Enforcement - Federal Agency and State AG Action

Monetary penalties are the attention-grabbing headline when the FTC or any regulator brings an enforcement action against a company.  They are the looming threat to incentivize and influence compliance.  Over the summer, FTC Chairman Joseph J. Simons (“Chairman Simons”) issued a statement in connection with a settlement that Chairman Simons believes “the goal of a civil penalty should be to make compliance more attractive than violation.  Said another way, violation should not be more profitable than compliance.”

Continue Reading FTC Fines: FTC Chairman Reminds Companies That Fines Are the FTC’s Strategic Tool To Deter Noncompliance

On September 17, 2020, four Republican Senators (Roger Wicker – Mississippi, Chairman, John Thune – South Dakota, Deb Fischer – Nebraska, and Marsha Blackburn – Tennessee) introduced sweeping federal privacy legislation entitled: Setting an American Framework to Ensure Data Access, Transparency, and Accountability (“SAFE DATA”) Act. This proposed comprehensive national privacy law has three main components:

  1. Provides consumers with more choice and control over their data
  2. Directs business to be more transparent and accountable
  3. Strengthens the FTC’s enforcement power


Continue Reading Federal Data Privacy Legislation: Will it Help the US Remain Competitive in the Global Marketplace?

On July 21, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) filed charges against First American Title Insurance Company (First American) for violating multiple sections of the New York Cybersecurity Regulation,  23 NYCRR 500.00, et seq.  The significance of the NYDFS enforcement action cannot be overemphasized.  This is the first action filed under the Cybersecurity Regulation, signaling a more aggressive enforcement stance by the regulator.  The good news is the filings provide important guidance on best practices and red flags to avoid agency sanctions.

The NYDFS Statement of Charges alleges that First American knowingly exposed tens of millions of documents containing consumer sensitive personal information (e.g., bank account numbers, bank statements, mortgage records, Social Security numbers, wire transaction receipts, drivers’ license images, etc.). The charges further allege that for almost 5 years (from October 2014 through May 2019) these records were available on First American’s public-facing website to anyone with a web browser.  The fact that First American failed to remediate the vulnerability, even after it was discovered by a penetration test in December 2018, was particularly troublesome for the regulators.  The charges state that, “Remarkably, [First American] allowed unfettered access to the personal and financial data of millions of its customers for six more months. . .”   Clearly, the NYDFS found this treatment of sensitive consumer data unconscionable and that First American demonstrated a total disregard for the Cyber Regulations.


Continue Reading NYDFS State of Mind: Regulator Focus and Enforcement Trends

FINRA’s examination program has undergone its most significant reorganization in decades. As stated in a press release, Oct. 1, 2018, FINRA’s goal for the reorganization was to “consolidate its Examination and Risk Monitoring Programs, integrating three separate programs into a single, unified program to drive more effective oversight and greater consistency, eliminate duplication and

On January 7, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) released its 2020 examination priorities.  OCIE is prioritizing practices, products, and services that it believes present heightened risks to investors or market integrity.  The examination priorities are organized around seven themes, many of which build on OCIE’s priorities

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.
Continue Reading Unencrypted Mobile Devices Cost Medical Center $3 Million In HIPAA Settlement

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.”
Continue Reading Cybersecurity Best Practices: FINRA’s 2019 Exam Observations

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”).
Continue Reading CCPA Update: AG Issues Draft Regulations and Governor Signs Amendments

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.
Continue Reading SEC OCIE Highlights Potential Deficiencies in Firm Privacy Policies