Posts tagged liability.
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On July 25, 2023, Hunton published a client alert discussing the importance of cyber and directors and officers (“D&O”) liability insurance for companies and their executives to guard against cyber-related exposures. In today’s ever-changing threat landscape, all organizations are at risk of damaging cyber incidents and resulting investigations and lawsuits, underscoring the importance of utilizing all tools in a company’s risk mitigation toolkit, including insurance, to address these exposures. 

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On June 3, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court in Van Buren v. United States reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit’s decision to uphold the conviction of Nathan Van Buren, a former Georgia police sergeant alleged to have violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (“CFAA”) when accessing a law enforcement database for a non-law-enforcement purpose against his department’s policy. Van Buren, the target of an FBI sting operation, had accessed the database to look up license plate information in exchange for money. The Court addressed a split in authority among the circuits regarding the scope of liability under the CFAA.

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On November 24, 2020, a multistate coalition of Attorneys General announced that The Home Depot, Inc. (“Home Depot”) agreed to pay $17.5 million and implement a series of data security practices in response to a data breach the company experienced in 2014. The $17.5 million payment will be divided among the 46 participating states and the District of Colombia. We previously reported on a settlement Home Depot reached in 2017 to resolve a putative class action brought by financial institutions impacted by the 2014 data breach.

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On August 3, 2018, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law Senate Bill 220 (the “Bill”), which provides covered entities with an affirmative defense to tort claims, based on Ohio law or brought in an Ohio court, that allege or relate to the failure to implement reasonable information security controls which resulted in a data breach. According to the Bill, its purpose is “to be an incentive and to encourage businesses to achieve a higher level of cybersecurity through voluntary action.” The Bill will take effect 90 days after it is provided to the Ohio Secretary of State ...
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On November 3, 2017, Securityroundtable.org published an article highlighting the vulnerabilities businesses face in a world of e-commerce and interconnectivity, and spotlighted a crisis-planning panel hosted by Hunton & Williams held on November 1. Speakers at the event included Lisa Sotto, chair of the Global Privacy and Cybersecurity practice at Hunton & Williams; Eric Friedberg, Co-President of Stroz Friedberg; Stephen Gannon, General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer of Citizens Financial Group; Rick Howard, Chief Security Officer of Palo Alto Networks; Bryan Rose, Managing Director of Stroz Friedberg; Ari Mahairas, Special Agent in Charge of Special Operations/Cyber Division of the FBI; Walter Andrews, Partner at Hunton & Williams; and Tom Ricketts, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Aon Risk Solutions.

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Privacy and data security issues have become the subject of critical focus in corporate mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and related transactions. In 2016 and 2017, several large transactions, especially those involving telecommunications, entertainment and technology companies, have been impacted by either concerns about the collection and use of personal information or significant information security breaches. The FTC has sharpened its focus on the use of personal information as a factor in evaluating the competitive effects of a given corporate transaction, and the SEC is now closely scrutinizing privacy and data security representations made to investors in public filings connected to transactions. More broadly, privacy and data security problems that are not timely discovered before entering into an M&A transaction can become significant liabilities post-closing and also lead to litigation.

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In March 2017, Syed Ahmad, a partner with Hunton & Williams LLP’s insurance practice, and Eileen Garczynski, partner at insurance brokerage Ames & Gough, co-authored an article, Protecting Company Assets with Cyber Liability Insurance, in Mealey’s Data Privacy Law Report. The article describes why cyber liability insurance is necessary for companies and provides tips on how it can make a big difference. Ahmad and Garczynski discuss critical questions companies seeking to protect company assets through cyber insurance should be asking.

Read the full article.

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Hunton & Williams announces the formation of a cross-disciplinary legal team dedicated to guiding companies through the minefield of regulatory and cyber-related risks associated with high-stakes corporate mergers and acquisitions. 

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On October 25, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission released a guide for businesses on how to handle and respond to data breaches (the “Guide”). The 16-page Guide details steps businesses should take once they become aware of a potential breach. The Guide also underscores the need for cyber-specific insurance to help offset potentially significant response costs.

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As reported in the Hunton Insurance Recovery Blog, insurance-giant American International Group (“AIG”) announced that it will be the first insurer to offer standalone primary coverage for property damage, bodily injury, business interruption and product liability that results from cyber attacks and other cyber-related risks. According to AIG, “Cyber is a peril [that] can no longer be considered a risk covered by traditional network security insurance product[s].” The new AIG product, known as CyberEdge Plus, is intended to offer broader and clearer coverage for harms that had previously raised issues with insurers over the scope of available coverage. AIG explains its new coverage as follow:

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On June 30, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) announced that it had settled potential HIPAA Security Rule violations with Catholic Health Care Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (“CHCS”). This is the first enforcement action OCR has taken against a business associate since the HIPAA Omnibus Rule was enacted in 2013. The HIPAA Omnibus Rule made business associates directly liable for their violations of the HIPAA rules. The settlement with CHCS is also notable because it involved a breach that affected fewer than 500 individuals.

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TCCWNA. The very acronym evokes head scratches and sighs of angst and frustration among many lawyers in the retail industry. You have probably heard about it. You may have even been warned about it. And you may currently be trying to figure out how best to minimize your risk and exposure this very moment. But what is it and why has virtually every retailer been hit with a TCCWNA class action demand letter or lawsuit in the past few months? And why are most retailers scrambling to update the terms and conditions of their websites?

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On April 6, 2016, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner approved a settlement in Corona v. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc., No. 14-CV-09600 (RGK). As we previously reported, the litigation centered on a data breach involving the stolen personal information of at least 15,000 former and current employees. After a partial success on its motion to dismiss, Sony still faced potential liability for negligence based on its three-week delay in notifying its employees of the data breach, as well as statutory claims under the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act and the Unfair Competition Law.

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As reported on the Hunton Insurance Recovery Blog, data breach claims involving customer data can present an ever-increasing risk for companies across all industries. A recent case illustrates efforts to recover the costs associated with such claims. A panel of the Fourth Circuit confirmed that general liability policies can afford coverage for cyber-related liabilities, and ruled that an insurer had to pay attorneys’ fees to defend the policyholder in class action litigation in Travelers Indemnity Company v. Portal Healthcare Solutions, No. 14-1944. Syed Ahmad, a partner in the Hunton & Williams LLP insurance practice, was quoted in a Law360 article concerning the importance of this decision.

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On September 15, 2015, Judge Magnuson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota certified a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) class of financial services institutions claiming damages from Target Corporation’s 2013 data breach. The class consists of “all entities in the United States and its Territories that issued payment cards compromised in the payment card data breach that was publicly disclosed by Target on December 19, 2013.”

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On October 6, 2014, the Irish Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (“ODPC”) announced its success in bringing prosecution proceedings against M.C.K Rentals Limited (“MCK”), a firm of private investigators, and its two directors, for breaches of the Irish Data Protection Acts 1998 and 2003. Specifically MCK and its directors were found to have (1) obtained personal data without the prior authority of the data controller who was responsible for the data and (2) disclosed the personal data obtained to various third parties.

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On June 5, 2014, new OpenSSL vulnerabilities were announced, including one vulnerability that permits man-in-the-middle attacks and another that allows attackers to run arbitrary code on vulnerable devices. These vulnerabilities, along with the previously-discovered Heartbleed bug, show that technological solutions alone may not eliminate cyber risk.

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President Obama’s Executive Order 13636 on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity identified “insurance liability considerations” as an incentive that might improve security. Over the course of the year since the Executive Order was issued, there has been an increase in the marketing of cyber insurance products. In an article published in Law360, Hunton & Williams Insurance Litigation & Counseling partner Lon Berk discusses how most cyber insurance policies currently available do not protect against major risks to critical infrastructure. Since the ...

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Hunton & Williams Insurance Litigation & Counseling partner Lon Berk reports:

The recently publicized Secure Sockets Layer (“SSL”) bug affecting Apple Inc. products raises a question regarding insurance coverage that is likely to become increasingly relevant as “The Internet of Things” expands. Specifically, on certain devices, the code used to set SSL connections contains an extra line that causes the program to skip a critical verification step. Consequently, unless a security patch is downloaded, when these devices are used on shared wireless networks they are subject to so-called “man-in-the-middle” security attacks and other serious security risks. Assuming that sellers of such devices may be held liable for damages, there may be questions about insurance to cover the risks.

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On October 7, 2013, the United States District Court for the Central District of California held that a general liability insurance policy covered data breach claims alleging violations of California patients’ right to medical privacy. Hartford Casualty Insurance Co. v. Corcino & Associates, CV 13-03728-GAF (C.D. Cal. Oct. 7, 2013). The court rejected the insurer’s argument that coverage was negated by an exclusion for liabilities resulting from a violation of rights created by state or federal acts. The decision also rejected an attempt commonly made by insurers to exclude ...

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On August 30, 2012, Taiwan’s Executive Yuan announced that the Personal Data Protection Act will become effective on October 1, 2012. In connection with the announcement, the Executive Yuan also proposed several amendments to certain controversial provisions to be discussed by the Legislative Yuan in September.

Reportedly, the amendments would include the following changes:

  1. adding “medical records” as a type of sensitive personal data, and inserting exceptions to restrictions on the use of sensitive personal data (e.g., for public interest reasons or with the data ...
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In the past two months, Chinese national authorities amended a law, and provincial authorities in Jiangsu Province issued a new regulation, both of which include provisions concerning the protection of personal information.

Law of the People’s Republic of China on Resident Identity Cards

Any Chinese citizen who resides in China is required to obtain a resident identity card when he or she turns 16 years old. The cards carry information which generally would be considered personal information under Chinese law, such as name, gender, date of birth, home address and identity card number. The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Resident Identity Cards, a national law originally enacted in 2003, was amended on October 29, 2011, to include the following new provisions on the protection of personal information:

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In February 24, 2010, an Italian court in Milan found three Google executives guilty of violating applicable Italian privacy laws.  The executives were accused of violating Italian law by having allowed a video showing an autistic teenager being bullied to be posted online.  The Google executives, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, Chief Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer and former Chief Financial Officer George Reyes, were fined and received six-month suspended jail sentences.

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On December 26, 2009, the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress passed a landmark new law that contains provisions affecting personal data. The new law will go into effect on July 1, 2010.

The P.R.C. Tort Liability Law is a wide-ranging law that imposes tort liability for matters ranging from environmental damage to product liability to animal bites. Certain of its provisions relate, expressly or in a general sense, to personal information. These provisions can cause data users to incur liability to data subjects for the mishandling of personal information.

 

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A lawsuit that will soon commence in Arizona has the potential to alter the data breach liability landscape by making data security auditors liable for data breaches experienced by the companies they audit.  The case, Merrick Bank Corp. v. Savvis Inc., has its origins in events that began in 2003, when Merrick Bank (“Merrick”) offered to hire CardSystems Solutions (“CardSystems”) to process credit card transactions for its merchant customers.  The offer was contingent upon CardSystems achieving certification under VISA’s Cardholder Information Security Program (“CISP”), which is the predecessor to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (“PCI DSS”).  Savvis audited CardSystems in 2004 and found that it had “implemented sufficient security solutions” and followed “industry best practices.”  VISA certified CardSystems shortly after receiving Savvis’ audit report.  In 2005, CardSystems revealed that it had experienced an information security breach that compromised forty million payment cards.

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