At the end of January, partners Daniel Ilan and Alexis Collins participated in a panel co-hosted by The Conference Board and Cleary Gottlieb to discuss cybersecurity and board oversight.

Moderator Doug Chia, executive director of The Conference Board, Nick Mankovich, Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer (“CISO”) at medical technology firm Becton Dickinson, Daniel, and Alexis discussed current cybersecurity risks, how cyber-attacks are changing, and the role that management and the board should play in ensuring that companies are prepared. Continue Reading Cleary Partners Participate in Panel Discussion on Cybersecurity and Board Oversight

On January 22, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”)[1] released its 2019 Risk Monitoring and Examination Priorities Letter (the “Letter”).  The Letter highlights material new priorities for FINRA examinations in the coming year, as well as priorities in areas of ongoing concern.  The topics highlighted in this year’s Letter reflect FINRA’s increasing focus on its members’ interaction with, and adoption of, innovative financial technologies, as well as its implicit acknowledgement of the ability for such innovations to assist in regulatory compliance.  The new priorities highlighted in the Letter include several related to FinTech, including online distribution platforms, use of regulatory technology (or “RegTech”), and supervision of digital asset businesses.  In priority areas of ongoing concern, the Letter confirmed that FINRA will continue to focus on reviewing the adequacy of firms’ cybersecurity programs.  Below we detail FINRA’s discussion of these priorities and analyze them in the context of other recent guidance and enforcement actions. Continue Reading FINRA 2019 Examination Priorities Letter Includes Focus on FinTech and Cybersecurity

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 Illinois Supreme Court Rules Plaintiffs Are Not Required to Allege Actual Injury to Sue Under the Biometric Information Privacy Act

In 2018, data privacy and cyber breaches made headlines throughout the year.

Major companies continued to suffer data breaches, highlighting the risks and potential costs of cyber incidents across industries.  At the same time, a growing and overlapping thicket of data security and privacy regulations—within the U.S., European Union, Latin America, and elsewhere—continued to increase compliance costs and regulatory risks.  This memo surveys some of the key cybersecurity and data privacy developments of 2018, including the major data breaches and cyberattacks, regulatory and legislative actions, and notable settlements and court decisions.

In addition, we identify some key takeaways from 2018, which include the importance of rapid response and timely disclosure, cyber diligence in M&A transactions, effective management of third-party vendor risk, and protecting privilege.  We also highlight key areas to watch in 2019, including GDPR enforcement, efforts to pass a U.S. federal privacy law, responses and potential changes to California’s new privacy law, the adoption of comprehensive privacy laws in more U.S. states and non-U.S. jurisdictions, and heightened U.S. litigation and enforcement risk.  Data security and privacy will undoubtedly remain a priority for boards and senior management, as well as regulators and enforcement authorities.

Please click here to read the full alert memorandum.

Nearly a decade ago, WikiLeaks ushered in the age of mass leaks.  Since then, corporations, governments, public figures and private entities have increasingly had to reckon with a new reality: that vigilantes, activists, extortionists and even state actors can silently steal and rapidly disseminate proprietary information, including customer data and other sensitive information.  Last month, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) indicted four individuals based on information first revealed in the “Panama Papers” leak.  This marks a significant milestone in law enforcement’s reliance on evidence based on an unauthorized mass leak of information.  While leaks and hacks are not a novel phenomenon—in 1971, the New York Times published top secret documents on the Vietnam War and, in 1994, a paralegal leaked tobacco industry documents that ultimately cost the industry billions of dollars in litigation and settlement costs—the frequency, scale and ease of dissemination of leaked information today presents a difference not only of degree, but of kind.  The new Panama Papers-based criminal case will likely raise a host of novel legal issues based on legal challenges to the DOJ’s reliance on information illegally obtained by a third party, as well as information that would ordinarily be protected by the attorney-client privilege.  In this memorandum, we discuss the potential issues raised by the prosecution and their implications.

Continue Reading U.S. Criminal Prosecution Based on Panama Papers Hack Raises Novel Legal Issues

On January 7, 2019 the National Futures Association (“NFA”) provided additional guidance on the required cybersecurity practices of certain NFA members by amending its Interpretive Notice entitled NFA Compliance Rules 2-9, 2-36 and 2-49: Information Systems Security Programs (the “Interpretive Notice”).  The Interpretive Notice currently requires each NFA member futures commission merchant (“FCM”), commodity trading advisor, commodity pool operator, introducing broker (“IB”), retail foreign exchange dealer, swap dealer (“SD”) and major swap participant to implement a written information systems security program (“ISSP”) and enact other cybersecurity procedures sufficient to identify, address and respond to cybersecurity incidents.  The amendments to the Interpretive Notice are informed by NFA examinations of member ISSPs since the Interpretive Notice became effective in March 2016.  They are intended to clarify certain common questions posed by NFA members related to internal approvals of the ISSP and employee training.  The amendments additionally impose a new notification requirement for specified cybersecurity incidents. Continue Reading NFA Amends Interpretive Notice Regarding Cybersecurity Programs

The European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”)[1] adopted its highly anticipated guidelines on the territorial scope of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) (the “Guidelines”), which are currently open for public consultation until January 18, 2019.

The extraterritorial application of the GDPR to entities located in non-EU countries marks a significant shift in the legal framework compared to the GDPR’s predecessor (Directive 95/46/EC).

The GDPR’s extraterritorial scope is based on two main criteria described in its Article 3:

  • the “establishment” criterion, according to which the GDPR applies where processing of personal data is undertaken by a person in the context of the activities of an establishment in the European Union regardless of whether the processing takes place in the European Union or not, and
  • the “targeting” criterion, according to which the GDPR applies where processing activities conducted by a person established outside the European Union relate to the offering of goods or services or the monitoring of behavior of data subjects in the European Union.

As a result of these two criteria, businesses which did not previously need to consider the applicability of EU data protection law to their processing activities may now be caught within the GDPR’s territorial scope. The Guidelines  are intended to bring clarity to non-EU businesses doing business with the EU, either directly or through “establishments”, which must undertake a careful assessment of their data processing activities in order to determine whether the GDPR applies. The full text of the Guidelines can be accessed here and their key features are summarized below. Continue Reading EDPB Publishes Draft Guidelines on the Territorial Scope of the GDPR

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 Pennsylvania’s Highest Court Rules that Employers Have a Duty to Guard Their Employees’ Personal Data

On December 20, 2018, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) released a Report on Selected Cybersecurity Practices for broker-dealer firms.  This report reflects FINRA’s current perspective on the cybersecurity threat landscape based on observations from its examinations of securities firms.  Below we discuss the report’s key observations and contextualize these insights for members of the financial industry. Continue Reading FINRA Provides Updated Cybersecurity Guidance to Broker-Dealer Firms

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 California District Court Dismisses Securities Class Action After Plaintiffs Failed to Plead that PayPal Knew Magnitude of Security Breach