On February 3, 2021, the Virginia Senate passed the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (“VCDPA” or the “Act”). Upon approval from Governor Ralph Northam, Virginia will be the second state in the nation to adopt a comprehensive data privacy law. This proposed legislation places Virginia alongside California at the forefront of domestic data privacy regulations.

In 2020, California changed the landscape of data privacy laws in the United States with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA, a result of a ballot initiative by California, introduced the idea of widespread data subject rights for American consumers. Nearly three years later, Virginia is securing the second place spot with its enactment of the VCDPA. The Act mirrors the CCPA and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in many ways. For instance, the Act contains a broad definition of “personal data.” It imposes certain fundamental processing principles, such as purpose limitation and data minimization rules, on businesses that process personal data. It also provides Virginia consumers with new rights to access, correct, delete, and request processing modifications with respect to their personal data.

Once signed into law, the VCDPA will be effective January 1, 2023. In the meantime, companies doing business in Virginia should start actively thinking of ways to incorporate VCDPA requirements into their existing privacy policies and procedures. The key features of the VCDPA are summarized below.
Continue Reading And Then There Were Two: The Commonwealth of Virginia Joins California in Enacting Comprehensive Privacy Rights Law

The number of internet users in China has rapidly increased to over 900 million individuals as of March 2020.  As internet availability continues to rise in China and the country’s digital community grows in virtually all industries and populations, the People’s Republic of China is keying into the fact that foreign and domestic businesses seeking to capitalize on China’s market must adhere to rules regarding processing and transferring personal information across China’s borders.

On October 21, 2020, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee unveiled its draft Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) to the public for view and comment.  If enacted, PIPL will be China’s comprehensive law on the protection of personal data.  The necessity of PIPL was cited in part by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee due to China’s explosive growth of information integration and the amount of personal data collected.  The Committee asserted that protection of its citizen’s personal information was of utmost importance for economic development and that there needed to be clear requirements in order to strengthen personal information protection.  Interestingly, PIPL provides numerous data protection principles similar to those we have seen enacted under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act.  Specifically, the draft PIPL appears to take on general principles of transparency, fairness, limitations of purpose for data processing, retention limitations, and accountability.  Some of the more notable items within the draft PIPL include:
Continue Reading China’s Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) – Data Privacy in the Land of Big Data

Each month, new developments in European privacy law demonstrate both how the times are changing, and how the 2010 Standard Contractual Clauses are increasingly antiquated.  Last month, the Commission of the European Union (the “Commission”) published two preliminary implementing decisions:

(1) a draft new set of standard contractual clauses for transfers of personal data from the EU to third countries (the “Cross-Border SCCs”); and

(2) a draft of new standard contractual clauses for certain clauses in controller-processor data processing agreements (“DPAs”) pursuant to Article 28(7) of the General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”).

Both drafts, available here, were widely anticipated following the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) Schrems II decision, which invalidated the EU-US Privacy Shield framework for cross-border data transfer. Once approved, these new clauses will replace the previous standard contractual clauses used by organizations as an appropriate safeguard for making international transfers of personal data under GDPR.


Continue Reading Oh the Times (and the Clauses), They are a-Changing’

What is Privacy Shield?  Since 2016, U.S. companies and organizations receiving personal data relating to individuals in the European Union have relied upon a self-certification program known as Privacy Shield. Rather than enter into numerous agreements and meet other requirements to process the personal data of individuals in the EU, U.S. companies have been able to self-certify to a level of compliance to meet EU law. Privacy Shield serves to address the General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR) requirement that adequate safeguards be in place for the protection of transatlantic transfers of personal data and the receiving entity’s handling of that data. Under Privacy Shield, self-certified companies that comply with the agreement’s requirements are considered to have met the EU’s higher standard for data privacy and obtained some level of “adequacy.” Since its implementation, more than 5,300 companies have operated under its terms. The future of Privacy Shield, however, is now in jeopardy.

EU Court holds Privacy Shield to be Inadequate.  On July 16, 2020, Europe’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) held that United States law is inadequate to protect EU citizens’ personal data to the extent that EU law requires. Specifically, the CJEU held that the “limitations on the protection of personal data arising from the domestic law of the United States, on the access and use by U.S. public authorities of such data transferred from the European Union… are not circumscribed in a way that satisfies requirements that are essentially equivalent to those required under EU law.” To put it another way, Privacy Shield’s fundamental flaw, according to the court, is not so much that member companies’ practices are inadequate, but rather that the U.S. government cannot be trusted to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of personal data.  Specifically, the justices found that federal laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act “cannot be regarded as limited to what is strictly necessary” and fails to meet “minimum safeguards” guaranteed by the EU.
Continue Reading Warning! Shields are Down: Top EU Court Invalidates EU-US Privacy Shield Protections