Enforcement - Federal Agency and State AG Action

In one of this year’s largest HIPAA settlements, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is set to collect $3 million from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). This settlement over potential violations of the Privacy and Security Rules under HIPAA also requires URMC to follow a corrective action plan that includes two years of HIPAA compliance monitoring by OCR.
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National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) is coming to a close, but diligent cybersecurity efforts must continue. In honor of another successful NCSAM, below we have gathered some of our most popular cybersecurity content you can use as a quick reference for all of your cyber-related interests.

FINRA issued their 2019 Report on Examination Findings and Observations ahead of prior years’ reports.

FINRA Changes Approach in Communicating Exam Results 

This most recent report, issued on October 16, 2019, starts by highlighting a recently implemented distinction on their part as to how they communicate exam results to firms. That is, FINRA stated that they now report “findings,” which are violations of the rules, and “observations” (f/k/a “recommendations”), which are “suggestions to [the] … firm about how it could improve its control environment in order to address perceived weaknesses that elevate risk, but do not typically rise to the level of a rule violation or cannot be tied to an existing rule.”
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Late last week heralded two significant and highly anticipated updates to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

On October 10, 2019, the Office of the California Attorney General issued a long-anticipated Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Action regarding the CCPA.  The full text of the proposed regulations can be found here.  The next day, Governor Gavin Newsom signed all seven amendments to the CCPA that came out of the California State Assembly.

This post will address the statutory amendments first since they modify the CCPA itself, then turn to the draft regulations (officially, the “California Consumer Privacy Act Regulations”).
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On April 16, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) issued a Risk Alert highlighting Regulation S-P compliance deficiencies and issues it found in recent examinations of broker-dealers and investment advisers.  Regulation S-P is the primary SEC rule detailing the safeguards these firms must take to protect customer privacy.  The Risk Alert provides an important reminder for firms to assess their supervisory and compliance programs related to Regulation S-P and make any necessary changes to strengthen those systems.  Indeed, in light of the substantial fines that can accompany a finding that Regulation S-P has been violated, firms must pay careful attention to the OCIE’s guidance regarding potential pitfalls.
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On December 20, 2018, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) released a report on cybersecurity practices for broker-dealers. Today’s post is the third in a series of summaries sharing essential, timely insight on how these practices may impact your business. Please click here for the first and second posts on cybersecurity practice impacts.

This post focuses on threats posed by insiders of the firm, which may be created by either deliberate, malicious conduct or by inadvertent mistakes. Both types of data breaches create significant risk to the firm and its customers. In the Report, FINRA notes that, while most higher revenue firms (95-99%) address insider threats as part of the program, only 66% of mid-level revenue firms address such risks. Its assessment comes from their review of firm responses to relevant inquiry areas in the 2017 and 2018 their Risk Control Assessment (RCA).
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On December 20, 2018, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) released a report on cybersecurity practices for broker-dealers. Today’s post is the second in a series of summaries sharing essential, timely insight on how these practices impact your business. Please click here for the first post on cybersecurity practice impacts.

FINRA names “phishing” attacks as one of the most common cybersecurity threats raised by firms with the self-regulator.[1] The goal of a phishing email is to manipulate the recipient into taking action. FINRA focuses on two types of phishing attacks in the report. The first is “spear phishing,” where the sender researches and targets the recipient(s) with a customized approach designed to get confidential information from the individual(s). The second is “whaling,” wherein the hacker sends targeted emails impersonating senior executives at the firm in order to set action in motion, typically wiring funds to specifically identified accounts.   
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On December 20, 2018, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) released a report on cybersecurity practices for broker-dealers. This post is the first of a series of summaries sharing essential, timely insight on how these practices impact your business. The Report follows close on the heels of FINRA’s annual Report on Examination Findings issued Dec. 14, 2018. Now we know why Cybersecurity, a top regulatory and examination priority for FINRA in 2018, was not included in their examination findings report. Not surprising, albeit somewhat unusual, the importance of the topic and FINRA’s insights warranted a separate communication.
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In August, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved changes to a video game industry program in an effort to ensure compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This comes after a 2017 study finding that YouTube, the video platform owned by Google, is the most popular online media platform among children, with as many as 80% of children ages 6-12 using it daily. Yet YouTube claims in its Terms of Service that the platform is not intended for anyone under the age of 13, and by agreeing to the terms, consumers affirm that they are indeed at least 13 years old. Users also agree to Google’s privacy policy, which details how Google collects data such as a viewer’s device, location, or phone number, and tailors advertisements and services based on that data.


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Beginning in 2020, California residents will have the right to opt out of the sale of their personal information under the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CaCPA or also called CCPA). It is time to revisit your third-party service provider agreements.  Companies now have two reasons to ensure that service provider agreements restrict the use or sale of personal information: to comply with CaCPA and to reduce risk of an FTC enforcement action.
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