As businesses struggle to navigate the new reality created by Covid-19, there are a few things to keep in mind both in the short and long term, when it comes to privacy and security.

Security & WFH.

With employees working remotely, now more than ever organizations are at risk of cybersecurity incidents. Malicious players will seek to exploit increased vulnerabilities in this age of WFH, and with IT teams scrambling to ensure that all of their employees can connect remotely and remain productive, some of the most obvious risks should not be overlooked:

  • A large number of organizations had not anticipated the need for laptops or other devices for ALL of their employees. As such, many workers across the country are now using their personal devices to perform their jobs, which may include handling proprietary and/or personal information. However, a number of these personal devices will not only lack some of the basic security tools and software (e.g., firewalls or antivirus software) and controls on what can be downloaded, but may also already contain some unsavory software or applications that increase the risk or malware distribution. In fact, some personnel may shortcut and use personal email accounts to transfer documents, which adds yet another level of risk, as further noted below. Add to this mix the exchange, transfer, and processing of proprietary and personal information, and this could lead to some very problematic unintended or unauthorized disclosures.
  • To connect and get work done, workers need a WiFi network, and unfortunately, some employees may be using unsecured WiFi networks. This could potentially be a very big problem if employees are accessing information via an unsecured or vulnerable WiFi network – such as a neighbor’s unsecure network. Some of the many risks of using unsecured WiFi networks include eavesdropping – which enables malicious players to access and capture everything remote workers are doing online including login credentials, emails, and other or proprietary information – as well as exposure to malicious attacks. No doubt, it is important to ensure that employees are using secure WiFi networks coupled with company VPN’s to prevent any malicious scanning activity.
  • Many organizations lack specific policies that specifically warn employees NOT to use personal email or messaging applications lacking encryption when they exchange the organization’s confidential information. Some of these policies, also commonly referred to as “BYOD” policies, are intended to inform workers of what they can and cannot do with their devices. Consider Bob sending a personal email to a friend and colleague that Mike in marketing tested positive for COVID-19 (i.e., sensitive health information) or an employee transferring customer lists with personal data via unencrypted messages. WFH devices aside, employees should also be reminded not to toss confidential documents in household garbage bins, to turn off smart devices that are voice-activated, and to take calls that involve confidential information in a “private area” of the home. Failing to clarify policies with personnel is very risky. Now would be a good time to remind employees of how they should minimize these risks.

Ensuring that your organization’s  IT and legal teams are working closely together to develop policies and procedures will help identify and minimize these increasing cybersecurity risks. Continue Reading SHORT AND LONG TERM PRIVACY CONSIDERATIONS TO NAVIGATE OUR NEW REALITY

While much of the discussion around the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) has centered around organizations that collect personal information online, less attention has been directed to the requirements that may come into play when personal information is collected offline. We recently wrote about how CCPA applies to the restaurant industry specifically (you can read that blog here), but there is no question that many other industries and businesses really ought to be paying close attention to CCPA and how to comply with the various requirements. One of those is commercial real estate.

On a recent visit to a client’s office in the San Francisco financial district, I arrived in the lobby of a large commercial office building and headed to the security desk. As is common, I was asked for my ID, which I promptly surrendered. I am accustomed to having security personnel look at my ID and hand it back immediately, but this time, the gentleman behind the counter actually wrote down the details of my information before handing back my ID. As it happens, the process was unusually slow enough to give me time to look around for some privacy notice or reference to privacy practices – something that has become a bit of a habit for a privacy practitioner like myself, post-CCPA. Unsurprisingly, there was no privacy notice (or reference to a privacy notice) to be found – be it on the counter, the wall behind the counter, or anywhere else. I asked the security guard where I might be able to locate a privacy notice, but when he looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language, I knew better than to insist.

Continue Reading Privacy (& CCPA) In Commercial Real Estate

Gone are the days of thinking your business only needs to comply with certain privacy laws if it’s a “tech” company – or one that handles particularly sensitive information such as health information. Under the California Consumer Privacy Protection Act (“CCPA”), which went into effect on January 1, 2020, even brick and mortar companies must provide notices of their privacy practices at the point of collection, and this includes a number of retailers, wineries and restaurants (or restaurant groups).

Not so long ago, technology and the restaurant industry were worlds apart. If you wanted a reservation, you’d leave a voicemail that would be transcribed only to be deleted shortly thereafter. Loyalty cards were punch cards with no name attached. And if the wait for brunch was too long, you’d add your first name to a scrappy list that was discarded at the end of the day, or be handed a small buzzing device to let you know when your table was ready. Those “carefree” (or data-free) days have been replaced with a multitude of interconnected applications that all require the collection of personal information in some way – and importantly, that hang on to this information for longer periods. Restaurants and restaurant groups that collect the personal information of California residents and meet any one of the CCPA thresholds (i.e., over $25 million in annual revenue, collection of data on more than 50,000 consumers or 50% of revenue from sales) must comply with California’s stringent new law. Because the definition of personal information under CCPA is very broad and includes online identifiers, email addresses, and location data, as well as offline data (just to name a few), many successful restaurant groups are likely to fall within these thresholds and be subject to the CCPA. Continue Reading How CCPA Affects Brick & Mortar Industries: Restaurants

 

If it’s not already, security should be a top priority for all companies that collect and hold personal data. Companies subject to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), effective since January 1, should be even more concerned given the new consumer right of action in the event of certain security incidents, and the increase in class actions to which this will inevitably lead (more on that below).

And yet…

During a recent discussion with friends in the hospitality/travel industry, I was surprised to hear of shockingly poor security practices when they described how travelers’ information was shared and transmitted on a daily basis. I learned, for instance, that travelers’ information – especially when it comes to groups – is often sent in unprotected, unencrypted documents, such as excel spreadsheets or pdfs, to equally insecure email addresses, with multiple recipients copied. These documents, which circulate freely among various players in the ecosystem, contain hyper-sensitive information, such as passport numbers, credit card information, location, and travel dates and addresses. We are not talking about a name and a device ID, here, but troves of data that hackers would love to get their hands on. Continue Reading Staying on Top of Security Practices

The new decade started off with a flurry of emails informing us of updated privacy notices being posted on websites in response to the California Consumer Privacy Protection Act (“CCPA”). While most people began their new year resolutions or happily watching football on January 1, 2020, some of us were busy peeling through these updated privacy notices. What our review reveals is that companies are handling the CCPA in many different ways. Some take a strict approach to the letter of the law and proposed regulations, while others outright challenge the CCPA’s broad definitions and sweeping requirements by flouting language suggesting that their original privacy policy already disclosed everything it needed to, but, paraphrasing, “we now also have to disclose the same thing this way just because of CCPA.” Continue Reading CCPA Is Here: What Does It Look Like So Far?

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) goes live in six weeks. While many companies have been working on mapping their data for some time, others are just getting started. Some of the issues left open by the language of the CCPA and the proposed regulations have yet to be resolved, but there is no question that come January 1, 2020, many California residents will be looking to their favorite apps, sites and businesses to see what, if anything, they have done to comply with this new data protection law. If your business has not begun its work, we recently created a client alert with a high-level checklist to move toward CCPA compliance.

As part of our blog series, we share some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive from organizations across different industries regarding data privacy and security, and more specifically GDPR and CCPA. This is the second FAQ in our series.


Even though the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) will be effective January 1, 2020, the time to plan for compliance is now.  It may seem as though you have plenty of time to prepare but it is a mistake to not start preparing. Indeed with the twelve-month lookback provisions, companies must have proper records of personal information that they collected as of January 1, 2019.

Under the CCPA, individuals have various new rights that must be detailed in a company’s just in time privacy notice (a new requirement under the Attorney General’s proposed regulations) and a company’s privacy policy, including the right to access their information, to request deletion of their information, to be informed of certain transfers of their information, to opt-out (if over 16) of or opt-in (if under 16) to sales of their information, and receive equal service and price even if they exercise their rights.

There are many nuanced questions to consider that may not be apparent on a cursory read of the CCPA or the proposed Attorney General regulations. Some basic common questions arise when companies first hear about the CCPA, as follows. Continue Reading Privacy FAQ #2 – CCPA

Similar to the months before the GDPR went into effect at the end of May 2018, companies are now actively preparing for compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).  As California leads the pack of states in terms of privacy and technology laws, other states have followed suit, including Nevada.

The Nevada statute (SB 220) is an amendment to Nevada’s existing law, which requires website operators to have a privacy policy with certain disclosures. Continue Reading From the Golden State to the Silver State – Privacy Law in Nevada

With schools starting this fall, one invariably will think about the safety of their children – both online and in the real world. There are numerous security programs and apps now that tout data security technology and online measures to keep students safer in the real world classroom. The technology generally markets itself as having the ability to predict the propensity of students to conduct acts of violence in schools. In order to do so, the software offered by these companies reads our kids’ emails and social media posts insofar as they are publicly available or sent through school networks. The technology contains certain key words and phrases that trigger alerts, which are then sent to the provider’s customer, typically schools. It sounds promising and is definitely optimistic given today’s climate, which I like. But are they really getting the full picture? If a message is privately sent between students on social media as opposed to a school’s network email, it seems that the software would not have access important information indicating a kid’s nefarious plans or potential harmful activities if it were included in private interaction. It is also questionable if the limited scope of the protection services offered by these companies is worth what we give up in terms of privacy.  Continue Reading School and Student Privacy vs. Security – How to Balance

As part of our blog, from time to time we will share some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive from organizations across different industries regarding data privacy and security, and more specifically GDPR and CCPA. This is the first FAQ in our series.

What’s the Deal with the Data Protection Officer?

Not to be confused with a CPO (Chief Privacy Officer) or EU Representative, the role of data protection officer (DPO) has specific legal meaning under the GDPR. The primary role of a DPO is to ensure that the organization to which it is appointed processes the personal data of its staff, customers or any other individuals (i.e., data subjects) in accordance with applicable data protection rules. Many, but not all organizations subject to GDPR, are required to appoint a DPO, but given the unique nature of the DPO, the why, when and how of this topic is definitely at the top of our US clients’ FAQs. Continue Reading Privacy FAQ #1