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 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 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

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

The Background of the Law

Of late, the U.S. private sector has been abuzz with the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulations and the implementation of the same. However, savvy companies cannot forget that state legislatures have been for some time enacting statutes aimed at protecting its residents in how businesses use and disseminate their personal information. In 2008, Illinois became one of the first states to be mindful of the uniqueness of biometrics with the passage of the Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), 740 ILCS 14/5, et seq. BIPA provides standards of conduct for private entities in connection with the collection, use, retention, and destruction of “biometric identifiers” and “biometric information.” A “biometric identifier” is defined as a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of a person’s hand or face geometry while “biometric information” is defined as “any information … based on an individual’s biometric identifier used to identify an individual,” 740 ILCS 14/10. Under BIPA, a private entity in possession of such identifiers and information must establish written policies regarding their retention and destruction and cannot obtain such data unless it: (1) informs the subject of the collection; (2) informs the subject of the specific purpose for the collection and how long the data would be stored; and (3) receives written consent from the subject. 740 ILCS 10/15(b). Importantly, BIPA also provides a private cause of action for “[a]ny person aggrieved by a violation” of the statute and the greater of $1,000 in liquidated damages or actual damages for negligent violations and the greater of $5,000 in liquidated damages or actual damages for intentional or reckless violations. 740 ILCS 14/20(1) and (2). The statute also provides for reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. 740 ILCS 14/20(3).

While initially dormant, BIPA became the focal point for a flurry of class action lawsuits starting in 2015 against social media websites that used facial recognition for photo tagging purposes. More recently, it has been used increasingly against employers who had timekeeping systems that required fingerprinting scans. At that time, many companies were unaware that BIPA even existed or that it could apply to the technology they were using.


Continue Reading The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act: Aggrieved or Not Aggrieved – That is the Question

Rebekah Mackey, Taft summer associate, contributed to this article.

Just months after the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or “GDPR” changed the landscape of data privacy around the globe, California reaffirmed its position as the United States pioneer of consumer-friendly data privacy protections with the state legislature’s passage of Assembly Bill No. 375.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (“Act”) was originally a ballot initiative to be voted on by California residents in November, but the fate of the policy changed course rapidly when AB 375 passed within one week of being introduced in the state’s legislature. Here are some of the key provisions of which businesses and consumers should be aware when the law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.


Continue Reading So Goes California, So Goes the Country?: The Golden State Again Breaks New Privacy Law Ground

As we assist clients with preparing for GDPR compliance before and after this Friday’s effective date, I thought to share some quick thoughts on the law and what we are seeing here at Taft.

  1. “GDPR Compliant.” Be wary of companies making such claims and don’t make such claims, yourselves.  As with HIPAA, there is no such thing as a stamp of “compliance” approval.  And, like bragging about your information security, warranting that you are “compliant” is just asking for that


Continue Reading GDPR Quick Hits: Some Last Minute Thoughts as May 25th draws nigh

U.S. privacy law is based on the principles of notice and consent – for instance, under FTC and state consumer protection laws, consumers given fair notice and the opportunity to consent generally cannot complain about the use of their data.

But as we have noted in prior posts, the E.U.’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which will become effective May 25 of this year, is more comprehensive than any U.S. privacy law in most respects. It treats personal data (defined broadly) as belonging to the person identified by the data, or “data subject.” The company collecting the data has a limited license to use that data in legitimate ways – as described in one article, a company can only use the data in ways that “wouldn’t surprise them or make them uncomfortable.”

It is unsurprising, then, that under the GDPR, the specific concepts of fair notice and consent are also more robust than in the U.S. This post will give an overview of the notice requirements under the GDPR, and a future post will explore the consent requirements.


Continue Reading What’s in a notice? Privacy notices under the GDPR

As you put together your resolutions and plans for the new business year, it is important to remember that the European Union’s (“E.U.”) General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) will go into effect on May 25, 2018. The impact that it could have on U.S. companies will depend on whether a company processes the personal data of E.U. citizens (note: the definition of “personal data” under the GDPR is quite broad). If you think this doesn’t apply to your company, think again – even without a physical presence in the E.U., the internet makes it easier than ever to collect personal data from E.U. residents while operating solely in the U.S. So, whether it’s the information of your customers, the customers of your clients, or even the personal data of your own employees, it is important to be aware of your obligations under GDPR and the ways by which you can comply.

As we introduced last year, underpinning the GDPR is the view that privacy is a fundamental human right. Accordingly, the GDPR takes a comprehensive approach to privacy law – much more so than the sectoral approach used here in the U.S. In the U.S., privacy tends to be regulated based on the category of information collected (e.g., protected health information under HIPAA). Under the GDPR, as well as its predecessor, the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC, the focus is on personal data in all sectors of industry. And we should take a moment to remind everyone that stringent regulations on transferring personal data from the E.U. to the U.S. are not something new. U.S. companies should have been complying with the Data Protection Directive since 1995. Indeed, many companies are just now starting to do what they should have been doing for a long while. In truth, in some part, this lack of compliance or sufficient protection of personal data is why the GDPR has come to be.


Continue Reading Happy New Year! Tick. Tock. Let the countdown to GDPR begin!

This is part two of a multi-part look into the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and why U.S. companies need to be aware of the law and how it may impact their business.  We will conclude the series with a webinar in 2018 that will review the series and provide further insights and comments on any updates that may have occurred since the beginning of the series. In this second part of our series, we think it is
Continue Reading GDPR: How is it Different from U.S. Law & Why this Matters?