As we previously detailed, the coronavirus pandemic has expanded opportunities for nefarious actors to exploit the digital vulnerabilities of individuals, local governments, industries, organizations, and essential services as they rapidly adapt to the public health crisis. Recent reports have confirmed that attacks and cyber scams associated with the pandemic are in fact on the rise.
Over the past month, many have discovered video chat and conferencing apps such as Zoom and Houseparty, using them for both business and to keep connected to friends and family during this period of global social distancing. Increased usage of these apps has also resulted in close scrutiny of their privacy practices by the public and government authorities. Indeed, Zoom has been hit with eight class actions that were recently consolidated, while separate plaintiffs sued the owners of Houseparty. A core allegation among those suits is that, without notice or consent, these apps provided user data to third parties (e.g., Facebook). Both the Houseparty complaint and a majority of the Zoom complaints allege violations of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), making these cases among the first with the potential to test the contours of the nascent but expansive privacy law. If the CCPA claims in these suits survive, it could signal the beginning of a substantial increase in class actions claiming CCPA violations.
Governmental Organizations Across the Globe Warn of Enhanced Cyber Threat Environment Related to COVID-19
In recent weeks, we have seen growing threats to cybersecurity and privacy from malicious actors seeking to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic. As companies transition their employees to remote working and focus their efforts on core business continuity, hackers are actively targeting companies’ cloud-based remote connectivity, lack of multi-factor authentication, and potentially insecure digital infrastructure to exploit vulnerabilities. The need for robust cybersecurity measures is more pressing than ever, and governmental organizations are issuing calls to action.
As readers of the Data Security Blog will know, the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) becomes operative on January 1, 2020. The CCPA is the most sweeping consumer privacy law in the United States, covering most for-profit businesses that do business in California and collect the personal information of “consumers,” meaning California residents.
This past week, The Home Depot, Inc. became the latest business hit with a class action lawsuit for their use of facial recognition security cameras allegedly in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. If successful, Home Depot faces statutory damages of up to $5,000 for each time a shopper’s information was collected in violation of BIPA.
Last Thursday, Slack Technologies, Inc. (Slack) announced that it would reset passwords for a number of accounts compromised by a security breach that occurred more than four years ago, in March 2015. Slack—a fast-growing messaging service that launched in 2014 and went public last month—provided little explanation for its delay in action and minimized the scope of the incident, claiming that it only affected a small percentage of current Slack users. The narrow scope and timing of Slack’s disclosure raise interesting questions about the heightened scrutiny public companies now face when dealing with cybersecurity incidents.
The New York State Senate recently passed The Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act, or SHIELD Act, leaving only the Governor’s signature as the final step to the SHIELD Act becoming the country’s newest—and one of the most stringent—breach notification laws. Given Governor Cuomo’s previous support for robust cybersecurity protection, New York may soon join a growing number of states beefing up their notification statutes.
A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is recommending that Congress adopt comprehensive federal data privacy legislation. The GAO’s proposal is, in part, meant to address limitations of the current privacy regulatory landscape, which is mostly piecemeal, industry-specific regulation at both the federal and state levels. The GAO’s 56-page report follows more than a year of interviews with officials from various federal agencies that have taken active roles in data security issues, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Federal Communications Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as stakeholders from industry and academia.
In a ruling with wide-spread implications, the Illinois Supreme Court on Friday upheld a consumer’s right to sue companies for collecting biometric data – such as finger prints and iris scans – without disclosing how such information will be used.
This is the second post in our two-part series about DOJ’s revised guidance on its “Best Practices for Victim Response and Reporting Cyber Incidents.” In the first installment, we looked at DOJ’s recommendations for preparedness. Today, we turn to the basics of data breach incident response and a list of DOJ’s “don’ts” when dealing with a hacker.
The U.S. Department of Justice is increasing its outreach to the private sector on all things cyber.
Last week, the DOJ’s Criminal Division held a cybersecurity roundtable to discuss challenges in handling data breach investigations. As part of the roundtable discussion, the DOJ issued revised guidance on its “Best Practices for Victim Response and Reporting Cyber Incidents.” The Best Practices guidance, summarized below, is the result of the DOJ’s outreach efforts concerning ways in which the government can work more effectively with the private sector to address cybersecurity challenges. The goal of the roundtable discussion, which started in 2015, is to foster and enhance cooperation between law enforcement and data breach victims, and to also encourage information sharing.
A federal appeals court is giving Google and the Justice Department more time to work out their differences in a standoff over whether the tech giant must hand over customer emails stored outside of the United States.
Last week, MGM Resorts International filed nine pre-emptive lawsuits against the victims of last year’s mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. MGM, owner of the Mandalay, is asking federal courts around the country to declare that the company is not liable “for any claim for injuries arising out of or related to” the mass attack.
In one of the first major tests of the Illinois biometric data privacy law, Facebook is headed to trial this summer over allegations that the social media giant unlawfully collects user data with its photo tagging function. Last week, U.S. District Judge James Donato denied cross motions for summary judgment in a class action pending in Northern California, noting the “multitude of fact disputes in the case.”
Professional athletes, teams, and leagues have embraced wearable technology. But as this new technology becomes ubiquitous, a new category of valuable—and personally sensitive—data has emerged, raising novel data security issues and incentives for would-be hackers.
The LabMD data security case is anything but dull. An 8-year (and counting) fight with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, a U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigation into allegations of government overreach and collusion, a key witness granted governmental immunity and multiple related civil lawsuits scattered around the country.
Yesterday, we reported that the Department of Justice has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to remand its dispute with Microsoft Corp. concerning access to customer emails stored abroad to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit with instructions to dismiss it as moot. The government argued that the newly enacted “CLOUD” Act clarifies prior law and makes clear that information stored abroad can, under certain circumstances, be subject to a domestic warrant. The government added that it obtained a new warrant for Microsoft to turn over the requested information in the days following the CLOUD Act’s passage.
We’ve written several times about the landmark dispute between the U.S. government and Microsoft Corp. over access to a customer’s emails stored in Ireland. Now, a month after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument on the government’s appeal, the Justice Department has asked the Court to remand the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit with instructions to dismiss it as moot.
On its face, last week’s report that the number of data breaches reported last year to New York’s Attorney General spiked to an all-time high of 1,583 – up 23 percent from 2016 – was not good news.
But behind the numbers are even more disturbing trends. Start with the fact that hacking – the handy work of outside intruders – was the leading cause of reported breaches last year, accounting for 44 percent of reported breaches. Hacking also accounted for nearly 95 percent of all personal information exposed. In second place was employee error or negligence, which represented 25 percent of last year’s reported breaches.
Last week, a federal district judge in California shot down Facebook, Inc.’s second attempt to dismiss a putative class action alleging that its facial recognition software violates the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA). The court found that plaintiffs had standing to proceed under the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robbins because the alleged BIPA violation was sufficient to give rise to a “concrete injury” for purposes of bringing suit.
On February 27, 2018, The New York Times featured an op-ed written by Craig A. Newman, Chair of Patterson Belknap’s Privacy and Data Security Practice, entitled “Can the United States Search Data Overseas?” Mr. Newman discusses the critical question in United States v Microsoft, which is pending before the Supreme Court: should the U.S. law enforcement have access to emails stored outside the country? He argues that the fundamental problem of storing data across borders will not be solved by this case, and that legislative action is necessary to properly govern “the vast stores of electronic data that move seamlessly across international borders.”
On Tuesday, a Senate subcommittee grilled Uber’s Chief Information Security Officer, John Flynn, over a 2016 data breach that affected nearly 57 million drivers and riders. At the hearing, Uber faced backlash from lawmakers for its “morally wrong and legally reprehensible” conduct that “violated not only the law but the norm of what should be expected.”
The fight over the privacy of electronic communications and the government’s ability to reach emails stored abroad in criminal investigations has finally moved to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Justice Department is changing its approach to collecting data stored in the cloud.
A recent federal appellate ruling delivered a significant blow to invasion of privacy claims based on facial recognition technology used to scan users’ faces that are then put on their personalized players “in-game,” allowing them to play side-by-side with basketball stars in a popular video game.
Second in a two-part series.
Last week, in the first part of this series, we examined several key aspects of New York’s proposed data security law, Stop Hacks and Improve Data Security Act or SHIELD Act. In our second and final installment, we discuss three additional aspects of the proposed law.
First in a two-part series.
As we reported last week, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has introduced a bill aimed at protecting New Yorkers from data breaches.
Court Rejects DOJ’s Depiction of Google as “Willful and Contemptuous” Tactics in Ongoing Battle over SCA Search Warrant
A federal judge in California has agreed to hold Google in contempt for not following his order to turn over data stored overseas. The order is largely symbolic, however, since a contempt order is required for Google to appeal the ruling.
The Supreme Court is poised to finally answer the question that’s been plaguing federal courts across the country: must U.S. tech companies comply with warrants issued under the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”) that demand information from customer accounts that is stored on servers in a foreign country?
The federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (“CFAA”) has generated controversy and disagreement among courts and commentators regarding the scope of its application. The statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1030, which provides for both criminal and civil penalties, prohibits accessing a computer or protected computer “without authorization” or in a manner “exceeding authorized access.” Courts are divided as to the meaning of these phrases, yet the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined the opportunity to resolve the circuit split that has developed, leaving the exact scope of this important statute in question.
A data breach of the National Football League Players Association’s (“NFLPA”) website has exposed the personal information of nearly 1,200 players and agents.
The ongoing dispute between the government and Google concerning the company’s refusal to hand over customer data stored on foreign servers has taken an odd twist. Now, the Justice Department is demanding that Google be sanctioned for not abiding by the court’s most recent decision—ordering it to produce data associated with 22 email accounts—and calling Google’s conduct “a willful and contemptuous disregard of various court orders.” The case is In the Matter of the Search of Content that Is Stored at Premises Controlled by Google, No. 16-mc-80263 (N.D. Cal.).
Richard F. Smith – who presided over Equifax Inc. as CEO during one of the largest data breaches in a generation – will testify before two congressional committees next week.
Equifax Inc.’s interim CEO, Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., issued the company’s second public apology this morning for the massive data breach that has affected as many as 143 million U.S. consumers.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Barros acknowledged the company’s ball drop in handling the breach and promised to “act quickly and forcefully to correct our mistakes.” He said the company will introduce a new service that would permit consumers to control access to their personal credit data.
Cyber Briefing: Second "Envelope" Lawsuit Against Aetna, Yahoo to Answer for 1.5 Billion Hacked Accounts and Eighth Circuit Weighs In, Again, on Standing
As we head into the new week, here’s a quick summary of major data security developments from around the country.
Judge Sides with Government over Google in the Latest Battle Rematch over the Territorial Reach of the SCA
Another federal judge has rejected the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s interpretation of the Stored Communications Act (SCA), and has ordered Google to hand over customer email traffic—wherever located—to U.S. law enforcement. More than a year ago, the Second Circuit held that Microsoft Corp. was not required to produce customer emails stored on foreign servers in response to an SCA warrant. Since then, the Second Circuit’s ruling has been rejected by three different federal courts around the country.
A federal appeals court earlier this week dealt a blow to healthcare insurer CareFirst, Inc., concluding that a group of customers have the right to pursue a class action data breach lawsuit based on a 2014 cyberattack.
Over the past several years, we have witnessed a fundamental shift in orchestrated cyber-attacks from hacking credit card data and healthcare information to targeting businesses, their operations and bottom lines.
Another Rematch Between Tech Companies and the Government over the Territorial Reach of the Stored Communications Act
Lawyers for the tech community are gearing up for argument next month in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeking to overturn another magistrate’s order that requires digital information stored outside of the U.S. to be turned over in response to a U.S. search warrant.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – often criticized for not providing clear guidance as to what the agency considers reasonable data security – announced on Friday that it would publish a weekly blog discussing “lessons learned” from data security investigations that were closed without a formal enforcement action.
In the aftermath of two powerful global ransomware attacks, a Michigan-based medical equipment provider has disclosed that hackers “encrypted our data files” and accessed more than 500,000 patient records in what is believed to be the largest reported ransomware attack on health care information.
In a consequential test of the Federal Trade Commission’s authority as a data security regulator, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit will hear argument tomorrow in a case that will determine whether the agency must show a concrete consumer injury as an element of an enforcement action, just as private plaintiffs have been required to do for years.
Justice Shirley Kornreich recently issued one of the few New York state court decisions that address the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”). Spec Simple, Inc. v. Designer Pages Online LLC, No. 651860/2015, 2017 BL 160865 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 10, 2017). The CFAA criminalizes both accessing a computer without authorization and exceeding authorized access and thereby obtaining information from any protected computer. Id. at *3 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)(C)). The CFAA also provides a civil cause of action to any person who suffers damage or loss because of a violation of the CFAA. Id. at *4 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 1030(g)). As discussed below, the decision provides a helpful look into the interpretation of CFAA claims in the future.
We previously posted about a case before the New York Court of Appeals that concerned whether Facebook has the legal standing to challenge search warrants seeking its users’ data. In April, the court sided with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and rejected Facebook’s challenge. The three opinions by the judges—particularly the concurrence by Judge Jenny Rivera—provide insight into this evolving area of law.
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) sprawling and contentious legal battle with now-defunct medical testing company LabMD recently turned especially personal when a federal court allowed LabMD (and its former CEO) to proceed with claims against two of the three FTC attorneys who handled the FTC’s investigation and prosecution of LabMD.
Digital Divide Deepens: Tech Community Backs Second Circuit in Clash with Magistrates over Reach of U.S. Warrants
The technology community took aim at a recent federal magistrate’s ruling that ordered Google Inc. to comply with search warrants seeking customer emails stored on servers abroad, calling the decision “an impermissible extraterritorial application of U.S. law.” In rejecting a recent federal appeals court decision in a similar case in favor of Microsoft Corp., U.S. Magistrate Thomas J. Reuter in Philadelphia ruled that transferring emails from a foreign server to the U.S. was not tantamount to a seizure beyond American borders. The technology companies urged the court to reject the “fiction that such a foreign search and seizure is a domestic act….”
Does Facebook Have the Right to Challenge Search Warrants Seeking Facebook Users’ Data? New York’s Highest Court Hears Argument
Facebook is the latest social media giant to push back on law enforcement efforts to seek user information. On Tuesday, the New York Court of Appeals heard oral argument in a case focusing on whether Facebook has the right—or legal standing—to challenge bulk search warrants issued by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for its users' data. The case is In re 381 Search Warrants Directed to Facebook, Inc. and Dated July 23, 2013.
On January 23, 2017, President Donald Trump named Ajit Pai as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In his previous role as the senior Republican on the FCC under President Barack Obama, Mr. Pai was an outspoken critic of the agency’s decision to assert jurisdiction over Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) and its rules governing broadband privacy. Pai’s appointment suggests that significant changes may be on the horizon.
Back in December 2013, a U.S. magistrate issued a seemingly routine warrant in a narcotics case demanding that Microsoft turn over messages from a customer’s email account that resided on a server in Ireland. That warrant, which issued under a 1986 law called the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 2703, is still being debated today.
- Page 1 of 2