WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast: Privacy Law After LabMD

In the latest episode of the WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast, one of the leading national podcasts focused on tech law and policy debates driving the technology and communications sectors, Lydia Parnes, chair of the privacy and cybersecurity practice at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, discusses the state of privacy law after the Eleventh Circuit’s recent decision to vacate the Federal Trade Commission’s order directing LabMD to create and implement a variety of privacy protections.

Click here to hear the podcast.

Click here to read our complete WSGR Alert on the Eleventh Circuit’s LabMD decision.


California Enacts Sweeping Privacy Law to Avert Potential Ballot Measure

In a surprising twist, the California legislature rushed last week to pass one of the most comprehensive privacy laws in the country. The bill was introduced only a week prior, and within hours of passage, it was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. As strict as the act is, it was enacted to avoid an even more restrictive ballot initiative, which the initiative’s sponsor agreed to withdraw.

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 requires covered businesses to make new disclosures to consumers about their data collection, use, and sharing practices; allows consumers to opt out of certain data sharing with third parties; and provides a new cause of action for consumers and the California Attorney General to bring lawsuits against companies that suffer data breaches. In some respects, the act may well go beyond the requirements of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which recently came into force. The act takes effect on January 1, 2020, and, without revisions, may upend the ad-supported business model that underlies much of the modern digital economy.

Click here to read our complete WSGR Alert discussing the new law.

Eleventh Circuit LabMD Decision Significantly Restrains FTC’s Remedial Powers in Data Security and Privacy Actions

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently released its highly anticipated decision in the long-running case pitting the now-defunct medical laboratory LabMD against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), vacating the FTC’s data security order. In reaching its conclusion, the court held that the order’s requirement that LabMD establish a comprehensive information security program was unenforceable. This holding has broad implications for the FTC’s remedial powers in data security and privacy actions going forward, as requirements to establish a comprehensive security or privacy program have become common in FTC security and privacy settlements over the past 16 years. If the court’s decision stands, the FTC will likely need to enjoin specific acts or practices in its security and privacy orders, rather than relying on broad requirements that companies implement comprehensive security or privacy programs.

Click here to read our complete WSGR Alert on the Eleventh Circuit’s LabMD decision.

What’s Old Is New Again: FTC Takes Rare Step of Withdrawing and Reissuing Expanded Data Security Settlement with Uber in Light of 2016 Data Breach

On April 12, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it was withdrawing its proposed August 2017 privacy and data security settlement with Uber Technologies and issuing a new and expanded proposed settlement.1 According to the FTC, the reason for this extraordinary step was to address additional allegations of misconduct by the ride-sharing company in connection with a data breach it suffered in 2016. The revised complaint includes new factual allegations regarding that breach,2 and the revised consent order includes significant new reporting obligations for the company regarding future breaches, new obligations for the order’s mandated privacy program, and additional reporting and recordkeeping obligations that will last for longer periods of time.3

Those that closely follow the FTC know that any modifications to consumer protection settlements after they have been proposed by the FTC are extremely rare, so it’s worth taking a closer look at what triggered this unusual action and the important new insight it provides into the FTC’s current thinking on what it considers unreasonable security practices. Additionally, the FTC’s revised complaint provides, for the first time, concrete guidance on what it considers “legitimate” uses of a bug bounty program. Continue Reading

Federal Judge Allows Researchers’ First Amendment Challenge to CFAA’s “Access” Provision to Move Forward

On March 30, 2018, in Sandvig v. Sessions,1 the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that a group of academic researchers can move forward with their First Amendment challenge to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA),2 a federal law that criminalizes, among other things, accessing a computer in a manner that “exceeds authorized access.”

The CFAA was enacted in the early 1980s in response to concerns that there were not enough criminal laws on the books to address emerging computer crimes.3 In its early days, the statute narrowly prohibited harmful computer misuse such as malicious hacking and attempts to break into government computers. In 1986, however, Congress began passing a series of amendments that significantly expanded the statute’s reach. Today, many view the CFAA as an overbroad, vague law that criminalizes standard computer conduct in the digital age. Others view it as a pragmatic tool to deter unwanted computer misuse that harms businesses and consumers alike. As a result, the outcome of this case will have implications for individuals who seek to obtain data through means like scraping, and websites that seek to deter unwanted conduct through contract-based restrictions on access to their services. Continue Reading

Federal Court Challenges FTC’s Litigation Authority in FTC v Shire ViroPharma

In a novel interpretation of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware recently held in FTC v. Shire ViroPharma that the FTC had failed to plead the facts necessary to invoke its authority to sue for permanent injunction in federal court because it did not allege an ongoing or imminent violation of the FTC Act. This ruling could broadly impact the FTC’s authority to litigate cases in federal court for past violations of the FTC Act and prevent the FTC from seeking permanent injunctive relief in federal court unless the defendant is currently violating, or is about to violate, the act.

Factual Background

The FTC had brought suit against Shire for anti-competitive use of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) citizen petition process to delay generic competition. The FTC alleged that the company exploited the FDA’s petition process to an extraordinary degree, submitting more than 46 regulatory and court filings. The company’s attempts to delay competition were ultimately unsuccessful, as Shire lost its legal challenges to the FDA, and the company was no longer engaged in the practice at the time the FTC’s complaint was filed. Nevertheless, the FTC’s complaint alleged that Shire had succeeded in delaying generic entry at great cost to consumers and demanded relief. Continue Reading