Posts tagged Opt-In Consent.
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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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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 January 16, 2024, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Bill 332, making New Jersey the 14th state with a comprehensive state privacy law. The law is set to take effect in January 2025.

Applicability

The law will apply to controllers that conduct business in New Jersey or produce products or services that are targeted to New Jersey residents, and that during a calendar year meet any of the following criteria: (1) control or process the personal data of at least 100,000 New Jersey consumers (notably excluding personal data processed solely for the purpose of completing a payment transaction); or (2) control or process the personal data of at least 25,000 New Jersey consumers and derive revenue, or receive a discount on the price of any goods or services, from the “sale” of personal data. In line with the CCPA and other state privacy laws, the New Jersey law broadly defines “sale” as the disclosure of personal data to a third party for “monetary or other valuable consideration.”

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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 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 December 21, 2022, the Colorado Attorney General published an updated version of the draft rules to the Colorado Privacy Act (“CPA”). The draft, which follows the first iteration of the proposed rules published on October 10, 2022, solicits comments on five topics: (1) new and revised definitions; (2) the use of IP addresses to verify consumer requests; (3) a proposed universal opt-out mechanism; (4) streamlining the privacy policy requirements; and (5) bona fide loyalty programs.

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On October 1, 2022, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office submitted an initial draft of the Colorado Privacy Act Rules (“CPA Rules”), which will implement and enforce the Colorado Privacy Act (“CPA”). The CPA Rules, which are currently about 38 pages, address many recent issues in state data privacy regulation, including data profiling, data protection, automated data processing, biometric data, universal opt-out mechanisms and individual data rights.

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On April 12, 2022, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser made remarks at the International Association of Privacy Professionals Global Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C., where he invited stakeholders to provide informal public comments on the Colorado Privacy Act (“CPA”) rulemaking.

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On February 14, 2022, Noom Inc., a popular weight loss and fitness app, agreed to pay $56 million, and provide an additional $6 million in subscription credits to settle a putative class action in New York federal court. The class is seeking conditional certification and has urged the court to preliminarily approve the settlement.

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On January 24, 2022, a group of state attorneys general (Indiana, Texas, D.C. and Washington) (the “State AGs”) announced their commitment to ramp up enforcement work on “dark patterns” that are used to ascertain consumers’ location data. The State AGs created a plan to initiate lawsuits alleging that consumers of certain online services are falsely led to believe that they can prevent the collection of their location data by changing their account and device settings, when the online services do not, in fact, honor such settings. The State AGs have alleged that this practice constitutes a deceptive and unlawful trade practice under applicable state consumer protection law. The State AGs’ announcement highlights the underlying concern that consumers may be provided with a choice to opt out of location tracking but still have their location data made accessible to certain online service providers.

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On January 28, 2022, California Attorney General Rob Bonta published a statement regarding recent investigations conducted by the California Office of Attorney General (“AG”) with respect to businesses operating loyalty programs and their compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act’s (“CCPA’s”) financial incentive requirements. As a result of the investigations, the AG’s Office sent non-compliance notices to major corporations across multiple sectors, including retail, food services, travel and home improvement. The businesses have 30 days to cure the alleged CCPA violations and bring their loyalty programs into compliance with the CCPA. Otherwise, enforcement action can be initiated.

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On April 20, 2021, Apple announced that its AppTracking Transparency Framework (“ATT Framework”) will go into effect starting April 26, 2021, along with the upcoming public release of iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5 and tvOS 14.5.

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On December 10, 2020, the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) announced that it has levied fines of €60 million on Google LLC and €40 million on Google Ireland Limited under the French cookie rules for their alleged failure to (1) obtain the consent of users of the French version of Google's search engine (google.fr) before setting advertising cookies on their devices; (2) provide users with adequate information about the use of cookies; and (3) implement a fully effective opt-out mechanism to enable users to refuse cookies. On the same date, the CNIL announced that it has levied a fine of €35 million on Amazon Europe Core under the same rules for its alleged failure to (1) obtain the consent of users of the amazon.fr site before setting advertising cookies on their devices; and (2) provide adequate information about the use of cookies.

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On November 27, 2020, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in the lawsuit it brought against Google on February 20, 2020, regarding alleged violations of the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) in connection with G-Suite for Education (“GSFE”). As we previously reported, the U.S. District Court of New Mexico had granted Google’s motion to dismiss, in which it asserted that its terms governed the collection of data through GSFE and that it had complied with COPPA by using schools both as “intermediaries” and as the parent’s agent for parental notice and consent, in line with Federal Trade Commission Guidance.

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On September 25, 2020, the District Court of New Mexico granted Google’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed on February 20, 2020, by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas alleging, among other claims, that the company violated the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA” or the “Act”) by using G Suite for Education to “spy on New Mexico students’ online activities for its own commercial purposes, without notice to parents and without attempting to obtain parental consent.”

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UPDATE: On September 29, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed AB 1138.

On September 8, 2020, AB 1138, the Parent’s Accountability and Child Protection Act, was enrolled and presented to the California Governor for signature. If signed into law by the Governor, the bill would require a business that operates a social media website or application, beginning July 1, 2021, to obtain verifiable parental consent for California-based children that the business “actually knows” are under 13 years of age (hereafter, “Children”). The bill defines “social media” to mean an electronic service or account held open to the general public to post, on either a public or semi-public page dedicated to a particular user, electronic content or communication, including but not limited to videos, photos or messages intended to facilitate the sharing of information, ideas, personal messages or other content.

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Apple’s iOS 14, which was announced by Apple in June 2020 and is scheduled for official release later this year, will require that all apps receive affirmative (i.e., opt-in) user consent to (1) access an iPhone’s unique advertising identifier (Identifier for Advertisers, or “IDFA”) or (2) to "track" users.

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On May 29, 2020, the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, “BGH”), Germany’s highest court for civil and criminal matters, issued its ruling on case Planet49 (I ZR 7/16) regarding consent requirements for the use of cookies and telemarketing activities. In October 2017, the BGH suspended its proceedings and submitted questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) for a preliminary ruling regarding the effectiveness of obtaining consent for the use of cookies through a pre-ticked checkbox. As we have previously reported, the CJEU answered these questions in its judgement in Planet49 GmbH v. Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V. (C-673/17), which was issued on October 1, 2019.

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On April 9, 2020 the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a “paper hearing” entitled Enlisting Big Data in the Fight Against Coronavirus. A “paper hearing” consists of the committee members submitting opening statements and witnesses submitting testimony, which were posted on the Committee’s website. Witnesses were required to submit answers to member questions last week.

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On March 12, 2020, Senator Jerry Moran (KS) introduced a comprehensive federal privacy bill entitled the Consumer Data Privacy and Security Act of 2020 (the “Act”).

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On February 10, 2020, the Belgian Data Protection Authority (the “Belgian DPA”) published its Recommendation 1/2020 on data processing activities for direct marketing purposes (the “Recommendation”). With this Recommendation, the Belgian DPA aims to clarify the complex rules relating to the processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes, including by providing practical examples and guidelines to the different stakeholders involved in direct marketing activities. Direct marketing is one of the Belgian DPA’s top priorities for the next few years, as indicated in its 2019-2025 Strategic Plan.

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On January 14, 2020, the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) published its draft recommendations on the practical modalities for obtaining users’ consent to store or read non-essential cookies and similar technologies on their devices (the “Recommendations”). The CNIL also published a set of questions and answers on the Recommendations (“FAQs”).

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On December 10, 2019, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, the “Dutch DPA”) published a statement regarding compliance with the rules on cookie consent (the “Statement”).

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On November 5, 2019, Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (CA) and Zoe Lofgren (CA) introduced the Online Privacy Act (the “Act”), which proposes sweeping legislation that would create federal privacy rights for individuals, require companies to adhere to data minimization and establish a federal Digital Privacy Agency (“DPA”).

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On October 1, 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) issued its decision in an important case involving consent for the use of cookies by a German business called Planet49. Importantly, the Court held that (1) consent for cookies cannot be lawfully established through the use of pre-ticked boxes, and (2) any consent obtained regarding cookies cannot be sufficiently informed in compliance with applicable law if the user cannot reasonably comprehend how the cookies employed on a given website will function.

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On September 24, 2019, Alastair Mactaggart, drafter of the 2018 California ballot initiative that served as the basis for the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (“CCPA”), announced that he is filing a new initiative for California’s November 2020 ballot, the California Privacy Enforcement Act (“CPEA”).

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On August 8, 2019, the FTC announced that Unrollme Inc. (“Unrollme”), an email management company, agreed to settle allegations the company deceived consumers about how it accesses and uses their personal emails. Unrollme offered users a service whereby the company would help unsubscribe users from unwanted subscription emails. In connection with this service, Unrollme required users to provide the company with access to their email accounts. The FTC alleged that Unrollme falsely told consumers it would not “touch” their personal emails. In fact, the FTC alleged, Unrollme shared its users’ email receipts (“e-receipts”) (i.e., emails sent to consumers following a completed transaction) with its parent company, Slice Technologies, Inc. The FTC’s complaint alleged that the parent company used information from the e-receipts (such as the user’s name, address, and information about products or services the individual purchased) for purposes of its own market research analytics products.

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On August 5, 2019, the Centre for Information Policy Leadership (“CIPL”) at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP responded to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s (“OPC”) reframed consultation on transfers for processing. The reframed consultation replaced a previously suspended OPC consultation dealing with the same topic to which CIPL had also responded.

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The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) has issued a Monetary Penalty Notice to pensions release provider Grove Pensions Solutions Ltd (“Grove”), fining it £40,000 after the company used contact details collected by a third party for its direct marketing campaign. Grove used a specialist third-party marketing agency to send emails on its behalf to mailing lists, negligently failing to obtain valid consent from individuals who received the marketing emails. Despite seeking external advice (including legal advice), the ICO decided that Grove should have known of the risk that its conduct would breach rules on direct marketing, particularly given recent widespread publicity of this issue in the UK. The fine was imposed under the Data Protection Act 1998.

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The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) has fined Vote Leave Limited (the UK’s official Brexit campaign) £40,000 for sending almost 200,000 unsolicited texts promoting the aims of the campaign. In an unrelated action, the ICO has carried out searches of a business believed to have been responsible for initiating nuisance telephone calls. The ICO has highlighted nuisance calls, spam texts and unsolicited direct marketing as areas of “significant public concern,” and is increasingly imposing sanctions on businesses that infringe the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (“PEC Regulations”), which prohibit these practices. In its view, the monetary penalty imposed on Vote Leave should act as a “deterrent against non-compliance, on the part of all persons running businesses currently engaging in these practices.”

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On January 21, 2019, the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) imposed a fine of €50 million on Google LLC under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (the “GDPR”) for its alleged failure to (1) provide notice in an easily accessible form, using clear and plain language, when users configure their Android mobile device and create a Google account, and (2) obtain users’ valid consent to process their personal data for ad personalization purposes. The CNIL’s enforcement action was the result of collective actions filed by two not-for-profit associations. This fine against Google is the first fine imposed by the CNIL under the GDPR and the highest fine imposed by a supervisory authority within the EU under the GDPR to date.

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On November 30, 2018, the Austrian Data Protection Authority (“DPA”) published a decision in response to a complaint received from an individual regarding the cookie consent options offered on an Austrian newspaper’s website. As a factual matter, the Austrian newspaper offered three options to individuals who sought to access content on the site: (1) accept the use of cookies for analytics and advertising purposes and have full, complimentary website access; (2) refuse cookies and obtain access to only limited content on the website; or (3) pay a monthly subscription of €6 to obtain full access to the website without accepting the use of cookies and similar tracking technologies.

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On June 28, 2018, the Governor of California signed AB 375, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (the “Act”). The Act introduces key privacy requirements for businesses, and was passed quickly by California lawmakers in an effort to remove a ballot initiative of the same name from the November 6, 2018, statewide ballot. We previously reported on the relevant ballot initiative. The Act will take effect January 1, 2020.

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On June 21, 2018, California lawmakers introduced AB 375, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (the “Bill”). If enacted and signed by the Governor by June 28, 2018, the Bill would introduce key privacy requirements for businesses, but would also result in the removal of a ballot initiative of the same name from the November 6, 2018, statewide ballot. We previously reported on the relevant ballot initiative.

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On November 6, 2018, California voters will consider a ballot initiative called the California Consumer Privacy Act (“the Act”). The Act is designed to give California residents (i.e., “consumers”) the right to request from businesses (see “Applicability” below) the categories of personal information the business has sold or disclosed to third parties, with some exceptions. The Act would also require businesses to disclose in their privacy notices consumers’ rights under the Act, as well as how consumers may opt out of the sale of their personal information if the business sells consumer personal information.
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Recently, the Personal Data Collection and Protection Ordinance (“the Ordinance”) was introduced to the Chicago City Council. The Ordinance would require businesses to (1) obtain prior opt-in consent from Chicago residents to use, disclose or sell their personal information; (2) notify affected Chicago residents and the City of Chicago in the event of a data breach; (3) register with the City of Chicago if they qualify as “data brokers”; (4) provide specific notification to mobile device users for location services; and (5) obtain prior express consent to use geolocation data from mobile applications.

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On February 1, 2018, the Singapore Personal Data Protection Commission (the “PDPC”) published its response to feedback collected during a public consultation process conducted during the late summer and fall of 2017 (the “Response”). During that public consultation, the PDPC circulated a proposal relating to two general topics: (1) the relevance of two new alternative bases for collecting, using and disclosing personal data (“Notification of Purpose” and “Legal or Business Purpose”), and (2) a mandatory data breach notification requirement. The PDPC invited feedback from the public on these topics.

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On October 23, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission issued a policy enforcement statement providing additional guidance on the applicability of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA Rule”) to the collection of children’s audio voice recordings. The FTC previously updated the COPPA Rule in 2013, adding voice recordings to the definition of personal information, which led to questions about how the COPPA Rule would be enforced against organizations who collect a child’s voice recording for the sole purpose of issuing a command or request.

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On March 2, 2017, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published draft guidance regarding the consent requirements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). The guidance sets forth how the ICO interprets the GDPR’s consent requirements, and its recommended approach to compliance and good practice. The ICO guidance precedes the Article 29 Working Party’s guidance on consent, which is expected in 2017.

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On December 20, 2016, the FTC announced that it has agreed to settle charges that Turn Inc. (“Turn”), a company that enables commercial brands and ad agencies to target digital advertising to consumers, tracked consumers online even after consumers took steps to opt out of tracking.

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This post has been updated. 

On October 27, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced the adoption of rules that require broadband Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) to take steps to protect consumer privacy (the “Rules”). According to the FCC’s press release, the Rules are intended to “ensure broadband customers have meaningful choice, greater transparency and strong security protections for their personal information collected by ISPs.” 

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On October 27, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) will vote on whether to finalize proposed rules (the "Proposed Rules”) concerning new privacy restrictions for Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”). The Proposed Rules, which revise previous versions introduced earlier this year, would require customers’ explicit (or “opt-in”) consent before an ISP can use or share a customer’s personal data, including web browsing and app usage history, geolocation data, children’s information, health information, financial information, email and other message contents and Social Security numbers.

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On July 20, 2016, the French Data Protection Authority (“CNIL”) announced that it issued a formal notice to Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”) about Windows 10, ordering Microsoft to comply with the French Data Protection Act within three months.

Background

Following the launch of Microsoft’s new operation system, Windows 10, in July 2015, the CNIL was alerted by the media and political parties that Microsoft could collect excessive personal data via Windows 10. A group composed of several EU data protection authorities was created within the Article 29 Working Party to examine the issue and conduct investigations in their relevant EU Member States. The CNIL initiated its investigation and carried out seven online inspections in April and June 2016. The CNIL also questioned Microsoft on certain points of its privacy statement.

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On June 22, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with Singaporean-based mobile advertising network, InMobi, resolving charges that the company deceptively tracked hundreds of millions of consumers’ locations, including children, without their knowledge or consent. Among other requirements, the settlement orders the company to pay $950,000 in civil penalties. 

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On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (the ‘‘FAST Act’’) into law. The FAST Act, which is aimed at improving the country’s surface transportation infrastructure, contains a provision that modifies the annual privacy notice requirement under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”).

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On September 11, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced that Lyft Inc. (“Lyft”) and First National Bank Corporation (“FNB”) violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) by forcing their users to consent to receive automated text messages as a condition of using their services. The FCC warned that these violations could result in fines if they continue.

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On September 2, 2015, the Information Commissioner’s Office (the “ICO”) announced an investigation into the data sharing practices of charities in the United Kingdom. The announcement follows the publication of an article in a UK newspaper highlighting the plight of Samuel Rae, an elderly man suffering from dementia. In 1994, Rae completed a survey, which resulted in a charity collecting his personal data. The charity, in turn, allegedly shared his contact details with other charities, data brokers and third parties. Over the years, some of those charities and third parties are reported to have sent Rae hundreds of unwanted items of mail, requesting donations and, in some cases, attempting to defraud him. The legal basis on which Rae’s details were shared remains unclear, although the ICO has noted that the distribution may have resulted from a simple failure to tick an “opt-out” box on the survey.

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On August 14 and August 26, 2015, the Conference of the Data Protection Commissioners of the Federal Government and the Federal States (Länder) issued a detailed position paper (“Position Paper”) and a press release on the main issues for the trilogue negotiations on the proposed EU General Data Protection Regulation (the “Regulation”). In the Position Paper and press release, the participating German Data Protection Commissioners (“German DPAs”) request the trilogue partners to focus on the following issues:

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On June 30, 2015, the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) summarized the results of the cookie inspections it conducted at the end of 2014.

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On May 13, 2015, the Belgian Data Protection Authority (the “DPA”) published a recommendation addressing the use of social plug-ins associated with Facebook and its services (the “Recommendation”). The Recommendation stems from the recent discussions between the DPA and Facebook regarding Facebook’s privacy policy and the tracking of individuals’ Internet activities.

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On September 3, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission announced that Verizon has agreed to pay $7.4 million to settle an FCC Enforcement Bureau investigation into Verizon’s use of personal information for marketing. The investigation revealed that Verizon had used customers’ personal information for marketing purposes over a multiyear period before notifying the customers of their right to opt out of such marketing.

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On March 18, 2014, a new French consumer law (Law No. 2014-344) was published in the Journal Officiel de la République Franҫaise. The new law strengthens the investigative powers of the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) by giving the CNIL the ability to conduct online inspections.

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On March 5, 2014, the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) issued new guidelines in the form of five practical information sheets that address online purchases, direct marketing, contests and sweepstakes, and consumer tracking (the “Guidelines”).

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On December 10, 2013, a German data protection working group on advertising and address trading published new guidelines on the collection, processing and use of personal data for advertising purposes (the “Guidelines”). The working group was established by the committee of German data protection authorities (“DPAs”) and is chaired by the Bavarian DPA. The first set of guidelines were published in November 2012.

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On December 2, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it will host a series of seminars to examine the privacy implications of three new areas of technology used to track, market to and analyze consumers: mobile device tracking, predictive scoring and consumer-generated health data. The seminars will address (1) businesses tracking consumers using signals from the consumers’ mobile devices, (2) the use of predictive scoring to determine consumers’ access to products and offers, and (3) consumer-generated information provided to non-HIPAA covered websites and apps. The FTC stated that the intention of the seminars is to bring attention to new trends in big data and their impact on consumer privacy.

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On October 2, 2013, the Article 29 Working Party (the “Working Party”) issued a Working Document providing guidance on how to obtain consent for the use of cookies and similar technologies in compliance with EU legal requirements (“Working Document”).

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On September 10, 2013, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published guidance for companies receiving unwanted marketing (the “Guidance”). This Guidance was published as part of a broader focus on unwanted marketing in the UK.

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On June 28, 2013, the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (“FDPIC”) issued its 20th annual Report of Activities (the “Report”), highlighting the FDPIC’s main activities during the period from April 2012 to March 2013. The Report is available in French and in German, and the FDPIC also has prepared a summary of the Report in English.

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On April 30, 2013, the regional court of Berlin enjoined Apple Sales International, which is based in Ireland, (“Apple”) from relying on eight of its existing standard data protection clauses in contracts with customers based in Germany. The court also prohibited Apple’s future use of such clauses.

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On April 2, 2013, the Article 29 Working Party (the “Working Party”) adopted an Opinion (the “Opinion”) that elaborates on the purpose limitation principle set out in Article 6(1)(b) of the current EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC (the “Data Protection Directive”). The Opinion analyzes the scope of this principle under the Data Protection Directive, clarifies its limits and makes recommendations to strengthen it in the proposed General Data Protection Regulation (the “Proposed Regulation”). It also focuses on how to apply this principle in the context of Big Data and open data.

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On March 1, 2013, the German Federal Council (Bundesrat) passed a new registration law after insisting on a number of important amendments (in German). Among other issues covered in the bill, the new law regulates how businesses can obtain the registered addresses of individuals in Germany from Germany’s public authorities (“official address data”) and use that information for commercial purposes.

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On January 17, 2013, Mexico’s Ministry of Economy published its Lineamientos del Aviso de Privacidad (in Spanish) (“Privacy Notice Guidelines” or “Guidelines”), which it prepared in collaboration with the Mexican data protection authority. The Guidelines introduce heightened notice and opt-out requirements for the use of cookies, web beacons and similar technology, and they impose extensive requirements on the content and delivery of privacy notices generally (with respect to all personal data, not just data collected via cookies and other automated means). The Guidelines will take effect in mid-April.

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On December 19, 2012, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (“DPC”) wrote to 80 website operators requesting details regarding how they are complying with recent changes to Irish law governing the use of cookies and other similar technologies (SI 336/ 2011, the “Regulations”). The letter expects website operators, which include government departments as well as companies, to comply fully with the Regulations, which took effect 18 months ago and require user consent before deploying or accessing cookies or other information stored on users’ computer equipment. If the relevant organizations have not yet achieved compliance, they are expected to provide an explanation to the DPC explaining “why it has not been possible to comply by now, a clear timescale for when compliance will be achieved, and details of specifically what work is being done to make that happen.”

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On December 18, 2012, the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) released an enforcement report (the “Report”) on the extent of compliance with recent changes to UK law governing the use of cookies (The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011). The ICO previously issued an interim report on organizations’ attempts to achieve compliance, in which it concluded that organizations “must try harder” with their cookie compliance efforts.

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On November 21, 2012, the UK Committee of Advertising Practice (“CAP”) released new rules on online behavioral advertising (“OBA”). CAP is the UK body which writes and maintains the UK advertising codes, which are administered and enforced by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”).

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On November 27, 2012, the International Chamber of Commerce of the United Kingdom (“ICC UK”) released the second edition of its cookie guidance (the “Guidance”). The ICC UK released the first edition of the Guidance in April of this year, and has produced this latest version to take into account updated guidance released by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”), the Article 29 Working Party Opinion 04/2012 on cookie consent exemption and new UK advertising rules on online behavioral advertising.

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On October 22, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission released a report entitled “Facing Facts: Best Practices for Common Uses of Facial Recognition Technologies.” The report focuses on privacy concerns associated with facial recognition technology, which is becoming increasingly ubiquitous across a variety of commercial applications ranging from search engines to video games to password authentication.

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As of September 1, 2012, all personal data in Germany may only be processed and used for marketing purposes (including address trading) with the express opt-in consent of the affected individuals. Furthermore, the consent language must have been specifically drawn to the attention of the relevant individual as part of the terms and conditions governing the use of his or her personal data.

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On June 7, 2012, the Article 29 Working Party (the “Working Party”) adopted an Opinion analyzing the exemptions to the prior opt-in consent requirement for cookies. Although the Opinion focuses on cookies, the Working Party also notes that the same analysis applies to any technology allowing information to be stored or accessed on a user’s computer or mobile device.

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On May 25, 2012, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office posted updated guidance on how to comply with amendments to EU data protection law requiring businesses to obtain consent from website visitors to store information on their computers and retrieve that information in the form of cookies. Last year, the ICO gave organizations a grace period expiring on May 26, 2012, to comply with the new cookie rules.

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On December 13, 2011, the Information Commissioner issued updated guidance on compliance with recent changes to UK law governing the use of cookies (The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (“Regulations”)). Organizations were given a twelve-month grace period to comply with the new law. Initial guidance on the Regulations was released on May 9, 2011, but the Information Commissioner characterized that guidance as merely a “starting point for getting compliant rather than a definitive guide,” signaling that further advice would follow if appropriate. The release of the updated guidance coincides with the Information Commissioner’s interim report on organizations’ attempts to achieve compliance in which he concluded that organizations “must try harder” with their cookie compliance efforts.

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On December 8, 2011, the Article 29 Working Party (the “Working Party”) adopted an Opinion on the European Advertising Standards Alliance (“EASA”) and IAB Europe best practice recommendations for the online behavioral advertising (“OBA”) industry to comply with Article 5.3 of the revised e-Privacy Directive 2002/58/EC (the “cookie clause”). The cookie clause requires a user’s informed consent for the use of cookies and similar technologies that store and access information in the user’s terminal device. Finding practical ways of complying with the cookie clause has proven challenging for the OBA industry, which relies heavily on these kinds of tracking mechanisms.

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In early December 2011, drafts of two legal instruments prepared by DG Justice of the European Commission to reform the EU data protection framework entered interservice consultation. This process will give other Directorates-General of the Commission the opportunity to comment on the drafts before they are formally released as legislative proposals; accordingly, changes to the drafts are likely. Following this comment period, the drafts will enter the EU legislative process, which is likely to take at least two to three years before they become law. It is believed that Justice Commissioner and Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding will formally announce final versions of the drafts at an appearance at the World Economic Forum in late January 2012.

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This week, the Digital Advertising Alliance (the “DAA”) unveiled new “Self-Regulatory Principles for Multi-Site Data” (the “Principles”), aimed at expanding the scope of industry self-regulation with respect to online data collection. The Principles are designed to supplement the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising which were issued in July 2009. The DAA is composed of several constituent industry groups such as the American Association of Advertising Agencies, Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Direct Marketing Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

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On November 4, 2011, Congressmen Edward Markey (D-MA) and Joe Barton (R-TX) reiterated their privacy concerns over the handling of customer preferences in connection with Verizon’s new advertising initiative. After learning that Verizon had notified its customers of the implications of a targeted advertising campaign, on October 6, 2011, Reps. Markey and Barton, Co-Chairmen of the bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, wrote a letter containing several inquiries to both Verizon and Verizon Wireless. In particular, Reps. Markey and Barton requested clarification regarding the companies’ potential disclosure of aggregated customer location information and website viewing history to third parties.

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On September 14, 2011, the Article 29 Working Party (the “Working Party”) met with representatives of the European Advertising Standards Alliance (“EASA”) and IAB Europe, to discuss the industry’s new self-regulatory code of conduct for online behavioral advertising (the “Code”), which was released on April 14, 2011.

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On August 24, 2011, France’s new law concerning electronic communications (Ordonnance n° 2011-1012 du 24 août 2011 relative aux communications électroniques, or the “Ordinance”) came into force.  The Ordinance implements the provisions of the revised EU Directive 2002/58/EC (the “e-Privacy Directive”) with respect to the French Data Protection Act of 1978, the French Postal and Electronic Communications Code and the French Consumer Protection Code.  Specifically, the Ordinance amends the existing legal framework concerning cookies and introduces an opt-in regime for the use of cookies.

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On June 6, 2011, Hunton & Williams hosted a panel discussion on what organizations in the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands are doing to comply with the EU’s new cookie law.  The webinar, Consent for Cookies: Preparing for the EU Cookie Law, featured David Evans, Group Manager of Business and Industry of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, and Hunton & Williams Brussels-based associates Olivier Proust, Dr. Jörg Hladjk and Martijn ten Bloemendal.  The panel was moderated by Bridget C. Treacy, partner in the London office of Hunton & Williams.  Listen to the webinar now
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On June 6, 2011, join Hunton & Williams for a panel discussion on the implementation of the new EU Cookie Law in the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands.  EU law on the use of cookies is changing.  Opt-in consent will be required, but specific requirements may differ across the EU.  What are organizations doing to ensure compliance with the new cookie law?  Listen to David Evans, Group Manager of Business and Industry of the Information Commissioner's Office, explain the steps that UK organizations are expected to take.  Learn about cookie compliance in France, Germany and the ...

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On May 25, 2011, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (the “ICO”) issued a news release stating that organizations and businesses that run websites aimed at UK consumers will be given up to 12 months to “get their house in order” before enforcement of the new cookie law begins.  Information Commissioner Christopher Graham made it clear, however, that “[t]his does not let everyone off the hook.  Those who choose to do nothing will have their lack of action taken into account when we begin formal enforcement of the rules.”

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On May 16, 2011, the Article 29 Working Party (the “Working Party”) adopted an Opinion on geolocation services on smart mobile devices (the “Opinion”).  The Opinion clarifies the legal framework and obligations applicable to geolocation services such as maps and navigation tools, geo-personalized services, geotagging of content on the Internet, child control and location-based advertising.

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From May 26, 2011, UK law regulating the use of cookies on websites will change from an opt-out regime, to one requiring prior opt-in consent.  This change poses significant practical challenges for website operators.  In guidance on the new regulations, the UK Information Commissioner has acknowledged the challenge but warned that website operators must take steps now to ensure that they are ready to comply.

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On April 12, 2011, U.S. Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011 (the “Act”) to “establish a regulatory framework for the comprehensive protection of personal data for individuals under the aegis of the Federal Trade Commission.”  The bill applies broadly to entities that collect, use, transfer or store the “covered information” of more than 5,000 individuals over a consecutive 12-month period.  Certain provisions of the bill would direct the FTC to initiate rulemaking proceedings within specified timeframes, but the bill also imposes requirements directly on covered entities.

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On February 18, 2011, the European Network and Information Security Agency (“ENISA”), an advisory body created to enhance information security in the EU, announced the issuance of its report on cookies, entitled “Bittersweet cookies.  Some security and privacy considerations.”

Time 2 Minute Read

Legislators at the federal and state levels are urging social networking websites to enhance privacy protections available to their users.  On April 27, 2010, four U.S. Senators wrote a letter to Facebook’s CEO expressing “concern regarding recent changes to the Facebook privacy policy and the use of personal data on third party websites.”  The letter urged Facebook to provide opt-in mechanisms for users, as opposed to lengthy opt-out processes, and highlighted default sharing of personal information, third-party advertisers’ data storage and instant personalization features as three areas of concern.

Time 4 Minute Read

On June 4, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) reported that Sears Holdings Management Corporation (“Sears”) agreed to enter into a settlement regarding the Commission’s allegations that the company violated Section 5 of the FTC Act in connection with a new online community application it had developed.  Participation in the community allowed Sears to track consumers’ online and, to some extent, offline activities.  The FTC’s action is notable as a potential precursor to future enforcement by the FTC in the areas of both transparency and tracking online behavior, the latter having been previously highlighted as an area of interest for the agency.  The settlement, discussed in more detail below, is notable in that its requirements make clear that substantial tracking of consumer behavior must be sufficiently transparent (not disclosed only in a lengthy privacy policy or agreement), consumers’ opt-in consent to such tracking must be obtained and, disclosures regarding the nature of the tracking must be made at a meaningfully early stage of the transaction.

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