On October 1, 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a decision outlining the requirements for a user to consent to a service provider’s use of cookies.[1],  The Court held that active consent is required, and thus requiring a user to deselect a pre-checked tracking cookie notice in order to disallow the use of cookies does not sufficiently constitute consent to the collection and use of data under EU law.
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On September 24, 2019[1], the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJEU”) handed down its much anticipated follow-on judgment[2] in connection with an individual’s right to have links removed from search results displayed following a search of that individual’s name on Google’s search engine.

Building on its recognition of a “right to de-referencing” in its landmark 2014 Google Spain judgment[3] (establishing the so-called “right to be forgotten” or “RTBF”), the CJEU now further clarified the territorial scope of such right, and limited the de-referencing obligation to Google’s search engine websites corresponding to EU Member States, as opposed to all domain name extensions (e.g., the obligation applies to domain names with top-level domain (“TLDs”) corresponding to EU Member States, such as “google.fr” for France or “google.be” for Belgium). The Court added that Google may need to use, “where necessary”, measures effectively preventing or seriously discouraging an internet user from accessing (on other versions of the search engine, which are not subject to the de-referencing obligation) the links at issue from an EU Member State. As a consequence, Google has no obligation to remove the links at issue on all Google websites worldwide (such as on “google.com”), but may need to implement sufficiently effective measures to prevent Internet users from accessing the links from the EU.
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In February of this year the German antitrust agency, the Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”), issued a decision against Facebook regarding their handling of user data. Please see our previous blog-post detailing the FCO’s arguments here

Facebook appealed and on August 26, 2019, the Düsseldorf Court of Appeal (“DCA”) in an interim decision granted suspensive effect to Facebook’s appeal against the FCO decision.

The DCA can order suspensive effect to an appeal if it has serious doubts whether the prohibition decision is legally valid.  Despite the preliminary character of the DCA’s decision, this could represents a significant setback for the FCO and have signaling effect beyond the German borders,. The DCA made certain important points on issues of law, which it will likely not revers during its main proceedings.
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On July 29, 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) issued its judgment in Case C-40/17 (Fashion ID GmbH & Co. KG v Verbraucherzentrale NRW eV). This is a landmark decision regarding the assessment of who has the responsibility for complying with data protection legislation in the context of embedding third-party features that regularly takes place on websites.

The CJEU adopted a broad view of the situations in which a “joint controllership” can arise. It held that, under EU data protection legislation, the operator of a website featuring the Facebook ‘Like’ button (a social plugin that causes the transmission to Facebook of website users’ personal data) can qualify as a controller, jointly with Facebook. Consequently, the website operator is directly responsible for complying with legal obligations in this respect, including by informing its users that their personal data will be transferred to Facebook.

However, the CJEU importantly clarified that the website operator’s role as controller (and the corresponding legal obligations) is limited to the collection and transmission of the data to Facebook and does not include any subsequent personal data processing that Facebook carries out.

The CJEU’s findings will potentially affect third-party technologies other than the Facebook ‘Like’ button, which are often incorporated into websites, such as cookies and pixels.


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On 12 February 2019, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”)[1] adopted its first opinion on an “administrative arrangement,” which provides a new mechanism for the transfer of personal data between European Union (“EU”) financial supervisory authorities and securities agencies and their non-EU counterparts.

Under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (“GDPR”), personal data cannot be transferred from the European Economic Area (“EEA”) to a third country unless the European Commission has decided that such third country is “adequate” from a data protection laws perspective, or “appropriate safeguards” are in place to ensure that the treatment of personal data in the hands of the recipient reflects the GDPR’s high standards. Article 46 of the GDPR provides for various safeguarding options, including the possibility of “provisions to be inserted into administrative arrangements between public authorities or bodies which include enforceable and effective data subject rights.[2] No such “administrative arrangements” have been approved by the EDPB until now.
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In summer 2018, a new Indian Personal Data Protection Bill was released by a Committee of Experts formed under the Chairmanship of Justice B.N. Srikrishna (the “Bill”), accompanied by a report titled “A Free and Fair Digital Economy: Protecting Privacy, Empowering Indians.” After several months’ hiatus, reports are emerging of renewed impetus from India’s Ministry

Knuddels GmbH & Co KG, a German social media app, has received the first administrative fine issued by a German supervisory authority under the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).

The fine of € 20,000 has been levied on Knuddels by the Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information in Baden-Württemberg (one of 16 regional data protection authorities in Germany) following a hack reported by Knuddels in September which resulted in the personal data of approximately 330,000 users being stolen and subsequently published. Such personal data included users’ emails addresses and passwords.
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On October 4, 2018, the Financial Markets Law Committee (“FMLC”) published a paper on the subject of “Data Protection: Issues of Legal Uncertainty Arising from the UK Data Protection Act 2018.”  Cleary Gottlieb contributed to this paper as a participant in the FMLC’s data protection working group.

The FMLC’s paper focuses on issues of legal

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has provided Facebook with a Notice of Intent to issue a monetary penalty against the social media platform for its lack of transparency and failure to maintain the security of its users’ personal data in relation to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The ICO’s fine is the maximum possible under the Data Protection Act 1998 (the UK implementing legislation for the former EU data protection regime under the Data Protection Directive). Facebook will have the opportunity to make representations to the ICO before the ICO’s decision is finalised.

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The consequences of a cybersecurity incident can be severe. The economic loss associated with an incident can often be compounded by reputational damage, loss of trade secrets, destruction of assets, operational impairment, lost revenue following the announcement of the cybersecurity incident and the expense of implementing remedial measures. The timing and content of any public communication about a suspected or confirmed cybersecurity incident can exacerbate this loss and have a significant impact on the trading price of the issuer’s securities.[1] The disclosure considerations become even more complex when a company is subject to overlapping, and potentially conflicting, regulatory obligations in multiple jurisdictions, including the United States and the European Union (“EU”). This issue is now at the forefront with the EU’s new data security and privacy regime, the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which became effective on May 25, 2018.

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