On February 8, 2016, the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) publicly issued a formal notice to Facebook, following a joint investigation with four other EU regulators, asking the U.S. social network provider to comply with the French Data Protection Act within three months’ time. The notice (unofficial English translation available here), outlined several alleged violations of the law, including:

  1. collection of non-user data;
  2. collection of sensitive data (sexual orientation and political/religious views) without users’ “explicit consent” (i.e., a tick box);
  3. collection of “excessive” information to verify identities (e.g., requesting medical records when users replace their surname with that of a celebrity);
  4. use of cookies without notice or consent;
  5. failure to define and observe proportional data retention periods and failure to ensure data security (e.g., stronger password requirements);
  6. failure to obtain CNIL authorization for processing related to preventing fraud and banning users; and
  7. transfer of data to the U.S. under the invalidated U.S.-EU Safe Harbor (Safe Harbor) (alleged based on the company’s privacy statement).


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Certain European Union (EU) Member States’ data protection authorities (DPAs) have already started to announce investigations and or “prudential measures” for data transfers solely relying on the invalidated “U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework” (Safe Harbor).

In the aftermath of the announcement of the “EU-U.S. Privacy Shield” (Privacy Shield), the Article 29 Working Party (WP29), comprised of all EU Member State DPAs, announced an extension of the “grace period” for U.S. data transfers based on alternative transfer mechanisms (e.g., EU standard contractual clauses and Binding Corporate Rules) other than Safe Harbor, at least until the Privacy Shield has been reviewed by WP29 (likely by the end of March 2016).


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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