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Elfin Noce is an associate in the Business Trial Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. He also is a member of the Privacy and Cybersecurity Team.

Will HHS’ approach for imposing penalties in the aftermath of a data breach become a little clearer in 2021? This is a distinct possibility in the wake of a Fifth Circuit decision vacating penalties against MD Anderson Cancer Center. The hospital suffered three data breaches, leading HHS to impose over $4 million in civil penalties. That fine was reversed recently by the Fifth Circuit as arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law.
Continue Reading What Does the Fifth Circuit’s Vacating of HHS HIPAA Fines Mean for Companies This Year?

The FTC recently settled with Ascension Data & Analytics for failure to oversee service providers. Ascension provides services to mortgage companies within its corporate family of entities. According to the complaint, Ascension uses third parties to provide some of its services. One of those, OpticsML, had access to tax returns for approximately 60,000 customers. OpticsML stored the information on a cloud-based server which server was publicly accessible for a year. During that time the tax documents were accessed by unauthorized individuals. The originating IP addresses were in Russia and China.  Although the security incident was that of OpticsML, the FTC alleged that Ascension violated the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act’s Safeguards Rule. Namely, the company failed to properly oversee its service providers and it failed to adequately assess risk. In particular, the FTC alleged that:
Continue Reading FTC Settles Over Alleged Failure to Manage Service Providers

Alleging unfair and deceptive practices in violation of the FTC Act, the FTC recently entered into a settlement agreement with SkyMed International, Inc. The company sells travel emergency plans to individuals who sustain medical emergencies or injuries while traveling internationally, and has signed up -according to the FTC- thousands of consumers. During the sign-up process individuals provided the company with sensitive health information.
Continue Reading FTC Settles with Travel Services Provider Over Security Issues

NIST has now finalized its guidance providing important information on selecting both security and privacy control baselines for the Federal Government. The guidance is available here: Special Publication 800-53B, Control Baselines for Information Systems and Organizations. As we previously discussed when the draft version was released, these control baselines are from NIST Special Publication 800-53, and have been moved to this separate publication as a consolidated catalog of privacy and security controls. While the implementation of a minimum set of controls is required for protecting federal information systems, NIST envisions that these control baselines can be implemented by any organization that processes, stores, or transmits information.
Continue Reading NIST Finalizes Guidance on Security and Privacy Control Baselines – SP 800-53B

Israel’s Privacy Protection Authority recently announced that Privacy Shield can no longer be relied on for data transfers between Israel and the United States. Israel did not have a direct Privacy Shield arrangement with the U.S., instead permitting the many Israeli companies that exchange data with their American counterparts to rely on a provision of its Privacy Protection Regulations that allows for transfers of data to any country that receives data from the EU under the same terms of such transfer.
Continue Reading Israel Follows Europe’s Lead on Privacy Shield

After many years of being in draft form, NIST recently released its final version of Revision 5 of Special Publication 800-53, Security and Privacy Controls for Information Systems and Organizations to address a need for a more proactive and systematic approach to cybersecurity. With the release of Revision 5, NIST hopes to provide updated security and privacy controls that will make information systems more penetration resistant, limit damages from cyber-attacks, make systems more cyber-resilient, and protect individuals’ privacy. NIST intends this update to be usable by a more diverse set of consumer groups than previous iterations of the document permitted.
Continue Reading NIST Issues Long-Awaited Final Guidance on Security and Privacy Controls – SP 800-53

NIST’s new draft guidance, Special Publication 800-53B, Control Baselines for Information Systems and Organizations, provides important information on selecting both security and privacy control baselines for the Federal Government. These control baselines are from NIST Special Publication 800-53 and have been moved to this separate publication “so the SP 800-53 [can] serve as a consolidated catalog of security and privacy controls regardless of how those controls [are] used by different communities of interest.”   The new guidance addresses federal information systems and is applicable to information systems used or operated by an agency, a contractor on behalf of an agency, or another organization on behalf of an agency.
Continue Reading NIST Issues Draft Guidance on Security and Privacy Control Baselines – SP 800-53B

NIST recently released the final public draft of SP 800-172, Enhanced Security Requirements for Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information: A Supplement to NIST Special Publication 800-171 (formerly Draft NIST SP 800-171B). NIST is proposing additional security requirements for certain CUI in non-federal systems that is associated with critical programs or high value assets and is soliciting public comments through August 21, 2020.
Continue Reading NIST Proposes Draft Enhanced Security Requirements for Protecting CUI

As a part of its Cybersecurity for IoT Program, NIST recently released two publications with the goal of providing cybersecurity guidance and best practices specific for companies manufacturing IoT devices. These publications were developed as a part of NIST’s implementation of the 2017 Executive Order on Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure. With these publications, NIST provides a set of recommended activities that manufacturers should consider to improve the securability of IoT devices, as well as a baseline level of security requirements for these devices.

Continue Reading NIST Releases Cybersecurity Guidance for Manufacturers of IoT Devices

The European Parliament recently issued a resolution directed at the European Commission on its concerns with automated decision-making processes and artificial intelligence. While the EU Parliament addresses several areas of automated decision-making, the underlying theme of this resolution is that the Commission should ensure that there is transparency and human oversight of these processes. In particular, the EU Parliament stresses that consumers should be properly informed about how the automated decision-making functions, be protected from harm, and, particularly with automated decision-making in professional services, that humans are always responsible and able to overrule decisions.  Additionally, this resolution stresses the need for a risk-based approach to regulating AI and automated decision-making and for the availability of large amounts of high quality data, while at the same time protecting any personal data under GDPR.
Continue Reading European Parliament Weighs in on Automated Decision-Making