This post has been cross-posted from Seyfarth’s Consumer Class Defense Blog.

Now more than ever, it is important for organizations to review and update their basic information security protocols (their incident response, business continuity and crisis communications plans), and to ensure they’re keeping apprised of potential and developing security threats that may imperil their organizations (like a catastrophic ransomware attack). Nation state attacks and cyber criminal gangs efforts seem to be aimed daily at US businesses. And the ransomware plague that continues unabated, affects nearly all industry verticals.¹

Unfortunately, sometimes even when threats are known and being addressed, when employees are trained frequently regarding information security, and when the highest security precautions are taken, a threat-actor can quickly capitalize on miniscule vulnerabilities, and an organization is faced with the grueling task of picking up the pieces. This usually includes conducting a forensic investigation, updating written information security protocols, deploying patches and password resets, replacing hardware, conducting additional employee training, as well as analyzing differing state breach legislation and notifying consumers, attorneys general, and credit bureaus in accordance with those laws.

Even after these efforts, an organization is still at risk of privacy class action litigation. This might arise through a state attorney general, federal regulator, or a consumer whose data was wrongly accessed or in fact stolen during the cyber-attack.

But in order for a consumer to sue, the threshold, and hot-button, question is whether the consumer has standing under Article III of the US Constitution. [T]he “irreducible constitutional minimum” of standing consists of three elements. The plaintiff must have (1) suffered an “injury in fact” (2) that is “fairly traceable” to the challenged conduct of the defendant and (3) that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.²

This article discusses the first prong of the standing elements: injury in fact. Because it is generally difficult for plaintiffs in these actions to show financial harm, or other actual damages, arguments have been raised by the plaintiffs’ bar that the future risk of harm should suffice to meet the first prong of the standing elements. The Supreme Court stated in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins that even when a statute has been violated, plaintiffs must show that an “injury-in-fact” has occurred that is both concrete and particularized. While this did provide some additional information, the question of how the future risk of harm fits in was left outstanding. Fortunately, on June 25, 2021 the Supreme Court revisited this issue in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, 20-297, 2021 WL 2599472, at *1 (U.S. June 25, 2021), when a credit reporting agency flagged certain consumers as potential matches to names on the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list of terrorists, drug traffickers, or other serious criminals. The Court found that those “flagged” consumers whose information was divulged to third party businesses as being included in this list suffered a concrete injury in fact.. With regards to those consumers who were flagged as potential matches, but the information was never disseminated, the Court was unconvinced that a concrete injury occurred. Id. The Court further examined the risk of future harm for these individuals, but declined to find injury in fact, stating that risk of harm cannot be speculative, it must materialize, or have a sufficient likelihood of materializing. Id. It will be interesting to see how this ruling plays out in the circuits in the context of a data breach. The Court included in its opinion some interesting information regarding certain circumstances that may give rise to a concrete harm. Id. Aside from physical or financial harm, the Court also stated that reputational harm, the disclosure of private information, or intrusion upon seclusion may rise to the level of concrete harm. Id. This then begs the question of whether a risk of harm analysis might be necessary in the context of a breach, where private information is indeed accessed and disclosed (i.e., disseminated) to an unauthorized 3rd party.
Continue Reading First There Was Litigation; And Then There Was Standing

Introduction

On June 10, 2021, China officially passed China’s first Data Security Law, which will take effect on September 1, 2021. Following the introduction of the Data Security Law, together with the Cybersecurity Law, which has been implemented since June 1, 2017, and the Personal Information Protection Law, which is undergoing public comment

Seyfarth Synopsis:  On May 12, 2021, President Joe Biden issued a very broad, 34 page “Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity.” The Executive Order, or “EO”, can be found here. This order comes six months after the notorious SolarWinds attack, and mere weeks after other high-profile attacks have invaded our networks

From court closures and the way judges conduct appearances and trials to the expected wave of lawsuits across a multitude of areas and industries, the COVID-19 outbreak is having a notable impact in the litigation space—and is expected to for quite some time.

To help navigate the litigation landscape, we are kicking off a webinar

Those interested in keeping up with the latest news impacting the California Consumer Privacy Act have been heavily focused on AB 25, and its potential to exclude employees from the scope of the CCPA. In a marathon late-night session, the California Senate Judiciary Committee weighed in July 11 on various bills—including AB 25. An while AB 25 was part of the Committee debate, that amendment may actually make the bill less useful than first intended. Additionally, another bill made it out of committee which has the potential of a far greater impact than anyone seems to be noticing.
Continue Reading CCPA Amendments: Again Employees and the Loyalty Program Change Nobody is Talking About

In just a few short months, on January 1, 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is set to go into effect, establishing new consumer privacy rights for California residents and imposing significant new duties and obligations on commercial businesses conducting business in the state of California. Consumer rights include the right to know what

Cross-Posted from The Global Privacy Watch Blog

In Part 1 of our ‘Texas Joins the Privacy Fray’ series, we focused on the Texas Consumer Privacy Act. Here, we shine the light on the Texas Privacy Protection Act (HB 4390).

The TXPPA is distinguishable from both the TXCPA and the CCPA because the applicability threasholds are different. For the TXPPA to apply, a business must 1) be doing business in Texas; 2) have more than 50 employees; 3) collect personally identifiable information (“PII”) of more than 5,000 individuals, households, or devices (or has it collected on the business’s behalf); and 4) meet one of the following two criteria – the business’ annual gross revenue exceeds $25 million; or the business derives 50% or more of its annual revenue from processing PII.
Continue Reading And Texas joins the Privacy Fray – Part 2 (or, Everything is Bigger in Texas…)

Cross-Posted from The Global Privacy Watch Blog

Last month, Texas saw the introduction of not one, but TWO privacy bills in the Texas state legislature: The Texas Consumer Privacy Act (TXCPA) and the Texas Privacy Protection Act (TXPPA). With news of this likely meeting with a collective groan and shoulder shrug, we do have some good news for you.

Both bills’ foundations are set with familiar CA Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) language. Unfortunately, this is also bad news because they both suffer from the same problems found in the CCPA – we’ll explain below. It’s also still early in the game, with the bills having just been filed in the state legislature. Given that there is time in the legislative session for amendments to be made and especially considering the ‘ring-side’ view Texas lawmakers have to the CA legislative and Attorney General rule/procedure process currently unfolding, it would be unreasonable not to expect changes. Finally, the bills are reactive responses to the national (or international) focus on privacy issues of late and may allow impacted businesses a grace period, as we’ve seen in the CCPA. In this blog, we shine the light on the first of these bills: The Texas Consumer Privacy Act.
Continue Reading And Texas Joins the Privacy Fray – Part 1 (or, the Elephant in the room just got a LOT bigger…)

California, home to more than 40 million people and the 5th largest economy in the world, has passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), its omnibus consumer privacy law. The law creates sweeping new requirements concerning the collection, maintenance, and tracking of information for both employees or customers who are residents of California. Many aspects of the implementation and enforcement are still being finalized by the California Attorney General. However, companies with employees or customers in California need to take stock of the information they are processing that could qualify as “personal information” for California residents, and they need to begin establishing mechanisms for compliance before the end of 2019.
Continue Reading The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018: What Businesses Need to Know Now

Seyfarth Shaw Partner Jordan Vick is on the panel for the “Playing by the Rules: Rule Changes Essential to Your Practice” session on Friday, November 16, at Georgetown Law’s 15th annual Advanced eDiscovery Institute in Washington, D.C.

Session topics include:

  • The 2015 Amendments to the FRCP and their actual impacts on practitioners, including unintended consequence