On April 9, 2019, an appellate court in Illinois held in Liu v. Four Seasons Hotel, Ltd.[1] that an employee’s allegations of violations of the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA” or the “Act”) do not constitute allegations of “a wage or hour violation,” even where collection of biometric data is being used to monitor hours worked.  Coming on the heels of the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corporation,[2] which held that plaintiffs are not required to allege harm beyond a “technical” violation of the Act in order to bring an action under BIPA, Liu demonstrates a developing pattern of recognition of broad privacy rights in Illinois courts.
Continue Reading

On March 20, 2019, in Frank v. Gaos, the Supreme Court remanded a case challenging Google’s practice of disclosing users’ search terms to third parties, directing the lower courts to address whether class plaintiffs had Article III standing to bring the privacy action in light of Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016).[1]  Frank v. Gaos was originally notable because it had been resolved by a cy pres-only class action settlement, which had been appealed by objecting class members as inconsistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.  As part of the remand, the Court vacated the settlement without opining on its validity.
Continue Reading

On January 25, 2019, the Illinois Supreme Court held in Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corporation that plaintiffs are not required to allege actual harm in order to seek damages against private entities under the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).  BIPA regulates companies’ collection, retention, and disclosure of biometric identifiers.  It further provides a private right of action for persons “aggrieved” by a violation of the Act for recovery of liquidated damages, injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees, and costs.  By allowing suits for technical violations of BIPA’s notice and consent provision to go forward, the Rosenbach decision will likely encourage the filing of new cases under the Act and may influence the interpretation of data privacy laws in other states.
Continue Reading

On November 21, 2018, in Dittman v. UPMC d/b/a The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that an employer has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to safeguard its employees’ sensitive personal information stored on an internet-accessible computer.[1] Dittman is notable because it is the first time a state’s highest court has broadly held that a company owes a duty to its employees to protect their personal data that it collects and stores. Also, by rejecting the economic loss doctrine, the court opened the door to the potential recovery of pecuniary damages in data breach cases alleging a negligence theory. If the holding of Dittman is adopted by courts in other states, employers could face increased risk of financial liability following a data breach that compromises personal information of employees.
Continue Reading

On December 13, 2018, the District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a putative securities class action brought against PayPal Holdings, its subsidiary TIO Networks Corp., and several executives of both companies for a security breach that resulted in the potential compromise of personally identifiable information for 1.6 million customers.  In Sgarlata v. PayPal Holdings Inc., No. 17-cv-06956-EMC, 2018 WL 6592771 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 13, 2018) (“Sgarlata”), the court dismissed the complaint for failure to plead scienter because plaintiffs failed to adequately plead that defendants knew not only of an actual security breach, but also the magnitude of the breach and the type of data accessed.[1]
Continue Reading

On September 26, 2018, the attorney generals of all 50 states and the District of Columbia (“State AGs”) announced a record-breaking $148 million settlement with Uber Technologies Inc. (“Uber”) over Uber’s alleged failure to disclose a massive data breach in 2016.[1] The settlement holds significant implications for U.S. companies concerned about their cybersecurity measures in the face of increasing incidents of data breaches, as well as intensifying scrutiny by authorities.
Continue Reading

On September 27, 2018, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed parallel actions in federal court against an internet dealer that sold “contracts for difference” (CFD) based on securities and commodities margined with bitcoin.  The actions, which were assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice, signal continued coordination among federal agencies to police market activity involving financial transactions in cryptocurrencies.
Continue Reading

On September 26, 2018, a federal court in the District of Massachusetts found that virtual currencies are a commodity under the Commodity Exchange Act, 7 U.S.C. § 1 et seq, (“CEA”). This marks the second time that a court has accepted the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (“CFTC”) position and upheld the agency’s authority to regulate unleveraged and unmargined spot transactions in virtual currency under the agency’s anti-fraud and manipulation enforcement authority.  Most notably, however, the reasoning behind its decision potentially expands the scope of the CFTC’s oversight of the market.
Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

In the first criminal charges brought in connection with the Equifax data breach, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia announced yesterday the indictment of Jun Ying, a former Chief Information Officer of a U.S. business division of Equifax, on charges of insider trading in violation of federal securities laws.  At the same time, the SEC announced parallel civil charges against Ying.  Both the indictment and the SEC complaint allege that Ying was not specifically informed that Equifax had been breached, but, as a result of his position, was made aware of enough confidential information to—according to his own contemporaneous text messages—“put 2 and 2 together” to infer that “[w]e may be the one breached.”  After deducing this material information, Ying allegedly conducted internet research on the 2015 data breach of Experian, another major credit bureau, and its negative impact on Experian’s stock price.  Immediately following his internet search, Ying allegedly exercised all of his vested stock options and sold those Equifax shares for a total of $950,000 in proceeds, avoiding more than $117,000 in losses that he would have incurred had he still been holding the shares at the time the data breach was publicly announced more than a week later.  The SEC is seeking disgorgement of an amount equal to the losses Ying allegedly avoided, civil monetary penalties, an order barring Ying from ever serving as an officer or director of a public company, and an injunction enjoining Ying from further violating the federal securities laws.  The indictment charges Ying with two counts of criminal securities fraud, which, if he is convicted, carry a maximum sentence of 45 years. 
Continue Reading