Privacy & Security Matters

Mintz Levin : Data Compliance & Security, Employee Privacy Lawyer & Attorney

Responding to Insider Data Theft

Posted in Cybersecurity, Data Compliance & Security, Events and Webinars, Security

Our 2015 monthly Privacy Issues Wednesday webinar series continued this month with Jonathan Cain and Paul Pelletier’s Responding to Insider Data Theft & Disclosure presentation.  Jonathan and Paul discussed how distinguishing the insider threat differs from the techniques used to identify and stop hackers, creating an environment that deters insiders from stealing data, and the legal remedies – both civil and criminal – that are available to recover stolen data and compensate for its loss.   Nearly 100 participants joined us for this webinar.

For those who missed the webinar, some of the key takeaways include the following:

  • Data losses due to insiders are not the most common source of loss, but they are consistently among the most damaging to the company’s finances and future.  They target customer data, intellectual property, future business plans and embarrassing skeletons.
  • Insiders are not hackers and traditional technology based barriers to outside hackers don’t stop them because the insider is entitled to be in the network and have authorized access to the data.
  • Detecting insiders is an ongoing exercise of analyzing the data of nominally equivalent employees and identifying anomalous conduct.
  • Deterring insiders through social engineering is easier and more productive than trying to identify an attacker after the fact.  Where employees are aware that indicators of insider attacks are being watched, there is less likelihood that attacks will occur.
  • The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which is the most commonly employed federal statute to redress insider attacks, has inconsistent interpretations throughout the federal courts, and its effectiveness varies.  State computer abuse, trade secrets, and breach of fiduciary duty law continues to provide suitable remedies, both civil and criminal.
  • Criminal prosecution of insiders under federal law based on the CFAA, wire fraud, HIPAA and other federal criminal statutes is feasible, but is likely to be available only in the largest cases.

For a recording of the webinar, click here.

The next webinar — the fourth in our Mintz Levin Privacy Series —  EU Data Protection for US Companies, will discuss the issues faced by US companies who do business in Europe or simply interact with European customers.  We will look at how to determine whether EU data protection laws apply to you, and what you need to do to comply.  We will also provide an overview of the upcoming major overhaul of EU data protection laws in the form of the draft Data Protection Regulation, which is likely to be finalized in late 2015 or 2016.  The webinar will be presented by Susan Foster, a member in our London office, who is qualified as a solicitor in England & Wales as well as an attorney in California.

Sign up here to attend.


Cross-Device Tracking: The New World

Posted in Data Compliance & Security, Federal Trade Commission, Mobile Privacy, Online Advertising, Uncategorized

Facebook does it.  Google does it.  It’s everywhere in the mobile ad ecosystem.  And your smartphone does it more often than you know, according to a study released on Monday by Carnegie Mellon.

Now, Federal authorities have turned their attention to cross-device and cross-service tracking of consumers over the last several days and weeks. Speaking at a Federal Communications Bar Association and American Bar Association joint event on March 25, Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc expressed his privacy concerns with Triple-Play providers of Internet, video, and voice services aggregating customer data collected from across all three services. This came just a day after reports that Google would be testing a new model for television advertising in markets where it sells both Google Fiber Internet and television service. Also on March 24, the House Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee held a hearing on the Internet of Things that included questions about how personal information could be protected when collected and shared by connected devices. Continue Reading

The FCC and the Uncertain Future of Privacy Oversight for Internet Service Providers

Posted in Federal Trade Commission, Privacy Regulation

The Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) net neutrality proceeding culminated this month with the release of an Order reclassifying broadband Internet access service as a common carrier Telecommunications Service subject to regulation under Title II of the Communications Act. Previously, the FCC classified broadband service as a lightly regulated Title I Information Service, while Title II was primarily used to regulate telephone service. This decision by the FCC has two major privacy implications for broadband customers and Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”).

First, as previously reported on this blog, the FCC’s reclassification decision puts in flux the federal agency that has authority to enforce ISP’s privacy policies. Until now, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has asserted its Section 5 authority over “unfair or deceptive” practices to bring enforcement actions against companies that violate their own privacy policies or fail to adequately safeguard customer data. The FTC has brought dozens of actions over privacy policy violations, and previously declared that it has the authority to do so specifically against broadband providers that violate their published policies. In fact, though not a privacy allegation, the FTC recently used its Section 5 authority to bring an enforcement action against AT&T in its capacity as an ISP for allegedly “throttling” data throughput even when a customer signed up for an unlimited data plan.

But Section 5 of the FTC Act exempts common carriers from FTC oversight of “unfair methods of competition… and unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” With broadband service soon to be regulated as common carriage in light of the FCC’s Order, and broadband ISPs regulatedas common carriers, the FTC will likely lose its enforcement authority over that service to the FCC. In the fall of 2014, FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen expressed concern over the FTC’s continued ability to protect consumers should the FCC decide to pursue reclassification, and FTC officials, including FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Consumer Protection Director Jessica Rich, recently reiterated those concerns and called on Congress to eliminate the common carrier exemption. One data security and breach notification bill currently before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade would do just that in the limited context of privacy.

Second, broadband service is now subject to the privacy provisions of Title II that protect Customer Proprietary Network Information (“CPNI”) – which includes information related to the quantity, location, and amount of use of a telecommunications service. However, the FCC’s rules implementing those provisions are mostly inapplicable to broadband service as they specifically focus on protecting information related to telephone calls, such as phone numbers dialed and the duration of calls. To resolve this dilemma, the FCC’s Order applies Section 222 of the Communications Act to broadband providers, which prohibits carriers from using or disclosing individually identifiable CPNI without consent except as needed for providing service, but forbears from applying the FCC’s current implementing rules pending further proceedings to adopt new rules that apply specifically to broadband.

Privacy Monday – March 23, 2015: COPPA Refresh

Posted in Children, Privacy Monday, Privacy Regulation

On Friday, the FTC published updates to the COPPA FAQs, the Commission’s compliance guide for businesses and consumers, to address the applicability of COPPA and the Amended COPPA Rule to educational institutions and businesses that provide online services, including mobile apps, to educational institutions. Specifically, nearly a year after the last update to the “COPPA and Schools FAQs”, the Commission revisited its answers to FAQs M.1, M.2, and M.5 and deleted FAQ M.6 in an attempt to streamline the FAQs to provide further clarity on the key topics of notice and consent, best practices for educational institutions, and the interplay between COPPA and other federal and state laws that may apply in the education space. To access our blog post on the prior update to the COPPA and Schools FAQs please click here. Continue Reading

Round of 32: Social Media Policies over At-Will Employment

Posted in Uncategorized

If you’ve been following the our sister blog, Employment Matters, then you will understand the headline.   If you have not, you should click over there and check out the tournament action on a Friday afternoon while you are … streaming some other things.   Social Media Policies won out in the Round of 32 over At-Will Employment, but BYOD Policies fell in a buzzer beater to Pregnancy Accommodations.



Precedent and the Price Explain Why Target and the Consumer Class Agreed to an Early Data Breach Settlement

Posted in Class Action Litigation, Data Breach, Data Breach Notification, Privacy Litigation, Uncategorized

On March 18, 2015 – just three months after denial of a motion to dismiss consumer claims arising from Target’s 2013 data breach – Target and the consumer class filed papers seeking approval of a settlement.  The proposed settlement agreement creates a  $10 million cash fund to be paid out to class members claiming actual damages arising from the settlement.  Settlement funds will be distributed in a claims-made process to be run by a settlement administrator (the cost of which will be borne by Target).  The maximum claim amount is $10,000.  Claims without supporting documentation are capped at lower dollar amounts.  Unclaimed funds will not revert to Target, but will be redistributed to class members submitting claims or as otherwise directed by the Court.  The settlement also calls for non-cash relief consisting of the adoption of certain data security protection practices and appointment of a chief information security officer.  Finally, class counsel have indicated that they will apply for $6.75 million in attorneys’ fees.

Why the quick settlement?  Continue Reading

Have you filled out your brackets??

Posted in Uncategorized

While we’re not in the habit of driving traffic to other blogs, it is always a pleasure to point to one of our Mintz family of blogs doing some great work — the Employment Law Matters blog is hosting  a 2015 Employment Law Issues Tournament to go along with your college basketball brackets.  64 employment law issues, seeded 1 through 16 across four regions.

You cannot miss this (I only wish we’d thought of it…..)!   And there are certainly some privacy teams in the matchups as well (Go BYOD Policies and Social Media Policies!)

First Round Results and Recaps




Privacy Monday – March 16, 2015: Unpacking the Obama Administration’s Consumer Privacy Proposal

Posted in Privacy Monday, Privacy Regulation, Uncategorized

Taking another “step” toward developing comprehensive privacy legislation, the White House has released a discussion draft of the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015.   The draft reflects the Fair Information Practice Principles (“FIPPs”) long championed by the Obama Administration, and calls on businesses engaged in the collection of consumer information (“covered entities”) to either abide by a Privacy Bill of Rights or engage in self-regulation. While commentators have suggested the proposal is dead on arrival (read here, here and here) , the Privacy Bill of Rights warrants attention because it will serve as jumping-off point for further legislative and policy discussions on consumer privacy rights.

Continue Reading

One Less Carrot for Business:  Council of European Union Limits the “One-Stop Shop” Mechanism in the Draft Data Protection Regulation

Posted in EU Data Protection Regulation, European Union, Legislation, Privacy Regulation

The draft Data Protection Regulation doesn’t offer many carrots to business – and a recent announcement by the Council of the European Union takes away one of the biggest carrots, the “One-Stop Shop” mechanism.

The One-Stop Shop refers to the principle that businesses would have to deal with just a single national data protection authority instead of 28 different authorities across the EU.  The objective was to simplify logistics for businesses and to reduce any chance of multiple, inconsistent requirements from different authorities.

Continue Reading

Next Wednesday Webinar – March 25 – Register Now

Posted in Events and Webinars

“Responding to Insider Data Theft & Disclosure”

Morgan Stanley



What do these companies have in common?  They were all victims of insider data theft. 

The third presentation in our popular Wednesday Webinar series is coming up on Wednesday, March 25th.   Our presenters, Jonathan Cain and Paul Pelletier,  will offer practical advice about responding to data theft and disclosure by employees and former employees.  They will cover such topics as conducting a proper investigation, utilizing state and local civil court processes to deter, halt, and remediate data thefts, and when and how to engage local and/or federal law enforcement.

Join us Wednesday, March 25 at 1:00 pm ET/10:00 am PT.  Register here.

MCLE credit is available in New York and California.