Last summer, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security (SHIELD) Act. The SHIELD Act’s data breach notification requirements are already effective and the law’s data security requirements go into effect on March 21. Any company that does business in New York or has customers in New York needs to understand what the law requires.

New York, like many other states, has a data breach notification law that requires businesses to notify consumers when a breach occurs. The SHIELD Act goes further than New York’s previous law, both in its definition of what type of information is covered and in reaching companies that may not have any connection to New York except for having information about New York residents in their database. The SHIELD Act:

Continue Reading The SHIELD Act: What You Need to Know About New York’s New Data Breach Notification Law

According to the FBI, billions of dollars are lost every year repairing computer systems and networks hit by cyberattacks like ransomware. The 2019 Internet Crime Report notes that in 2019 alone, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 467,361 complaints of cybercrime with reported losses exceeding $3.5 billion. While the number of ransomware attacks has declined sharply, the amounts demanded in such attacks has increased. For example, BleepingComputer recently reported seeing ransom notes for the Ragnar Locker ransomware, which targets software commonly used by managed service providers, with demands ranging from $200,000 to about $600,000.

Some insurers selling cyber insurance offer to pay a ransom demand, which theoretically should allow the policyholder to get their data back. But what happens if you don’t have cyber insurance or the funds to pay the ransom? What if you pay the ransom and the criminals renege? If your computers and network are slowed but otherwise operable, will your traditional business owners’ insurance policy pay to replace the damaged computers and network?

Continue Reading Business owners’ insurance policy required to pay for computer damage from ransomware attack

On Dec. 30, 2019, President Trump signed the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act into law. As its name implies, the bipartisan TRACED Act targets unwanted and illegal robocalls by requiring carriers to implement a number-authentication system allowing consumers to better identify unwanted robocalls and by stiffening penalties for robocalls. The TRACED Act also contains important modifications to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which governs the use of automatically dialed telephone calls and text messages. Read the full article authored by Taft partners Daniel Saeedi and Jeffrey Schieber here.

Yes, it actually is. Jan. 28 has been set aside as a date to raise awareness and generally promote proper use and safeguarding of personal data. While it started in Europe, it is now recognized by more than 50 countries.

Why Jan. 28? The date is important because on this date in 1981, the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (say that five times quickly) was introduced for signature by the Council of Europe. The day has been recognized in the United States since 2009, when the House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution declaring Jan. 28 as “National Privacy Day.” (Imagine that. A day when something passed unanimously!) The Senate followed suit in the years after.

We in the Taft Privacy and Data Security practice group encourage you to use this day to not only look at how your business can better use and protect personal data, but also take a look at how your privacy values are being respected and addressed by the businesses and technologies you frequent. Just do one thing differently today! Maybe….

  • Update your passwords to strong passwords.
  • Answer these questions: What is a personal VPN and how can it help me?
  • See how easy it can be to encrypt your devices and messages.

Trust me; little changes can have a big impact. For more information, check out or sign up for our Privacy and Data Security Insights blog, you can also find great information through the International Association of Privacy Professionals and through StaySafeOnline.

As we have written in blog posts over the past year, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is the most comprehensive state privacy law to date. While there are a number of conditions and exemptions in play, the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and will be enforced starting in July 2020.

In anticipation of the law’s effective date and requirements, we have provided a checklist to help you assess the applicability of the law to your business and any next steps that might be in order. As always, Taft stands ready to assist in your assessment and in implementing business-sensitive and risk-based approaches to compliance.

In Taft’s Privacy and Data Security Insight, we have been writing regularly on the California Consumer Privacy Act and what to expect as it goes into effect in January.  Like many new privacy laws, panic begins to set in about how to actually address the new approach towards consumer privacy (remember the great GDPR panic of May 25, 2018?)  In our last blog, we told you about the final amendments to the CCPA and how the language of the law will finally read. The next step to the implementation of the United States’ most comprehensive state privacy law is the issuance of the Attorney General’s  Proposed Regulations, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Action, and an Initial Statement of Reasons. These draft documents attempt to answer the question burning in the minds of lawyers and businesses around the country:  HOW am I supposed to actually do this? With these draft documents finally out (awaiting public comments until December), we have what we are to understand as the AG’s guidance to businesses on how to comply with the provisions of the CCPA, including, but not limited to:

  1. How to properly notify consumers;
  2. How to handle consumer requests;
  3. How to verify the identity of consumers;
  4. Collecting personal information of minors; and
  5. How the value of consumer data is calculated.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

Continue Reading <i>How</i> am I supposed to do this?: California AG issues proposed regulations for making CCPA a reality

As we have discussed before, the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) is forcing entities doing business in California to critically examine their information collection and sharing practices. Although California signed it into law last year, the CCPA does not go into effect until January 1, 2020. Last month, the California Legislature passed six amendments to the CCPA that will affect how businesses operate, while also affording California residents their newfound rights.

I. Limiting Personal information & Publicly Available Information (AB-874).
The CCPA, before this amendment, defined “personal information” as any information that “is capable of being associated with… a particular consumer or household.” This amendment changes that language to any information that “is reasonably capable of being associated with… a particular consumer or household.” This is an attempt to clarify and limit the scope of personal information and what information is “capable of being associated with” a consumer. Much like other areas of the law, we expect contentious debate over what is “reasonable” when anticipating association with a particular consumer or household. Additionally, the definition of “personal information” will now exclude de-identified or aggregated consumer information. This amendment also removes restricting language on what information is treated as “publicly available” and simply states that it is information made available by federal, state, or local governments.

Continue Reading California Raisin’ the Stakes: Final CCPA Amendments Pass CA Legislature

What’s happening?

The one topic, as of late, that tops the list of incoming phone calls to our Privacy and Data Security practice seems to be from a client reporting that either:

  1. The client paid a bogus invoice to a fraudulent account as a result of a communication from someone who looked just like a trusted payee; OR
  2. The client’s long-standing, regularly-paying customer has been strangely behind a couple of months on making payments to the client. Upon follow up, the client finds out the customer received a change in payment instruction reportedly from the client via email and has been sending the client’s payments to another banking account via ACH.

Inevitably, in either case, the payment account is bogus. The recipient failed to check the validity of the email requesting the change in payment practices, such as a new bank account, or possibly moving to ACH or EFT for payments instead of mailing checks. The recipient might have recognized the sender’s name, email address and even observed the expected company branding and logos in the body of the email and signature line. But, rather than pause, place a call or verify the request and account validity, the recipient quickly makes the change and the payment is sent. Frequently, clients aren’t aware of the theft until it’s too late. The consequences are harsh, as getting the money back is not always easy to do, if at all possible. While there are sometimes remedies through bank action or even law enforcement, the speed with which such payments are made and money is removed make it difficult to make a company whole again.

Continue Reading Kiss that money goodbye! Why you must scrutinize payment processing changes at every level of your business.

In the summer of 2015, we cautioned that the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) new cybersecurity regulations could be used offensively to support False Claims Act (FCA) cases and bid protests. Four years later, those premonitions have unfortunately come true. Recently, a federal court refused to dismiss a relator’s implied certification FCA case in which he alleged that his employer “misrepresented … to the government the extent to which it had equipment required by the regulations, instituted required security controls, and possessed necessary firewalls” in violation of DoD’s cybersecurity regulations. United States ex rel. Markus v. Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc., No. 2:15-cv-2245, 2019 WL 2024595, *3 (E.D. Cal. May 8, 2019).

Continue Reading False Claims Act Case Based On DoD’s Cybersecurity Regulations Survives Motion to Dismiss

As the Jan. 1, 2020 operational date for the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) approaches, the balance between consumer rights and company responsibility continues to be vigorously debated. As this blog predicted when we discussed the first set of amendments to the CCPA, negotiations and amendments to the CCPA continue. We review the most recent Feb. 22, 2019 consumer friendly amendment now—Senate Bill 561 (“SB 561”).

Continue Reading California: Shore to Please Consumer Privacy Rights Advocates