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 30, 2018, the U.S., Mexico and Canada announced a new trade agreement (the “USMCA”) aimed at replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement. Notably, the USMCA’s chapter on digital trade recognizes “the economic and social benefits of protecting the personal information of users of digital trade” and will require the U.S., Canada and Mexico (the “Parties”) to each “adopt or maintain a legal framework that provides for the protection of the personal information of the users[.]” The frameworks should include key principles such as: limitations on collection, choice, data quality, purpose specification, use limitation, security safeguards, transparency, individual participation and accountability. Continue Reading APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules Enshrined in U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement
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
Effective September 21, 2018, Section 301 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”) requires consumer reporting agencies to provide free credit freezes and year-long fraud alerts to consumers throughout the country. Under the Act, consumer reporting agencies must each set up a webpage designed to enable consumers to request credit freezes, fraud alerts, extended fraud alerts and active duty fraud alerts. The webpage must also give consumers the ability to opt out of the use of information in a consumer report to send the consumer a solicitation of credit or insurance. Consumers may find links to these webpages on the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website.
The Act also enables parents and guardians to freeze their children’s credit if they are under age 16. Guardians or conservators of incapacitated persons may also request credit freezes on their behalf.
Section 302 of the Act provides additional protections for active duty military. Under this section, consumer reporting agencies must offer free electronic credit monitoring to all active duty military.
For more information, read the FTC’s blog post.
On August 29, 2018, Bloomberg Law reported that four Senate Commerce Committee members are discussing a potential online privacy bill. The bipartisan group consists of Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), according to anonymous Senate aides. Continue Reading Senate Commerce Committee Members Rumored to be Discussing Online Privacy Bill
On August 28, 2018, plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit against Nielsen Holdings PLC (“Nielsen”) and some of its officers and directors for making allegedly materially false and misleading statements to investors about the impact of privacy regulations and third-party business partners’ privacy policies on the company’s revenues and earnings. The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Continue Reading Plaintiffs File Class Action Lawsuit Against Nielsen Over Alleged False and Misleading Statements
The Federal Trade Commission announced the opening dates of its Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century, a series of public hearings that will discuss whether broad-based changes in the economy, evolving business practices, new technologies or international developments might require adjustments to competition and consumer protection law, enforcement priorities and policy. The FTC and Georgetown University Law Center will co-sponsor two full-day sessions of hearings on September 13 and 14, 2018, to be held at the Georgetown University Law Center facility. Continue Reading FTC to Commence Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century
On August 13, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission approved changes to the video game industry’s safe harbor guidelines under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) Rule. COPPA’s “safe harbor” provision enables industry groups to propose self-regulatory guidelines regarding COPPA compliance for FTC approval. Continue Reading FTC Approves Changes to Video Game Industry’s Safe Harbor Program Under COPPA