On January 21, 2019, the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) imposed a fine of €50 million on Google LLC under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (the “GDPR”) for its alleged failure to (1) provide notice in an easily accessible form, using clear and plain language, when users configure their Android mobile device and create a Google account, and (2) obtain users’ valid consent to process their personal data for ad personalization purposes. The CNIL’s enforcement action was the result of collective actions filed by two not-for-profit associations. This fine against Google is the first fine imposed by the CNIL under the GDPR and the highest fine imposed by a supervisory authority within the EU under the GDPR to date.
On October 17, 2018, the French data protection authority (the “CNIL”) published a press release detailing the rules applicable to devices that compile aggregated and anonymous statistics from personal data—for example, mobile phone identifiers (i.e., media access control or “MAC” address) —for purposes such as measuring advertising audience in a given space and analyzing flow in shopping malls and other public areas. Read the press release (in French). Continue Reading CNIL Details Rules on Audience and Traffic Measuring in Publicly Accessible Areas
On July 19, 2018, the French Data Protection Authority (“CNIL”) announced that it served a formal notice to two advertising startups headquartered in France, FIDZUP and TEEMO. Both companies collect personal data from mobile phones via software development kit (“SDK”) tools integrated into the code of their partners’ mobile apps—even when the apps are not in use—and process the data to conduct marketing campaigns on mobile phones. Continue Reading CNIL Serves Formal Notice to Marketing Companies to Obtain User’s Consent for Processing Geolocation Data for Ad Targeting
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
Recently, the Personal Data Collection and Protection Ordinance (“the Ordinance”) was introduced to the Chicago City Council. The Ordinance would require businesses to (1) obtain prior opt-in consent from Chicago residents to use, disclose or sell their personal information, (2) notify affected Chicago residents and the City of Chicago in the event of a data breach, (3) register with the City of Chicago if they qualify as “data brokers,” (4) provide specific notification to mobile device users for location services and (5) obtain prior express consent to use geolocation data from mobile applications. Continue Reading Chicago Introduces Data Protection Ordinance
On April 27, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission issued two warning letters to foreign marketers of geolocation tracking devices for violations of the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). The first letter was directed to a Chinese company, Gator Group, Ltd., that sold the “Kids GPS Gator Watch” (marketed as a child’s first cellphone); the second was sent to a Swedish company, Tinitell, Inc., marketing a child-based app that works with a mobile phone worn like a watch. Both products collect a child’s precise geolocation data, and the Gator Watch includes geofencing “safe zones.” Continue Reading FTC Issues Warning Letters for Potential COPPA Violations
On April 30, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission announced that BLU Products, Inc. (“BLU”), a mobile phone manufacturer, agreed to settle charges that the company allowed ADUPS Technology Co. Ltd. (“ADUPS”), a third-party service provider based in China to collect consumers’ personal information without their knowledge or consent, notwithstanding the company’s promises that it would keep the relevant information secure and private. The relevant personal information allegedly included, among other information, text message content and real-time location information. On September 6, 2018, the FTC gave final approval to the settlement in a unanimous 5-0 vote.
On February 28, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report, titled Mobile Security Updates: Understanding the Issues (the “Report”), that analyzes the process by which mobile devices sold in the U.S. receive security updates and provides recommendations for improvement. The Report is based on information the FTC obtained from eight mobile device manufacturers, and from information the Federal Communications Commission collected from six wireless carriers. Continue Reading FTC Recommends Steps to Improve Mobile Device Security Update Practices
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
On February 22, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) published a blog post that provides tips on how consumers can use Virtual Private Network (“VPN”) apps to protect their information while in transit over public networks. The FTC notes that some consumers are finding VPN apps helpful in protecting their mobile device traffic over Wi-Fi networks at coffee shops, airports and other locations. Through a VPN app, a user can browse websites and use apps on their mobile devices, still shielding the traffic from prying eyes as it transmits via public networks.