Looking Back: The ICO’s Busy Year and Its Record-Breaking Fines

The UK Supervisory Authority (the ICO) has had a headline-busting month. On July 9, 2019, the ICO announced its intention to fine Marriott International more than £99 million under the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) for a data breach which took place last year,[1] a figure that would have been record breaking had the ICO not announced its intention to fine British Airways £183 million 24 hours earlier.[2] While it is clear that both of these hefty penalties relate to deficiencies in security practices, the actions that paved the way for such draconian fines are yet to be made public (see “Massive GDPR Fine Proposed by UK ICO Confirms Trend of Increased Focus on EU Data Breaches.”) Continue Reading

The CNIL Announces Its 2019-2020 Action Plan on Ad Targeting

On June 28, 2019, the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) released its 2019-2020 action plan on ad targeting (action plan);1 among other things, the CNIL announced that it will issue new cookie guidance later this month and that, once the guidance is published, companies will have a 12-month grace period to come into compliance.

Background

When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became effective on May 25, 2018, it imposed stricter conditions for obtaining valid consent to process personal data. In short, consent must be freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous. Individuals must also be able to withdraw their consent at any time. The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) issued guidelines to further clarify the “do’s and don’ts” for obtaining valid consent (consent guidelines), including that scrolling down or swiping through a website is not enough to obtain valid consent. Rather, consent must be obtained via a clear and affirmative action, such as clicking on an “I agree” button.

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Massive GDPR Fine Proposed by UK ICO Confirms Trend of Increased Focus on EU Data Breaches

On July 8, 2019, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announced its intention to fine British Airways GBP 183.39 million over a data breach in which the personal data of approximately 500,000 customers was compromised.[1] If made final, the fine—equivalent to approximately U.S. $230 million—would be the biggest fine ever issued by the ICO as well as any Supervisory Authority (SA) in the European Union. Continue Reading

And Then There Were None: Or How Schrems 2.0 May Invalidate the Standard Contractual Clauses and the Privacy Shield

On July 9, 2019, the European Court of Justice (ECJ)—the highest court of the European Union—will hear oral arguments in the Schrems 2.0 case relating to the validity of two key data transfer mechanisms: the Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) and the EU-US Privacy Shield. Both of these mechanisms are widely used by companies in the European Economic Area (EEA), which comprises the 28 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, to allow the transfer of personal data to the United States and other countries outside the EEA. Continue Reading

The EU Cybersecurity Act Introduces Certifications and the New Cybersecurity Agency

On June 27, 2019, the EU Regulation on Information and Communication Technology (Cybersecurity Act or Act) became effective introducing, for the first time, EU-wide rules for the cybersecurity certification of products and services (Certification). The Certification may create a competitive advantage for companies that sell their products and services in the EU. Further, the Certification may act as a catalyst to the anticipated certifications for GDPR-compliance.

In addition, the Cybersecurity Act provides for a new permanent mandate for the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) with new responsibilities. Continue Reading

The ICO Publishes Its Stance on Adtech and Real-Time Bidding

On June 20, 2019, the UK’s Data Protection Authority (ICO) published a report on adtech and real-time bidding. The report highlights the main problems faced by the industry when applying the General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR’s) stringent requirements, and calls for further engagement on these issues by the different adtech players in the space.

Background

When the GDPR became effective on May 25, 2018, it imposed new and strict obligations on companies processing personal data. In the UK, the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which implements the EU e-Privacy Directive and will soon be replaced by the e-Privacy Regulation, complements the GDPR requirements. Both the GDPR and PECR govern how data is collected and further processed in the online advertising industry, including requiring notice and a legal basis for processing. The PECR specifically applies to the use of cookies and similar technologies and sets out the rules for consent to use these technologies.

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