Privacy and Information Security

In case you missed it, last week (on November 30), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that it would convene a series of virtual listening sessions on privacy, equity, and civil rights. According to NTIA, the sessions (scheduled for December 14, 15, and 16) will provide data for a report on “the ways

On November 17, the Senate Commerce Committee held its eagerly-awaited hearing on the nomination of Alvaro Bedoya, a data privacy academic from Georgetown Law, to be FTC Commissioner. Bedoya is slated to replace Rohit Chopra, who departed the agency last month to become Director of the CFPB, and Bedoya’s appointment would once again give the

As we’ve all been following in the news, the House reconciliation bill to fund “human infrastructure” is still mired in negotiations, ever on the verge of either passing to monumental fanfare, or cratering in failure. Tucked away on page 671 of the 1684-page bill is a short provision that, despite scant attention, has the potential

In a much-anticipated announcement last week, the FTC amended the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) Safeguards Rule, and proposed a further amendment requiring certain financial institutions to provide the FTC with notice in the event of certain security events.  Although these changes were announced after FTC Commissioner Chopra left the agency to lead the CFPB, he apparently voted prior to leaving to ensure 3/2 approval of the amendments in a Commission that remains divided.

What is GLBA Safeguards?

For nearly 20 years the Safeguards Rule has required financial institutions to develop, implement, and maintain comprehensive information security programs to protect their customers’ personal information.  Such programs must be appropriate to each entity’s “size and complexity, the nature and scope of [its] activities, and the sensitive of the customer information at issue.” For a generation, the Rule’s requirements have influenced data security standards in other sectors, emphasizing a flexible, process-based approach.  The amended Rule replaces some of that flexibility with more specificity.
Continue Reading GLBA Safeguards Gets a Makeover: Why it Matters for Businesses with Customer Information

Last week, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 694, which makes a few technical changes to the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA).  The relevant changes to the CPRA are summarized below.

  • As defined in the CPRA, “personal information” does not include publicly available information or lawfully obtained, truthful information that is a

Since Congress enacted the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in 1998, the regulatory wall between kids and teens has been a remarkably durable one. During all this time, COPPA, the primary U.S. law protecting kids’ privacy, has protected children under 13 but hasn’t provided any protections for teens. While California’s privacy law

On October 6, 2021, the Senate Commerce Committee conducted its second in a series of hearings dedicated to consumer privacy and data, this time addressing Data Security.  Similar to last week’s privacy hearing, the witnesses and Senators appeared to agree that federal data security standards – whether as part of privacy legislation or on their own – are urgently needed. If there were to be consensus around legislative principles, the hearing provides clues about what a compromise might look like.

Prepared Statements. In their opening statements, the witnesses emphasized the need for minimum standards governing data security.

  • James E. Lee, Chief Operating Officer of the Identity Theft Resource Center, explained that without minimum requirements, companies lack sufficient incentives to strengthen their data security practices to protect consumer data. Lee also advocated for more aggressive federal enforcement rather than the patchwork of state actions, which, he said, produce disparate impacts for the same conduct.
  • Jessica Rich, former Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and counsel at Kelley Drye, emphasized that current laws do not establish clear standards for data security and accountability. She advocated for a process-based approach to prevent the law from being outpaced by evolving technologies and to ensure that it accommodates the wide range of business models and data practices across the economy. Among her recommendations, Rich suggested that Congress provide the FTC with jurisdiction over nonprofits and common carriers and authority to seek penalties for first-time violations.
  • Edward W. Felten, former Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer, former Chief Technologist of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, and current Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs at Princeton University, focused on the need to strengthen the FTC’s technological capabilities, including increasing the budget to hire more technologists. Notably, Felten advocated for more prescriptive requirements in data security legislation such as requiring companies to store and transmit sensitive consumer data in encrypted form and prohibiting companies from knowingly shipping devices with serious security vulnerabilities.
  • Kate Tummarello, Executive Director at Engine, a non-profit organization representing startups, addressed the importance of data security for most startups. Tummarello advocated for FTC standards or guidance with flexible options. Cautioning against overburdening startups, Tummarello explained that newer companies take data security seriously because they do not have the name recognition or relationships with consumers that larger companies may have, and a single breach could be extremely disruptive. Additionally, Tummarello highlighted that the patchwork of state laws provides inconsistent and unclear data security guidance and imposes high compliance costs.


Continue Reading Hope Emerges at Senate Data Security Hearing – But Will Congress Grab the Brass Ring?

During last month’s California Privacy Protection Agency Board (CPPA) meeting, the only substantive agenda item, addressed in closed session, was a discussion of two key appointments: the first Executive Director and a Chief Privacy Auditor, as required by CPRA’s 1798.199.30. On October 4, 2021, the five-person CPPA board announced that they appointed

On September 29, 2021, the Senate Commerce Subcommittee held a hearing titled Protecting Consumer Privacy. The senators addressed the potential $1 billion earmarked to strengthen the FTC’s privacy work, the future of a federal privacy and data protection law, and a myriad of other privacy related topics such as children’s privacy.

Prepared Statements. In