On January 4, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission published a warning to companies and their vendors to take reasonable steps to remediate the Log4j vulnerability (CVE-2021-44228).  The FTC provided a list of recommended remedial actions for companies using the Log4j software.  The FTC’s warning references obligations under the FTC Act and Gramm Leach Bliley Act (“GLBA”) to take reasonable action to remediate vulnerabilities, and hints at potential inquiries and enforcement actions against companies and vendors that fail to do so.  As the FTC notes in its warning, the “FTC intends to use its full legal authority to pursue companies that fail to take reasonable steps to protect consumer data from exposure as a result of Log4j, or similar known vulnerabilities in the future.”
Continue Reading FTC Warns Companies to Remediate the Log4j Vulnerability and Hints at Potential Enforcement Actions

On Episode 16 of Covington’s Inside Privacy Audiocast, Dan CooperYan Luo and Zhijing Yu discuss the implications of China’s Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) for companies with data or doing business in China. The law, which entered into force on November 1, is the first comprehensive personal information protection law in China and

This is the sixth in the series of Covington blogs on implementation of Executive Order 14028, “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity,” issued by President Biden on May 12, 2021 (the “Cyber EO”).  The first blog summarized the Cyber EO’s key provisions and timelines, and the second, third, fourth, and fifth blogs described the actions taken by various federal agencies to implement the EO during June, July, August, and September 2021, respectively.  This blog summarizes key actions taken to implement the Cyber EO during October 2021.

Although the recent developments this month are directly applicable to the U.S. Government, the standards being established for U.S. Government agencies could be adopted as industry standards for all organizations that develop or acquire software similar to various industries adopting the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as a security controls baseline.
Continue Reading October 2021 Developments Under President Biden’s Cybersecurity Executive Order

On September 21, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued an “Updated Advisory on Potential Sanctions Risks for Facilitating Ransomware Payments” (the “Updated Advisory”).  The Updated Advisory updates and supersedes an earlier OFAC Advisory released on October 1, 2020, and is directed toward not only organizations victimized by ransomware attacks, but also financial institutions, cyber insurance firms, and forensic and incident-response firms that assist organizations victimized by ransomware attacks.

The Updated Advisory is largely consistent with the previous version released in October 2020, restating the U.S. government’s opposition to ransomware victims making payments to cyber threat actors and making clear OFAC’s commitment to bringing enforcement actions in connection with such payments when they constitute U.S. sanctions violations.  However, the Updated Advisory adds important new guidance on “the proactive steps companies can take to mitigate [sanctions enforcement] risks,” including implementing strong cybersecurity practices before an attack; and promptly reporting a ransomware attack to, and engaging in timely and ongoing cooperation with, law enforcement or other relevant agencies.  Taking these steps would constitute “mitigating factors” in any OFAC enforcement action resulting from sanctions violations in connection with ransomware payments.

In conjunction with the new Advisory, OFAC for the first time designated for sanctions a Russian cryptocurrency exchange, SUEX OTC, that OFAC alleges has been involved in facilitating numerous ransomware payments for malicious cyber actors.  As a result of this designation, U.S. persons (that is, all individual U.S. citizens and permanent residents, U.S.-incorporated entities and their branch offices, and anyone physically within the United States) are now prohibited from engaging in or facilitating virtually all transactions with or involving SUEX OTC.


Continue Reading OFAC Issues Updated Guidance on Ransomware Payments

On September 15, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) adopted, on a 3-2 party-line vote, a policy statement that takes a broad view of which health apps and connected devices are subject to the FTC’s Health Breach Notification Rule (the “Rule”) and what triggers the Rule’s notification requirement.

The Rule was promulgated in 2009 under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act.  Under the Rule, vendors of personal health records that are not otherwise regulated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) are required to notify individuals, the FTC, and, in some cases, the media following a breach involving unsecured identifiable health information.  Third-party service providers also are required to notify covered vendors of any breach.
Continue Reading FTC Adopts Policy Statement on Privacy Breaches by Health Apps and Connected Devices

The California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA), which is responsible for issuing regulations implementing the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), has posted its approved discussion draft for seeking public comments in preparation for its CPRA rulemaking activities.  The CPPA indicated that it is particularly interested in receiving comments on the following eight topics:
Continue Reading California Privacy Protection Agency Seeks Comments on Preliminary CPRA Issues

There have been many headlines today about the UK Government’s plans to reform UK data protection law. We are still reviewing the (near 150-page) consultation document, but set out below a dozen proposals that we thought might pique the interest of readers of our blog.
Continue Reading 12 Eye-Catching Proposals In The UK Government’s Plan To Reform UK Data Protection Law

On July 2 and July 5, 2021, China’s Cybersecurity Review Office (“CRO”), an office established under the Cyberspace Administration of China (“CAC”) responsible for coordinating the implementation of China’s Cybersecurity Review framework (more details about this framework can be found in our previous blogpost, available here), announced that it had initiated cybersecurity reviews against four mobile applications operated by three Chinese companies:  Didi Chuxing (“Didi”), Yunmanman, Huochebang and BOSS Zhipin (announcements are available here and here).

According to CRO’s announcements, these cybersecurity reviews were initiated based on requirements under the National Security Law (“NSL”), the Cybersecurity Law (“CSL”) and the Measures on Cybersecurity Review (“Measures”) and are aimed at “preventing national data security risks, maintaining national security and safeguarding public interests.”  This is the first time that CRO publically announced the initiation of cybersecurity reviews against companies after the Measures took effect on June 1, 2020.  Per the announcements, these apps are prohibited from registering new user accounts during the review period.

Separately, on July 4, CAC ordered the Didi app to be removed from Chinese app stores on the ground that the app seriously violated Chinese laws and regulations by “illegally collecting and using personal information” (the announcement is available here).  It is unclear whether this “take down” order is related to CRO’s ongoing cybersecurity review of Didi.

This post explains the requirements and procedures of cybersecurity review under the Measures, analyzes the focus of the current review against these three companies, and provides more background on recent enforcement actions against apps illegally collecting and processing personal information.
Continue Reading China Initiates Cybersecurity Review of Didi ChuXing and Three Other Chinese Mobile Applications

Earlier this month the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) held its inaugural public meeting.  The CPPA was created under Proposition 24, the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), which was approved by California voters on November 3, 2020.
Continue Reading California Privacy Protection Agency Holds First Meeting, Preparing for Upcoming Rulemaking

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 China Enacts Data Security Law