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 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.
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 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, 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
Recently, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) fined credit rating agency Equifax £500,000 for failing to protect the personal data of up to 15 million UK individuals. The data was compromised during a cyber attack that occurred between May 13 and July 30, 2017, which affected 146 million customers globally. Although Equifax’s systems in the U.S. were targeted, the ICO found the credit agency’s UK arm, Equifax Ltd, failed to take appropriate steps to ensure that its parent firm, which processed this data on its behalf, had protected the information. The ICO investigation uncovered a number of serious contraventions of the UK Data Protection Act 1998 (the “DPA”), resulting in the ICO imposing on Equifax Ltd the maximum fine available. Continue Reading UK ICO Fines Equifax for 2017 Breach
On September 7, 2018, the New Jersey Attorney General announced a settlement with data management software developer Lightyear Dealer Technologies, LLC, doing business as DealerBuilt, resolving an investigation by the state Division of Consumer Affairs into a data breach that exposed the personal information of car dealership customers in New Jersey and across the country. The breach occurred in 2016, when a researcher exposed a gap in the company’s security and gained access to unencrypted files containing names, addresses, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank account information and other data belonging to thousands of individuals, including at least 2,471 New Jersey residents. Continue Reading Software Company Settles with New Jersey AG Over Data Breach
On August 22, 2018, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra raised significant concerns regarding the recently enacted California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (“CCPA”) in a letter addressed to the CCPA’s sponsors, Assemblyman Ed Chau and Senator Robert Hertzberg. Writing to “reemphasize what [he] expressed previously to [them] and [state] legislative leaders and Governor Brown,” Attorney General Becerra highlighted what he described as five primary flaws that, if unresolved, will undermine the intention behind and effective enforcement of the CCPA. Continue Reading California AG Voices Concern About State’s New Privacy Law
On August 3, 2018, California-based Unixiz Inc. (“Unixiz”) agreed to shut down its “i-Dressup” website pursuant to a consent order with the New Jersey Attorney General, which the company entered into to settle charges that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The consent order also requires Unixiz to pay a civil penalty of $98,618. Continue Reading Unixiz Agrees to Settle Charges Under COPPA and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act
On July 27, 2018, the Justice BN Srikrishna committee, formed by the Indian government in August 2017 with the goal of introducing a comprehensive data protection law in India, issued a report, A Free and Fair Digital Economy: Protecting Privacy, Empowering Indians (the “Committee Report”), and a draft data protection bill called the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 (the “Bill”). Noting that the Indian Supreme Court has recognized the right to privacy as a fundamental right, the Committee Report summarizes the existing data protection framework in India, and recommends that the government of India adopt a comprehensive data protection law such as that proposed in the Bill. Continue Reading India’s Draft on Data Privacy Law Issued Today