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Texas AG Objections To Transfer of Personal Data Demonstrate Significance of Privacy Policy Disclosures

Last week, dating website PlentyOfFish withdrew its offer to buy bankrupt rival True.com, citing concerns raised by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott that the sale would violate True.com’s privacy policy and expose its members to unexpected privacy risks.  Two weeks ago, Abbott filed an objection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to block the proposed transfer of … Continue Reading

CA Governor Signs Bill Providing Online Protections For Minors

Earlier this month, we blogged about the California Senate’s passage of the bill titled “Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World”, which prohibits certain targeted advertising to California minors and requires that minors be allowed to delete materials they have posted online.  Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation, and it will … Continue Reading

New Jersey Restricts Employer Access to Employees’ Personal Online Accounts

New Jersey has enacted restrictions on the ability of employers to access employees’ social media accounts, becoming the twelfth state to enact such legislation. More than 30 state legislatures have considered bills on the topic in 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New Restrictions in New Jersey New Jersey’s new law, signed … Continue Reading

CA Legislature Passes Bill Establishing Online Protections for Minors

Last Friday the California Senate unanimously passed legislation titled, “Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World,” which prohibits certain types of marketing to minors (defined as a natural person under the age of 18 residing in California) and allows minors to delete materials they have posted online.  The bill, which already cleared the … Continue Reading

Federal Court Finds Stored Communications Act Applies to Facebook Wall Posts

A New Jersey federal court recently held that an employee’s Facebook wall posts were protected by the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., in one of the first cases to analyze the SCA’s application to the Facebook wall.  Ehling v. Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corp.., No. 2:11-cv-3305 (WMJ) (D.N.J. Aug. 20, 2013).  An … Continue Reading

The NLRB Strikes Down Employer Policies on Social Media and the Confidentiality of Complaint Investigations

Many employers have been surprised by recent rulings that two common employment policies run afoul of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) even if their employees are not union members.  Based on a legitimate interest in preserving confidentiality and privacy, many employers have adopted social media policies limiting what employees may post on Facebook or … Continue Reading

Twitter Releases Bi-Annual Transparency Report

Twitter recently released its bi-annual transparency report, detailing the number of requests that the company has received from governments for user information or to take down content.  According to the report, the company received 1,157 requests for user information in the first six months of 2013, the highest amount since Twitter began releasing its report.  … Continue Reading

Facebook and NNEDV Develop Privacy and Safety Guide for Survivors of Abuse

Recently, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) and Facebook launched a guide intended to assist individuals who have been victims of domestic violence.  The guide offers tips to individuals who have suffered abuse on “how to use Facebook in a way that ensures that they stay connected with friends and family, but control … Continue Reading

Personalization of travel shopping

Personalization of the shopping experience is a hot topic in the travel industry.  It has also prompted privacy regulators to consider the implications for the consumer.  For example, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party in April issued a letter to the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) on this topic and a Department of Transportation committee recently … Continue Reading

Delta succeeds in dismissing California AG’s first CalOPPA case

California Attorney General Kamala Harris failed in her first attempt to sue a company for failing to post a privacy policy on a mobile app. Harris alleged that Delta Airlines violated the California Online Privacy Protection Act ("CalOPPA") by failing to include a privacy policy on its mobile app- The lawsuit, in the California Superior Court in San Francisco, was the first enforcement action under CalOPPA since it came into force in 2004. On Thursday, the district court granted Delta's motion to dismiss the complaint, concluding that the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) pre-empts the state's claims. The ADA provides that "a State....may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier." Courts have construed the scope of preemption by the ADA broadly, and the majority of courts which have considered the issue have held that the ADA preempts the application of state consumer protection laws to airlines. See Morales v. Trans World Airlines, 504 U.S. 374 (1992). The judge decided that the operation of a mobile app for air travel services is "related to price, route or service of an air carrier" and thus agreed with Delta's argument that the California AG's claim is pre-empted.… Continue Reading

Craigslist wins first step against screenscapers – lesson for drafting TOUs

On April 29, Craigslist was successful in fighting off a motion to dismiss filed by three screenscraping sites (3Taps, Padmapper and Lovely) in its pending litigation in the Northern District of California.   In Craigslist Inc. v. 3Taps Inc., No. CV 12-03816 (N.D. Cal.), Craigslist sued these sites, alleging that their scraping of Craigslist content violated … Continue Reading

ECPA Reform Bill Sails Through Senate Judiciary Committee

Yesterday, a bill that would reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (“ECPA”) was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a voice vote. Under ECPA, as it currently stands, police need only a subpoena, issued without approval by a judge, to access private e-mails that have already been opened or that are more … Continue Reading

FTC Releases Revised COPPA FAQs: Here’s What’s New

The Federal Trade Commission has released its much anticipated revised COPPA FAQs.  Although these FAQs are not legally binding, they provide informal guidance to industry on staff’s interpretations of the COPPA Rule.  For the most part, the FAQs reiterate past guidance and emphasize key provisions of the new COPPA Rule and its Statement of Basis and Purpose.  However, here are 5 key things that the revised … Continue Reading

Utah, New Mexico, Arkansas are Latest States to Restrict Access by Employers or Schools to Personal Social Media Accounts

After gaining prominence in 2012, state legislation restricting access to personal social media accounts by employers and schools has remained active.  Three more states have enacted their own restrictions thus far in 2013, and bills are pending in more than two dozen other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 2012, Illinois … Continue Reading

Covington Event: Insurance Coverage for Employment-Related Liabilities

Employees’ use of social media and other online services in their professional and personal lives has increased the risk of an employee bringing claims against a current or former employer.  In the past three years, for example, employers have had to defend against claims related to ownership of social media accounts used by former employees … Continue Reading

5 Privacy and Data Security Measures That Can Protect Your Company Against Trade Secret Theft

At a recent forum in New York, a team of Covington lawyers addressed the growing concern among companies that their most valuable assets could leave the building on a thumb drive in an employee’s pocket or be disclosed through an employee’s use of a social media site.  Addressing this threat involves many disciplines beyond trade … Continue Reading

FTC Annual Report Reveals Identity Theft — Not Privacy — Is Top Consumer Complaint

Yesterday the FTC released its annual report of consumer complaints, highlighting identity theft as the leading category of complaints, with 18% of the total.  The 2012 report analyzes complaints received by the FTC, certain other federal agencies, state law enforcement agencies, and non-governmental organizations such as the Better Business Bureau.  After identity theft, consumers filed the … Continue Reading

Bill Would Set Federal Restrictions on Employer, School Access to Personal Online Accounts

A bill reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday would prohibit employers and schools from requesting or demanding access to employees’ or students’ personal social-media accounts. The bill, titled the “Social Networking Online Protection Act,” would bar employers from requesting or requiring that employees or job applicants provide the employer access to personal … Continue Reading

FTC Settles Deception, COPPA Charges Against Social Networking App Path

Path, a social networking mobile app, has agreed to enter into a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) regarding charges that the company deceived consumers by collecting contact information from users’ mobile address books without notice and consent.  The agreement also resolves charges that the company violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) … Continue Reading

FFIEC Proposes Social Media Guidance

On January 22, 2013, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council proposed guidance on the applicability of consumer protection and compliance laws, regulations, and policies to activities conducted via social media by depository institutions.  The proposed guidance would not impose additional compliance obligations on institutions.  Instead, the guidance is intended to help financial institutions understand potential … Continue Reading

New Jersey Restricts Colleges’ Access to Students’ Personal Accounts, Considers Similar Protections for Employees

New Jersey earlier this month became the latest state to bar college and university officials from demanding access to students’ or applicants’ personal online accounts.  Gov. Chris Christie signed the law, which takes effect immediately, on Dec. 3. Under the new law, which applies to public and private higher-education institutions, schools cannot require a student or … Continue Reading

NLRB Finds DISH Network Social Media Policy Unlawful

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continues to be active in considering whether companies’ social media policies run afoul of U.S. labor laws.  In the latest decision implementing the approach reflected in a series of NLRB reports analyzing employer social media policies under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), an administrative law judge found that it is impermissible … Continue Reading

New California Laws Restrict Employer, College Access to Personal Social-Media Content

California is the latest state to enact legislation restricting the circumstances under which employers or schools can demand access to employees’ or students’ personal social media accounts. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills into law on Sept. 27.  The first, A.B. 1844, bars employers from requiring or requesting that employees or job applicants disclose … Continue Reading

NLRB Finds Costco Social Media Policy Unlawful

A three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that it is impermissible for Costco’s social media policy to ban employees from making electronic postings that damage the reputation of the company or anyone else.  The NLRB held that policy was not permissible because Costco employees could reasonably assume that it prohibited communications … Continue Reading
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