Photo of Phil Schenkenberg

Phil is a partner in Taft's Litigation and Privacy & Data Security practices. His cybersecurity practice focuses on data governance, contract obligations, transactional due diligence, and breach response.

Here in the United States, companies face a patchwork of legal obligations that address information security and data privacy. For example, federal laws target certain market segments (such as health care, financial services, and education), state laws target certain types of information (such as personal financial or biometric information), and both state and federal laws target unfair or unreasonable business practices. This patchwork—and the lack of comprehensive nationwide privacy and security standards—can make compliance challenging and frustrating. Security professionals and legal counsel must work hard to keep up.

The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) will soon add to the patchwork. The SEC’s new rules promise to add significant compliance obligations for public companies, and non-public companies will also want to take note.Continue Reading The SEC’S Proposed Cybersecurity Rules: Is Your Company Ready?

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court resolved an important issue under the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which has been used by companies as they battle hackers, rogue employees, and terminated employees. The CFAA imposes criminal and civil liability when a person accesses a computer “without authorization or exceeds authorized access.” Rogue employees who obtain company information without a business need often find themselves facing a suit that seeks, among other things, damages under the CFAA. A company that can invoke a federal statute — especially one that also could create criminal liability — can create significant leverage in litigation.

The Court held that one “exceeds authorized access” when they access a computer with authorization but then obtain information located in particular areas of the computer — such as files, folders, or databases — that are off limits from a security standpoint. In other words, the employee needs to hack into an internal database in order to exceed the access provided by the employer.Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Narrows the Reach of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act