*This article first appeared in Bloomberg BNA Corporate Law & Accountability Report on February 23, 2017
On Jan. 12, 2017, the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) released its new “NACD Director’s Handbook on Cyber-Risk Oversight.” The NACD has suggested that directors can use this Cyber-Risk Oversight Handbook as a resource to “[l]earn foundational principles for board-level cyber-risk oversight” and gain insight into issues including how to:
- “allocate cyber-risk oversight responsibilities at the board level”;
- address “legal implications and considerations related to cybersecurity”;
- “set expectations with management about the organization’s cybersecurity processes”;
- “improve the dialogue between directors and management on cyber issues”; and,
- “improve and enhance boardroom practices.”
The Third Circuit recently overturned a district court’s ruling on In re Horizon Healthcare Services Inc. Data Breach Litigation and gave new life to a putative class action over a data breach. No. 15-2309 (Jan. 20, 2017). The Third Circuit panel held that allegations of unauthorized disclosure of personal information in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) constituted a de facto injury sufficient to establish Article III standing. Plaintiffs did not allege identity theft, any other misuse of the compromised data, or even any mitigation costs.
2016 was a year of seismic changes in the global data protection and privacy landscape. Here, we look back at the top ten events and issues that shaped 2016, and are poised to shape the year ahead as well.
Year In Review
1. GDPR Adoption
On April 14, the European Parliament voted to adopt the long-awaited EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), formally completing adoption of the GDPR. The GDPR was published in the Official Journal of the EU on May 25, 2016, giving companies and Member States until the May 25, 2018 effective date to implement the Regulation fully. In the wake of its adoption, businesses should have planning under way for implementation of the significantly expanded Regulation by evaluating whether they are subject to the expanded jurisdiction, and if so, completing an internal gap analysis of current data protection practices as compared with the new requirements and rights under the Regulation. Some of the key aspects to consider include data breach response planning under the new 72-hour notice requirement, reviewing existing data protection notices and consents for the more robust obligations, identifying current profiling activities and existing data protection and retention policies and procedures, ensuring privacy impact assessments are carried out where required, and evaluating whether there is an obligation to appoint a data protection officer. Despite the time until the effective date, the extensive preparation necessary to comply presents a challenge as companies around the world refocus resources to develop compliance plans.
2. Political Cyber Warfare
There is a new front in geopolitical battles. (more…)
On December 28, 2016, the New York State Department of Financial Services (the “NYDFS”) issued revised proposed regulations setting forth minimum requirements for NYDFS-regulated entities to address cybersecurity risk (“Revised Proposed Regulations”). The NYDFS issued the Revised Proposed Regulations after considering feedback and criticism submitted during a 45-day comment period to address the initial proposal, issued on September 13, 2016. The agency has announced an additional and final 30-day comment period from the date of publication to address new comments not previously raised in the original comment process.
After having received over 150 comments on proposed cybersecurity regulations, the New York Department of Financial Services will delay implementation and initiate a new round of notice and comment on a further revised version of cybersecurity regulations. As we reported previously, NYDFS proposed new cybersecurity regulations for the financial sector in September of this year, and the comment period closed mid-November. NYDFS previously announced that the new rules would be effective January 1, 2017 and that covered entities would have 180 days to comply. Reuters reports that NYDFS will now publish a further revised version of proposed regulations on December 28 for public comment with a new effective date of March 1, 2017.
On 15 December 2016 the Article 29 Working Party (“WP29”) released draft guidelines and FAQs on key provisions in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). The guidelines cover the right to data portability, data protection officers and the lead supervisory authority. The WP29 has invited comments from stakeholders on the draft guidelines and FAQs. The deadline for comments is January 31, 2017. Although this invitation for comment is directed at the new guidance, some members of the WP29 have expressed interest in comments on additional issues for the WP29 2017 work plan, for which guidance has not been issued.
As part of a housekeeping effort, the U.S. Copyright Office issued a final rule that changes the designated agent mechanism protecting online service providers from certain copyright infringement liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). Companies will now have to re-register every three years, and existing registrations will cease to be valid by the end of next year.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has ordered the FTC to halt enforcement of its data security order against LabMD while LabMD challenges the action.
To recap the events leading up to this stay, a data security company allegedly obtained sensitive data from LabMD via a peer-to-peer file-sharing program. Allegedly, after LabMD refused to purchase the company’s security products, it reported the alleged data security vulnerability to the FTC. The FTC accused LabMD of unfair practices in failing to provide reasonable and appropriate security for customers’ personal information, which was allegedly likely to cause harm to customers. In 2015, an Administrative Law Judge dismissed the case, finding that the FTC failed to prove LabMD’s practices were likely to cause substantial customer injury. In July 2016, upon appeal to the full Commission, the FTC reversed the ALJ decision. Although LabMD stopped operating in 2014, the FTC nevertheless ordered LabMD to implement several information security compliance measures because the Lab still maintains medical records. LabMD appealed to the Eleventh Circuit and filed a motion to stay the FTC’s order.
On November 7, 2016, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China promulgated the Cyber Security Law of the People’s Republic of China (the “Cyber Security Law”) after three rounds of readings in June 2015, June and October 2016, respectively. The Cyber Security Law will enter into force on June 1, 2017. As early as July 1, 2015, the National Security Law of the People’s Republic of China was promulgated, expressly providing that the state shall “safeguard sovereignty and security of cyberspace in the state,” a theme that is reiterated and emphasized in Article 1 of the Cyber Security Law. The introduction of the concept of “cyber space sovereignty” in the Cyber Security Law echoes the views of President Xi Jinping, who is also the head of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs, and who has stated in February 2014 that “[n]o cyber safety means no national security.” Critically, the Cyber Security Law may have global implications, as the Law applies to both Chinese and international businesses engaging in the construction, operation, maintenance or use of information networks in China.
The future of privacy and cybersecurity under President-elect Trump – with a Republican-controlled House and Senate – is far from certain, but his campaign comments indicate an emphasis on robust cybersecurity, perhaps with more openness to both offensive as well as defensive initiatives.