Posts in Online Privacy.
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On May 1, 2024, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) and the UK regulator for communications and online safety, Ofcom, issued a joint statement regarding their collaboration on the regulation of online services where online safety and data protection intersect. This statement builds on the joint statement published in 2022. The latest statement outlines several areas of collaboration between the ICO and Ofcom.

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On April 7, 2024, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released a discussion draft of the latest federal privacy proposal, known as American Privacy Rights Act (“APRA” or the “Act”). The APRA builds upon the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (“ADPPA”), which was introduced as H.R. 8152 in the 117th Congress and advanced out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee but did not become law. As the latest iteration of a federal privacy proposal, the APRA signals that some members of Congress continue to seek to create a federal standard in the wake of—and in spite of—the ever-growing patchwork of state privacy laws.

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On April 9, 2024, Representatives Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA 2.0.”) The bill serves as a companion to the Senate bill by the same name.

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On March 1, 2024, the Virginia legislature passed S.B. 361 (the “Bill”), which amends the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act to introduce new protections for children’s privacy. If signed by the Virginia Governor, the new children’s privacy protections will go into effect on January 1, 2025.

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Last week, Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox signed three privacy-related bills into law. The bills are focused on, respectively, protection of motor vehicle consumer data, regulations on social media companies with respect to minors, and access to protected health information by third parties. The Utah legislature appears to be focused on data-related legislation this session, as Governor Cox signed two other bills related to AI into law last week as well.

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On March 7, 2024, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) issued its judgment in the case of IAB Europe (Case C‑604/22). In this judgment, the CJEU assessed the role of the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe (“IAB Europe”) in the processing operations associated with its Transparency and Consent Framework (“TCF”) and further developed CJEU case law on the concept of personal data under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).

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On February 26, 2024, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) announced the release of Version 2.0 of its voluntary Cybersecurity Framework (“CSF”).

The first iteration of the CSF was released in 2014 as a result of an Executive Order, to help organizations understand, manage, and reduce their cybersecurity risks. The original CSF was developed for organizations in the critical infrastructure sector, such as hospitals and power plants, but has since been voluntarily implemented across various sectors and industries, including throughout schools and local governments.

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On February 22, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement order against Avast Limited (“Avast”) requiring Avast to pay $16.5 million and prohibiting Avast from selling or licensing any web browsing data for advertising purposes. This ban is to settle charges that the company and its subsidiaries sold such information to third parties after promising that its products would protect consumers from online tracking.

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On February 12, 2024, California bill AB-1949 was referred to the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection. The bill would amend the California Consumer Privacy Act (as amended by the California Privacy Rights Act) (the “CCPA”) to significantly expand businesses’ obligations with respect to the personal information of consumers under the age of 18.

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On February 21, 2024, the California Attorney General announced that it had reached a settlement resolving an enforcement action under the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) and the California Online Privacy Protection Act (“CalOPPA”) brought against online food delivery company  DoorDash, Inc. (the “Company”). This is the AG’s second CCPA enforcement settlement, following the agency’s settlement with Sephora.

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On February 16, 2024, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (the “ICO”) published its first piece of guidance on content moderation. The ICO defines content moderation in the guidance as the analysis of user-generated content to assess whether it meets certain standards, and any action a service takes as a result of this analysis. This process includes the processing of personal data and,  according to the ICO in its statement, “can cause harm if incorrect decisions are made,” for example content being incorrectly defined as illegal.

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On February 12, 2024, a federal court in the Southern District of Ohio issued an order granting a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, prohibiting the Ohio Attorney General from implementing and enforcing the Parental Notification by Social Media Operators Act, Ohio Rev. Code § 1349.09(B)(1) (the “Act”).

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On February 9, 2024, a California state court of appeal ruled in favor of the California Privacy Protection Agency (“CPPA”) and vacated the lower court order postponing enforcement of the CPPA’s final regulations under the California Consumer Privacy Act.

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In the latest evolution of lawsuits challenging technologies that track website users, California class action plaintiffs have begun to file under a new theory—the pen register and trap and trace device theory under Section 638.51 of the California Invasion of Privacy Act (“CIPA”).

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In November 2023, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) wrote to organizations operating 53 of the UK’s biggest websites regarding their compliance with data protection laws when using cookies.  On January 31, 2024, the ICO released a statement on such action noting that it received “an overwhelmingly positive response” with 38 of those organizations having changed their cookie banners in order to come into compliance. Others have either committed to ensuring compliance within a month, or are exploring other solutions such as contextual advertising.

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On January 18, 2024, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published an updated Opinion on age assurance for the Children’s Code (the “Opinion”). The Children’s Code is a statutory code of practice setting out how information society services likely to be accessed by children should protect children’s information rights online.

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On January 9, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission published a blog post reminding artificial intelligence (“AI”) “model-as-a-service” companies to uphold the privacy commitments they make to customers, including promises made in Terms of Service agreements, promotional materials and online marketplaces.  

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On December 18, 2023, the updated response from UK Information Commissioner John Edwards to the Data Protection and Digital Information (No 2) Bill (the “Bill”) was published on the website of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The Commissioner’s original response was published in March 2023. In the latest response, the Commissioner states that he is “pleased to note that government made some changes…in response to my comments,” specifically with regards the definition of “vexatious requests” in respect of requests made to the Information Commissioner’s Office, and the drafting of the changes to the safeguards for processing for research purposes. However, the Commissioner goes on to state that the majority of his comments currently remain unaddressed, including with regards the definition of high risk processing. 

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On December 12, 2023, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) announced that it is producing an online resource relating to employment practices and data protection. The ICO also announced that it would be releasing draft guidance on the different topic areas to be included in the resource in stages, and adding to it over time. The ICO provided draft guidance on “Keeping employment records” and “Recruitment and selection” for consultation. The former draft guidance aims to provide direction on compliance with data protection law when keeping records ...

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On November 27, 2023, the California Privacy Protection Agency (“CPPA”) published its draft regulations on automated decisionmaking technology (“ADMT”). The regulations propose a broad definition for ADMT that includes “any system, software, or process—including one derived from machine-learning, statistics, or other data-processing or artificial intelligence—that processes personal information and uses computation as whole or part of a system to make or execute a decision or facilitate human decisionmaking.” ADMT also would include profiling, which would mean the “automated processing of personal information to evaluate certain personal aspects relating to a natural person and in particular to analyze or predict aspects concerning that natural person’s performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences, interests, reliability, behavior, location, or movements.”

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On November 21, 2023, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) issued a statement explaining that it has recently written to companies operating some of the UK’s most visited websites regarding their compliance with data protection laws when using cookies. The ICO noted that certain websites are not providing users with fair choices as to whether or not they are tracked for personalized marketing purposes, and referred to its guidance on making it simple for users to “Reject All” advertising cookies. 

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On October 30, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it is sending nearly $100 million in refunds to consumers who were harmed as a result of internet phone service provider Vonage’s alleged use of dark patterns and other obstacles that made it difficult for users to cancel their service.

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On October 17, 2023, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (“OPC”) announced the release of two companion documents that provide further guidance on protecting the privacy of young people. This guidance follows the recently adopted resolution on young people’s privacy by federal, provincial, and territorial regulators earlier in the month.

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On October 26, 2023, the UK Online Safety Act (the “Act”) received Royal Assent, making it law in the UK. The Act seeks to protect children from online harm and imposes obligations on relevant organizations, including social media platforms, to prevent and remove illegal and harmful content. In a press release, the UK Government stated that the Act “takes a zero-tolerance approach to protecting children from online harm, while empowering adults with more choices over what they see online.” For example, the Act requires relevant organizations to:

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On October 18, 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed an appeal to overturn a preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last month that prevents the enforcement of the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (“CA AADC”). The appeal was submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and marks an important step in assessing the potential progress of the CA AADC.

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On September 29, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) accepted petitions challenging the constitutionality of social media laws in Florida and Texas. Florida’s law, S.B. 7072, prohibits “a social media platform from willfully deplatforming a [political] candidate.” Texas’s law, H.B. 20, refers to social media platforms as “common carriers” that are “central public forums for public debate,” and requires common carriers to publicly disclose information related to the common carrier’s method of recommending content to users, content moderation efforts, use of algorithms to determine search results, and the common carrier’s ordinary disclosures to its users on user performance data for each of its platforms. Both of these laws were challenged by NetChoice, LLC, a national trade association of large online businesses, who had recent successes in blocking several laws, including the California Age-Appropriate Design Code and a similar social media law in Arkansas.

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On July 5, 2023, Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine, signed into law House Bill 33, which includes the Social Media Parental Notification Act (“Act”).

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On September 14, 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a $93 million settlement with Google, LLC (“Google”) resolving alleged violations of California’s false advertising law and unfair competition law.

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On August 8, 2023, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved 205 CMR 257: Sports Wagering Data Privacy, a set of regulations designed to create new rights and obligations with respect to sports betting operators’ use of patrons’ Confidential Information or Personally Identifiable Information. The regulations took effect on September 1, 2023.

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On September 18, 2023, Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted NetChoice’s request for preliminary injunction in NetChoice v. Bonta, finding that NetChoice is likely to succeed on its claim that the California Age-Appropriate Design Code (“CA AADC”) violates the First Amendment. Specifically, the Court found that, as a speech restriction, the CA AADC would likely fail both strict scrutiny and a lesser standard of scrutiny. The preliminary injunction blocks the CA AADC from going into effect until the case is ...

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On August 31, 2023, NetChoice, a national trade association of large online businesses, filed supplemental briefing in its challenge to the California Age-Appropriate Design Code (“CA AADC”). The success or failure of NetChoice’s lawsuit will determine whether companies need to be CA AADC-compliant on July 1, 2024 when the law is anticipated to take effect.

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On July 10, 2023, California Governor Newsom signed into law A.B. 127, which places the working group for the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (the “Act”) under the California Office of the Attorney General. The Act creates a working group, formally named the California Children’s Data Protection Working Group, to produce a report on recommendations for best practices concerning children’s access to online services. Under A.B. 127, the deadline for the first report from the working group will be pushed back from January 1, 2024, to July 1, 2024, and the working group will be required to consist of only nine members, instead of the original 10-member requirement.

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On July 14, 2023, the Norwegian Data Protection Authority (“DPA”) ordered Meta Platforms Ireland Limited and Facebook Norway AS (jointly, “Meta”) to temporarily cease the processing of personal data of data subjects in Norway for the purpose of targeting ads on the basis of “observed behavior,” when relying on either the contractual necessity legal basis (Article 6(1)b)) or the legitimate interests legal basis (Article 6(1)(f)) of the GDPR.

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On June 28, 2023, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law H.B. 61, which requires interactive computer services to get parental consent (or consent from a legal representative of a minor) to enter into a contract or other agreement, including the creation of an online account, with minors younger than 18 years of age. The Act comes after similar laws enacted in Texas, Utah and Arkansas. H.B. 61 will take effect on August 1, 2024. 

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On June 2 and June 5, 2023, the Connecticut and Nevada state legislatures, respectively, voted in favor of sending legislation to their governors for signature that would impose restrictions, among others, on the processing of consumer health data, including geofencing provisions.  Nevada S.B. 370 was signed by Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo on June 16, 2023. These bills contain provisions similar to Washington’s My Health My Data Act and expand on protections in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and other privacy laws.

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On May 24, 2023 Google LLC (“Google”) announced its recently updated privacy terms providing that, for many of Google’s advertising services, it will no longer act as a service provider for the purposes of the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (“CPRA”). The change may affect businesses’ prior determinations of whether they “sell” personal information under the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (“CCPA”). The updated terms take effect on July 1, 2023, the day CPRA enforcement begins.

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On May 31, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission announced a proposed order against home security camera company Ring LLC (“Ring”) for unfair and deceptive acts or practices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.

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On May 22, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission filed an amicus brief in support of a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that COPPA does not preempt state laws claims that are consistent with COPPA.

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On May 22, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission announced a proposed order against education technology provider Edmodo, LLC (“Edmodo”) for violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA Rule”) and Section 5 of the FTC Act.

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On May 4, 2023, the Florida Senate and House of Representatives voted in favor of sending the Florida Digital Bill of Rights (“FDBR”) and other amendments related to government moderation of social media and protection of children in online spaces (S.B. 262) to Governor Ron DeSantis for signature. Unlike the other comprehensive state privacy laws that have been enacted, the FDBR applies to a much narrower subset of entities.

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On May 4, 2023, the California Privacy Protection Agency (“CPPA”) Board announced that it will hold a public meeting on May 15, 2023 to discuss California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (“CPRA”) regulations proposals and priorities, and other CPPA activities.

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On April 25, 2023, officials from the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (“DOJCRD”) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released a Joint Statement on Enforcement Efforts against Discrimination and Bias in Automated Systems (“Statement”), also sometimes referred to as “artificial intelligence” (“AI”).

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On April 6, 2023, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection ("DCWP") announced it adopted final rules to implement NYC’s Local Law 144 (“LL 144”) regarding automated employment decision tools (“AEDTs”). Enforcement of the law and the rules will begin on July 5, 2023.

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On March 3, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) released an update to its Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs guidance (“ECCP Guidance”). The ECCP Guidance serves as a guidance document for prosecutors when evaluating a corporate compliance program. Among other updates, the ECCP Guidance now includes new guidance for assessing how companies govern employees’ use of personal devices, communication platforms and messaging applications.

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On March 2, 2023, the FTC announced a proposed order against BetterHelp, Inc., an online mental health counseling service, for sharing consumer data, including sensitive mental health information, with third parties for targeted advertising and other purposes. The FTC’s proposed order is notable, in that it is the first such order that would return funds to consumers whose health data was affected.

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On February 28, 2023, the Colorado Office of the Attorney General announced that revised draft Colorado Privacy Act (“CPA”) rules were adopted for review by the Colorado Attorney General prior to finalization and publication in the Colorado Register.

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On February 14, 2023, the Digital Advertising Alliance (“DAA”) announced the creation of the CMP Complement, billed as a uniform approach for brands and publishers to offer privacy controls on sites and apps through Consent Management Platforms (CMPs) and the AdChoices program. The CMP Complement integrates the AdChoices Icon into participating CMPs’ user flows and provides easier user access to both CMP-specific controls and other interest-based advertising choice tools offered through the DAA’s portals.

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On February 14, 2023, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing titled, “Protecting Our Children Online.” Chaired by Sen. Durbin, the hearing examined the potentially harmful effects of social media use on young people, and represented a renewal of the Committee’s efforts to pass legislation to protect children and teenagers online. In 2022, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved several bills designed to enhance the online safety and wellbeing of children and teenagers, among them the Kids Online Protection Act (“KOSA”), but the bills did not receive a floor vote. During the hearing, Democratic and Republican senators expressed their commitment to pass bills that would limit the immunity of social media companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and would require website and app developers to design products that protect young people from cyberbullying, online sexual exploitation, social media addiction, and other harms. 

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On February 10, 2023, the California Privacy Protection Agency (“CPPA”) issued an Invitation for Preliminary Comments on Proposed Rulemaking on cybersecurity audits, risk assessments and automated decisionmaking, topics that have not yet been addressed by the existing final draft CPRA Regulations.

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On February 6, 2023, Texas State Representative Giovanni Capriglione submitted H.B. 1844, a comprehensive privacy bill modeled after the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (“VCDPA”). The bill could make Texas the sixth U.S. state to enact major privacy legislation, following California, Virginia, Colorado, Utah, and Connecticut. Although the bill closely follows the VCDPA, it departs from the Virginia law in several key areas, most notably in the definition of “personal data” and its applicability.

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On February 3, 2023, the California Privacy Protection Agency (“CPPA”) Board unanimously approved for submission to California’s Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) proposed final California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”) regulations released on January 31, 2023 which update the draft CPRA regulations released on November 3, 2022.

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On January 26, 2023, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) released the Artificial Intelligence Risk Management Framework (“AI RMF 1.0”), which provides a set of guidelines for organizations that design, develop, deploy or use AI to manage its many risks and promote trustworthy and responsible use and development of AI systems.

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On January 27, 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a new enforcement sweep aimed at businesses with mobile apps and other businesses that fail to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”).

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On December 1, 2022, the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released a Bulletin on the obligations of HIPAA covered entities and business associates under the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules when using online tracking technologies. 

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On December 6, 2022, the California Privacy Protection Agency (“CPPA”) announced that it will hold a virtual public meeting to discuss the status of the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (“CPRA”) rulemaking process and other topics. Anticipated topics for discussion include:

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On November 25, 2022, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (“DPC”) released a decision fining Meta Platforms, Inc. (“Meta”) €265 million for a 2019 data leak involving the personal information of approximately 533 million Facebook users worldwide.

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On November 21, 2022, Meta Platforms, Inc. (“Meta”) announced updated practices designed to protect the privacy of young people on Facebook and Instagram, including default privacy settings for new accounts, measures to limit unwanted interactions with adult users, and a tool to limit the spread of teens’ intimate images online.

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On November 30, 2022, the UK government confirmed that the Network and Information Systems (“NIS”) Regulations 2018 (“NIS Regulations”) will be strengthened to protect essential and digital services against cyber attacks. The changes bring providers of outsourced IT and managed service providers (“MSPs”) into scope of the NIS Regulations. The announcement comes in response to a public consultation held in January this year.

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On November 25, 2022, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) and the UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, issued a joint statement setting out how they intend to work together to “ensure coherence between the data protection and the new online safety regimes.” The regulators noted that the statement is primarily intended for online service providers that are likely to be regulated under the online safety regime, but it also will be of interest to other stakeholders as an indication of their joint direction.

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As reported in the the Retail Industry Law Resource blog:

Plaintiff’s firms continue to file variations of state law wiretapping lawsuits over “session replay” software and “live chat” or “chatbot” applications in various jurisdictions. These filings typically allege that companies use such software tools to record users’ interactions with a website without first obtaining users’ consent, thereby violating the wiretapping, eavesdropping, or interception provisions of various state laws. Session replay software allows companies to record and play back user’s interactions on its websites. The “live chat” or “chatbot” feature allows a website user to engage in text conversations with an assistant, to which chat the company has access. These wiretapping claims threaten substantial penalties. Companies that use these web-tracking tools, however, can take steps to protect themselves from these lawsuits by a careful examination of the software being used and by evaluating what disclosures or consent may be warranted.

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On November 14, 2022, Judge Edward J. Davila of the Northern District of California approved a $90 million privacy settlement against Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly Facebook, Inc.) for unlawfully tracking user information when users were logged out of the site. Under the order granting plaintiffs’ motion for final approval of the class action settlement and attorney fees, Facebook must pay $90 million dollars in settlements, of which $26.1 million will be for attorney fees, and delete certain “wrongfully collected” data. Despite numerous objections that the settlement ...

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On October 26, 2022, House Energy and Commerce Committee and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee leaders (“Committee Leaders”) sent letters to several toy manufacturers, including Bandai Namco, Hasbro, Mattel, MGA Entertainment, LEGO Group and the Toy Association, asking how they plan to protect children and their information from BigTech companies like TikTok and YouTube. Given the shift of marketing efforts from traditional television outlets to social media platforms, Committee Leaders are concerned about failure to protect children’s privacy, security and mental health on social media platforms.

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On November 3, 2022, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 696 into law (the “Act”), amending Pennsylvania’s breach notification law. 

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On November 3, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced a proposed order to settle an action against an internet phone service provider, Vonage, that would require Vonage to pay $100 million in refunds to customers harmed by its practices, which the FTC alleged included “dark patterns” that made it difficult for customers to cancel their service. The order also would require Vonage to not use dark patterns and provide a simple and transparent way for customers to cancel their service. 

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On November 3, 2022, the California Privacy Protection Agency (“CPPA”) released new modified proposed California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”) regulations, which make updates to the draft CPRA regulations released on October 17, 2022. The CPPA also released an updated list of documents and other information relied upon for this most recent rulemaking.

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On October 24, 2022, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (“DCWP”) proposed rules to implement its new law regarding automated employment decision tools (“AEDTs”).

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On October 24, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced a proposed consent order with Drizly, an online alcohol ordering and delivery service, and the company’s CEO, for the alleged failure to maintain appropriate security safeguards that led to a data breach that affected 2.5 million consumers’ personal information.

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On September 23, 2022, New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes introduced S9563, also known as the “New York Child Data Privacy and Protection Act.” The bill, which resembles the recently passed California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, bans certain data collection and targeted advertising and requires data controllers to, among other obligations, assess the impact of their products on children.

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On October 17, 2022, the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) imposed a €20 million fine on Clearview AI for unlawful use of facial recognition technology. The fine was imposed after the CNIL’s prior formal notice remained unaddressed by Clearview AI.

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On October 19, 2022, Bloomberg Law reported that the White House is planning to introduce a system to label Internet of Things (“IoT”) devices with information related to the devices’ cybersecurity risk.

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On October 17, 2022, the California Privacy Protection Agency (“CPPA”) released modified proposed regulations for compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, as amended by the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (“CCPA/CPRA”), along with an explanation of the modifications as materials for an upcoming CPPA Board Meeting. The Board Meeting scheduled for October 28-29, 2022, will discuss and take possible action, including adoption or modification, regarding the proposed regulations.

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On October 14, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced it is extending the deadline by one month to submit comments on its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPR”) on commercial surveillance and lax data security practices.

The FTC launched the ANPR in August and has sought public comment on it, including through a virtual public forum held in September.

Comments now must be filed by November 21, 2022.

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On October 13, 2022, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (“IAB”) released for public comment an updated version of its contractual framework and new U.S. State Signals (“Signals”) specifications to help the digital advertising industry comply with the comprehensive state privacy laws of California, Virginia, Colorado, Utah and Connecticut.

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On October 3, 2022, Google LLC (“Google”) agreed to pay the State of Arizona $85 million to settle a consumer privacy lawsuit that alleged the company surreptitiously collected consumers’ geolocation data on smartphones even after users disabled location tracking. 

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On September 21, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced the agenda for its “Protecting Kids from Stealth Advertising in Digital Media” virtual event to be held on October 19, 2022. The event will cover how children recognize and understand digital advertising content; the current advertising landscape’s impact on kids, including potential harms stemming from an inability to distinguish advertising from other content; and an assessment of the current legal regime’s protection of children from potential harms, and whether additional regulatory, self-regulatory, educational and technological tools may provide additional protection.

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On September 15, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission released a report analyzing “dark patterns,” or “design practices that trick or manipulate users into making choices they would not otherwise have made and that may cause harm.” The report, titled “Bringing Dark Patterns to Light,” highlights dark patterns used across industries and different contexts, such as e-commerce, cookie consent banners, children’s apps and subscription sales. The report identifies four common types of dark patterns and provides examples of each:

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On September 7, 2022, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”) of BBB National Programs announced its finding that Tilting Point Media, LLC (“Tilting Point”), owner and operator of the SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off app (the “App”), violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and CARU’s Self-Regulatory Guidelines for Advertising and for Children’s Online Privacy Protection (“CARU’s Guidelines”). CARU has recommended a variety of corrective actions with respect to Tilting Point’s advertising and privacy practices.

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On September 21, 2022, Denmark’s data protection authority Datatilsynet (“Danish DPA”) announced its guidance that Google Analytics, Google’s audience measurement tool, is not compliant with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), as the tool transfers personal data to the United States which, following Schrems II, does not offer an adequate level of data protection.

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On September 15, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (the “Act”). The Act, which takes effect July 1, 2024, places new legal obligations on companies with respect to online products and services that are “likely to be accessed by children” under the age of 18.

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On August 24, 2022, the California Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”) announced a new wave of enforcement efforts targeted at business’ recognition of the Global Privacy Control (“GPC”), and issued an updated summary of recent CCPA enforcement efforts.

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On August 24, 2022, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the Office of the Attorney General’s (“OAG’s”) first settlement of a California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) enforcement action, against Sephora, Inc.

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On August 23, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced it is seeking additional public comment on “how children are affected by digital advertising and marketing messages that may blur the line between ads and entertainment” in conjunction with its “Protecting Kids from Stealth Advertising in Digital Media” event on October 19, 2022. The event will focus on manipulative marketing practices targeted towards children, particularly those related to influencer marketing and online games.

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On August 11, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced it is seeking public comment regarding its advance notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPR”) on commercial surveillance and data security, on which we previously reported. The FTC defines “commercial surveillance” as the business of collecting, analyzing and profiting from consumer data.

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On July 27, 2022, Google announced that it is delaying its plans to phase out third-party cookies in the Chrome web browser. Google’s Vice President of Privacy Sandbox, Anthony Chavez, announced the company is extending the full deprecation of third-party cookies to “the second half of 2024,” to continue the testing window for the Privacy Sandbox.

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On July 6, 2022, the Better Business Bureau National Programs’ Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”) announced that it had found Outright Games in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and CARU’s Self-Regulatory Guidelines for Advertising and Guidelines for Children’s Online Privacy Protection. Outright Games owns and operates the Bratz Total Fashion Makeover app, which CARU determined to be a “mixed audience” child-directed app subject to COPPA and CARU’s Guidelines due to the app’s subject matter, bright colors, visual content, lively audio and gameplay features.

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On June 30, 2022, the New York Office of the Attorney General (“NYOAG”) announced a $400,000 agreement with Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. (“Wegmans”) in connection with a cloud storage security issue. The NYOAG alleges that Wegmans exposed the personal information of three million consumers by storing the data in misconfigured cloud storage containers.

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On July 11, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection issued a business alert on businesses’ handling of sensitive data, with a particular focus on location and health data. The alert describes the “opaque” marketplace in which consumers’ location and health  data is collected and exchanged amongst businesses and the concerns and risks associated with the processing of such information. The alert specifically focuses on the “potent combination” of location data and user-generated health and biometric data (e.g., through the use of wellness and fitness apps and the sharing of face and other biometric data for app/device authentication purposes). According to the alert, the combination of location and health data “creates a new frontier of potential harms to consumers.”

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On June 22, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission submitted an updated abstract to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs indicating that it is considering initiating a rulemaking under Section 18 of the FTC Act to curb lax security practices, limit privacy abuses, and ensure that algorithmic decision-making does not result in unlawful discrimination.

Time 2 Minute Read

On June 23, 2022, Italy’s data protection authority (the “Garante”) determined that a website’s use of the audience measurement tool Google Analytics is not compliant with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), as the tool transfers personal data to the United States, which does not offer an adequate level of data protection. In making this determination, the Garante joins other EU data protection authorities, including the French and Austrian regulators, that also have found use of the tool to be unlawful.

Time 2 Minute Read

On June 16, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report to Congress titled Combatting Online Harms Through Innovation (the “Report”) that urges policymakers and other stakeholders to exercise “great caution” about relying on artificial intelligence (“AI”) to combat harmful online content.

Time 4 Minute Read

On June 3, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced it is seeking public comment on its 2013 guidance, “.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising” (the “Guidance”). The FTC indicated that it is updating the Guidance to better protect consumers against online deceptive practices, particularly because some companies have interpreted the current version of Guidance to “justify practices that mislead consumers online.” For example, the FTC explains that companies have wrongfully claimed they can avoid FTC Act liability by placing required disclosures behind hyperlinks. The updated Guidance will address issues such as advertising on social media, in video games, in virtual reality environments, and on mobile devices and applications, as well as the use of dark patterns, manipulative user interface designs, multi-party selling arrangements, hyperlinks and online disclosures.

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On June 3, 2022, House Energy and Commerce Chair Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking Member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) released a new comprehensive federal privacy bill, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (“ADPPA”).

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On May 25, 2022, Twitter reached a proposed $150 million settlement with the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Federal Trade Commission to resolve allegations that the company deceptively used nonpublic user contact information obtained for account security purposes to serve targeted ads to Twitter users. In a complaint filed in federal court, the government alleged that Twitter violated both the FTC Act and a 2011 FTC Order by misrepresenting the extent to which the company maintained and protected users’ nonpublic contact information. The proposed settlement would require Twitter to pay $150 million in civil penalties and implement a comprehensive privacy and information security program “with extensive procedures to safeguard user information and assess internal and external data privacy risks.”

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On May 19, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission will hold a virtual open meeting. The meeting’s tentative agenda includes a vote by the FTC on a policy statement prioritizing the enforcement of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) as it applies to the use of education technology. In response to the expanded use of education technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, the policy statement clarifies that parents and schools must not be required to sign up for surveillance as a condition of access to tools needed to learn. Members of the public who would like to ...
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On May 10, 2022, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed An Act Concerning Personal Data Privacy and Online Monitoring, after the law was previously passed by the Connecticut General Assembly in April. Connecticut is now the fifth state to enact a consumer privacy law.

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On April 23, 2022, the European Commission announced that the European Parliament and EU Member States had reached consensus on the Digital Services Act (“DSA”), which establishes accountability standards for online platforms regarding illegal and harmful content.

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On April 19, 2022, the California state legislature and an industry self-regulatory group each separately took steps to enhance online privacy protections for children who are not covered by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), which applies only to personal information collected online from children under the age of 13.

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On March 25, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois approved a $1.1 million settlement with TikTok Inc. (“TikTok”) to resolve claims that TikTok collected children’s data and sold it to third parties without parental consent. The plaintiffs sued TikTok in 2019, alleging that TikTok did not seek verifiable parental consent prior to collecting personal information of children under 13 on the popular video platform in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The complaint further alleged that TikTok disclosed and sold user data, including lip-syncing videos created by children who used a TikTok-affiliated app called Musical.ly, to third parties, without parental consent. The $1.1 million settlement will be distributed among class members, who consist of U.S. users who, prior to the settlement’s effective date and while under the age of 13, registered for or used TikTok or Musical.ly.

Time 3 Minute Read

On March 24, 2022, the European Union unveiled the final text of the Digital Markets Act (the “DMA”). The final text of the DMA was reached following trilogue negotiations between the European Commission, European Parliament and EU Member States (led by the French Presidency at the European Council). The final text retains essentially the same features as the previous draft text but does include some notable changes.

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