As we (remotely) head back to school, we thought it timely to post our “annual” reminder that collecting, using and/or disclosing children’s personal information comes with some restrictions (see last year’s post here). With this unprecedented back-to-school season, nearly all children’s activities, products and services are moving online for the foreseeable future. As such, now more than ever organizations should really take the time to determine whether they collect any data from children (or have actual knowledge of doing so), and ensure that they are taking the proper steps to comply with applicable rules.
Continue Reading Children’s Privacy Check-Up

With the Covid-19 crisis, many companies that may have traditionally only done business offline are transitioning and expanding into e-commerce. Others are starting new businesses and innovating new technologies and platforms. There are a multitude of considerations that go into these new ventures, an important one of which is security.
Continue Reading Data Security and the New York SHIELD Act: Going Beyond New York Companies

Despite three annual reviews by European Union Commissioners, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) invalidated the Privacy Shield and called into question many transfers of personal data pursuant to the Standard Contractual Clauses on July 16.  At stake are transfers of EU personal data to thousands of U.S. companies that rely on personal data being transferred from the EU. The case is colloquially known as “Schrems II” as it is the second case involving Maximillian Schrems (Case C-311/18 Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook Ireland and Maximillian Schrems). Mr. Schrems’ first case resulted in an invalidation of the EU-US Safe Harbor, the Privacy Shield’s predecessor in 2015.
Continue Reading Schrems II: EU Personal Data Transfers to the U.S. and the Invalidation of the Privacy Shield

As if businesses did not already have enough to address with the COVID-19 pandemic and compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act (the “CCPA”), businesses need to consider the California Privacy Rights Act (the “CPRA”), which will almost certainly be on the November ballot. Structured as an amendment to the CCPA and also known as “CCPA 2.0”, the CPRA ballot initiative was spawned by Alastair Mactaggart. You may recall Mr. Mactaggart as the real estate developer who submitted a ballot initiative that resulted in a negotiation with the state legislature to replace the initiative with the CCPA. If the CPRA is passed and becomes law, it would be effective and enforceable January 1, 2023, with certain provisions having a look-back provision.

The CPRA would establish a new category of “sensitive data” that is reminiscent of the GDPR’s definition of special categories of data but it is much broader. The definition is overly-inclusive, spanning from race, religion, and sexual orientation to financial account information and government identifiers (e.g., social security numbers). Consumers could choose to limit the use, sale and sharing of their sensitive data. Additional links on business websites may be required to “Limit the Use of My Sensitive Personal Information” in addition to the current “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link that some businesses must now include under the CCPA.
Continue Reading The California Privacy Rights Act: CCPA Part Two

I recently co-wrote the following client alert with one of my colleagues, Monique Jewett-Brewster. Monique advises creditors, commercial landlords and tenants, and asset purchasers in business bankruptcies and in all other aspects of insolvency law.


As we move closer to a global recession caused by the current pandemic, some companies will find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to seek bankruptcy relief. This may have some important and often overlooked privacy implications. There is no question that in this day and age, one of a business’ most valuable assets is the personal information that it has collected from its customers and/or end-users – often more so than any of its tangible assets. Increasingly, as business shifts online, this is true not only of technology companies but also of “brick and mortar” companies.

However, when a business becomes a debtor, the sale of personal information can be problematic. Section 363(b) of the US Bankruptcy Code provides that a debtor that has a privacy notice prohibiting the transfer of personally identifiable information (“personal information”) may not use, sell or lease such information other than in the ordinary course of business unless (1) the use, sale or lease is consistent with the terms of the privacy notice or (2) after the appointment of a consumer privacy ombudsman (“CPO”) the court finds, after giving due consideration to the facts, circumstances, and conditions, that the sale or lease would not violate applicable non-bankruptcy law. These restrictions only apply if the debtor disclosed to its customers a privacy notice prohibiting the transfer of personal information to persons not affiliated with the debtor and the policy was in effect on the date of the bankruptcy filing.
Continue Reading Privacy Issues in Bankruptcy Sales

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?