Over the last few years, States have enacted increasingly aggressive legislation concerning data privacy and security, raising concerns that companies will be subject to a patchwork of different standards. Congress has recently taken notice, convening hearings on potential federal privacy legislation, with the possibility of preemption a hot topic during the hearings. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) got into the act as well, releasing two notices of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) on potential changes to its the Standards for Safeguarding Customer Information (“Safeguards Rule”) and Privacy of Consumer Financial Information Rule (“Privacy Rule”) under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The proposed amendments – and particularly the proposed changes to the Safeguard Rule – signal the FTC’s desire to align its rules with those of key states and to further protect customer information held by financial institutions.
The UK Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) has carried out a multi-firm review of cybersecurity practices with a sample of 20 firms in the wholesale banking and asset management sectors (the “Report”). The review aimed to look more closely at how wholesale banking and asset management firms oversee and manage their cybersecurity, including the extent to which firms identify and mitigate relevant cyber risks and their current capability to respond to and recover from data security incidents.
On January 25, 2019, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to approve a settlement issuing a record $10 million fine against an unidentified utility resulting from violations of critical infrastructure protection standards (“CIP”) occurring mostly between 2015 and 2018 (referred to hereafter as the “Settlement Agreement”). Although none of the violations resulted in any reported outages, NERC concluded that the cumulative effect of the violations posed a serious risk to the reliability of the bulk U.S. power grid because “many of the violations involved long durations, multiple instances of noncompliance, and repeated failures to implement physical and cyber security protections.” Settlement Agreement at 12.
On December 28, 2018, Michigan adopted the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) Insurance Data Security Model Law in the form of Michigan H.B. 6491 (Act). By doing so, Michigan joins Ohio and South Carolina as the third state to adopt the Model Law and the fifth state – along with Connecticut and New York – to have enacted cybersecurity regulations focused on insurance companies. See CT Gen Stat § 38a-999b (2015); 23 NYCRR 500. (Please see our prior coverage for more information on Ohio and South Carolina’s adoption of the Model Law). Moreover, adoption of the Model Law is still gaining steam with Rhode Island potentially next in line.
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.
In December 2018, the European Commission published its report on the second annual review of the EU-US Privacy Shield (the “Report”). The Report concluded that the Privacy Shield “continues to ensure an adequate level of protection” for personal data transferred from the EU to the US. However, the Commission did identify a number of recommendations from the first annual review which still required implementation including the appointment by the US of a permanent ombudsperson to oversee complaints. To date, the U.S. has only appointed an interim ombudsperson (Manisha Singh). In the first annual review, the Commission did not set a deadline for the appointment. However, the latest review required an appointee to be identified by 28 February 2019 failing which the Commission will “consider taking appropriate measures.”
On January 17, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) released its annual Risk Monitoring and Examination Priorities Letter (Letter), which identifies topics that FINRA will focus on in 2019. Unlike in previous years, this Letter primarily discusses new topics and priorities in areas of ongoing concern while not repeating topics that have been at the center of FINRA’s attention over the years. FINRA notes, however, that while traditional topics such as cybersecurity,1 recidivist brokers and anti-money-laundering (AML) may not be discussed extensively in the Letter, FINRA will nonetheless review firms for compliance regarding these areas of focus.
As always, firms should use the Letter to review their compliance and supervisory procedures carefully and make any necessary revisions. Firms also should be prepared to explain their compliance and supervisory policies in these areas in their upcoming FINRA examinations and provide documentation of relevant reviews. The following is a discussion of some of the more salient points of the FINRA Letter. (more…)
Under Article 35(3) of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), organisations are required to conduct a data protection impact assessment (DPIA) where they: (i) engage in a systematic and extensive evaluation of personal aspects of individuals, based on automated processing, and on which decisions are based that produce legal or other effects that concern the individual, or (ii) process special categories of personal data (e.g. health data) on a large scale or personal data relating to criminal convictions, or (iii) engage in a systematic monitoring of a publicly accessible area on a large scale. (more…)