Data Breaches

In recent months, the European Court of Justice (“CJEU”) issued five judgments providing some clarity on the scope of individuals’ rights to claim compensation for “material and non-material damage” under Article 82 of the GDPR. These rulings will inform companies’ exposure to compensation claims, particularly in the context of the EU’s Collective Redress Directive, but open questions remain about the quantum of compensation courts will offer in these cases and we expect both the CJEU and national courts to deliver additional case-law clarifying this topic in the coming year (for more information on recent CJEU cases related to compensation, see our previous blog posts here and here).

  • In VB v Natsionalna agentsia za prihodite (C-340/21), the CJEU concluded that individuals may have suffered “non-material damage”—and therefore be able to claim compensation—if they can demonstrate that they feared future misuse of personal data that was compromised in a personal data breach.  
  • In VX v Gemeinde Ummendorf (C-456/22), the CJEU found that there is no de minimis threshold for damage, below which individuals cannot claim for compensation.
  • In BL v MediaMarktSaturn (C-687-21), the CJEU restated its existing case-law, and expanded upon its analysis in VB by clarifying that alleged harms cannot be “purely hypothetical”.
  • In Kočner v Europol (C-755/21), the CJEU awarded non-material damages of €2000 for the publication in newspapers of transcripts of “intimate” text messages.
  • In GP v Juris GmbH (C-741/21), the CJEU found that where one processing activity infringes multiple provisions of the GDPR, this should not allow claimants to “double-count” the harm they suffered.

We provide further detail on each case below.Continue Reading Rounding up Five Recent CJEU Cases on GDPR Compensation

On October 6, 2022, the Advocate General (“AG”) of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) released an opinion in case C-300/21 to the effect that a controller or processor’s non-compliance with the GDPR does not automatically entitle data subjects to receive compensation for non-material damages pursuant to Article 82 GDPR.  According to the AG, compensation is meant to remedy the consequences caused by a breach of the GDPR, and therefore a data subject must have suffered damage that he or she can affirmatively demonstrate.Continue Reading CJEU Advocate General Issues Opinion on Non-Material Damages for GDPR Breach

On October 18 and 21, 2022, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB“) published updated guidelines (i) on personal data breach notification under the GDPR and (ii) on identifying a controller or processor’s lead supervisory authority, respectively. Both guidelines are in draft form and are open to public consultation until the end of November.Continue Reading EDPB Publishes Updated Guidelines on Personal Data Breach Notification and Identifying the Lead Supervisory Authority

On April 7, 2022, the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) announced the publication of its Sharing Cyber Event Information Fact Sheet (“Fact Sheet”) intended to provide clear guidance to critical infrastructure owners and operators and government partners on voluntary information sharing about “unusual cyber incidents or activity.”  In its announcement, CISA explained that it will use the information provided to fill “critical information gaps,” deploy resources, analyze trends, issue warnings, and “build a common understanding of how adversaries are targeting U.S. networks and critical infrastructure sectors.”

CISA’s announcement of the Fact Sheet encourages entities to visit its Shields Up website for more information; the Shields Up website was recently updated with guidance in response to the heightened risk of Russian cyber attacks.  The Shields Up website recommends that “all organizations—regardless of size—adopt a heightened posture when it comes to cybersecurity and protecting their most critical assets” and provides detailed guidance that entities can use to protect themselves.
Continue Reading CISA Issues Voluntary Information Sharing Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Owners and Operators and Provides Resources for All

On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2022, a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package to fund the government through September 2022.  The omnibus spending package includes the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 (the “Act”), which establishes two cyber incident reporting requirements for covered critical infrastructure entities:  a 24-hour requirement to report any ransomware payments to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) and a 72-hour requirement to report all covered cyber incidents to CISA.  These requirements will take effect upon the issuance of implementing regulations from the Director of CISA.
Continue Reading President Biden Signs Critical Infrastructure Ransomware Payment and Cyber Incident Reporting into Law

In early February, the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) announced the publication of a joint cybersecurity advisory observing “an increase in sophisticated, high-impact ransomware incidents against critical infrastructure organizations globally” during 2021.  The report—which was coauthored by cybersecurity authorities in the United States (CISA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency), Australia (the Australian Cyber Security Centre), and United Kingdom (the National Cyber Security Centre)—emphasizes that the continued evolution of ransomware tactics and techniques throughout the past year “demonstrates ransomware threat actors’ growing technological sophistication and an increased ransomware threat to organizations globally.”
Continue Reading CISA Issues Joint Cybersecurity Advisory on 2021 Ransomware Trends and Recommendations

In a new post on the Covington Digital Health blog, our colleagues discuss recently announced Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) guidance meant to help companies determine their obligations under the Health Breach Notification Rule (the “Rule”).  The guidance follows the FTC’s September 2021 Policy Statement, which expanded the Rule’s application to the developers of health

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