ThinkstockPhotos-516780641-webThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently brought its first data security enforcement action, adding itself to the growing list of federal regulators tackling data security issues. The CFPB’s enforcement action was against Dwolla Inc., a Des Moines, Iowa-based online payment platform. The CFPB alleged that Dwolla misrepresented its data security practices, and as a result, Dwolla agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty and to implement significant data security measures.1 While this is only its first data security-related action, the CFPB appears to be taking very seriously its role in securing consumers’ financial information. The requirements the agency placed on Dwolla’s board of directors make this clear, as the board will be held accountable for any security shortcoming by the company. This goes beyond the typical requirements imposed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the regulator with the most extensive data security experience, in its data security enforcement actions. As such, companies, especially financial technology start-ups, should take note of the data security requirements placed on Dwolla by the CFPB, and ensure that any statements made regarding the security of consumers’ information are accurate.
Continue Reading CFPB Brings First Data Security Enforcement Action

On December 17, 2015, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced its first Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) enforcement actions challenging the use of persistent identifiers to engage in targeted advertising to children. The FTC
Continue Reading WSGR Alert: FTC Brings First Enforcement Actions Against Kids Apps Using Persistent Identifiers for Targeted Advertising

 California Attorney General Kamala Harris recently announced a settlement with Houzz Inc., a home design website, over allegations that the company failed to notify individuals that it was recording their phone calls with the company.1 While the settlement included the payment of $175,000 in penalties and fees, it also included the surprising requirement that Houzz appoint a “Chief Privacy Officer” or similar employee responsible for privacy compliance at the company. This settlement is the first time a U.S. privacy regulator has specifically included such a requirement in a privacy settlement, and it signals the importance to the California Attorney General of companies having executive management oversight for a privacy program.
Continue Reading California Attorney General Includes Chief Privacy Officer Requirement in Data Privacy Settlement

Companies have been pressing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for additional guidance on data security, and the agency recently delivered. On August 10, 2015, the FTC issued a public closing letter to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (Morgan Stanley) regarding the agency’s investigation into concerns that the company “fail[ed] to secure, in a reasonable and appropriate manner, account information related to Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management clients.”1 In the context of data security investigations, closing letters—which explain why FTC staff opted to close an investigation—have the potential to offer helpful insights on what security measures the FTC considers to be reasonably designed to protect the privacy and security of personal information. Knowing what factors influenced the FTC staff’s decision to close an investigation in one instance is equally instructive as knowing why the staff decided to pursue an enforcement action in another.
Continue Reading FTC Closing Letter Confirms the Importance of Implementing Employee Access Controls

 Cyber attacks can result in significant monetary and reputational damage to a wide range of businesses. Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) increased its efforts to engage businesses on cybersecurity issues. Earlier this year, as part of that effort, the department published a new resource for companies victimized by a cyber attack. The guidance, “Best Practices for Victim Response and Reporting of Cyber Incidents,” is targeted at smaller organizations, but it provides beneficial insights for companies of all sizes, including best practices for preparing for, responding to, and recovering from cyber incidents that are applicable to all organizations.1
Continue Reading DOJ Issues Guidance for Responding to Cyber Attacks

Prompted by data breaches affecting large retailers in the United States, the California legislature recently passed Assembly Bill 1710 (A.B. 1710) to update the state’s breach notification law to require breached entities to provide free credit monitoring services to affected individuals following certain types of data breaches. This change, effective January 1, 2015, was recommended by the California Attorney General’s Office in its 2013 Data Breach Report. The Attorney General’s Office recently published its 2014 Data Breach Report, and its recommendations provide insight into the office’s enforcement priorities. The recommendations may also find their way into California law.
Continue Reading California Amends Data Breach Notification Law and State Attorney General’s Data Breach Report May Lead to More Changes

Recent large-scale data breaches provide a stark reminder of the risks and challenges associated with today’s data-driven economy. The exploding number of devices connected to the Internet and amount of information collected about people by organizations make it increasingly important for officers, directors, and senior management to fully understand the privacy and data security risks faced by their organizations.

One of the most effective techniques for managing those risks is conducting a comprehensive privacy and data security risk assessment. Organizations use such risk assessments to maintain appropriate risk profiles based on the organization’s contractual, regulatory, and governance obligations. Regulatory schemes in some industries, including health1 and finance,2 may require risk assessments for compliance. Organizations that collect payment information to process payments as merchants or payment processors3 or deal with data collected about individuals residing in specific states4 may also have risk assessment obligations. Organizations commonly tailor risk assessments to meet these types of obligations for their risk tolerance and profile. A comprehensive risk assessment may include considerations of scope, documentation, timing, management, and oversight.5
Continue Reading Privacy and Data Security Risk Assessments: An Overview