The California Senate narrowly passed a bill earlier this week that would allow businesses to be sued for data breaches without proof of any injury. As this bill moves to the Assembly, there is already talk among legislators about amending it to include a safe harbor provision. But will any safe harbor address opponents’ concerns?
After much anticipation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) finally went into effect on May 25, 2018. For employers, that means some enhanced employee rights, and the risk of significant penalties for non-compliance. This includes potential maximum fines of up to 4 percent of global annual revenue or 20 million euros, whichever is greater.
SB 1121, which is making its way through the California Legislature, would allow businesses to be sued for data breaches even when no one was actually injured. This includes being sued for failing to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures as well as for failing to properly notify affected individuals of a breach of their personal information. Opponents of this bill are calling it a “job killer”.
On April 24, 2018, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a $35 million fine against the company formerly known as Yahoo! Inc. (now known as Altaba, Inc.) for failing to disclose a massive cyber data breach to its investors for nearly two years. This is the first time the SEC has punished a company for such conduct.
The average internet user may be largely unaware that there are actually different “levels” of the internet. First, there is the surface level of the internet where companies post their webpages, and where employees may browse the news, shopping options, and Facebook. The surface level means that the internet is indexed, and can be accessed using a search engine such as Google. There is also the Deep Web, which means that the web pages cannot be accessed by a search engine because they are not indexed. In other words, you would not be able to search for or stumble upon these websites. Instead, you’d only be able to access them if you knew their exact web address. What may surprise people is that most of the internet today is actually considered part of the Deep Web. Next, there is the Dark Web, whose very name sounds a bit ominous. The Dark Web is a part of the Deep Web, but it also requires special browsers, such as TOR, and configurations in order to access it. The primary goal of the Dark Web is to maintain privacy and anonymity. While some may use this area for perfectly legitimate purposes, such as a journalist speaking to a source in private, not surprisingly, this setting can also be exploited for illegal purposes, such as drug and human trafficking and child pornography.
Our firm is now helping a client with damage control and data recovery upon discovering – a week after their former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) had resigned but six months after he’d been demoted to a lesser role -- that the CTO had created a back door for himself to the client’s servers and had spent those last six months of his employment accessing, downloading and storing emails of the client’s top executives, and its most important vendors.
Many of us have become comfortable with the convenience of logging into our laptops or smartphones using a fingerprint scan in lieu of remembering yet another password. We are familiar with television and movie portrayals of retina scans being required for access to top secret laboratories or other secure buildings and rooms. This kind of technology, however, is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Businesses are increasingly using biometric data (i.e., measurements of a person’s physical being) for a variety of identification purposes, such as to provide security for the financial transactions of their customers and for the tracking of work hours of their employees.
The EU’s General Data Protective Regulation (“GDPR”) has been a popular topic of late. Fisher Phillips’ Employment Privacy Blog has covered the evolution of this regulation, starting with the roll back of the previous “safe harbor” regime, as well as providing updates to GDPR compliance standards, and training recommendations.
It is tax season once again, and with it comes an increased threat of phishing scams targeting human resources and payroll personnel. In 2016, the IRS alerted employers to a then-emerging email phishing scheme in which messages purporting to come from company executives requested the release of personal information relating to employees, including W-2 tax forms. Since then, the scam has evolved into a significant threat facing employers in multiple industries, from small and large businesses to public schools and universities, hospitals, tribal governments and charities. According to the IRS, in 2017 alone, more than 200 employers reported falling victim to the scam, with hundreds of thousands of employees impacted.
As we are early into the new year, for many, hope springs eternal to get in shape during 2018. Many of us wear some kind of fitness activity tracker that monitors steps, heart rate, calories, sleep patterns, etc. Recent news coverage of Strava, the running and cycling fitness tracking app, has caused concern for the United States military. But might it cause concerns for some businesses that operate under high levels of security, as well?