2021 was another busy year for data privacy regulatory enforcement and litigation. With some distance to reflect on last year, we have prepared this post identifying and describing important trends from 2021 that can help provide insight into what to expect in the data privacy landscape in 2022.

Data Privacy Regulatory Enforcement Trends

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state enforcement action in 2021 centered on several key areas, including protecting children.

An FTC enforcement action last year alleged that the maker of an online coloring book application violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal information about children who used the app without notifying their parents and obtaining their consent.  The allegations note that the app included a “Kids” category that was targeted to children.  The FTC further claimed that the app’s social media features collected personal information from users and that some parents, lacking knowledge of these features, may have inadvertently permitted their young children to use the app.
Continue Reading 2021 Trends in Privacy Regulatory Enforcement and Litigation

On Thursday, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled in McDonald v. Symphony Bronzeville Park LLC that the exclusivity provisions of the state’s workers’ compensation statute do not preclude liquidated damages claims under the Biometric Information Privacy Act.  The decision narrows the defenses available to employers facing employment-related BIPA claims.

Illinois’s Workers’ Compensation Act generally provides the exclusive means by which an employee can recover against an employer for a work-related injury and requires such claims to be adjudicated before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, subject to several exceptions.  One of those exceptions is for injuries that are not compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act.  At issue in McDonald was whether an alleged employment-based BIPA violation—here, the alleged use of a fingerprint-based timekeeping system without the required disclosures or consent—was the type of injury covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Continue Reading Illinois Supreme Court Rules Workers’ Compensation Act Does Not Bar BIPA Liquidated Damages Claims

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

Early last week, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Congresswomen Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced a new bill, the Banning Surveillance Advertising Act, which would prohibit ad tech companies and other advertisers from engaging in targeted or “surveillance” advertising.  Targeted advertising is defined under the bill as the dissemination of ads based

A new year means new state privacy bills introduced in states across the country.  With two additional states joining California last year with the passage of the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act and the Colorado Privacy Act, it is likely that more states will join the fray this year in creating a patchwork of comprehensive privacy laws in the United States.

While some states will have these bills under consideration well into the fall, the vast majority of state legislatures will adjourn by early June and thirteen will adjourn before the start of April.

During this early year sprint, there are five general trends that observers will want to keep an eye on in state legislatures.
Continue Reading State Legislative Trends to Watch in 2022

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

Last week, in a decision that confirms the viability of cy pres settlements in privacy class action cases, the Ninth Circuit affirmed approval of a class action injunctive relief and cy pres-only settlement in In re Google Inc. Street View Electronic Communications Litigation, No. 20-15616, 2021 WL 6111383.  The case featured Wiretap Act claims based on Google Street View vehicles’ collection of “payload data,” including emails, passwords, and documents that Internet users transmitted over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Affirms Approval of Injunctive Relief and Cy Pres Settlement of Google Street View Privacy Claims

On Episode 17 of Covington’s Inside Privacy Audiocast, Dan Cooper, Sam Choi, Danielle Kehl and Nick Shepherd discuss the developments related to children’s privacy, looking at relevant legislation, standards, and guidelines in the UK, the EU, and the U.S., and zooming in on some child-specific topics such as age thresholds and age verification,

On December 15, 2021, the United States and Australia signed an agreement on cross-border law enforcement demands for data from service providers (“Agreement”).  The Agreement is the second bilateral agreement to be entered into under the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, following the U.S.-UK agreement in 2019.
Continue Reading U.S. and Australia Sign CLOUD Act Agreement