Last Friday, October 1, the Protecting DNA Privacy Act (HB 833), a new genetic privacy law, went into effect in the state of Florida establishing four new crimes related to the unlawful use of another person’s DNA.  While the criminal penalties in HB 833 are notable, Florida is not alone in its focus on increased genetic privacy protections.  A growing number of states, including Utah, Arizona, and California, have begun developing a net of genetic privacy protections to fill gaps in federal and other state legislation, often focused on the privacy practices of direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) genetic testing companies.  While some processing of genetic information is covered by federal law, the existing patchwork of federal genetic privacy protections do not clearly cover all forms of genetic testing, including DTC genetic tests.
Continue Reading Newly Effective Florida Law Imposing Criminal Sanctions Adds to Developing Nationwide Patchwork of State Genetic Privacy Laws

On September 28, 2021, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) issued its opinion on the European Commission’s (“Commission”) draft decision on the adequate protection of personal data in the Republic of South Korea.  Once the Commission approves the decision, it will allow for personal data to flow freely from the EEA to commercial operators and public authorities in South Korea, without the need to implement other transfer mechanisms provided in the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), such as standard contractual clauses.

The EDPB’s opinion is overall favorable with respect to the Commission’s finding that South Korea’s data protection laws offer a level of protection essentially equivalent to that provided by the GDPR.  In particular, the EDPB highlights that there are “numerous similarities” between the South Korean data protection laws (which include the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), its adjoining Enforcement Decree, and Notification No. 2021-1) and the European data protection framework, in particular the GDPR.
Continue Reading EDPB Adopts Overall Favorable Opinion on European Commission’s Draft Adequacy Decision for South Korea

Last week, the Ninth Circuit held in United States v. Wilson, No. 18-50440, 2021 WL 4270847, that a law enforcement officer violated a criminal defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights when he opened images attached to the defendant’s emails without a warrant, even though the images had previously been flagged as child sexual abuse materials (“CSAM”) by Google’s automated CSAM-detection software.  The court based its ruling on the private search exception to the Fourth Amendment, which permits law enforcement to conduct a warrantless search only to the extent the search was previously conducted by a private party.  Because no individual at Google actually opened and viewed the images flagged as CSAM, the court held that law enforcement “exceeded the scope of the antecedent private search,” thereby “exceed[ing] the limits of the private search exception.”  Op. at 20-21.

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit’s Interpretation of Private Search Exception to the Fourth Amendment Contributes to “Growing Tension” Among Circuit Courts

On September 29, 2021, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing entitled “Protecting Consumer Privacy.”  The hearing centered on strengthening consumer privacy rights, including by increasing the FTC’s resources and creating a comprehensive federal privacy law.

To explore these issues, the Committee invited David Vladeck, Professor and Faculty Director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law and former Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection; Morgan Reed, President of The App Association; Maureen Ohlhausen, Partner and Section Chair (Antitrust & Competition Law) at Baker Botts and former Acting Chairman of the FTC; and Ashkan Soltani, Independent Researcher and Technologist and former Chief Technologist of the FTC.
Continue Reading Consumer Privacy Hearing Focuses on Expanding FTC Resources, Creating Federal Privacy Law

In putative privacy class action Hodges v. Comcast Cable Communications, LLC, involving  Comcast’s privacy and data-collection practices, Comcast moved to compel arbitration based on its subscriber agreement.  The district court denied the motion based on California’s McGill rule, which may invalidate arbitration agreements that purport to waive the right to seek public injunctive relief in any forum.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Narrowly Defines “Public Injunctive Relief” in Privacy Case, Limiting Plaintiffs’ Ability to Circumvent Arbitration Agreements.

With the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, more and more businesses are planning to reopen their physical office spaces.  They are confronted with ensuring a safe workplace and minimizing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.  As employers consider health screening measures, ranging from temperature checks to vaccine mandates, they must navigate complex privacy issues.
Continue Reading COVID-19: Legal Considerations and Best Practices for Employers Processing Vaccination Data

An Illinois state appellate court recently issued a ruling that could reduce defendants’ litigation exposure on certain types of Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) claims.  On September 17, the panel clarified in Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc., 2021 IL App (1st) 200563 (1st Dist. Sept. 17, 2021), that the statutes of limitation applicable to BIPA claims vary depending on the nature of the claim.  Claims for failing to provide a written retention policy, give notice, or obtain consent prior to collecting an individual’s biometric information may be brought within five years.  But claims for violating BIPA’s selling, disclosing, or disseminating information provisions must be brought within one year.

Continue Reading Illinois Court Splits Time on BIPA Statute of Limitations

As COVID-19 vaccination becomes required in more personal and professional contexts, several different frameworks have emerged that propose both guiding principles and technical requirements for vaccine verification systems, including those developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Good Health Pass Collaborative (GHPC).
Continue Reading COVID-19 Vaccine Verification Frameworks: Emerging Standards Seek to Balance Privacy Concerns With Public Health Benefits