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 July 25, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act (the “SHIELD Act” or the “Act”), which expands data breach notification obligations under New York law and for the first time imposes affirmative cybersecurity obligations on covered entities.

The Act makes five principal changes

On 9 July, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) issued a notice of its intention to fine Marriott International, Inc. (“Marriott”) £99,200,396 for alleged infringements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation ( “GDPR”) in connection with a cybersecurity incident notified to the ICO by Marriott in November 2018. The ICO’s public statement followed Marriott’s disclosure of the ICO’s intention to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and comes just one day after the ICO published its notice of intention to fine British Airways £183.4 million (see our previous blog post here). The proposed fines, if enforced by the ICO, will be the two highest fines levied under the GDPR, to date.

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On June 24th, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced a bill that would require large technology companies to regularly disclose to their users and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) the value of the user data they collect and monetize.  The bipartisan bill, cited as the Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight and Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act, is intended to capture major online platforms such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter that offer “free” services to users while monetizing user data through targeted advertising.

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Potentially signaling an expansion of the scope of constitutional standing in data breach cases, a district court in the Northern District of California recently held that the exposure of users’ non-sensitive, publicly available personal information may be sufficient to establish an injury-in-fact.[1]
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In the past year, members of the U.S. Congress and Senate on both sides of the aisle have proposed data privacy bills that would impose nationwide standards on companies who collect and/or share consumers’ personal information. Currently, all 50 states have separate, but often overlapping, data privacy regimes—each subjecting companies to various combinations of recordkeeping standards, data sharing restrictions, and data breach reporting requirements—creating a patchwork of state laws that can generate substantial uncertainty for corporations.
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On 31 May 2019, the Supreme Court of Ireland dismissed Facebook’s appeal of the Irish High Court decision to refer questions regarding, among other things, the adequacy of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and the European Commission’s Standard Contractual Clauses to the Court of Justice of the EU (the “CJEU”). The CJEU will hear the case (C-311/18) on 9 July 2019.
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On May 8, 2019, Commissioners from Federal Trade Commission repeated their calls for federal data privacy legislation enforceable by the FTC at a hearing by the House Committee on Energy & Commerce titled “Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission: Strengthening Protections for Americans’ Privacy and Data Security.”
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On April 16, 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) issued a Risk Alert addressing all registered broker-dealers and investment advisers’ (together, “Firms”)[1] privacy-related obligations under Regulation S-P (“Reg S-P”).  The Risk Alert set out the most frequent Reg S-P deficiencies OCIE identified during examinations over the past two years, and encouraged registrants to review their written privacy policies and procedures as well as the consistency with which these policies and procedures have been implemented.  The Alert is the latest in a series of recent privacy and cybersecurity guidance documents issued by the SEC, including the February 2018 Commission Statement and Guidance on Public Company Cybersecurity Disclosures and October 2018 Report of Investigation on cyber-related frauds and public company accounting controls.

This Risk Alert is consistent with the SEC’s approach of seeking to influence the conduct of registrants by providing guidance on specific compliance issues, followed by Risk Alerts noting common exam deficiencies, prior to pursuing enforcement actions.  Investment advisers and broker-dealers should  take this as a prompt to review their relevant policies and procedures to ensure they are appropriate and being followed in practice.
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