On December 5, 2014, the Article 29 Working Party (the “Working Party”) published a Working Document on surveillance, electronic communications and national security. The Working Party (which is comprised of the national data protection authorities (“DPAs”) of each of the 28 EU Member States) regularly publishes guidance on the application and interpretation of EU data protection law. Although its views are not legally binding, they are strongly indicative of the way in which EU data protection law is likely to be enforced.

Continue Reading Article 29 Working Party Publishes Working Document on Surveillance

On April 20, 2014, Hunton & Williams partner Paul M. Tiao was featured on Platts Energy Week discussing the importance of the homeland security partnership between electric utility companies and the U.S. government. In the feature, “U.S. Utilities Wary of Sharing Grid Risks,” Tiao talked about the recent leak to The Wall Street Journal of a sensitive internal memo at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that revealed potential vulnerabilities in the electricity grid. Tiao said that many utility companies want to work with federal agencies to protect homeland security, but in order to do that, they need to be able to trust the government to protect sensitive information about threats and vulnerabilities. The leak of the memo has undermined that trust.

View the Platts Energy Week feature with Paul Tiao.

On April 10, 2014, the Article 29 Working Party (the “Working Party”) adopted Opinion 04/2014. The Opinion analyzes the implications of electronic surveillance programs on the right to privacy and provides several recommendations for protecting EU personal data in the surveillance context.

Continue Reading Article 29 Working Party Issues Opinion on Surveillance of Electronic Communications for Intelligence and National Security Purposes

On March 12, 2014, the European Parliament formally adopted the compromise text of the proposed EU General Data Protection Regulation (the “Regulation”). The text now adopted by the Parliament is unchanged and had already been approved by the Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in October of last year. The Parliament voted with 621 votes in favor, 10 against and 22 abstentions for the Regulation.

Continue Reading European Parliament Adopts Draft General Data Protection Regulation; Calls for Suspension of Safe Harbor

In a major speech delivered at the U.S. Department of Justice on January 17, 2014, President Obama addressed the call for reforms to government surveillance programs following disclosures regarding National Security Agency (“NSA”) activities leaked by Edward Snowden since June of last year. The President discussed the need to advance national security while strengthening protections for privacy and civil liberties, improving transparency in intelligence programs, engaging in continual oversight and rebuilding trust among foreign leaders and citizens. He outlined several areas of reform: Continue Reading President Obama Calls for Major Changes in National Security Surveillance Programs

The EU-U.S. Safe Harbor Framework is an important cross-border data transfer mechanism that enables certified organizations to move personal data from the European Union to the United States in compliance with European data protection laws. Recently, however, the Safe Harbor’s future has been thrown into doubt. In an article published on October 30, 2013 by Practical Law, Lisa J. Sotto, partner and head of the Global Privacy and Cybersecurity practice at Hunton & Williams LLP, partner Bridget Treacy and associate Naomi McBride, examine the Safe Harbor Framework and its future viability in light of criticism from the European Commission and some EU data protection authorities, which intensified in the past year following disclosures regarding the U.S. government’s surveillance programs.

Download a PDF copy of the article.

On December 18, 2013, the White House published a report recommending reforms to the federal government’s wide-ranging surveillance programs. The voluminous report, entitled “Liberty and Security in a Changing World,” was authored by The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, an advisory panel that includes experts in national security, intelligence gathering and civil liberties.

Continue Reading White House Publishes Report on Government Surveillance Programs

On December 3, 2013, Lawrence Strickling, Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, spoke at the American European Community Association Conference in Brussels on Data Protection: The Challenges and Opportunities for Individuals and Businesses. Strickling discussed the Obama Administration’s commitment to “preserving the dynamism and openness of the Internet, enhancing the free flow of information, and strengthening our Internet economy.” He addressed the issues surrounding U.S. surveillance operations and the European Commission’s recent report on Safe Harbor. Strickling also provided a progress report on improvements to consumer privacy protection since the White House released its Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights in February 2012, including an update on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (“NTIA’s”) multistakeholder process to develop industry codes of conduct.

Continue Reading Strickling Discusses U.S. Commitment to Consumer Privacy Protection

Brazilian lawmakers, including José Eduardo Cardozo, the Minister of Justice of Brazil, and Ideli Salvatti, the Secretariat of Institutional Relations, held several consensus-building meetings with party leaders over the past two weeks to reach a voting agreement on the Marco Civil da Internet (“Marco Civil”), a draft bill introduced in the Brazilian Congress in 2011. The Marco Civil would establish Brazil’s first set of Internet regulations, including requirements regarding personal data protection and net neutrality.

Continue Reading Brazil Moves Forward with Internet and Data Protection Bills