Posts from October 2010.
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On October 27, 2010, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) issued two notices of proposed rulemaking (“NPRMs”), citing Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”) privacy rules, and marketing and data disposal rules of the Fair Credit Report Act (“FCRA”).

The proposed rules come in the wake of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which places two new categories of covered entities (i.e., “swap dealers” and “major swap participants”) under the CFTC’s jurisdiction.  Under the proposals, those entities would be subject to certain GLBA privacy rules that regulate the treatment of consumers’ nonpublic personal information, and sections of the FCRA that address affiliate marketing and data disposal.

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The international group of data protection commissioners today admitted the U.S. Federal Trade Commission into membership.

Meeting at the 32nd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Jerusalem, the commissioners determined that the FTC had the requisite authority and independence to qualify for membership.

The decision has been a long time coming.  The U.S. has long sought to be recognized as a member of the data protection group.  Last year, the U.S. application was rejected at the international conference in Madrid.

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The International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners is convening in Jerusalem.  Appropriately, given the ancient history of the host city, the conference theme is “Privacy: Generations.”  The debate on Day One has drawn on the founding principles of data protection, but also has heavily focused on the future challenges in safeguarding the fundamental rights of privacy and data protection in a world of ubiquitous computing and social networking.

The tone was set in the opening plenary when Dr. Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli Minister of Finance, reminded us of the key tensions in privacy policy.  While privacy may be a fundamental tenet of every democracy, individual cultures must make choices between the competing values of privacy and security, and privacy and transparency.  The balance between these values, and the priority given to one over the other, will shift over time and from one culture to another.  The conference provides a timely opportunity to reassess where that balance currently lies, and what balance may be appropriate in the near future.

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David Vladeck, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission, today provided a high-level outline of the Commission’s forthcoming report on the future of privacy.

Speaking at the 32nd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Jerusalem, Vladeck said the report reflected two broad conclusions.  First, current privacy law places too much burden on consumers to read and understand privacy notices and make privacy choices.  The second conclusion is that there is a pressing need to reexamine the conception of “harm” in U.S. law to move beyond only economic and physical harms.

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On October 26, 2010, the Centre for Information Policy Leadership (the “Centre”) released its long-awaited paper, “Demonstrating and Measuring Accountability, Accountability Phase II – The Paris Project” at the 32nd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Jerusalem, Israel.  This document is the result of the deliberations of an international working group that includes 60 representatives of business, civil society, government, data protection and privacy enforcement agencies, and the European Data Protection Supervisor.  ...

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This year, the 32nd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners takes place in Jerusalem.  In addition, the Israeli Law, Information and Technology Authority (“ILITA”) is hosting a week of privacy activities to mark the 30th anniversary of the OECD Privacy Guidelines.

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On October 11, 2010, the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) released guidance (the “Guidance”) on data protection issues related to the outsourcing of data processing activities to non-EU countries (Les questions posées pour la protection des données personnelles par l’externalisation hors de l’Union européenne des traitements informatiques).

The Guidance was prepared following interviews held in 2009 by the CNIL’s international affairs department with consultancy groups, law firms advising on outsourcing deals, and companies actively engaged in offshore activities.  The interviews were conducted to provide the CNIL with insight regarding the impact of data protection requirements on outsourcing activities.  The Guidance is part of a broader analysis of the concepts of data controller and data processor carried out by the Article 29 Working Party (see the Working Party’s Opinion on the concepts of controller and processor).

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As reported in Hunton & Williams' Employment & Labor Perspectives blog:

A recent New York state trial court decision, Romano v. Steelcase Inc., et al., is representative of a recent trend of parties seeking, and courts permitting, discovery of information on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.  Rejecting the plaintiff’s privacy concerns, the Romano court held that such information is discoverable because the plaintiff’s damages are at issue.  The court ordered the release of the plaintiff’s postings, pictures and other information on the social networking sites.

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On October 19, 2010, Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill indicated that the FTC’s forthcoming behavioral advertising report will recommend a self-regulatory framework, as opposed to new legislation, to help protect consumers’ privacy. reported that Ms. Brill offered suggestions on improving privacy practices with respect to Internet advertising, such as by providing “consistent and simplified notice about online tracking and ad-serving,” and that such notice should focus more on the unexpected or non-obvious uses of data (such as an e-commerce company’s transfer of consumers’ addresses to shipping companies).

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In November 2009, the French Secretary of State in charge of the digital economy, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, launched a wide-ranging campaign designed to secure the “right to be forgotten” on the Internet (“droit à l’oubli”).  The main objectives of the initiative were to: (1) educate Internet users about their exposure to privacy risks on the Internet; (2) encourage professionals to adopt codes of good practice and to develop privacy-enhancing tools; and (3) foster data protection and the right to be forgotten at both the national and EU level.

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On September 20, 2010, the German government under the leadership of the Federal Minister of the Interior held a summit on “Digitization of Cities and States - Opportunities and Limits of Private and Public Geo Data Services.”  Approximately 50 experts attended, including the Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, the Federal Minister of Justice and representatives from various companies, such as Deutsche Telekom, Google, Microsoft, Apple Inc., OpenStreetMap and panogate.  Numerous data protection authorities attended as well, including the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, the Chair of the Düsseldorfer Kreis and the DPA of Hamburg.  The discussions at the summit were based on a discussion paper issued by the Federal Minister of the Interior.

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On October 15, 2010, the Article 29 Working Party published an Opinion finding that Uruguay ensures an adequate level of protection within the meaning of the European Data Protection Directive (Article 25(6) of Directive 95/46/EC).

This Opinion was issued pursuant to an official request Uruguay filed with the European Commission in October 2008.  While the Article 29 Working Party’s Opinion is an important step toward adequacy, the European Commission must now make a formal decision that the Uruguayan legal framework provides an adequate level of data protection under EU data protection law.  The European Commission will take the Article 29 Working Party’s Opinion into account when determining whether to issue an “adequacy decision” in the coming months.  As recently illustrated by the adequacy procedure for Israel, this process may prove to be difficult.

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Following its recent enactment of an omnibus data protection law, Mexico has been unanimously elected to lead the Ibero-American Data Protection Network, a consortium of the governments of Spain, Portugal, Andorra and 19 Latin American countries.  The group’s mission is to foster, maintain and strengthen an exchange of information, experience and knowledge among Ibero-American countries through dialogue and collaboration on issues related to personal data protection.  The IFAI announced on September 29, 2010, that Jacqueline Peschard, head of Mexico’s Federal ...

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On October 5, 2010, the Commission for Economic Affairs of the French National Assembly introduced a Resolution (the “Resolution”) to support the International Standards on the Protection of Personal Data and Privacy adopted in Madrid on November 5, 2009, at the 31st International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (also known as the “Madrid Resolution”).

The Resolution states: “the right to privacy is a fundamental value in our society; the development of information and communication systems must be contained in order to prevent uses of personal data which threaten this right.

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On behalf of a group of interested parties (the “Group”), Hunton & Williams and Acxiom submitted a response to the UK Ministry of Justice’s (“MoJ”) recent Call for Evidence on the effectiveness of current data protection legislation in the UK.  The Group is comprised of representatives from more than 40 organizations, including Barclays Bank, Dell, Fujitsu and GE Capital, all of which are committed to using personal data responsibly.  Hunton & Williams and Acxiom, a global leader in interactive marketing services, with the attendance of the Group, worked together over the last two months to host two discussion meetings, and produced a submission summarizing the Group’s views.

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On October 5, 2010, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) released a report entitled “Data Access and Privacy Issues Related to Smart Grid Technologies.”  The idea behind the Smart Grid is that electricity can be delivered more efficiently using data collected through monitoring consumers’ energy use.  In connection with the preparation of its report, the DOE surveyed industry, state and federal practices with respect to Smart Grid technologies, focusing on the issue of residential consumer data security and privacy.  The DOE noted that advanced meters or “smart meters” were a focal point of the report due to their “ability to measure, record and transmit granular individual consumption.”  That said, a Smart Grid consists of “hundreds of technologies and thousands of components, most of which do not generate data relevant to consumer privacy.”

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On October 7, 2010, the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) released its first comprehensive handbook on the security of personal data (the “Guidance”).  The Guidance follows the CNIL’s “10 tips for the security of your information system” issued on October 12, 2009, which were based on the CNIL’s July 21, 1981 recommendations regarding security measures applicable to information systems.

The Guidance reiterates that data controllers have an obligation under French law to take “useful precautions” given the nature of the data and the risks associated with processing the data, to ensure data security and, in particular, prevent any alteration or damage, or access by non-authorized third parties (Article 34 of the French Data Protection Act).  Failure to comply with this requirement is punishable by up to five years imprisonment or a fine of €300,000.

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On September 28, 2010, the German Federal Office for Information Security, (the Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik or “BSI”) released a draft framework paper on information security issues related to cloud computing.  The draft paper defines minimum security requirements for cloud solution service providers, and provides a basis for discussions between service providers and users.  The paper addresses the following issues:

  • The definition of cloud computing
  • Service provider security management requirements
  • ID and rights management
  • Monitoring and security incident response
  • Emergency management
  • Security checks and verification
  • Requirements for personnel
  • Transparency
  • Organizational requirements
  • User control
  • Portability of data and applications
  • Interoperability
  • Data protection and compliance
  • Cloud certification
  • Additional requirements for public cloud service providers that support cloud solutions for the Federal Administration
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On October 4, 2010, the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) stated in a press release that a recently enacted environmental law (Act No. 2010-788 of July 12, 2010, known as “Grenelle II”) expands the CNIL’s authority to regulate devices used to measure the viewership of advertisements in public places like shopping malls, train stations and airports.  Grenelle II introduces a new provision under Article L. 581-9 of the French Environmental Code, which states: “Any system that automatically measures the audience of an advertising device or which analyzes the typology or behavior of individuals passing within the vicinity of such advertising device requires prior approval of the CNIL.”

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On October 8, 2010, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office launched a consultation on a new statutory code of practice on the sharing of personal data.

As stated in the ICO’s press release, the draft code sets out a model of good practice, covering routine and one-off arrangements for sharing data with third parties.  The code offers guidance on issues such as:

  • The factors that an organization must take into account when deciding whether or not to share personal data
  • The point at which individuals should be told that their data will be shared
  • The security and staff training measures that must be implemented
  • The rights of individuals to access their personal data
  • Circumstances in which it is not acceptable to share personal data
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On September 14, 2010, a French Appeals Court in Dijon (the “Court”) upheld a decision against an employer that had terminated an employee who not only used a company car for personal reasons, but also committed serious traffic violations while using the vehicle.  The Court rejected evidence collected using a Global Positioning System (“GPS”) device embedded in the company’s vehicle on the grounds that the employer (1) had failed to register this data processing activity with the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) and (2) had not given proper notice to employees regarding the use of GPS devices in company cars.  Nevertheless, the Court ruled that the use of a geolocation device in the employment context does not necessarily constitute an invasion of an employee’s right to privacy, provided the employer complies with applicable laws.

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On September 29, 2010, the Centre for Information Policy Leadership (the “Centre”) hosted a pre-conference workshop at the International Association of Privacy Professionals (”IAPP”) Privacy Academy in Baltimore, Maryland.  The tutorial “Accountability on the Ground,” led by Centre Executive Director Marty Abrams, offered practical guidance on the subject of accountability.  The workshop, which featured presentations by Centre member companies, discussed in-depth examples of how organizations can implement an accountability program.

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According to a press report dated October 2, 2010, the German state data protection authorities responsible for the private sector (also known as the “Düsseldorfer Kreis”) continue to consider the use of Google Analytics on company websites to be illegal.  The Düsseldorfer Kreis reached this decision at a recent meeting of its Telemedia working group.  The group has indicated that it hopes to continue negotiations with Google.  Dr. Alexander Dix, the Berlin Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information who was interviewed on this issue, stated that although ...

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On August 25, 2010, the German government approved a draft law concerning special rules for employee data protection, originally proposed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior.  A background paper on the draft law was published on August 25, 2010.  The draft law would amend the German Federal Data Protection Act (the Bundesdatenschutzgesetz or “BDSG”) by adding provisions that specifically address data protection in the employment context.  Currently, employee data protection is regulated by (1) general provisions in the BDSG, (2) the new Section 32 of the BDSG introduced by the most recent reform in September 2009, (3) the Works Constitution Act, (4) guidance from state data protection authorities, and (5) comprehensive case law from federal and local labor courts.

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The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) received numerous comments on its proposed modifications to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy, Security and Enforcement Rules, which were issued on July 8, 2010.  Some highlights from the comments are outlined below.

Enforcement Rule

The American Hospital Association (“AHA”) suggested that HHS should continue to require the Secretary of HHS to attempt to resolve a complaint or compliance review through informal means, instead of making the informal resolution process optional.  According to the AHA, making “resolution via informal means optional, regardless of the perceived level of culpability of a particular entity” would not be appropriate or effective.  The Coalition for Patient Privacy, on the other hand, recommended stricter enforcement so that “the only category of violators that should not be penalized with fines are those who despite due diligence could not discover the violation, who reported the violation immediately when discovered, and fully corrected the problems within 30 days of discovery.”


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