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Caleb Skeath advises clients on a broad range of privacy and data security issues, including regulatory inquiries from the Federal Trade Commission, data breach notification obligations, compliance with consumer protection laws, and state and federal laws regarding educational and financial privacy.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, several U.S. government entities have released warnings about a rise in scams and fraudulent activity connected to the outbreak.  In a recent bulletin, the FBI warned of a rise in phishing emails, counterfeit treatments or equipment for COVID-19 preparedness, and fake emails from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) purporting to provide information about the outbreak.  The FTC, meanwhile, has released not only a general overview of the steps that it is taking to combat scams related to COVID-19, but has also provided a specific list of seven types of COVID-19 scams that it has observed targeting businesses.  More information about these scams, and guidance from the FBI and FTC on how to protect against and respond to some of the most common risks, is below.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Cybersecurity Advice: FTC and FBI Provide Guidance on Cybersecurity Scam Trends and Preventive Measures

On March 21, 2020, the data security requirements of the New York SHIELD Act became effective.  The Act, which amends New York’s General Business Law, represents an expansion of New York’s existing cybersecurity and data breach notification laws.  Its two main impacts on businesses are:

  1. expanding data breach notification requirements under New York law; and

In response to the drastic increase of U.S. employees working remotely, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) have both issued guidance for employers and employees on best practices for teleworking securely.  In addition, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) has provided advice on identifying essential workers, including IT and cybersecurity personnel, in critical infrastructure sectors that should maintain normal work schedules if possible.  Each set of guidance is discussed in further detail below.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Cybersecurity Advice: FTC, NIST, and CISA Release Guidance on Secure Teleworking and Critical Infrastructure Jobs

Earlier this month, the Governor of Vermont signed into law S.B. 110, which will amend the state’s data breach notification law and create a new student privacy law focused on operators of educational technology services.  Notably, the amendments to the state’s data breach notification law will expand the categories of personally identifiable information (“PII”) that may trigger notification obligations to individuals and regulators in the event of a breach to include online account credentials, health and medical information, and biometric and genetic data, among others.  The student privacy law will place certain restrictions on how student data can be collected, used, and disclosed by operators of online educational technology services.  The new requirements, which will enter into force on July 1, 2020, are discussed in more detail below.
Continue Reading Vermont Enacts Data Breach Notification and Student Privacy Legislation

In a recent blog post, the Federal Trade Commission highlighted three key changes it made in 2019 in its approach to issuing orders in data security enforcement matters.  As stated by Andrew Smith, the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in the blog post, the agency intends for these changes to strengthen consumer protections while providing companies with more specific and actionable guidance about how to improve their data security practices.  However, the FTC’s shift in approach may also have an impact on how companies view risks associated with FTC enforcement, as the changes could result in additional obligations for a company and members of its senior leadership team.
Continue Reading FTC Summarizes 2019 Changes to Data Security Orders

Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) released a set of cyber readiness recommendations for small businesses.  The recommendations, which CISA developed in collaboration with small businesses and state and local governments, are intended to assist smaller organizations in implementing organizational cybersecurity practices.  While not binding requirements, the recommendations may inform what CISA and U.S. regulators view as “reasonable” cybersecurity practices.

Continue Reading CISA Releases Cyber Readiness Recommendations for Small Business

Over the past several months, many states, including Illinois, New York, Texas, and Washington, have passed significant amendments to their state data breach notification laws.  Currently, most state data breach notification laws only require notification of residents (and possibly state regulators or others) following a “breach” of personally identifiable information (“PII”), which is often defined as a resident’s name along with a Social Security number, driver’s license or state identification card number, or a financial account, debit, or credit card number with any required security code, access code, or password to access a financial account.  Among other changes, these amendments have expanded the categories of PII that may trigger notification obligations if breached, imposed new requirements to notify regulators (in addition to affected individuals) in the event of a breach, and implemented specific timing requirements for how soon after a breach individuals and regulators must be notified.  These changes are summarized in additional detail below.
Continue Reading Round-Up of Recent Changes to U.S. State Data Breach Notification Laws

On July 25, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed two data security and breach notification bills into law.  The first bill, the “Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act” or “SHIELD Act,” will impose specific data security requirements on businesses that own or license private information of New York residents, in addition to amending New York’s data breach notification statute to broaden the circumstances under which notification may be required.  The second bill, meanwhile, will require consumer reporting agencies to offer identity theft prevention and mitigation services.  Both bills are described in further detail below.
Continue Reading New York Passes New Data Security and Breach Notification Requirements

The Governor of Massachusetts recently signed House Bill No. 4806 into law, which will amend certain provisions of the state’s data breach notification law.  In addition to changing the information that must be included in notifications to regulators and individuals, the amendments will also require entities to provide eighteen months of free credit monitoring services following breaches involving Social Security numbers.  The amendments, which will enter into force on April 11, 2019, are discussed in greater detail below.
Continue Reading Massachusetts Amends Data Breach Notification Law to Require Free Credit Monitoring

Recent years have seen significant amounts of legislative activity related to state data breach notification laws, and 2018 was no exception.  Not only did South Dakota and Alabama enact new data breach notification laws in 2018, becoming the last of 50 U.S. states to enact such laws, but other states also enacted changes to existing data breach notification laws during 2018 to expand their scope and implement additional notification requirements.  Following up on our global year-end review of major privacy and cybersecurity developments, we’ve summarized the major developments and trends observed with regards to state data breach notification laws over the past year.
Continue Reading State Data Breach Notification Laws: 2018 in Review