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Category Archives: Consumer Privacy

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Posted in Consumer Privacy

The 2015 State of the Union Addresses Cybersecurity, Data Security, and Privacy

Tonight, the President’s State of the Union address covered, as he put it, “the tasks that lie ahead.” Among the policy initiatives that he proposed, he “urge[d]…Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information.” What he was referring to is a set of cybersecurity and info sharing initiatives and privacy and data security proposals that the White House started rolling out last week. The President also alluded to a report to be released next month that will address the Administration’s actions to curtail domestic surveillance programs. We provide here excerpts of the President’s address that discuss cybersecurity, data security, and privacy.

Posted in Consumer Privacy, Cybersecurity & Data Breaches

The White House Announces a Cybersecurity Summit and Information Sharing Proposals

President Obama today addressed cybersecurity for the second time in as many days in a speech at the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC). Early this morning, the White House announced a February 13 Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection and released further details on several initiatives to promote cybersecurity information sharing between the private sector and government. The President then convened a meeting with congressional leaders in which he discussed cybersecurity issues. Speaking about his cooperation with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the President noted “I think we agreed that this is an area where we can work hard together, get some legislation done and make sure that we are much more effective in protecting the American people from these kinds of cyber attacks.” Today’s developments follow the President’s address to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday, in which he announced a legislative proposal on national data breach reporting and emphasized the importance of student and consumer privacy. Together, these events provide a preview of initiatives that the President is expected to highlight during his State of the Union address on January 20.

Posted in Consumer Privacy, Cybersecurity & Data Breaches

The White House Pushes Privacy and Data Security in Advance of the State of the Union

Today, the President spoke at the Federal Trade Commission on the importance of preventing identity theft and improving consumer and student privacy. Today’s speech has been billed as a first look at a broader White House policy initiative on cybersecurity, identity theft, and privacy that will continue this week and will be included in the President’s State of the Union address to Congress on January 20th. Tomorrow, the President will highlight the work of the Department of Homeland Security and the importance of public-private collaboration on cyber threats and is expected to release policy proposals over the coming weeks.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

FTC Complaint Offers Lessons for Data Broker Industry

Two weeks ago, the FTC filed a district court complaint in Arizona against an operation that included three corporations and one individual. While touted as a case against data brokers (“FTC Charges Data Broker with Facilitating the Theft of Millions of Dollars from Consumers’ Accounts”), the single count unfair trade practices action really involves fraudulent and egregious conduct that took advantage of a particularly vulnerable population, but it nevertheless provides a few lessons for the data broker industry generally.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

FTC Settles Claims Against Medical Billing Provider for Inadequate Data Collection Disclosures

On December 3, 2014, the Federal Trade Commission announced two administrative settlements with a medical Billing Provider, PaymentsMD, LLC, and its former CEO, Michael Hughes, for allegedly misleading thousands of consumers who signed up for an online billing portal by failing to adequately disclose that the company would seek detailed medical information from pharmacies, medical labs, and insurance companies. The FTC’s enforcement of Section 5 does not extend to businesses or organizations covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

Automakers Come Together to Adopt Privacy Commitments for Connected Cars with Hogan Lovells’ Assistance

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers, the two leading trade associations for vehicle manufacturers, today unveiled a set of baseline protections for consumer’s personal information in the era of connected cars. The Privacy Principles for Vehicle Technologies and Services commit participating automakers to take important steps to protect the personal information retrieved from vehicles. Hogan Lovells was engaged by the Alliance to lead drafting of the Principles and a team led by Chris Wolf and including Tim Tobin and James Denvil worked on the project.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

FTC Sends Dozens of Warning Letters to Companies Over Advertising Disclosures

It should be standard practice for companies to review the transparency of material disclaimers and disclosures in their advertising before every ad campaign. However, some companies tend to pack material disclosures into fine print or otherwise minimize their significance. The Federal Trade Commission recently signaled to companies that it is paying attention to print and television ad disclosures. This follows the FTC’s renewed attention to online advertising as addressed last year in its updated .com Disclosures guidance for digital advertising

Posted in Consumer Privacy

FCC Announces $10 Million Proposed Forfeiture Over Data Security Practices

The Federal Communications Commission recently issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture proposing a $10 million penalty against TerraCom, Inc. and YourTel America, Inc. (collectively, the “companies”) for allegedly violating laws protecting consumers’ personal information. Specifically, the FCC alleged that the companies placed the personal data of up to 300,000 consumers at risk by storing Social Security numbers, names, addresses, driver’s licenses, and other proprietary information on unprotected Internet servers that “anyone in the world could access.” The decision is the FCC’s first case involving data security. It is also informative as to the FCC’s current and evolving expectations with regard to carriers’ duties to protect sensitive consumer information, and it underscores the need for organizations in the communications sector to keep a close eye on both FCC and Federal Trade Commission data privacy and security enforcement activity.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

FTC Reminds Broadband Providers of their Data Privacy and Security Obligations

The Federal Trade Commission recently submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission in which it reminded broadband Internet service providers that they are subject to several data privacy and security laws enforced by the FTC. The FTC’s comments underscore why broadband providers – as well as their vendors and business partners – must keep a close watch on both FCC and FTC developments in the privacy and security space.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

Hogan Lovells Article Anticipates Busy FTC Enforcement Season

Writing for Expert Guide: Competition and Antitrust Law, Hogan Lovells attorneys Dean Hansell and Charles Dickinson discuss the FTC’s current consumer protection initiatives and identify emerging areas of focus of the agency’s regulatory initiatives. Hansell and Dickinson also expect that the FTC may be “more willing to push enforcement initiatives” with its current roster of Commissioners and offer that “companies of all sizes would be well-served to understand how their businesses might fall under the FTC’s radar.”

Posted in Consumer Privacy

Destroy Securely: Delaware Adopts New Data Destruction Law

Delaware recently adopted a new law that will add requirements related to the destruction of records containing “personal identifying information.” With that law, Delaware joined a number of other states that place restrictions on the ways in which entities destroy or dispose of personal information. The Delaware law will become effective January 1, 2015.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

Hogan Lovells Partner Engages in NY Times on Big Data and Inequality

Writing for the New York Times “Room for Debate,” Christopher Wolf, Hogan Lovells partner and co-director of the firm’s global Privacy and Information Management group, focuses on the potential positive uses for Big Data, observing that “Big Data can also advance the interests of minorities and actually fight discrimination.” Wolf cites examples such as Entelo Diversity, an employee recruiting platform that promises to diversify workplaces by using powerful algorithms to analyze public data and find qualified candidates who are also members of underrepresented classes.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

The Hidden Mini-Dissents in the Data Broker Report of Federal Trade Commissioner Wright

On May 27, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report on the data broker industry that found data brokers operate with a ”fundamental lack of transparency.” The commission unanimously recommended that Congress consider enacting legislation to make data broker practices more visible to consumers and to give consumers greater control over the immense amounts of personal information about them that are collected and shared by data brokers. Not well-recognized at the time were a number of concerns, mini-dissents if you will, expressed by Federal Trade Commissioner Josh Wright. I recently asked Commissioner Wright some questions about his “dissent by footnotes.”

Posted in Consumer Privacy

FTC Releases Data Broker Report

Today, the Federal Trade Commission released Data Brokers: A Call for Transparency and Accountability. The report is an in-depth look at issues posed by the collection and dissemination of consumer information by the data broker industry and its findings will likely be used by both sides in the debate over data broker legislation and guide future FTC regulatory and enforcement activities in this space.

Posted in Consumer Privacy, Health Privacy/HIPAA

FTC Examines Benefits and Risks of Consumer Generated and Controlled Health Data

On May 7, 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a seminar on Consumer Generated and Controlled Health Data (CGHD) that included participants from government, industry, and advocacy organizations. The seminar—which consisted of opening remarks by FTC Commissioner Julie Brill, brief presentations by FTC representatives on health information data flows and sharing of CGHD with third parties, and a panel discussion moderated by FTC attorneys Kristen Anderson and Cora Han—examined the potential benefits and risks of CGHD.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Stresses “Use” Issues in Report

On May 1, the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released Big Data: A Technological Perspective. The report is billed as a technical accompaniment to the 90-day Big Data review performed by Presidential Counselor John Podesta and addresses “the nature of current technologies for managing and analyzing big data and for preserving privacy” and the evolving nature of those technologies. While the PCAST report, released to coincide with Counselor Podesta’s review, has received less media attention than the Podesta report, its findings may influence the Administration’s information-governance expectations of businesses.

Posted in Consumer Privacy, Financial Privacy

FTC Focuses on Alternative Scoring Products

As part of its 2014 Spring Privacy Series, the Federal Trade Commission in March held a seminar to examine alternative scoring products and the possible benefits and risks of their growing use. During the seminar, FTC attorneys Katherine Armstrong and Andrea Arias of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection moderated a panel discussion between various stakeholders that included public interest groups, the data industry, and academics.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

IAPP Piece Outlines Drone Privacy State-of-Play

Over the next five years in the United States, thousands of drones are expected to be deployed for an array of commercial and governmental purposes. This prospect has captured the public’s imagination, and there are concerns about the privacy implications and whether new laws and regulations are needed. We here provide an overview of existing privacy requirements for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) operating in the United States, describe new privacy proposals, and outline three scenarios that, depending on decisions by policymakers, could govern the privacy requirements for the commercial use of UAS for years to come.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

FTC Continues to Enforce Security Statements

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has settled with two mobile application developers, Fandango and Credit Karma, over charges that they misrepresented the security of their mobile applications. According to the FTC, the developers failed to provide reasonable and appropriate security when their mobile applications transmitted consumers’ sensitive information. The particular issues noted by the FTC in its complaints against the developers differ to some degree, but the complaints share a common thread: the developers disabled the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, which authenticates and encrypts communications across networks. In our post, we provide a high-level description of how SSL works, summarize the FTC’s complaints against Fandango and Credit Karma, and identify some important takeaways from these settlements.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

Recent TCPA Compliance Developments and Risk Minimization Tips

The Hogan Lovells Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Working Group has published an alert addressing recent TCPA litigation and regulatory compliance developments. The alert notes that the number of TCPA cases is increasing and summarizes recent decisions that provide guidance regarding what constitutes prior express consent for non-telemarketing calls under the TCPA and its regulations. The alert concludes with some regulatory compliance tips to help minimize risk.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

Department of Education Clarifies Obligations of Schools When Contracting With Online Service Providers

The Department of Education recently released a fourteen-page guidance document that intensifies the pressure on school districts, schools, and higher education institutions to examine and confirm the sufficiency of the procedures they use when engaging a service provider to host or process student data. A recent Hogan Lovells Education and Privacy Alert analyzes this guidance, through which the department has put entities covered by student privacy laws on notice of its expectations regarding their responsibilities when entering into these arrangements. Service providers who store and process student data on behalf of school districts and schools should therefore carefully consider the guidance and how it may affect the market for their services and the contractual demands from their education customers.

Posted in Consumer Privacy

D.C. Circuit Opens the Door to New TCPA Defense Arguments on Liability and Deference to FCC

A Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) case decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has direct implications for all organizations that employ third-party providers to conduct their outbound calling and text messaging campaigns. It could also impact the extent to which courts will defer to the FCC’s guidance regarding the TCPA. In addition, on February 6, members of Hogan Lovells’ TCPA Practice will host a special webinar on recent TCPA developments and key compliance challenges for 2014.