On June 1, 2020, the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) publicized an updated version of its “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Program” guidance. This is the third version of the document, with the DOJ having issued the guidance in 2017 (which we analyzed here) and revised it in April 2019 (which we analyzed here). This further revision is another reminder of the DOJ’s heightened focus and increasing sophistication regarding evaluating compliance programs during investigations. While the overall structure of the guidance generally remains consistent with the last version, the revisions provide additional insight into the DOJ’s expectations for corporate compliance programs. More specifically, the revisions highlight the importance of an adequately resourced and empowered compliance department, a constantly evolving compliance program based on the company’s current risk profile and relevant compliance issues, and the use of key compliance metrics to test the effectiveness of a compliance program.
On June 1, 2020, California’s Office of the Attorney General (“AG”) moved one step closer to finalizing the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) regulations when the AG submitted proposed final regulations for review and approval by California’s Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”). This submission signals the end of the AG’s CCPA regulation drafting process that began in early 2019. If the OAL approves the proposed final regulations, they will be finalized and enforceable by the AG, subject to any legal challenges.
On May 18, 2020, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), as part of its COVID-19-related response, issued a Notice Related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) reminding financial institutions of certain Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) obligations and pertinent information regarding reporting COVID-19-related criminal and suspicious activity (the Notice). Contemporaneously, FinCEN issued an Advisory on Medical Scams Related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (the Advisory).
In light of the Notice and Advisory, firms should (a) continue to comply with their BSA obligations; (b) include COVID-19 detail only when that detail relates to the reported suspicious activity; (c) review policies and procedures to notify and to provide COVID-19 information to government agencies, including verification of the requesting agency; (d) review the Advisory red flags related to medical scams; and (e) consider revising policies and procedures as appropriate.
COVID-19-related frauds are a special emphasis for law enforcement and regulatory agencies, so failing to detect and report those issues could be viewed as a significant flaw in a firm’s anti-money laundering (AML) program.
Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) and its Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) have taken a variety of steps to relax HIPAA restrictions particularly pertinent to the COVID-19 response.
First, as covered in an earlier posting, HHS took action to waive penalties and assure companies that it would exercise enforcement discretion with respect to the Privacy Rule’s application to telehealth services and certain limited communication activities related to COVID-19 treatment efforts. (more…)
UPDATE: Soon after we published the post below, we learned that the sponsors of the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) – i.e., the ballot initiative that aimed to amend and significantly expand the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) – intend to push forward with their attempt to get it on the ballot this year. On May 4th, the initiative’s sponsors, the Californians for Consumer Privacy, announced on Twitter they were submitting to counties across the state. Whether county election officials can verify the signatures in time to qualify for the November 2020 ballot remains to be seen. While conventional wisdom is that the recommended April deadline is an important one to make, the approval process may be different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it might affect the availability of resources to approve initiatives. We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates on Data Matters as appropriate.
The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), the ballot initiative that aimed to amend and significantly expand the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), including by creating the California’s very own data protection authority, the nation’s first, appears to be dead–at least for this ballot season.
While the world seems to have ground to a halt in so many ways, time still marches on, and along with it, the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) enforcement date (July 1, 2020) inches ever closer. On March 11, 2020, the California Attorney General (“AG”) released the third turn of proposed California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) regulations. The AG’s revisions make only moderate changes to the last round of regulations issued in February 2020. Businesses will not need to dramatically change compliance plans as the proposed revised regulations seek to refine requirements in prior drafts rather than introduce any wholesale changes to the regulatory framework. (more…)
On 20 March 2020, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) released a statement on the protection of personal data in connection with measures that public authorities and business organizations (including employers) are taking to address the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This statement is an extension of the statement released by the EDPB chair on 16 March 2020, (which can be accessed here). In its latest statement, the EDPB emphasises that EU data protection law (in particular, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”)) does not stand in the way of measures adopted to fight against COVID-19 – if these measures are necessary, proportionate and consistent with safeguards required under EU Member State laws. The EDPB statement also provides useful guidance for organisations to consider when adopting measures to lawfully process personal data during this time.
Overall, while EDPB statement may provide some reassurance to organizations with respect to COVID-19 measures, organizations will be advised to consider guidance issued by specific EU Member State data protection authorities as well. In particular, specific EU Member State data protection authorities have begun issuing COVID-19 guidance that is, at least in certain respects divergent: while certain data protection authorities are adopting a more restrictive approach (for example, the French CNIL), others are more permissible (for example, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office).
On March 5, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued an updated set of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs)1 regarding risk management in national bank relationships with third parties to further supplement its 2013 guidance, OCC Bulletin 2013-29 (the Bulletin),2 and its 2017 FAQs (Prior FAQs) on the topic.3 Twelve of the 27 FAQs are new and elaborate on a wide range of topics, including the broad intended scope of third-party risk management obligations, obligations of banks where negotiating power or access to information is limited, oversight of cloud computing providers and data aggregators and use of third parties in model development or delivery of alternative data for credit underwriting.