For more than 30 years, the Kansas City Media and the Law Seminar has been at the forefront of important discussions in the media bar. As this year’s committee chair, I may be a bit biased, but I think the focus of the seminar coming up on May 3-4 is one of the most important topics we have tackled to date: The impact of technology, culture, and politics on media freedoms. There’s no doubt that our media and political climate has changed dramatically over the past few years, and technology continues to push the envelope as laws struggle to keep up. It’s fascinating to think that at least half of this year’s panels involve topics that didn’t even exist when this seminar started — things like “social media,” “fake news,” and “Tweets.” Continue Reading Join Vedder Price at the 31st annual Media and the Law Seminar
What Is GDPR?
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR),—described as “the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years”—becomes enforceable by law on May 25, 2018. After four years of preparation and debate, GDPR was approved by the EU Parliament in April 2016 to replace the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. According to the EUGDPR.org, the overarching purpose of GDPR is to “harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.” Expected to comply are organizations located within the EU; that offer goods or services to, or monitor the behavior of, EU data subjects; and all companies processing and holding the personal data of data subjects residing in the EU.
As 2017 comes to a close and companies look to planning initiatives for 2018, there is one date that should be front and center for privacy professionals: May 25, 2018. That is the date that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect, meaning that any company dealing with EU consumer data needs to have a plan in place. The GDPR has been looming for almost two years now (since its adoption on April 27, 2016), so hopefully most companies impacted by the regulation have already begun to implement compliance mechanisms. But if not, it’s not too late.
We have written previously in this space about what the scope of the GDPR requirements. The question now is what companies covered by the GDPR should be doing as they head into 2018. Here are some critical steps to make sure you are on track to ensure GDPR compliance:
In the past few weeks, five putative class action lawsuits have been filed under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), 740 ILCS 14/1 et seq., targeting defendants in the health care, senior living, commercial baking, meat processing and security industries. These recent suits join previously filed BIPA class actions against day care operators, tanning salons, video game manufacturers, hotel groups and supermarkets as well as much larger entities, including Facebook, Google, Shutterfly, Six Flags and Snapchat. All of these suits have similar allegations at their core; that defendants utilized employees’, customers’, or other persons’ biometric identifiers, such as fingerprints, voiceprints, retina scans or facial recognition technology, in violation of BIPA’s disclosure and consent requirements. All seek recovery of BIPA’s statutory liquidated damages of $1,000 for each negligent violation, or $5,000 for each intentional or reckless violation, injunctive relief, and recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs.
Until the past 18 months, when the first of these suits was filed, BIPA has been a little-known statute. Enacted in 2008, BIPA was passed to protect against risk of identity theft resulting from the growing use of biometric technology to facilitate financial transactions and security screenings. 740 ILCS 14/5.
BIPA applies to both biometric identifiers, such as fingerprints, voiceprints, retina scans, and facial geometry, and other biometric information based on those identifiers to the extent used to identify an individual. 740 ILCS 14/10. BIPA is an important measure because, unlike such things as Social Security numbers and passwords that can be changed if necessary, biometrics are biologically unique and, when compromised, leave an individual without recourse. 740 ILCS 14/5. Continue Reading The Rise of Biometric Lawsuits in Illinois
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (679/2016/EU), the GDPR, comes into force across the EU on 25 May 2018. As it is being made by regulation the GDPR, unlike the existing Data Protection Directive (implemented into the UK by the Data Protection Act 1998), will have direct effect throughout the EU. National governments will have some limited scope to tailor certain of its provisions to their jurisdiction. However, the GDPR will significantly harmonise the current national data protection laws across the EU.
Notwithstanding Brexit, the UK government has indicated its intention to implement the GDPR in full. The UK regulator’s (the Information Commissioner’s Office) powers and ability to work seamlessly with other national EU regulators will form a negotiation point in the coming Brexit deal. Continue Reading EU General Data Protection Regulation: A Summary for Non-EU Businesses
On July 10, 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the “CFPB”) finalized its proposed arbitration rule that will prohibit providers of certain consumer financial products and services from requiring a consumer to utilize mandatory pre-dispute arbitration in lieu of a consumer filing or participating in a class action (“Arbitration Rule”). In other words, no longer may covered entities require a consumer to use arbitration in lieu of class action participation. This Arbitration Rule will likely have far ranging consequences for covered providers, including mandatory updates to consumer agreements, likely increases to legal and compliance costs and increased operational risks in new consumer products.
Congress directed the CFPB to study pre-dispute arbitration agreements in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“the Dodd-Frank Act”). The Dodd-Frank Act also authorized the CFPB, after completing the study, to issue regulations restricting or prohibiting the use of arbitration agreements if the CFPB found that such rules would be in the public interest and for the protection of consumers. In 2015, the CFPB published and delivered to Congress a study of arbitration. On May 24, 2016, the CFPB proposed the Arbitration Rule with a request for comment. Since May 2016 the CFPB has been silent, leading many in the financial services industry to believe that, with the change in administration, the CFPB had abandoned the Arbitration Rule. In finalizing the Arbitration Rule, the CFPB has answered the industry’s long outstanding question. Would the CFPB be more moderate in its approach in issuing regulation that drastically impacts financial services providers? The industry has its answer. The CFPB has answered in the negative. Continue Reading Another Day, Another Regulation: A Summary and Description of the CFPB’s Arbitration Rule
This is the third in a series of blog articles relating to the topics to be discussed at the 30th Annual Media and the Law Seminar in Kansas City, Missouri on May 4-5, 2017. Blaine C. Kimrey and Bryan K. Clark of Vedder Price are on the planning committee for the conference. In this article, we discuss the Tor Browser and its relationship to privacy laws. Tor’s impact on anonymous speech and the tension between First Amendment rights and online threats to reputation, privacy and public safety will be among the topics discussed at the 2017 seminar.
Even among somewhat sophisticated privacy professionals and lawyers, the Tor Browser is sometimes a bit of a mystery. What is Tor, is it even legal, and, if so, what are the pros and cons associated with Tor? At a fundamental level, Tor is actually quite simple—Tor protects the privacy of its users by spreading communications across of a series of servers around the world to make it difficult to determine who or where the individual user is. Tor is a volunteer operation and it is available to anyone willing and able to download the free software from Tor’s Web site.
In some circles, using Tor has taken on a negative connotation because (not surprisingly) individuals engaged in nefarious activities online have turned to Tor as a way to mask their identities. But there is nothing per se illegal about using Tor, and it can be a legitimate way to avoid unwanted digital tracking from corporations and circumvent censorship in countries under the thumb of oppressive regimes. In fact, the U.S. State Department has contributed millions of dollars over the years to help with the development of Tor in the interest of encouraging free speech in other countries. Continue Reading Tor Presents Compelling Privacy Puzzle
Businesses have largely benefitted from the proliferation of mobile devices and text messaging apps that facilitate quick, round-the-clock communications. However, such technologies also make it increasingly difficult to monitor and control the unauthorized distribution of confidential data. On March 30, UK regulators fined a former managing director of Jeffries Group for divulging confidential client information. The banker, Christopher Niehaus, shared confidential information with two friends using WhatsApp, a popular text messaging app. The exposed information included the identity of a Jeffries Group client, the details of a deal involving the client, and the bank’s fee for the transaction. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this story is that the leak was discovered at all. Because data sent on WhatsApp are encrypted and Mr. Niehaus used his personal mobile phone to send the messages, Jeffries Group only viewed the communications—and subsequently informed regulators—after Mr. Niehaus turned his device over to the bank in connection with an unrelated investigation. Continue Reading Encrypted Messaging Apps Create New Data Privacy Headaches for Employers
If you follow developments in TCPA case law, you’ve probably heard by now that the DC Circuit Court of Appeals last week overturned the 2015 FCC Order that had required TCPA opt-out notices on both solicited and unsolicited faxes. The court held that the FCC’s rule was “unlawful to the extent that it requires opt-out notices on solicited faxes.” See Bais Yaakov of Spring Valley v. FCC, et al., Case No. 14-1234 (D.C. Cir.). In fact, the DC Circuit—despite years of FCC guidance, 13 consolidated appeals and more than two dozen lawyers participating in the briefing—seemed to view this as a relatively simple issue of statutory construction: “The text of the Act provides a clear answer to the question presented in this case. . . . Congress drew a line in the text of the statute between unsolicited fax advertisements and solicited fax advertisements. Unsolicited fax advertisements must include an opt-out notice. But the Act does not require (or give the FCC authority to require) opt-out notices on solicited fax advertisements. It is the Judiciary’s job to respect the line drawn by Congress, not to redraw it as we might think best.” Continue Reading DC Circuit Opts Out of Flawed FCC Ruling
The following March 3 blog post inspired the Law360 article, “Challenging Personal Jurisdiction In Online Conduct Cases,” published on March 24, 2017. See full article below.
Earlier this week, Judge Edmond Chang of the Northern District of Illinois rejected Google’s arguments that application of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) to facial geometry scanning by Google Photos is, on its face, an improper extraterritorial application of Illinois law. See Rivera v. Google, Inc., Case No. 16-cv-22714, Docket Entry 60. Faced with Google’s arguments that the claims would require extraterritorial application of the statute and/or would violate the Dormant Commerce Clause by reaching beyond state boundaries, the court essentially punted, saying that “[d]iscovery is needed to determine whether there are legitimate extraterritoriality concerns.” Id. at p. 22. The court also rejected Google’s argument that BIPA does not cover facial geometry scans pulled from photographs. Continue Reading Biometric Data Claims against Google Survive – But What about Personal Jurisdiction?