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 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

Last week, Virginia’s Joint Commission on Technology and Science held its second meeting of the Consumer Data Protection Work Group.

Instead of following a detailed rulemaking process for implementation like that provided for in the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA) is being reviewed over the next few months by a group of state officials, business representatives, and advocates. This group will publish recommendations by November 1, 2021, which the state legislature can consider if it amends the law before the VCDPA goes into effect on January 1, 2023. A stated goal of the group is to align the VCDPA with other privacy laws that states are enacting around the country.

At the meeting, the group heard public comments as well as a presentation by Deputy Attorney General Samuel Towell on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia (OAG). The presentation covered issues that the OAG sees with the VCDPA’s implementation and proposed a number of recommendations for the group to consider:
Continue Reading Virginia Consumer Data Protection Work Group Holds Second Meeting, Hears Recommendations from the Office of the Virginia Attorney General

On this special tenth episode of our Inside Privacy Audiocast, we celebrate Data Privacy Day 2021. Join Dan Cooper and Kurt Wimmer as they discuss the key global data privacy developments in 2020 and trends to look out for in 2021.

Covington’s Inside Privacy Audiocast offers insights into topical global privacy issues and trends. Subscribe

On the eighth episode of our Inside Privacy Audiocast, we peer through the looking glass at the U.S. election and the future of privacy laws in the U.S. We discuss whether the November 3 election is likely to be a watershed event in the development of privacy laws in the U.S. In this episode, Dan

Yesterday, the California Attorney General (“AG”) proposed a fourth set of modifications to the California Consumer Privacy Act regulations. These modifications build on the third set of proposed regulations released by the AG in October, which we discussed here. Interested parties have until December 28 to submit comments in response.
Continue Reading California Attorney General Releases Fourth Set of Proposed Modifications to California Consumer Privacy Act Regulations

Voters in California approved Proposition 24, which updates the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) just a few months after the landmark regulations implementing the privacy law went into effect.  As we have previously explained, the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”) will change the existing CCPA requirements in a number of ways, including limiting the sharing of personal information for cross-context behavioral advertising and the use of “sensitive” personal information, as well as creating a new correction right.  It also establishes a new agency to enforce California privacy law.  The key provisions of the bill will not go into effect until January 1, 2023, providing much-needed time to clarify the details and for businesses to adjust their CCPA compliance approaches to account for the additional requirements.

Continue Reading Californians Approve Ballot Initiative Modifying the California Consumer Privacy Act

On our fourth episode of our Inside Privacy Audiocast, we are aiming our looking glass at the California Privacy Rights Act, and are joined by guest speaker Jacob Snow, Technology and Civil Liberties Attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

In September 2019, Alastair Mactaggart, Board Chair and Founder of Californians for

The California legislature has approved a contingency plan to ensure that certain California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) exemptions will be extended beyond December 2020.  Regardless of what happens with the November ballot initiative, businesses will have at least another year before they must comply with all of the CCPA’s provisions when collecting or using certain

On May 5th, 2020, the California Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection held a hearing and considered AB 2811, a bill that would amend existing California law governing automatic renewals.  As currently drafted, AB 2811 would:

  • require businesses to provide 3-7 days’ notice explaining how to cancel an automatic renewal offer or continuous service offer if the consumer accepted (1) a free gift or trial that lasts for a predetermined period of time as part of an automatic renewal or continuous service offer, or (2) the consumer accepted an automatic renewal or continuous service offer at a discounted price, and the applicability of that price was limited to a predetermined amount of time; and
  • require businesses that permit consumers to accept automatic renewal or continuous service offers online to immediately terminate that service online.


Continue Reading AB 2811: The Future of Automatic Renewals in California