Now You See Them, Now You Don’t: Regulatory Risks of Ephemeral Messages
Corporate use of ephemeral messaging applications (communications that disappear after a set time) has become increasingly common across the globe in recent years, with companies recognizing its value in decreasing data storage costs and providing employees a convenient method for communicating quickly with customers and clients. However, the prevalence of these messaging applications in the corporate context has caused regulators to grow concerned about how encrypted and ephemeral messaging might affect regulatory obligations related to data preservation, employee monitoring, and compliance.
First Multistate HIPAA Data Breach Lawsuit May Signal Increased State Interest in Data Security Enforcement
On December 3, 2018, twelve attorneys general (“AGs”) jointly filed a data breach lawsuit against Medical Informatics Engineering and its subsidiary, NoMoreClipboard LLC (collectively “the Company”), an electronic health records company, in federal district court in Indiana. See Indiana v. Med. Informatics Eng’g, Inc., No. 3:18-cv-00969 (N.D. Ind. filed Dec. 3, 2018). The suit—led by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill—is joined by AGs from Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina and Wisconsin. While state AGs have previously exercised their civil enforcement authorities under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), this is the first multi-state data breach lawsuit alleging HIPAA violations in federal court and may signal increased interest on the part of state officials in exercising their data protection authorities to address cybersecurity incidents.