecting the personal information (including driver’s license numbers) of approximately 607,000 Uber drivers nationwide, as well as approximately 57 million consumers’ email addresses and phone numbers. The Attorneys General alleged that after Uber learned of the breach, which occurred in November 2016, the company paid intruders a $100,000 ransom to delete the data. The Attorneys General alleged that Uber failed to promptly notify affected individuals of the incident, as required under various state laws, instead notifying affected customers and drivers of the breach one year later in November 2017. Continue Reading Uber Settles with 50 State Attorneys General for $148 Million In Connection with 2016 Data Breach