EU and UK Regulation of Privacy Policies

Most organisations that conduct their business online will collect data relating to individuals at some stage during their operations, whether in relation to customers, target clients, or even their own employees. Personal data can be collected on websites by a variety of means: registration pages, requests for details when goods or services are ordered, competitions and surveys, or by the use of various tracking devices such as cookies. Whenever personal data is collected, the organisation responsible for the use of such data (known as the ‘data controller’) will need to comply with various legal requirements, and may be advised to follow certain good practice guidelines, all of which are designed to protect the privacy of the individual whose data is being collected.

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California Anti-Spam Law Is Toughest In The Nation, But May Be Superseded By Impending Federal Legislation

On January 1, 2004, a bill recently signed by Governor Gray Davis will take effect that has been hailed by many as the toughest anti-spamming law in the nation. With narrow exceptions, the bill, SB 186, prevents marketers and advertisers from sending unsolicited email advertisements from California, regardless of whether the recipient is located in or outside the state. Targeting marketers and advertisers located outside California, SB 186 also prohibits sending unsolicited commercial email advertisements to a California email address. However, as explained below, SB 186 may well eventually be superseded by impending federal legislation.

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Privacy and Data Protection Alert

This client alert describes legislation which Congress is considering introducing to require all publicly traded companies in the United States to certify to the SEC their compliance with minimum computer security standards. Prior to the introduction of the legislation within the next three months, Congress is soliciting comments and alternative proposals from the business community. The business community has been put on notice, however, that even if it formulates a strong alternative, legislation may still be required, if only to codify industry’s ideas.

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California’s Office of Privacy Protection Issues – Recommendations on Notification of Security Breaches Involving Personal Information

The recent release of new guidelines on responding to computer security breaches offer important guidance for all companies with valuable electronic information. On October 10, 2003, the Office of Privacy Protection within the State of California’s Department of Consumer Affairs issued its “Recommended Practices on Notification of Security Breach Involving Personal Information.” The Office of Privacy Protection is tasked with recommending policies and practices that protect California consumers’ privacy.

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EU Data Protection: “Binding Corporate Rules” as an Alternative to the “Safe Harbor” for Multinationals that Transfer Data to the U.S.

Global corporations with offices or customers in the European Union should be aware of the latest European Union proposal for compliance with its Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC with respect to internal transfers of information among members of the same corporate group. Interested parties will be submitting comments through September 30, 2003.

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California Supreme Court Resolves Apparent Conflict Between Trade Secret Law And Free Speech Rights

In a recent case of first impression, the California Supreme Court unanimously held a trial court’s preliminary injunction preventing publication of a computer program for descrambling digital video disks did not violate the defendant’s free speech rights, assuming the trial court properly issued the injunction under California’s trade secret law. In its August 25, 2003 decision in DVD Copy Control Assoc., Inc. v. Andrew Bunner, the Court resolved an apparent conflict between the free speech clauses of the United States and California Constitutions and California’s trade secret laws. This decision is significant because it is one of the first in the country to deal with the interplay between the free speech rights of parties who wish to publish technical information on the Internet and the property rights of parties who claim trade secret ownership in such information.

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FCC Stays Broad Expansion of Rules on Unsolicited Faxes

The FCC has issued a lengthy stay of an important aspect of its new restrictions on unsolicited faxes. On June 26, 2003, responding to complaints of “besieged” consumers, the FCC took action that greatly enhanced the existing statutory prohibition against unsolicited facsimiles contained in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. In its Report and Order, the FCC reversed an important prior interpretation by eliminating a key exception for sending faxes to existing customers; instead, the FCC concluded that affirmative, opt-in consent to receive faxes would be required, even for existing customers. The new rule is merely one component of the rules regarding the TCPA, but it merits significant attention because of its impact on all businesses and associations that communicate with customers via facsimile.

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