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  • Credit reporting agency agrees to cybersecurity corrective action with eight state regulators

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On June 27, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced that a major credit reporting agency has agreed to cybersecurity and internal control corrective action following its 2017 data breach, which reportedly affected 143 million American consumers. The consent order, which was entered into with NYDFS and seven other state regulators, requires a wide range of corrective actions. The company must: (i) review and approve a written risk assessment which identifies data breach risks and the likelihood of threats; (ii) establish and oversee a formal internal audit program; (iii) improve oversight of its information security program; and (iv) improve oversight and ensure sufficient controls are developed for critical vendors. The consent order does not include any monetary penalties.

    The consent order follows the June 25 announcement by NYDFS that credit reporting agencies will be required to register annually with the state and comply with the state’s cybersecurity regulation (covered by InfoBytes here).

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues Data Breach NYDFS

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  • 8th Circuit affirms $17 million class settlement for retailer data breach


    On June 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling approving a $17 million class settlement to resolve consumer claims related to a 2013 data breach, which resulted in the compromise of at least 40 million credit cards and theft of personal information of up to 110 million people. The settlement, which consists of $10 million in consumer redress and almost $7 million in plaintiffs’ attorney fees, was preliminarily approved in 2015 by the district court (previously covered by InfoBytes here) but was remanded back to the court by the 8th Circuit for failing to conduct the appropriate pre-certification analysis. After the district court recertified the class, two settlement challengers appealed, arguing that the class was not properly certified as there were not separate counsel for the subclasses and that the court erred in approving the settlement because the award of attorney’s fees was not reasonable. The appellate court disagreed, holding that no fundamental conflict of interest required separate representation for named class members and class members who suffered no actual losses. The court also concluded that the 29 percent in total monetary payment to the plaintiffs’ attorneys was “well within the amounts [the court] has deemed reasonable in the past” and therefore, the district court did not error in its discretion.


    Courts Appellate Eighth Circuit Class Action Data Breach Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

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  • Illinois, Connecticut, and Hawaii pass security freeze legislation

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On June 8, the Illinois governor approved HB 4095, which amends the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act to prohibit consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) from charging consumers a fee for placing, removing, or temporarily lifting a security freeze. The act takes effect immediately.  The Act also permits a consumer to request a security freeze by phone or electronic means, in addition to a request in writing.

    This followed a similar action by the Connecticut governor, who on June 4 signed SB 472 to prohibit CRAs from charging a fee to consumers to place, remove, or temporarily lift a security freeze on a consumer's account. The legislation also, among other things, (i) prohibits CRAs from—as a condition of placing the freeze—requiring that consumers agree to limit their claims against the agency; (ii) increases the length of time that identity theft prevention and mitigation services must be provided to a consumer after a security breach from 12 to 24 months; and (iii) provides that the banking commissioner will adopt regulations that require CRAs to provide it with “dedicated points of contact” to allow the Department of Banking to assist consumers when a data breach occurs. The act takes effect October 1.

    On June 6, the Hawaii governor signed HB 2342 to enhance protection of consumer information by expanding the methods consumers may use to request security freezes, and by prohibiting credit reporting agencies (CRAs) from charging consumers a fee to place, remove, or temporarily lift a security freeze on a consumer's credit report or records. Among other things, the act now permits a consumer or a “protected consumer’s representative” to request a security freeze via first-class mail, a telephone call, or through a CRA’s designated secure website, and also preserves the CRA’s ability to lift a security freeze when the freeze was executed due to material misrepresentation by the consumer. When lifting a security freeze, CRAs are required to send written confirmation to the affected consumer within five business days. The act takes effect July 1.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues State Legislation Security Freeze Data Breach Credit Reporting Agency

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  • Colorado enacts expansive consumer data protection law, includes 30-day breach notification requirement

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On May 29, the Colorado governor signed HB1128, which significantly expands Colorado’s consumer data protection laws to include a broader definition of personal information and a 30-day notice requirement regarding data breaches. The law, which is effective on September 1, requires covered entities—defined in the statute as, “a person . . . that maintains, owns, or licenses personal identifying information in the course of the person’s business, vocation, or occupation”— to notify affected Colorado residents within 30 days after the determination that a security breach occurred. The notice to residents must include, among other things, (i) the date range of the security breach; (ii) a description of the personal information that was part of the security breach; (iii) contact information for the entity; and (iv) contact information for credit reporting agencies and the FTC. The act defines personal information to include a Colorado resident’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with the following non-encrypted or redacted items: “social security number; student, military or passport identification number; driver’s license number or identification card number; medical information; health insurance identification number; or biometric data.” Other key elements of the law include:

    • In addition to notifying affected residents, covered entities must notify the Colorado Attorney General within 30 days if the entity determines 500 or more people have been affected by the security breach, unless the entity determines that misuse of the information has not and is not likely to occur.
    • If the covered entity determines 1000 or more people are affected by the security breach, “in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay” the entity must notify all consumer reporting agencies.
    • Covered entities are required to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures that are “appropriate to the nature of the personal identifying information and to the nature and size of the business and its operations.”
    • If a covered entity discloses a consumer’s personal information to a third-party service provider, the covered entity must require the third-party to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures.

    The law also includes security and notification requirements for Colorado governmental entities.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues State Legislation Data Breach Consumer Protection

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  • Louisiana governor amends data breach notification law; passes security freeze legislation

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On May 20, the Louisiana governor signed SB361 to amend the state’s existing data breach notification law. The amendments require entities conducting business in the state or that own or license computerized data to (i) “implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices appropriate to the nature of the information to protect the personal information from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure,” and (ii) take “all reasonable steps” to destroy documents containing personal information once they no longer need to be retained. Key amendment highlights are as follows:

    • revises definitions, which include (i) defining “breach of the security of the system” to now apply to “the compromise… of computerized data that results in, or there is a reasonable likelihood to result in. . .” unauthorized acquisition and access; and (ii) revising the definition of “personal information” to include residents of the state, and include passport numbers and biometric data;
    • requires entities to notify affected individuals within 60 days of the discovery of a data breach—pending the needs of law enforcement—and further stipulates that if a determination is made to delay notification, the Attorney General must be notified in writing within the 60-day period to receive an extension of time;
    • provides that substitute notification—consisting of email notification, a notice posted to the entity’s website, and notifications to major statewide media—may be provided should the entity demonstrate that (i) the cost of the notification would exceed $100,000; (ii) the affected class of persons exceeds 100,000; or (iii) the entities lack sufficient contact information; and
    • states that violations of the Database Security Breach Notification Law constitute an unfair act or practice.

    The amendments take effect August 1.

    Separately, on May 15, the governor signed SB127, which prohibits credit reporting agencies from charging a fee for placing, reinstating, temporarily lifting, or revoking a security freeze. The bill became effective upon signature by the governor.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues State Legislation Security Freeze Data Breach

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  • Vermont legislation regulates data brokers and provides consumer protections

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On May 22, a Vermont bill, established to regulate data brokers and provide consumers with protections against companies that collect, analyze, and sell their personal information, was enacted without the governor’s signature. Among other things, H.764: (i) requires data brokers to pay a $100 fee to register annually with the Vermont Secretary of State and publicly disclose information about data collection practices and opt-out policies; (ii) requires companies to implement measures to ensure they have “adequate security standards” to safeguard against data breaches; (iii) prohibits the “acquisition of personal information with the intent to commit wrongful acts”; and (iv) prohibits credit reporting agencies from charging consumers fees for the placement, removal, or temporary lift of a security freeze. The credit freeze provisions became effective upon passage. The data broker provisions take effect January 1, 2019.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues State Legislation Data Breach Data Brokers

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  • Court preliminarily approves $80 million settlement for shareholders after global internet company data breach

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On May 9, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a preliminary approval of a settlement between a global internet media company and its shareholders over alleged securities law violations related to cybersecurity breaches in 2013 and 2014. The $80 million settlement resolves a consolidated shareholder action accusing the company of making misleading statements to shareholders about the company’s data security. According to the order, the settlement applies to all shareholders who acquired the company’s securities between April 30, 2013 and December 14, 2016. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the company was recently ordered by the SEC to pay $35 million to resolve allegations related to the same cybersecurity incidents.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Securities Data Breach Settlement SEC

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  • Senators release report on credit reporting agency from data in CFPB’s public complaint database

    Federal Issues

    On April 30, three Democratic Senate Banking Committee members released a report addressing publicly available complaints the CFPB received regarding the 2017 data breach announcement by a national credit reporting agency. In a letter to the CFPB, which accompanied the release of the report, the Senators encouraged the Bureau to “hold [the credit reporting agency] accountable and act quickly and decisively to protection the millions of consumers harmed by the breach.” Additionally, the Senators make a plea for the CFPB to continue to keep consumer complaints public, citing to recent remarks by Mulvaney that the database would soon be removed from public view. According to the report, within six months of the data breach announcement—which reportedly affected 143 million American consumers—the CFPB received over 20,000 complaints against the company. Of the 20,000 complaints, the issues consumers mentioned include (i) “improper use of a credit report after the breach”; (ii) “incorrect information on credit report”; (iii) “[Company]’s inadequate assistance in resolving problems after the breach”; and (iv) “[Company]’s credit monitoring services, fraud alerts, security freezes, and other identity theft protection products.” The report also cites to specific narratives from consumer complaints that were available through the CFPB’s consumer complaint database.

    Federal Issues CFPB Consumer Complaints Data Breach Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Credit Reporting Agency

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  • Global internet media company fined $35 million for cybersecurity breach disclosures

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On April 24, the SEC ordered a global internet media company, acquired in 2017 by a global communications company, to pay $35 million to settle claims alleging that the company failed to disclose a 2014 cybersecurity breach in which Russian hackers stole data from over 500 million user accounts. Compromised private user information included usernames, email addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, passwords, and security questions and answers. According to the SEC’s cease-and-desist order, during the two years following the breach, the internet media company (i) failed to inform outside counsel or auditors of the breach in order to assess public filing disclosure obligations; (ii) failed to maintain internal disclosure controls and procedures designed to guarantee that the company’s information security team reports addressing actual data breaches, or the risk of such breaches, were properly and timely assessed for potential disclosure; and (iii) made misleading statements in its public filings that warned investors only of the “risk of potential future data breaches” without disclosing the 2014 data breach. The SEC claimed that the disclosure violations continued as acquisition discussions were held in 2016 and resulted in renegotiation of the terms of the company’s sale, including a 7.25 percent reduction in price. The company ultimately disclosed the breach to the public in September of 2016. In agreeing to the settlement, the company neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s findings, except as to the SEC’s jurisdiction over the matter.

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Data Breach Settlement SEC Disclosures

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  • 9th Circuit denies online retailer’s petition for full panel review of decision on standing in data breach case


    On April 20, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit denied an online retailer’s request to have the full bench reconsider the court’s March 8 ruling, which ruling held that the increased risk of fraud or identity theft from a data breach gave consumers Article III standing to sue. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the underlying action results from a 2012 data breach affecting over 24 million shoppers. Previously, the three-judge panel held that the district court erred in dismissing claims brought by consumers who did not allege financial losses as a result of the data breach because, among other things, the stolen information provided hackers the “means to commit fraud or identity theft.” The online retailer appealed the decision, asking the full panel to review. The panel disagreed, upholding the previous decision that the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged the risk of future harm.

    Courts Ninth Circuit Appellate Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Data Breach Class Action U.S. Supreme Court

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