Taking Temperatures During COVID-19: A Practical Toolkit

As we move into the second quarter of 2020, governments around the country are analyzing how to best open up their economies. Part of this will include people returning to work, restaurants, retail establishments, and other places of public accommodation. Landlords, business owners, and others want to know how to take steps to reopen safely while government mitigation efforts are being developed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 until a vaccine is developed. And where authorities don’t have specific mitigation efforts, instituting protocols will fall squarely on landlords, business owners, and those who operate places of public accommodation. Continue Reading

Privacy and Data Protection Enactment and Enforcement Timelines During COVID-19

During COVID-19, in certain areas of the law, we have seen significant flexibility from regulators and government agencies in how they are addressing typical approval processes and/or compliance requirements. In the context of privacy and cybersecurity regulations, largely, regulators are emphasizing that personal privacy and data security are important now more than ever. New information is being collected and used in new ways. Certain data security vulnerabilities may be more prevalent in this work-from-home environment. Continue Reading

FTC Settles with Company Over Alleged Deceptive Security Practices

The FTC recently settled with smart lock maker Tapplock, Inc., a Canadian company, over allegations that it deceived consumers with false claims about its product’s security practices. These allegations arose based on vulnerabilities that a security researcher demonstrated – not in the aftermath of a data security breach where these complaints often originate. Continue Reading

Using Mobile Apps and Location Data to Combat COVID-19

A number of private and government entities have released apps and software development kits (SDKs) relying on location tracking data to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. While the use of such technologies are being hotly debated, commentary continues to emerge from the EU about developing such applications in compliance with EU data protection laws. Continue Reading

HHS Relaxes Restrictions on Certain PHI Disclosures During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

HHS recently announced that it will not impose penalties if business associates disclose protected health information relating to COVID-19 during the public health emergency period. This waiver, announced in a Notification of Enforcement Discretion, applies if the disclosure is for public health and health oversight activities. It will apply, the Office for Civil Rights at HHS explained, even if their business associate agreement with covered entities does not specifically allow for such disclosure if two things hold true. First, that the disclosure or use is made in “good faith” for public health activities and health oversight activities.  Second, that the BA informs the covered entity within ten days after the use or disclosure occurs.  Examples provided by HHS include BA notifications to public health authorities, such as the CDC, health departments and CMS. Continue Reading

EDPB Announces Scope of COVID-19 Guidance

Following its 20th plenary session on April 7, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) selected geolocation and health data to focus on in its upcoming COVID-19 guidance. This follows in response to the EDPB’s earlier broad statement on the processing of personal data in the context of COVID-19. Continue Reading

FCC Ruling Helps Clarify What COVID-19 Texts and Calls Are “Emergency” Under TCPA

The FCC recently issued a declaratory ruling explaining what calls and text message alerts it viewed as “emergency” for purposes of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Under TCPA, requirements to obtain consent to make certain calls and texts to cell phone numbers do not apply when a message is an “emergency.” Under the FCC’s new ruling, certain calls and texts from government officials and healthcare providers about the COVID-19 pandemic will be viewed as emergency messages. Continue Reading

Apple Eases Push Notification and Other Privacy Restrictions

Apple recently revised its review guidelines to allow push notifications that include “advertising, promotions, or direct marketing.”  This changes a prior -and longstanding- prohibition on push notices that contain such content. Customers must affirmatively opt in to get promotional push notices, though (“through consent language displayed in your app’s UI”). They must also be able to opt out through an in-app mechanism.  Although promotional push notices were previously prohibited, many apps sent them. These modifications may be a step by Apple to acknowledge this use and put requirements in place around it. Continue Reading

Can you Zigzag? California AG Releases Latest Draft of CCPA Regulations

On March 11, 2020, the second set of modifications (or the third version) of the CCPA draft regulations were released. While the number of substantive changes dwindled in this version, there are a number of drafting corrections and a few modifications of note. Namely: Continue Reading

Turn On the Camera Part Three: Fulfilling CCPA Training Obligations in the Face of COVID-19

As many who have been tracking CCPA are aware, the law requires training employees who handle consumer inquiries, and ensuring that employees understand how to help consumers exercise their rights. Since most of those rights requests are arriving by web page, email, and phone, it is unlikely that rights requests will slow in the face of COVID-19. Indeed, it is possible that they may increase. Employees will thus still need training, something many companies had anticipated doing in-person.

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