New U.S. Sanctions Program Targets Malicious Foreign-Origin Cyber Activities

Yesterday, the United States established a new sanctions program designed to deter and financially target foreign parties who engage in, support or profit from “significant malicious cyber-enabled activities.” Declaring a national emergency, President Barack Obama issued an executive order authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and Secretary of State, to identify as Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDNs) cyber-actors whose activities significantly harm the national security, foreign policy or economic health or financial stability of the United States. The U.S. government has not yet designated any parties under this new sanctions program. Once parties are so designated, U.S. companies must cease doing business with them and report any blocked property to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

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Reclassification of broadband Internet services will have impact on privacy of telecommunications customers’ data

On February 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed the Open Internet Order to reclassify “broadband Internet access service” as a telecommunication service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. In doing so, the FCC found that applying section 222 of the Communications Act to broadband Internet access services is in the public interest and necessary for the protection of customers. Section 222 imposes a duty on telecommunications carriers to protect the confidentiality of proprietary information obtained from their customers or other carriers, and imposes special rules for use and disclosure of information related to customers’ phone service and usage, known as customer proprietary network information (“CPNI”).

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Montana and Wyoming amend breach notification laws

Montana Governor Steve Bullock has signed a bill, H.B. 74, that will toughen the state’s breach notification law. The bill expands the definition of “personal information” covered by the law to include medical record information (as further defined by the state’s Insurance Information and Privacy Protection Act), taxpayer identification number, or other identification number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. The revised law also requires organizations to notify the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office in the event of a breach. Insurance entities such as licensees or insurance support organizations must also provide notification to the state Insurance Commissioner. Notice to these regulators must identify the number of affected individuals, state the date and distribution method of the notice to affected individuals, and include a copy of the notice provided to individuals. The law takes effect October 1, 2015.

On March 2, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead signed a bill, S.F. 36, amending the state’s data breach notification law to revise the state’s definition of “personal information” and to specify the type of information required in notices to individuals. The amendment removes from the definition of “personal information” an individual’s demand deposit account, savings account, employee identification number, place of employment, and mother’s maiden name. At the same time, it adds new data elements to the definition, including taxpayer identification number, birth or marriage certificates, biometric data, medical history and health insurance information.  The new law also specifies that a notification letter to individuals affected by a breach must include the types of personal identifying information that were the subject of the breach, a general description of the breach, the approximate date of the breach, and the actions taken to protect the affected system from further breaches.

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Increasing Scrutiny of Insurance Companies’ Cybersecurity Preparedness

“A question we often get as financial regulators is: ‘What keeps you up at night?’ The answer is ‘a lot of things.’ But right at the top of the list is the cybersecurity at the financial institutions we regulate.”

Benjamin Lawsky, prepared remarks from speech at Columbia Law School on February 25, 2015.1

Insurance regulators are gearing up to impose enhanced scrutiny on information security practices to boost protection of sensitive personal information.

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Generational interpretations and expectations of privacy

Data Protection Law & Policy

In the last few years, privacy has evolved to become a topic of concern for more and more people. Recent studies have also shown that people have stopped using a particular product or service because they were worried about how it used their personal data. However, what is less clear is whether this is a concern for all generations or does the common perception that young people do not care about their privacy hold some element of truth? William Long, Geraldine Scali and Francesca Blythe, Partner, Senior Associate and Associate respectively at Sidley Austin LLP, explore this question.

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An Update on the Hong Kong Data Transfer Guidance

Section 33 of the Hong Kong Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap. 486) (the PDPO) deals with the transfer of personal data, and prohibits the transfer of personal data outside Hong Kong except in specified circumstances, such as when:

  • the data protection laws of the foreign country are similar to the PDPO; or
  • the data subject has consented in writing to the transfer.

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