For years, the idea of a federal privacy law in the same vein as GDPR seemed to be a far-fetched dream.  Then came the nightmare: coronavirus.  As mobile device and other monitoring services are being considered for employers and retail, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Senate announced a bill, which would apply to the collection of American health, geolocation, and proximity information.

The COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act (the “Act”) aims to heighten protection for American’s data by imposing requirements on businesses similar to those seen in the GDPR and CCPA.  Specifically, the Act is designed to protect information that constitutes “precise geolocation data, proximity data, and personal health information.”  Any entity or person who “collects, processes, or transfers covered information” and is also subject to the Federal Trade Commission Act, is a common carrier subject to the Communications Act of 1934, or is a nonprofit organization would be subject to the law.


Continue Reading COVID-19 Inspires Federal Consumer Privacy Act

As up-to-date readers of Taft’s Privacy & Data Security Insights blog know, the legal landscape continues to quickly evolve due to the economic, legal and privacy impacts of COVID-19. Moreover, we have seen significant flexibility from government agencies on various laws and regulations as a result of COVID-19.

Brazil’s encroaching data privacy law is the latest to suffer a delay as a result of the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Brazil’s General Data Protection Law (aka, the Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados and referred to as the “LGPD” in the Portuguese acronym) appeared ready to go into effect in August 2020. However, Brazil has recently and rapidly become a hot spot for COVID-19. On April 3, 2020, as a result of the healthcare crisis caused by COVID-19, the Brazilian Senate approved Bill No. 1179/2020. This emergency measure postpones the effective date for the LGPD to January 2021, with sanctions and penalties enforceable only after August 2021. The Brazilian Senate validated its emergency measure by asserting that businesses should not be burdened by having to dedicate resources for privacy compliance as they navigate the crisis caused by COVID-19. Bill No. 1179/2020 is now awaiting approval by the Brazilian House of Representatives.


Continue Reading Brazil Postpones Enforcement of New Privacy Law in Response to COVID-19

As the majority of states execute stay at home orders to curb the effects of COVID-19, businesses (and educational institutions) have had to set up ways for employees and students to work remotely. As we have discussed before, companies and employees must make sure both company and employee data is secure while working on home networks and remote devices. Employee use of video conference software is no different. In an effort to keep employees connected and working efficiently, many businesses and educational institutions have had to adopt video conference software in an expedited fashion. This can be seen by looking at Zoom, a video and audio conferencing software. At the end of December 2019, Zoom had approximately 10 million daily meeting participants. Now, in just over several months, Zoom has reached 200 million daily meeting participants. While a useful and effective tool, Zoom has also experienced some challenges with security.  Even in these unique, difficult, and fast moving situations, the Zoom experience stresses the importance of still following best practices in all use of technology to process your company’s data.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Bulletin: Recent Zoom Security Issues Serve as a Cautionary Tale for Businesses in Times of Crisis (and not)

With at least 70% of American schools shutting down, and others, if not all, to follow, school and millions of parents are faced with unprecedented challenges managing the children’s education from children’s homes through online schooling. Online schooling or “distance learning” presents not only operational and technical challenges of its own, but also presents concerns and challenges to properly protecting the privacy and security of student information. Even in view of a pandemic and emergency conditions, schools and online education providers are still required to meet legal obligations under various laws and implement best practices to not only meet the laws’ requirements but also to foster a secure environment for students to learn. The following provides a summary of the applicable federal and state laws impacting online learning, followed by general best practices.

Continue Reading COVID-19 Bulletin: Online Schooling Data Privacy Concerns and Best Practices During the Pandemic

On Thursday, March 26, 2020, the Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economy Security Act (the “CARES Act”), which provides economic relief for individuals, businesses and industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, some provisions specifically relate to nascent privacy and data security concerns to be addressed both during and after the pandemic:

  • Financial Assistance for Training: Qualifying small businesses and minority owned businesses may apply for financial assistance in the form of grants to cover training and advising for employees on risks of and mitigation of cybersecurity threats in remote customer service or telework practices. The economic landscape following the COVID-19 pandemic will highlight businesses’ increased reliance upon technology, and the nascent need for increased attention to data security education. The financial assistance available to small and minority-owned businesses provides a great opportunity for companies to get ahead of the curve with respect to myriad information security threats.
  • Credit Reporting: The Fair Credit Reporting Act is revised so that furnishers of consumer and payment information, who make an accommodation with respect to one or more payments on a consumer’s account or credit obligation, must report the account or obligation as “current,” unless it was delinquent prior to the accommodation.
  • Public Health Service Act Amended to Conform with HIPAA: The Public Health Service Act is amended to include breach notification and consent requirements consistent with HIPAA. In addition, within one year after the date of enactment, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall update 45 C.F.R 164.520 so that covered entities and entities creating or maintaining records relating to substance abuse education, training, treatment, and research shall provide easily understandable notices of privacy practices. As a result, some entities not currently regulated by HIPAA will need to adapt to some of the HIPAA requirements related to breach notification and notice of privacy practices.
  • Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency: $9 million is allocated for supply chain and information analysis, as well as impacted critical infrastructure coordination.
  • Funding for Public Health Surveillance: $500 million is allocated for public health data surveillance and analytics infrastructure modernization.


Continue Reading COVID-19 Bulletin: CARES Act Provides Attention to Privacy & Data Security Precautions

While the bulk of current conversation and headlines revolve around an ever growing pandemic, California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, provided us a much needed distraction. A little over a month since the Attorney General released the first set of modifications (the “First Modifications”) to the California Consumer Privacy Act’s (the “CCPA”) initial regulations, he has now released the second set of modifications (the “Second Modifications”) based on written comments received over the 15-day comment period that ended on Feb. 25, 2020. While the Second Modifications are not as voluminous as the First Modifications, there are still some significant changes and clarifications that may affect businesses or service providers and changes that nullify a few of the First Modifications, including some of our discussion points from our discussion of the First Modifications.

Continue Reading How am I supposed to do this? Part Trois: California Attorney General issues CCPA modifications

In the past week, businesses in every industry faced the growing concerns that the coronavirus pandemic has brought to our communities. As the situation around the globe continues to develop and multi-faceted issues arise, companies should be considering their employees’ and customers’ privacy and be prepared to adequately and appropriately respond to privacy concerns, requests for information, and understand the basic expectations of how and when personal information can be used without consent.

While the current environment demands flexibility and responsiveness, and not all-personal information or your industry may be subject to such regulations, the following information provides some guidelines on how the law expects businesses to balance privacy and public health concerns. We conclude with some best practices that apply to the use of personal information in all conditions.


Continue Reading COVID-19 Bulletin: Balancing Privacy and Public Health Needs

As many employers are considering sending employees home to protect them and other employees from the threat of the COVID-19 virus, it is extremely important to not increase your data security risk while you attempt to reduce the risk to employee and customer health. The following are some best practices for any employees working remotely, whether temporarily or permanently from locations outside your office and (hopefully secure) network.

  • Establish clear guidance and expectations to your employees.
    • All remote computer and


Continue Reading COVID-19 Bulletin: Sending Employees Home? Don’t compromise information security in the process.

As we have often said here in the US, “so goes California, so goes the country” when it comes to laws of all kinds, not just those addressing privacy. Well, globally, the same can be said of the impact of the European Union’s GDPR. Originally scheduled to go into effect this month (it was later amended to be enforced in August 2020), Brazil will be regulating privacy and security more extensively with the Brazilian General Data Protection Law (aka, the Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados and often referred to as the “LGPD” in the Portuguese acronym) (Law 13.709/2018). Here is a quick summary of the LGPD’s requirements.

Continue Reading So goes the EU, so goes the world….Brazil’s new privacy law is on the horizon.

Last year we wrote about the California attorney general’s initial guidance on implementation and enforcement requirements for the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”). Now, over a month since the CCPA went into effect, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra proposed modifications (the “Modifications”) to the initial proposed regulations (the “Initial Regulations”) that were published in early October 2019. The Modifications are the Attorney General’s response to public comments of the Initial Regulations that were submitted during the written comment period. While these changes are not final, they shed light on how the AG’s office expects businesses to plan, operate, and respond to consumer requests.

Continue Reading How am I supposed to do this? Part Deux: California Attorney General issues CCPA modifications