In July 2019, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) issued two notices of intent (“NOIs”) to fine British Airways (“BA”) and Marriott International Inc. (“Marriott”) for violations of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), both related to high-profile personal data breaches. The NOIs proposed staggering fines of £183.39 million and £99.2 million, respectively, which would have constituted the largest penalties levied under the GDPR to date. More than a year later, the UK ICO finally issued the long-awaited penalty notices in relation to both investigations, imposing in both cases fines that, while still significant, were greatly reduced from what had initially been indicated – £20 million in the case of BA (a massive reduction of more than £163 million), and £18.4 million in the case of Marriott (an equally surprising reduction of more than £79 million).
Continue Reading UK ICO Data Breach Fines – What Can We Learn From British Airways and Marriott?

Main Takeaways

Recommendations 01/2020 of the European Data Protection Board (the “EDPB”) on measures that supplement transfer tools to ensure compliance with the EU level of protection of personal data (the “Recommendations”)[1] attempt to provide a step-by-step roadmap to help EU data exporters transfer personal data outside the EU to third countries in a manner consistent with the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJEU”) handed down on July 16, 2020, in Data Protection Commissioner v. Facebook Ireland and Maximillian Schrems (“Schrems II”, further described in Section 1 below).[2] The Recommendations were published on November 11, 2020 and can be relied upon immediately, even though they are subject to public consultation, with comments being due prior to December 21, 2020.
Continue Reading Recommendations of the EDPB Further to the CJEU’s Schrems II Judgment: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

The UK Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision delivered on April 1,[1] has overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal which had found that Morrisons Supermarkets plc (“Morrisons”) could be held vicariously liable for the unauthorized actions of an employee who had deliberately leaked the personal data of thousands of Morrisons’ employees online. In its judgment, the Supreme Court explained that the Court of Appeal had “misunderstood the principles governing vicarious liability”.[2] For more information on the background of this case and the High Court and Court of Appeal judgments, please see our article here. The full text of the Supreme Court judgment can be read here.
Continue Reading Relief for Employers as Supreme Court Rules no Liability in Morrisons Data Breach Case

On February 19, 2020 the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) published its second statement on privacy in the context of corporate transactions.

The statement, the full text of which can be read here, highlights the existence of concerns related to the combination and accumulation of sensitive personal data and the possibility that such combinations could result in a high level of risk to the fundamental rights to privacy and  the protection of personal data.
Continue Reading EDPB Publishes Statement on Privacy Implications of M&A Transactions

In 2019, boards and senior management across a range of industries continued to cite cybersecurity as one of the most significant risks facing their companies.

At the same time, comprehensive data privacy regulation became a new reality in the United States as many companies implemented major revisions to their privacy policies and data systems to

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) issued its first penalty notice under the GDPR in December 2019.  Despite publishing notices of its intention to fine Marriott and British Airways in July 2019, the ICO has not yet taken its final enforcement action in these cases (and it is understood that the ICO has granted an extension for representations by the companies, until March 2020).  The £275,000 fine levied on Doorstep Dispensaree, a pharmaceutical company that provides various prescription medicines to care homes in the UK, therefore provides the first insight into the ICO’s approach to administrative fines under the GDPR (as further described below).
Continue Reading UK ICO Finally Issues GDPR Fine

The European Commission (the “EC”) has published (see link here) slides from its Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom regarding the future relationship with the UK, in connection with personal data protection. The slides discuss a possible “adequacy” decision for the UK’s data protection regime, to be delivered by the EC by the end of the “transition period” which, under the draft Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU (the “Withdrawal Agreement”), is currently envisaged to be December 31, 2020.

The slides were used for internal “preparatory discussions” and were presented on January 10, 2020 to the European Council’s Ad hoc Working Party on Article 50. The slides are not binding and are stated as being for “presentational and information purposes only”.
Continue Reading European Commission Provides Further Hints at Post-Brexit Adequacy Decision for the UK

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.
Continue Reading The Way the Cookie Crumbles: CJEU Clarifies European Data Protection Rules for the Use of Cookies

On October 3, 2019, the governments of the United Kingdom and United States signed the first-ever executive agreement governing cross-border data requests (the “Agreement”) pursuant to the US Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (“CLOUD Act”).[1]  As contemplated by the CLOUD Act, the Agreement provides a mechanism for the governments to access and share data stored abroad by electronic communications services providers (“CSP”) in their respective countries in a timely manner.  The Agreement will enter into effect following a 180 day Congressional review period required by the CLOUD Act and a similar review by the UK Parliament.   
Continue Reading United Kingdom and United States Governments Sign First-Ever CLOUD Act Agreement

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