Key Developments in Internet of Things Law

California Signs the First IoT Security Bill into Law, and the FTC Submits Comments to the Consumer Product Safety Commission Regarding the IoT

California’s New IoT Law

On September 28, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a cybersecurity bill governing Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the first law of its kind in the nation. SB 327 requires manufacturers of internet-connected, or “smart” devices, to ensure the devices have “reasonable” security features by January 1, 2020.

The law applies to any “device, or other physical object that is capable of connecting to the Internet, directly or indirectly, and that is assigned an Internet Protocol address or Bluetooth address.” This definition is broad and includes not only smart TVs, smart speakers, and other smart home devices, but also computers (laptops and desktops), connected cars, smartphones, smartwatches, and many other modern electronics.

The law does not contemplate further rulemaking, and it is unclear whether revisions to the law will be sought. Continue Reading

France: CNIL Issues Formal Notices Against Two Marketing Platforms for Lack of Valid Consent for the Processing of Location Data

In July 2018, the French data protection authority (the CNIL) issued two public formal notices against two marketing platform providers—

Teemo1 and Fidzup2—for failing to obtain valid consent under the General Data Protection Regulaton (GDPR) for the use of location data for profiling and targeted advertising.3 The CNIL gave the two French companies three months to change their practices to comply with EU data protection law. On October 3, 2018, the CNIL closed the matter against Teemo,4 as it considered that its updated practices now comply with the GDPR.5 The actions provide an indicator as to how Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) may approach enforcement under the GDPR. Continue Reading

New Colorado Law Takes Effect That Includes Strict 30-Day Data Breach Notification Requirement

On September 1, 2018, a new Colorado law took effect that, among other things, amends the state’s data breach law to: (1) expand the scope of the categories of “personal information” that trigger notification requirements; (2) require notification to residents and the state attorney general no more than 30 days after determining that a security breach has occurred; and (3) specify what must be included in these notifications.1 In addition, the statute requires entities that maintain, own, or license personal identifying information (PII) to implement and maintain reasonable security practices and procedures to secure PII and impose similar security obligations on third party service providers with which the entity shares PII. Finally, the law amends Colorado’s data disposal law to clarify the appropriate procedure for disposing of documents that contain PII. The passage of the Colorado law serves as a reminder that not only do state data breach notification requirements vary, but state laws also change over time in significant ways. Companies are well-advised to continue monitoring state laws for such changes. Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Requires Warrant for Law Enforcement Requests for Location Information from Third Parties

The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down a major decision, Carpenter v. United States,1 concerning the Fourth Amendment’s application to the rapidly evolving technological landscape. The 5-4 decision dramatically alters the status quo concerning government requests for data about individuals that is collected and held by third parties. Under Carpenter, personal location information maintained by a third party that the government could previously obtain with a subpoena or similar order will now require a warrant meeting the standards of the Fourth Amendment.

By finding that information held by a third party is—in at least some circumstances—protected by the Fourth Amendment, the Supreme Court has upended decades of precedent in an effort to keep the amendment relevant in the digital age. Although portrayed by the court as a narrow decision, like other recent Supreme Court decisions concerning privacy and the Fourth Amendment, Carpenter will likely result in a broad reconsideration of what information law enforcement can properly obtain without a warrant. Companies will now have to carefully consider their statements regarding the sharing of data with law enforcement, and how they will respond to law enforcement agencies’ requests for data without a warrant. Continue Reading

Feeling BLU: What You Need to Know About Overseeing Your Service Providers

On April 30,2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a settlement with mobile phone manufacturer BLU Products and its owner over allegations that the company failed to implement appropriate procedures to oversee their service providers’ security practices, which allowed the service provider to install software containing commonly known security vulnerabilities on consumers’ mobile devices and to collect detailed personal information about consumers, such as text messages and location information, without consumers’ notice and consent.

According to the FTC’s complaint, BLU and its owner contracted with China-based ADUPS Technology to preinstall certain security software on BLU devices. The complaint alleged that, unbeknownst to consumers, the ADUPS software on BLU devices transmitted their personal information to ADUPS servers, including contents of text messages, real-time location data, call and text message logs, contact lists, and a list of applications installed on the device. The FTC did not allege that ADUPS used or disclosed consumers’ personal information.

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Facebook Biometric Suit Moves Forward

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently ruled that a certified class action on behalf of Illinois Facebook users alleging that the social network unlawfully collects biometric data from photo tagging will go forward, denying both parties’ summary judgment motions. This case is one of the first major tests of the scope of Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).1 The litigation was originally filed in 2015, in response to Facebook’s launch of its “Tag Suggestions” feature, which used facial recognition algorithms to deliver suggested names for individuals in photos. Specifically, Facebook’s Tag Suggestions feature matched photos of an individual against other photos the individual was tagged in to suggest the name of the individual in the photo.

Illinois’s BIPA is one of only three state biometric privacy statutes on the books in the U.S., and the only one that allows for a private right of action.2 BIPA, generally speaking, prohibits an entity from collecting, capturing, purchasing, or otherwise obtaining a person’s biometric information unless it satisfies certain notice, consent, and data retention requirements. For example, entities must notify the person that their biometric information is being collected and stored; state the purpose for collecting, storing, and using the biometric information; and state the length of time the biometric information will be retained. The entity must also obtain written consent from the individual before it obtains the biometric information. Biometric information is defined as a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of face geometry. BIPA authorizes damages of $1,000 per violation for negligent violations of the law, and $5,000 per violation for intentional or reckless violations. Damages in the Facebook case could amount to billions.

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