Oregon has recently passed a new cybersecurity statute, joining California in requiring manufacturers of “connected devices” to equip qualifying technology with “reasonable security features.” The new law will go into force on January 1, 2020. For further analysis, visit our recent client alert.

Kansas Judge Rules that Class Action over CareCentrix Data Breach may Proceed

On December 19, 2016, in Hapka v. Carecentrix, the United States District Court for the District of Kansas denied CareCentrix, Inc.’s (CareCentrix) motion to dismiss a class action suit arising from a data breach affecting CareCentrix’s personal and tax information regarding thousands of employees.  The Court found that plaintiff Sarah Hapka, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, met the Article III standing requirements and sufficiently alleged a claim upon which relief could be granted.

Hapka claimed that in February 2016, an unauthorized person posed as one of CareCentrix’s employees and emailed a request for current and former employees’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Wage and Tax Statements (W-2 Forms). One of CareCentrix’s employees complied with the request, providing the W-2 Forms which included employees’ names, addresses, birth dates, wages, and Social Security Numbers.  Hapka alleged that shortly after this data breach, she received a letter from the IRS indicating that someone filed a fraudulent tax return in her name.  She later brought the underlying putative class action claiming that CareCentrix negligently permitted the data breach and that she and the class of plaintiffs will suffer imminent and certain impending injury of fraud and identity theft.

CareCentrix conceded that Hapka suffered some form of actual, concrete injury due to the filing of a false tax return. However, it argued that the other allegations of injury—the impending costs of countering the current tax fraud and heightened risk for future identify theft—are too speculative to meet the Article III standing bar set by the Supreme Court’s decision in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, which required plaintiffs to show an invasion of a legally protected interest and allege a concrete injury.  The Court rejected CareCentrix’s attempt to look at the plaintiff’s alleged injuries in a vacuum, stating that “[t]he fact that her stolen information has been used once has a direct impact on the plausibility of future harm.” Although the Court acknowledged that federal courts have disagreed about whether an alleged increased risk of identity theft is a sufficient injury to meet standing requirements, it followed the line of cases finding standing because the plaintiffs suffered from identity theft after a data breach.  Ultimately, the Court held that the plaintiffs met standing requirements.

The Court further rejected CareCentrix’s claim that Hapka failed to adequately plead the negligence claim because it did not have a statutory duty of care regarding employee information, and that plaintiff failed to allege any common-law duty. The Court found that identification of a statutory duty was unnecessary, and that the allegations that the harm was foreseeable established a common-law duty to exercise reasonable care.

This case further highlights how the Supreme Court’s decision in Spokeo earlier this year has produced varied results in breach litigation.  The Kansas Court acknowledged the split among federal courts on standing requirements, but effectively avoided ruling on the issue since Hapka actually suffered injury due to the filing of a false tax return.  If the plaintiffs did not have this example demonstrating that a concrete injury had in fact occurred, it is questionable whether the Kansas Court would have decided to deny CareCentrix’s dismissal motion on standing grounds.


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“Pokémon Go” Developer feels the heat over data collection; 2nd Circuit Ruling limits government’s access to data stored overseas; 9th Circuit CFAA Ruling increases Facebook’s control over its Users’ Data; Dutch Study reveals tension between EU Trade Deals and Data Protection

“Pokémon Go” Developer in Hot Water over Extensive Data Collection Practices

In early July, mobile game developer Niantic released “Pokémon Go,” a free-to-download “augmented reality” game for Android and iOS devices. In less than a week, the game had been downloaded by more than 15 million unique users, making the game’s launch one of the most widely-adopted in history. Privacy advocates soon raised serious questions about the game and its accompanying privacy policy, which until July 12 granted full access to users’ Google account data unless users opted-out of such permissions—prompting Niantic to issue its first update resolving the permissions issue.

On July 12, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) sent a letter to Niantic CEO John Hanke demanding the company explain in detail the types of data Niantic collects from players, why that data “in necessary for the provision or improvement of services,” and how the company plans to use the data gathered. Franken’s letter also questioned the company’s opt-out data collection practices, suggesting that “Niantic consider making this collection/access opt-in.”  Franken, who serves as the Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, has in the past spoken out against similar practices by other mobile app developers, including Uber and Lyft. Mr. Hanke has until August 12 to respond to Sen. Franken’s questions.


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For only the second time in its history (following the $4.3 million Cignet case) the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) imposed civil money penalties (CMPs) on a company for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.

Lincare, Inc. (Lincare), a home health provider, was required to pay $239,800 in CMPs after an HHS Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that the undisputed evidence in the case established that Lincare violated HIPAA because it did not implement policies and procedures to safeguard records containing its patients’ protected health information (PHI).

The OCR investigation began when an individual complained to OCR that a Lincare employee left behind documents containing the PHI of 278 patients when the employee moved residences. According to the ALJ, Lincare had inadequate policies and procedures in place to safeguard PHI taken offsite even though employees regularly removed material from the business premises. Further evidence suggested that Lincare had an unwritten policy requiring certain employees to store PHI in their own vehicles for extended periods of time.


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Yesterday, the DoD published an Interim Rule that, if finalized as drafted, would expand the already onerous requirements of the DFARS Safeguarding Clause to a broader array of potentially 10,000 defense contractors.  Citing “recent high-profile breaches of federal information,” the DoD’s Interim Rule emphasizes the need for clear, effective, and consistent cybersecurity protections in its contracts.  The Interim Rule proposes to significantly expand the scope of covered information and to require subcontractors to report cyber incidents directly to the DoD (in addition to prime contractors).  Together, these changes will likely increase the scope of potential liability for government contractors and subcontractors who fail to implement adequate cybersecurity measures.

The Interim Rule seeks to enhance cybersecurity protections primarily by expanding the application of the DFARS Safeguarding Clause, which was once itself a heated point of debate.  Currently, the DFARS Safeguarding Clause imposes two sets of requirements on covered defense contractors.  First, they must implement “adequate security” on certain information systems, typically by implementing dozens of specified security controls.  Second, they must report various cyber incidents to the DoD within 72 hours of their discovery.  These requirements, however, apply only to information systems housing “unclassified controlled technical information” (UCTI), which is generally defined as controlled technical or scientific information that has a military or space application. 

The Interim Rule would expand that application to information systems that possess, store, or transmit “covered defense information” (CDI).  CDI would encompass UCTI, meaning that most contractors subject to the DFARS Safeguarding Clause would remain subject to the Interim Rule.  But CDI goes beyond the DFARS Safeguarding Clause by also including information critical to operational security, export controlled information, and “any other information,  marked or otherwise identified in the contract, that requires safeguarding or dissemination controls pursuant to and consistent with law, regulations, and Government policies.”  Significantly, the Interim Rule lists “privacy” and “proprietary business information” as examples of the latter, leaving many covered contractors to wonder exactly how far the definition of “covered defense information” goes.  To keep up with its new application, the Interim Rule would change the name of Clause 252.204-7012 from “Safeguarding Unclassified Controlled Technical Information” to “Safeguarding Covered Defense Information and Cyber Incident Reporting.”


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In conjunction with the 2015 American Bar Association annual State of Criminal Justice publication, Louisa Marion and I have published a new chapter on “Digital Privacy and E-Discovery in Government Investigations and Criminal Litigation.” The article provides an in-depth look at many of the current and cutting edge issues raised by digital privacy

Litigation and regulation surrounding privacy and cybersecurity is continuously developing, both within the government and the private sector.  This digest summarizes the most notable events in data security this week.

Privacy Advocates Quit Facial Recognition Talks with NTIA

After 16 months of working with with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, nine privacy and consumer groups withdrew from discussions regarding the creation of a voluntary code of conduct for companies using facial recognition technology.  The groups were unable to reach a consensus with the NTIA over the level of consumer approval that should be required for the use of facial recognition technology.
[Talks with NTIA]

LastPass Data Breach

Password management company LastPass revealed on June 15th that unauthorized users hacked into its system and accessed users’ email addresses, password reminders, and other authentication information.  LastPass has assured users that data vaults were not exposed.
[LastPass]

LinkedIn Settles Proposed Email Harvesting Class Action for $13M

LinkedIn agreed to pay $13M to settle a proposed class action suit alleging that the company accessed users’ email contacts without permission to send out LinkedIn invitations.  LinkedIn also agreed to change its disclosure language related to email account access and invitations to connections.
[LinkedIn]


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The recent decision in Brown v. Tellermate Holdings, out of the Southern District of Ohio, provides yet another valuable illustration of the critical need for litigation counsel to take reasonable steps to educate themselves about potentially relevant ESI in the possession, custody, or control of their clients and to take appropriate measures to preserve and produce that information. The case highlights, in particular, the pitfalls associated with cloud-based ESI (specifically, a common sales app called saleforce.com) as well as the severe sanctions that can befall those who make significant missteps, as the defendant and its counsel learned in Brown.

United States Magistrate Judge Terence Kemp observed early in his decision: “Discovery did not go smoothly.” The court’s recitation of the procedural history and discovery issues in the case soon reveal this to be a significant understatement. Judge Kemp ultimately sanctioned the defendant and its counsel for failing to preserve and timely produce ESI relevant to the plaintiffs’ age discrimination suit. In addition to awarding attorney’s fees and costs incurred by the plaintiffs in filing and prosecuting various motions, the court prohibited the defendant from introducing or relying on any evidence that it terminated the plaintiffs’ employment for performance-related reasons rather than age. Judge Kemp reasoned that the defendant’s discovery failings prevented the plaintiffs from obtaining discovery relevant to that critical issue.
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Over the past year, privacy concerns have played an increasingly critical role in influencing how government and the private sector think about information collection, use, and disclosure. With the rapid pace of technological advancements – and the complex issues that accompany developments such as the Internet of Things, cloud technology, and “big data” analytics –

Cybersecurity’s escalating threats, intensifying oversight, and expanding publicity in recent years exploded in 2013. It was a year bookended by President Obama’s cybersecurity warnings in his State of the Union message and the mega-breaches at Target and Neiman-Marcus. And it gave us a cyber panorama – the Cybersecurity Executive Order; industry security reports of massive