Welcome to a three-part series that provides an overview of the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), examines recent CIPA litigation involving smart speakers, and proposes defenses in response to an alleged violation.

CIPA in the Age of Smart Devices

The California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA)[1]—traditionally used by law enforcement and the plaintiffs’ bar to address illegal recording/eavesdropping on phone calls—has seen renewed interest in the age of smart speakers. Smart speakers, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and Apple’s Siri, are voice-enabled devices where the user utters a “wake word” to activate a “virtual assistant”.  A number of putative class actions have recently been filed over these “virtual assistants” and whether they illegally record individuals without their consent.  This recent spate of lawsuits highlights CIPA-compliance risks associated with these new technologies. This article provides an overview of CIPA’s history and features, addresses recently filed CIPA smart-device cases, and recommends defenses for responding to a smart device CIPA action.
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Social media posts have become so common and reflexive that people often fire off posts without appropriately considering the consequences.  This can be costly on multiple fronts.  In the health care context, beyond the risk of losing patients (and the revenue they bring), inappropriate posts can result in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations.  Indeed, as the Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has stated, “Social media is not the place for providers to discuss a patient’s care… [doctors] and dentists must think carefully about patient privacy before responding to online reviews.”  Of course, this warning is not limited to dentists; all health care providers should take heed. 
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As discussed here, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), in its current state, likely applies to businesses that collect the personal information of their employees.  AB 25, which passed in the California Assembly on May 29, 2019, sought to address this issue by removing employees and job applicants from the CCPA’s definition

New York Governor Cuomo signed the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act (SHIELD Act) into law. The law amends the existing data breach notification law and adds new cybersecurity requirements. The SHIELD Act takes effect in March 2020.

The Governor also signed into law the Identity Theft Prevention and Mitigation Services Act (Act). The Act requires that credit reporting agencies suffering a breach involving Social Security numbers must provide five years of identity theft prevention and mitigation services to affected consumers. The Act becomes effective in September 2019.

Continue reading for a summary of the SHIELD Act and how it could impact your business.
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The world of data privacy often focuses on how companies are using consumers’ information and what measures those companies take to protect such information.  Each of the fifty states have enacted laws that require entities to notify individuals of security breaches involving personally identifiable information (although those laws vary greatly).  Additionally, twenty-five states have laws that address the data security practices of private sector entities.  But what happens when a privacy breach originates not from a company, but from a government agency?  
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Although not a new practice, the application of geofencing continues to increase in sophistication and expand into personal space on an unprecedented scale, jumping beyond commercial retail advertising schemes and diving into the depths of employment, health care, law enforcement, and politics. As the growth of these applications prompt privacy and security concerns, including government surveillance concerns, regulations lag and may be further delayed considering lawmakers’ very use of geofencing to win a governing seat.

Geofencing is the practice of using wireless internet, cellular data, global positioning system (GPS) or radio-frequency identification (RFID), or a combination of such technologies, to create a virtual boundary around a particular geographic area. When a smart-phone, tablet, or other targeted device crosses over the geofence perimeter, it triggers a response from the geofence software. So-called “active” geofencing technology powers things like home applications or “apps” that automatically adjust ambient temperature and lighting when a person enters their house. “Passive” geofencing technology is used to both (1) push advertising and other information to consumers through social media apps and other channels and (2) monitor or pull information about a consumer’s habits.
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The European Union’s (EU) ambitious and far-reaching regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), became effective on 25 May 2018. On the one-year anniversary, we reflect on some of the principal developments following the implementation of the GDPR

European privacy values: a cultural shift

Critics have derided the GDPR for placing an onerous and expensive compliance burden on businesses, causing confusion and creating ‘data privacy fatigue’ amongst consumers and businesses alike.

Conversely, the furore has generated significant publicity around the GDPR, contributing to a cultural shift towards greater consumer empowerment and control over personal information. Public awareness of the GDPR is high – in May 2018, GDPR was searched more often on Google than either Beyoncé or Kim Kardashian. Individuals have a better understanding of their rights in respect of their personal data – which presents more of a risk to data controllers.

Equally, GDPR has completely changed the risk profile of data protection for most businesses. Under the previous, weakly enforced regime, most businesses treated data protection as a low risk issue. Under the new regime, data protection has become a high-risk issue.
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