China Enacts Data Security Law

On June 10, 2021, the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (“NPC”) enacted the Data Security Law (“DSL”), which will take effect on September 1, 2021 (the official Chinese version is available here and Covington’s unofficial English translation is available here). This law creates a framework for the protection of broadly defined “data security” from a national security perspective. Continue Reading

French CNIL Publishes Recommendations for Protecting Minors Online

On June 9, 2021, the French Supervisory Authority (“CNIL”) published recommendations to help strengthen the protection of minors online (see here, in French).  These recommendations are the result of a survey and public consultation conducted by the CNIL in 2020, which focused on the digital practices of minors (see our blog post here).  The results of the CNIL’s survey and public consultation indicate that children are accessing the Internet at an early age on a “massive” scale.  In light of this reality, the CNIL underscores the importance of ensuring that minors benefit from the effective protection of their personal data when engaging online.

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German Supervisory Authorities Probe Data Transfers

On June 1, 2021, several German supervisory authorities (“SAs”) announced the launch of a “nationwide investigation” into German companies transferring personal data outside of the European Economic Area.  Currently, there is no official list of all the SAs participating in the investigation, but at least 8 of Germany’s 16 regional SAs have announced their intention to take part in it, including: Baden Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland.

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European Commission Publishes New Standard Contractual Clauses

Today, June 4th, 2021, the European Commission (“Commission”) published the final version of its new standard contractual clauses for the international transfer of personal data (“SCCs”) (see here).  While the final version retains much of the language of the draft version released in November 2020 (see here), it includes several notable updates.  When finalizing the SCCs, the Commission took into account the joint opinion of the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) and the European Data Protection Supervisor, feedback submitted by stakeholders during the public consultation period, and the opinions of EU Member States’ representatives.

In this blog post, we identify several key features of the new SCCs that organizations should keep in mind when preparing to implement them in contractual agreements going forward.

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Supreme Court Adopts Narrow Reading of the CFAA in Van Buren v. United States

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued a decision in Van Buren v. United States, No. 19-783, ruling that a police officer did not violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) when he obtained information from a law enforcement database that he was permitted to access, but did so for an improper purpose.  In so ruling, the Court adopted a relatively narrow reading of the CFAA, and partially resolved a years-long debate concerning the scope of liability under the CFAA.

The CFAA prohibits, inter alia, “intentionally access[ing] a computer without authorization or exceed[ing] authorized access, and thereby obtain[ing] information from any protected computer.”  18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2).  What it means to “exceed authorized access” has been the subject of disagreement among lower courts:  Some have concluded that this term refers to accessing areas of a computer that the user is not permitted to access under any circumstances—e.g., a student accessing her university’s database of grades that is restricted to only administrator use.  Others have concluded that this term also encompasses individuals who are permitted to access an area of a computer for certain purposes, but they do so for an improper purpose—e.g., an administrator accessing the university’s database of grades that she is generally permitted to use, but she does so for the improper purpose of blackmailing a student. Continue Reading

Inside Privacy Audiocast: Episode 14 – China’s Draft Data Security Law

On Episode 14 of Covington’s Inside Privacy Audiocast, Dan Cooper and Yan Luo discuss recent privacy developments in China, in particular as they relate to China’s draft Data Security Law.

Covington’s Inside Privacy Audiocast offers insights into topical global privacy issues and trends. Subscribe to our Inside Privacy Blog to receive notifications on new episodes.

Final Countdown to POPIA Compliance: Five Critical Steps to Take Before July 1st, 2021

In Episode 12 of our Inside Privacy Audiocast, together with special guest Advocate Pansy Tlakula, Chairperson of the Information Regulator of South Africa, we discussed the Information Regulator’s mandate and the implementation of data protection legislation in South Africa.  Now, with less than a month to go before South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (“POPIA”) takes full effect on July 1, 2021, it is critical for organizations operating in South Africa to ensure that they are ready, if and when the Information Regulator comes knocking.

It is only when organizations start their POPIA journey that they realize just how wide the POPIA net is cast, and that very few businesses fall outside of its reach.  The road to POPIA compliance should be viewed as a marathon, and not a sprint.  While implementing and maintaining an effective POPIA compliance program will take continued effort and resources well beyond the July 1, 2021 go-live date, here we outline five steps to which companies subject to POPIA should give their attention in the short term.

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Italian Supervisory Authority Fines Physician for Secondary Use of Patient Data Without Specific Consent

On May 19, 2021, the Italian Supervisory Authority (“Garante”) fined a physician €5,000 for publishing a patient’s medical records without obtaining that patient’s specific consent to do so.  As background, the physician downloaded medical records about a patient she treated at a local hospital from the hospital’s online archive system, including images taken during surgery.  The physician used these records for a presentation at a medical conference, and also included them as documentation supporting a scientific research paper she submitted for a competition hosted by a surgeons’ association.  The physician’s paper was ultimately selected as the winner of that competition, resulting in the publication of her work on the association’s website.

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New Privacy Bill Provides Opt-Out Rights and New Data Security Requirements

To add to the growing list of federal privacy frameworks introduced this year, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has re-introduced the bipartisan Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2021 (S. 1667).  Senator Klobuchar introduced the bill originally in 2018 and 2019, although it did not advance to committee in either instance.  Senators Kennedy (R-LA), Burr (R-NC), and Manchin (D-WV) have co-sponsored the bill.

Key provisions in this bill include: Continue Reading

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