On June 22, 2018, the United States Supreme Court held in Carpenter v. United States that law enforcement agencies must obtain a warrant supported by probable cause to obtain historical cell-site location information (“CSLI”) from third-party providers. The government argued in Carpenter that it could access historical CSLI through a court order alone under the Stored Communications Act (the “SCA”). Under 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d), obtaining an SCA court order for stored records only requires the government to “offer specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds.” However, in a split 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant supported by probable cause to obtain historical CSLI. Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds Warrant Required to Obtain Historical Cell Phone Location Information

On June 6, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit vacated a 2016 Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) order compelling LabMD to implement a “comprehensive information security program that is reasonably designed to protect the security, confidentiality, and integrity of personal information collected from or about consumers.” The Eleventh Circuit agreed with LabMD that the FTC order was unenforceable because it did not direct the company to stop any “unfair act or practice” within the meaning of Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (the “FTC Act”). Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Vacates FTC Data Security Order

On May 14, 2018, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability released its Multiyear Plan for Energy Sector Cybersecurity (the “Plan”). The Plan is significantly guided by DOE’s 2006 Roadmap to Secure Control Systems in the Energy Sector and 2011 Roadmap to Achieve Energy Delivery Systems Cybersecurity. Taken together with DOE’s recent announcement creating the new Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (“CESER”), DOE is clearly asserting its position as the energy sector’s Congressionally-recognized sector-specific agency (“SSA”) on cybersecurity. Continue Reading Department of Energy Announces New Efforts in Energy Sector Cybersecurity

On May 24, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission granted final approval to a settlement (the “Final Settlement”) with PayPal, Inc., to resolve charges that PayPal’s peer-to-peer payment service, Venmo, misled consumers regarding certain restrictions on the use of its service, as well as the privacy of transactions. The proposed settlement was announced on February 27, 2018. In its complaint, the FTC alleged that Venmo misrepresented its information security practices by stating that it “uses bank-grade security systems and data encryption to protect your financial information.” Instead, the FTC alleged that Venmo violated the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act’s (“GLBA’s”) Safeguards Rule by failing to (1) have a written information security program; (2) assess the risks to the security, confidentiality and integrity of customer information; and (3) implement basic safeguards such as providing security notifications to users that their passwords were changed. The complaint also alleged that Venmo (1) misled consumers about their ability to transfer funds to external bank accounts, and (2) misrepresented the extent to which consumers could control the privacy of their transactions, in violation of the GLBA Privacy Rule. Continue Reading FTC Approves Settlement with PayPal Regarding Alleged Venmo Privacy Misrepresentations

On May 8, 2018, Senator Ron Wyden (D–OR) demanded that the Federal Communications Commission investigate the alleged unauthorized tracking of Americans’ locations by Securus Technologies, a company that provides phone services to prisons, jails and other correctional facilities. Securus allegedly purchases real-time location data from a third-party location aggregator and provides the data to law enforcement without obtaining judicial authorization for the disclosure of the data. In turn, the third-party location aggregator obtains the data from wireless carriers. Federal law restricts how and when wireless carriers can share certain customer information with third parties, including law enforcement. Wireless carriers are prohibited from sharing certain customer information, including location data, unless the carrier has obtained the customer’s consent or the sharing is otherwise required by law. Continue Reading Senator Wyden Calls for FCC Investigation into Company Sharing Location Data

As reported in the Hunton Nickel Report:

Recent press reports indicate that a cyber attack disabled the third-party platform used by oil and gas pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners to exchange documents with other customers. Effects from the attack were largely confined because no other systems were impacted, including, most notably, industrial controls for critical infrastructure. However, the attack comes on the heels of an FBI and Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) alert warning of Russian attempts to use tactics including spearphishing, watering hole attacks, and credential gathering to target industrial control systems throughout critical infrastructure, as well as an indictment against Iranian nationals who used similar tactics to attack private, education, and government institutions, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). These incidents raise questions about cybersecurity across the U.S. pipeline network. Continue Reading Attacks Targeting Oil and Gas Sector Renew Questions About Cybersecurity

The U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) has unsealed an indictment accusing nine Iranian nationals of engaging in a “massive and brazen cyber assault” against at least 176 universities, 47 private companies and 7 government agencies and non-governmental organizations, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). According to the DOJ, the nationals worked for Mabna Institute, an Iranian-based company, as “hackers for hire,” stealing login credentials and other sensitive information to sell within Iran and for the benefit of the Iranian government. Continue Reading DOJ Accuses Iranian Nationals of “Brazen Cyber Assault” on Universities and Government Agencies

On March 14, 2018, the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced insider trading charges against a former chief information officer (“CIO”) of a business unit of Equifax, Inc. According to prosecutors, the CIO exercised options and sold his shares after he learned of a cybersecurity breach and before that breach was publicly announced. Equifax has indicated that approximately 147.9 million consumers had personal information that was compromised. Continue Reading Insider Trading Charges Brought Against CIO for Post-Breach Trading

On February 26, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in an en banc decision that the “common carrier” exception in the Federal Trade Commission Act is “activity-based,” and therefore applies only to the extent a common carrier is engaging in common carrier services. The decision has implications for FTC authority over Internet service providers, indicating that the FTC has authority to bring consumer protection actions against such providers to the extent they are engaging in non-common carrier activities. The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has previously ruled that Internet access service is not a common carrier service subject to that agency’s jurisdiction. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Decision Bolsters FTC Authority over Internet Service Providers