In a much anticipated ruling, this month the Swiss Data Protection Authority concluded that the EU-US Swiss Privacy Shield was no longer an adequate method for transferring personal information from Switzerland to the US. In reaching this decision, the Swiss data protection authority agreed with the recent, similar, EU decision of inadequacy. Like the EU, Switzerland anticipates those transferring personal information from Switzerland to the US to rely on standard contractual clauses. However like the EU, Switzerland cautions that companies should assess “on a case-by-case basis” whether the recipient provides sufficient protection.
Continue Reading Impact of Swiss Privacy Shield Inadequacy Decision

The FTC recently finalized settlements with five companies over allegations that they falsely claimed certification under the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework. In each complaint, the FTC alleged that DCR Workforce, Inc., Thru, Inc., LotaData, Inc., and 214 Technologies, Inc. made false and misleading representations when they stated that they participated under the Privacy Shield framework on their website when they were not participants under the framework. Additionally, in the complaint against EmpiriStat, Inc., the FTC alleged that EmpiriStat, Inc. made a false and misleading representations when it stated that it was a current participant under the Privacy Shield framework on its website after it had allowed its certification to lapse and had been warned by the U.S. Department of Commerce to take down its claim of participation.
Continue Reading FTC Finalizes Five Settlements Regarding Privacy Shield Claims

The European Data Protection Board is seeking comment about proposed guidelines that impact websites that provide online services. This might include services a user pays for, or where the fee is indirect (the services being funded through advertising dollars, for example). The EDPB guidance points out that these services typically fall under the provision of GDPR that permits processing of personal information when it is “necessary to perform a contract.” In that regard, the guidance attempts to scope out processing that is necessary in the contractual realm. Information might be processed under one of the other legal basis that exists under GDPR, as the EDPB highlights throughout the guidance, including legitimate interest and consent. This guidance thus provides businesses with ideas about when processing might fall under the “necessary for a contract” basis as opposed to another legal basis.
Continue Reading EDPB Seeks Comment On Online Services Guidance

The ICO first began its examination of Bounty UK Ltd. (a support club for parents) when the ICO was investigating the data brokerage industry generally, of which it viewed Bounty as taking part (given that it shared member information with third parties like Acxiom and Equifax). Here, in reaching its conclusion that the company had violated UK privacy laws, the ICO found the volume of sharing in which Bounty engaged “unprecedented,” and accused the company of both “careless data-sharing” as well as violations of the UK law that pre-dated GDPR (the violation having occurred prior to the law’s May 2018 implementation date). Interestingly, the violation has been described by commentators as a “data breach,” although it did not involve the typical “hacker” scenario that one thinks of when contemplating a breach. Instead, the company collected information and shared it with third parties without appropriate notice and consent.
Continue Reading UK ICO Fines Parenting Club £400,000 Over Breach Involving PII of Mothers and Babies

The French CNIL (the country’s data protection authority) has released rules for how companies can use the biometric information of their employees. Fingerprint scanning is a popular method for “clocking in” around the globe, and like the biometric laws in the US (in particular in Illinois, which we have written about here), it has fallen under scrutiny in France. Late last year the CNIL issued a fine for a company’s use of fingerprint timeclocks, stating that use of biometrics could not be done without CNIL approval under the French Data Protection Act. Around the same time, the CNIL sought input on proposed regulations, which have now been adopted.
Continue Reading France Continues to Focus on Use of Biometrics

Prior to the “Brexit” vote in 2016, the pro-Brexit campaign, Vote Leave, sent almost 200,000 unsolicited texts in violation of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), according to a recent settlement it reached with the ICO. Under those regulations, as the ICO outlines in its PECR guidance, consumers must either have opted into receiving texts or they must already be an existing customer who “bought . . . a similar product or service” in the past.
Continue Reading UK’s ICO Brings Texting Enforcement Action, Fines Vote Leave 40,000 Pounds

The EU and Japan have reached a “reciprocal adequacy” agreement to allow data to flow more easily between them. As part of a larger bilateral trade deal which included commitments by both parties to reduce tariffs, Japan also agreed to enact additional safeguards to comply with new EU data protection standards. Those additional safeguards include increased data subject rights to access and correction, restrictions upon transfers of EU data from Japan to third countries, and limits on the use of sensitive data. Japan’s independent data protection authority would have enforcement authority over the new rules, and would investigate and resolve complaints from European data subjects. If it is approved by internal committees and regulators in both the EU and Japan, the deal will come into effect this Fall. This agreement comes after pressure this summer from the EU Parliament to suspend the US-EU agreement currently in place (the “Privacy Shield” program).
Continue Reading EU and Japan Strike Tentative Data Transfer Deal

It’s hard to believe that it has been a month since GDPR took effect. Since May 25, the sky has not fallen, nor have we seen widespread lawsuits or regulatory scrutiny. For those companies who are still working towards compliance with this new EU law, a round up of guidance from various EU regulators may be helpful. In the UK, the ICO maintains information on its site, including an assessment toolkit. In France, the CNIL also has useful tools in English for companies, including updates to its privacy impact assessment software. In Spain, the data protection agency has issued guides (in Spanish), including for breaches, impact assessments, and risk assessments.
Continue Reading GDPR Celebrates One Month Anniversary