Posts from June 2010.
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The Australian government recently released an exposure draft of legislation that would fundamentally reform the Australian Privacy Act and would unify public and private sector privacy principles.  The exposure draft includes thirteen principles intended to protect individuals from the risks associated with the sharing of personal information.

Of particular interest to the international business community, Principle 8 addresses the cross-border disclosure of personal information.  The principle states that an entity must take reasonable steps to ensure that an overseas recipient does not breach the Australian Privacy Principles with respect to personal information being disclosed, but provides an exception if the entity reasonably believes that (i) the recipient of the information is subject to a law or binding scheme that provides protection that is substantially similar to protections provided by the Australian Privacy Principles, and (ii) there are mechanisms available for affected individuals to enforce such protection.

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On June 24, 2010, the Article 29 Working Party adopted Opinion 2/2010 (the “Opinion”) providing further clarification on online behavioral advertising.  The Working Party also issued a press release on this topic.  Although the scope of the Opinion is limited to online profiling, its interpretation of Article 5(3) of the amended e-Privacy Directive provides some useful clarifications regarding the legal framework applicable to online behavioral advertising and the use of cookies.  We provide a short analysis of the Opinion below.

Opt-in?  Browser setting as opt-in?  Opt-out?  The Opinion clarifies the Working Party’s interpretation of the new Article 5(3) and Recital 66 of the e-Privacy Directive.  According to the Working Party, Article 5(3) and Recital 66, along with the General Data Protection Directive (“Directive 95/46/EC”), require prior opt-in consent since “prior opt-in consent mechanisms are better suited to deliver informed consent.”

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On June 17, 2010, the French data protection authority (the “CNIL”) reported that it had conducted an on-site investigation at Google on May 19 to examine activities by Google’s Street View cars.  This investigation followed Google’s May 14 announcement that it had inadvertently captured Wi-Fi signals emitted in locations where its vehicles were taking photos.

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Twitter has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers and put their privacy at risk by failing to safeguard their personal information.  The charges stem from alleged lapses in the company’s data security that permitted hackers to access tweets that users had designated as private and to issue phony tweets from the accounts of some users, including then-President-elect Barack Obama.  According to the FTC’s complaint (main document, exhibits), these attacks on Twitter’s system were possible due to a failure to implement reasonable ...

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On June 18, 2010, the data protection authority of the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein published a press release and a comprehensive legal opinion on cloud computing.  The opinion provides an overview of cloud computing and discusses various practical and legal matters, including:

  • Applicable law issues
  • The legal basis for cloud computing and related processor and controller issues
  • Problems associated with the possibility of third-party access
  • The minimum requirements for data processor relationships and service provider contracts under the new German data protection law
  • Technical and organizational security measures
  • The legal landscape for clouds located outside the European Union
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Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal recently announced that his office will lead a multistate investigation into the “deeply disturbing” unauthorized collection of personal data from wireless computer networks by Google’s Street View cars.  Attorney General Blumenthal noted that Google “must provide a complete and comprehensive explanation of how this unauthorized data collection happened, why the information was kept if collection was inadvertent and what action will prevent a recurrence.”  A significant number of states are expected to ...
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On June 17, 2010, the French data protection authority (the “CNIL”) published its Annual Activity Report for 2009 (the “Report”) in which it outlines some of its priorities for the upcoming year.

In February 2009, the CNIL published a report on online targeted advertising. Among other things, the CNIL voiced its concern regarding online behavioral and advertising activities and analyzed the risks of increasing user profiling.  In 2010, the CNIL is expected to issue a joint opinion with the Article 29 Working Party on targeted advertising and behavioral analysis.  The CNIL also will open a dialogue with several stakeholders from the marketing sector to work on adopting a code of best practices.

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Reporting from Israel, legal consultant Dr. Omer Tene writes:

The Israeli Law, Information and Technology Authority (“ILITA”), Israel’s privacy regulator, continues to up the ante for data controllers in Israel.  This week ILITA imposed a $70,000 (NIS 258,000) fine against a company illicitly trading personal data.

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As reported in BNA’s Privacy Law Watch, the Federal Trade Commission intends to agree to temporarily exempt health care providers from the FTC’s Identity Theft Red Flags Rule.  The Red Flags Rule implements Sections 114 and 315 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.  In relevant part, the Rule requires creditors and financial institutions that offer or maintain certain accounts to implement an identity theft prevention program.  The FTC previously has stated that health care providers could be deemed “creditors” under the Rule.  The agreement will grant relief to ...

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Breaking -- The Supreme Court has issued its decision in City of Ontario, California v. Quon, ruling unanimously that the police department did not violate an officer's Fourth Amendment rights when supervisors reviewed text messages transmitted using a work-issued pager.  In reaching this decision, the Court did not resolve whether the officer had a reasonable expectation of privacy, rather the Court based its decision on a determination that the search itself was reasonable.

Read our previous coverage of this case.

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The Centre for Information Policy Leadership at Hunton & Williams LLP made ten recommendations in response to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s notice of inquiry, “Information Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy.”  The Centre’s recommendations strongly suggest that organizational accountability is the key to providing the flexibility needed to use information robustly while protecting the interest of individuals in maintaining private space in a digital age:

“The flexibility to be innovative must be conditioned on the organization’s accountability for the manner in which it uses, manage, and protects data.  … To strike the appropriate balance between the value created by data use and the risk that use poses to privacy, organizations must implement privacy processes that are as dynamic as their business processes.” 

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On May 26, 2010, the court in Crispin v. Christian Audigier, Inc. quashed portions of subpoenas seeking the disclosure of private messages sent through Facebook and MySpace.  The court left open the question of whether Crispin’s wall postings and comments should be disclosed pending a more thorough review of his online privacy settings.

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On May 25, 2010, two privacy-related bills were introduced in the Parliament of Canada: the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act (“FISA” or Bill C-28) and the Safeguarding Canadians’ Personal Information Act (Bill C-29) amending the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”).

Bill C-29 is the long-awaited government response to the five-year mandatory review of PIPEDA.  The centerpiece of the bill is a new disclosure provision for security breaches related to personal information.  Key elements in the security breach notification proposal include:

  • Any “material breach of security safeguards involving personal information” would have to be reported to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
  • A determination of whether the breach is “material” would be made by the entity, based on the sensitivity of the information, the number of individuals affected and whether there is a systemic problem.
  • Notification would have to be made “as soon as feasible” individuals affected by the breach “if it is reasonable in the circumstances to believe that the breach creates a real risk of significant harm to the individual.”
  • A determination of whether there is a “real risk” would be made by the entity, based on the sensitivity of the information and the probability that the personal information has been, is being or will be misused.
Time 2 Minute Read

On May 28, 2010, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office issued a press release stating that it has been notified of more than 1,000 data security breaches since it began keeping records in late 2007.  There is no mandatory reporting requirement in the UK, so the actual number of breaches is likely to be significantly higher.  The ICO’s press release notes that the majority of breaches occur as a result of human or technical errors, such as employees improperly disclosing data to third parties or automated machines sending out letters to the wrong addresses.

Time 2 Minute Read

On April 29, 2010, German data protection authorities issued a resolution regarding the obligations of German data exporters with respect to U.S. data importers that have self-certified under the Safe Harbor program.  By requiring additional diligence when transferring data to Safe Harbor-certified entities, the resolution may appear to raise questions with respect to the European Commission’s decision that Safe Harbor certification is sufficient to demonstrate an adequate level of privacy protection.

Time 2 Minute Read

In a letter to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission dated May 26, 2010, the Article 29 Working Party expressed concerns regarding the retention and anonymization policies of Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft.  Specifically, the Working Party requested that the FTC examine the compatibility of the three search engine providers’ actions with provisions of Section 5 of the FTC Act which prohibits unfair or deceptive trade practices.


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