Category: General

Apple, Google and Co. endorse a more GDPR-like U.S. federal privacy law

6. November 2018

At the 4oth International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) Apple CEO Tim Cook and other prominent representatives of leading tech companies, all expressed their endorsement of a more GDPR-like privacy legislation around the globe and particularly the US. The ICDPPC takes place in Brussels once a year and apart from independent data protection authorities as accredited members, the attendees include representatives of states without independent data protection supervisory bodies, international organisations, non-governmental organisations as well as representatives from science and industry.

On this platform, Cook strongly supported the idea of introducing similar data protection standards to those of the GDPR in the US and encouraged his fellow tech companies to do so as well. The Apple CEO warned of a danger of a “data industrial complex”, where information about individuals is being weaponized against humanity “with military efficiency”. Cook pointed out that scraps of personal data are “carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold” creating an “enduring digital profile which lets companies know individuals better than they may know themselves”, since businesses would use these information to make billions and billions of dollars. As this would end up in surveillance while those stockpiles of data only serve to enrich companies, he ensures Apple’s “full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States”.

Without mentioning them, the Apple CEO refers in particular to the data giants Google and Facebook by emphasizing their responsibility of creating adequate data protection standards. Both of them have been in the focus of a global discussion on whether they provide their users with adequate privacy settings. However, Facebook’s CPO Erin Egan replied, unequivocally, “yes”, when she was asked whether she would support a GDPR-like data protection law in the U.S. as well as Google General Counsel Kent Walker said, “we’ve been on record for some time calling for comprehensive privacy legislation in the past years” when he was asked about Google’s position on a U.S. federal privacy bill. Walker also pointed to Google’s recent release of principles it supports as part of a federal bill.

Last but not least, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Julie Brill eventually stated that Microsoft has extended many of the GDPR’s protection measures to their entire customer base and has been a supporter of a U.S. federal privacy bill since 2005. In particular, Brill endorsed a “strong, robust, and horizontally effective baseline privacy legislation.” She further ensured that at Microsoft people are using their voice as strongly as they could to encourage that to take place.

Bearing in mind the data scandals around – in particular – Google and Facebook, and the rather low data protection standards in the U.S., it seems that at least four representatives of the top seven tech companies in the world endorse a new U.S. federal privacy bill and will encourage in supporting an adequate privacy standard around the globe. Regarding the actual stance of the Trump administration, FTC Commissioner and recent Trump appointee Noah Phillips, gave an indication about how this subject will be treated. According to his personal opinion, such a regulation should be done “only if necessary and then very carefully.” Being asked whether the U.S. has the right laws in place to regulate technology appropriately, or whether there were any gaps, he replied, “that is a big question we are debating right now in the United States.”

Facebook: private messages from more than 81.000 people for sale

5. November 2018

According to a BBC report, more than 81.000 Facebook profiles were hacked. Private messages and other information was offered for 10 cents per account.

The BBC had the allegations checked by the IT security company Digital Shadows, who confirmed that over 81.000 of the profiles posted online contained private messenger messages. Furthermore, data from more than 176.000 accounts, including e-mail addresses and telephone numbers were available. This information did not necessarily have to come from a hack, as some of it was also open on public Facebook profiles

The BBC Russian Service also emailed the address that offered the data. The respondent – someone called “John Smith”- wrote that the offered data was neither from profiles involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal nor of the recent security breach revealed in September. He said that his hacker group could offer data from 20 million users, of whom 2.7 million were Russians. But Digital Shadows doubts this because Facebook should have noticed such a big leak.

Facebook reported that its security has not been compromised. The data might be obtained through malicious browser extensions. According to Facebook executive Guy Rosen, they “have contacted browser-makers to ensure that known malicious extensions are no longer available to download in their stores”.

 

EDPB Publishes Opinions on National DPIA Lists

17. October 2018

Regarding the data protection impact assessment (“DPIA”) the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) recently published 22 Opinions on the draft lists of Supervisory Authority (“SAs”) in EU Member States. This is supposed to clarify which processing operations are subject to the requirement of conducting a DPIA under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).

The European Data Protection Board is an independent European body, which contributes to the consistent application of data protection rules throughout the European Union, and promotes cooperation between the EU’s data protection authorities. The Supervisory Authorities will now be given two weeks to decide whether they want to amend their draft list or maintain them and explain their decision.

Article 35(4) of the GDPR states that the SAs of the EU Member States must establish, publish and communicate to the EDPB a list of processing operations that trigger the DPIA requirement under the GDPR. Several EU Members States provided their list: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The national lists can vary because the SAs must take into account not only their national legislation but also the national or regional context.

To some extent, the EDPB requests that the SAs include processing activities in their list or specify additional criteria that, when combined, would satisfy the DPIA requirement. Furthermore, the EDPB requests that the SAs remove some processing activities or criteria not considered to present a high risk to individuals. The objective of the EDPB opinions is to ensure consistent application of the GDPR’s DPIA requirement and to limit inconsistencies among the EU States with respect to this requirement.

Facebook may face up to $1.63 Billion Fine in Europe after Data Breach

2. October 2018

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, the company’s lead privacy regulator in the EU, could fine Facebook Inc. up to $1.63 billion for a data breach disclosed Friday, reports the Wall Street Journal. Hackers compromised the accounts of at least 50 million users, bypassing security measures and possibly giving them full control of both profiles and linked apps.

The Commission is now requesting more information on the scale and nature of the data breach in order to find out which EU residents could be affected. Facebook announced that it would respond to follow-up questions. The incident results in the latest legal threat Facebook is facing from U.S. and European officials over its handling of user data and is a severe setback to their efforts to regain trust after a series of privacy and security breaches.

The way in which this data breach is handled by data protection authorities could mark one of the first important tests under the GDPR, which came into force in May earlier this year. The handling could provide conclusions regarding the application of breach-notifications and data-security provisions by companies in the future.
The law requires companies to notify data protection authorities of breaches within 72 hours, under threat of a maximum fine of 2% of worldwide revenue. Furthermore, under the GDPR companies that fail to safeguard their users’ data risk a maximum fine of €20 million ($23 million), or 4% of a firm’s global annual revenue for the prior year, whichever is higher. Taking the larger calculation as a basis Facebook’s maximum fine would be $1.63 billion.

EU Commission: Draft for adoption of adequacy decision for Japan

6. September 2018

The EU Commission has drafted the adequacy decision for Japan including next steps Japan has to undertake in order to ensure protection for the transfer of personal data from the EU to Japan. This includes additional safeguards Japan should apply, as well as commitments regarding access to personal data by Japanese public authorities.

Japan has committed to implement several safeguards that are necessary for the protection of the transfer of personal data before the actual adoption of the adequacy decision. These include,

  • a set of rules providing additional safeguards for transferred personal data of EU individuals (addressing inter alia the topics protection of sensitive data and the further transfer of personal data from Japan to another third country),
  • safeguards concerning the access to personal data by Japanese public authorities for criminal law enforcement and national security purposes,
  • a complaint-handling mechanism for Europeans regarding the access of Japanese authorities to their personal data.

The Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, said: “We are creating the world’s largest area of safe data flows. Personal data will be able to travel safely between the EU and Japan to the benefit of both our citizens and our economies. Our partnership will promote global standards for data protection and set an example for future partnerships in this key area.”

The next step in the adoption procedure of the adequacy decision is the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), which will be asked for his opinion.

Category: EU · EU Commission · General
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Facebook sues BlackBerry for patent infringement, claiming it stole Voice-Messaging Tech

5. September 2018

On Tuesday, September 5th, Facebook Inc. filed a lawsuit against BlackBerry Ltd., accusing the ladder of patent infringement, the news agency Bloomberg reports.

The complaint of the social media company contains the allegations that BlackBerry has been stealing its voice messaging technology. Furthermore, the accusation includes technology that improves how a mobile device delivers graphics, video and audio and another that centralizes tracking and analysis of GPS data.

According to Facebook a total of six patents are targeted, for which the company intends to claim unspecified damages in San Francisco federal court.

The lawsuit, in turn, follows BlackBerrys’ lawsuit in march, accusing the company of infringement on its mobile messaging tech for its own messenger, as well as its Instagram photo sharing app and WhatsApp messaging service.

Category: General · Instagram · USA
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EU Commission: Using Personal Data In Political Campaigns

29. August 2018

Following the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica case, the EU Commission intends to prohibit the misuse of Collection data of voters in order to influence elections. As the Irish Times reports, the EU Commission is drafting an amendment to existing party funding rules prohibiting parties profiting from data collections of the kind as alleged against Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica has been accused of obtaining information of millions Facebook users without the data subjects’ consent by using a personality-analysis app during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

It is expected that sanctions will have the extent of approximately 5 percent of the annual budget of a political party. An official said “it is meant to ensure that something like Cambridge Analytica can never happen in the EU”.

Considering the upcoming election of the European Parliament in May 2019, various measures are to be recommended or imposed by the EU Commission that shall be followed by the member states in order to prevent misuse of voters’ personal data or the online manipulation of voters. While it is intended to recommend the governments to watch over and clamp down on groups sending personalized political messages to users of social media without their consent, the member states shall also be stricter about the transparency requirements of political advertisement on national level by amending national law.

Last month, Vera Jourova, EU justice commissioner, said: “voters and citizens should always understand – when something is an online campaign – who runs the campaign, who pays for it and what they want to achieve.”

However, she also made clear that the EU will respect free expression and that the EU is not going to regulate online activities of political parties. “The internet is a zone for free expression. Everybody can be a journalist or an influencer, and these are the things that we don’t want to touch”, she stated.

Luxembourg publishes two new Data Protection Laws

24. August 2018

On August 1st, 2018 the Luxembourg government adopted two new data protection laws implementing certain parts of the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679 – the “GDPR”) and repeals the former data protection law of 2002. Draft Bill Number 7184 and 7168 were adopted and complement the GDPR, which has been in force since 25 May 2018 throughout the European Union.

The newly implemented laws don’t add any further restrictions to the processing of personal data, but rather serve as implementing provisions required under GDPR.

The new Luxembourg Data Protection Law defines the organisation, missions and competence of the Luxembourg data protection authority (Commission nationale pour la protection des données – CNPD) and provides specific requirements or exceptions. The CNPD has been granted broad investigation powers. The CNPD receives for example the right to obtain access from any controller or processor to all personal data and information necessary to verify compliance under GDPR. The CNPD is also in charge to issue warning, orders and fines to any controller or processor who is not compliant under the provisions of the GDPR.

The second new law, the Luxembourg Law on Criminal Data Processing specifically relates to the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data in criminal matters and national security.

The two laws should be read together, as they jointly extend the competences of the CNPD.

Starting with the new implementations, Luxembourg companies are discharged of the administrative burden of an active notification of personal data processing to the CNPD prior to processing personal data. However, companies should be ready to be controlled by the local regulator and therefore they are obliged to keep a record of the processing of personal data that is carried out under their responsibility.

The final versions were published on August 16th, 2018 in the Official Gazette of Luxembourg.

Database operators in Sweden exempt from GDPR

With the GDPR coming into effect, enterprises in Sweden will also be subject to complying with the European principles and adhering to the GDPR.

However, new amendments and changes to the country’s constitution will be required to harmonise existing laws.

Due to the fact that Sweden emphasizes freedom of press and speech, it will initially make exemptions in cases where elements don’t comply with its Freedom of the Press Act of 1766.

As a consequence, current laws give database operators a broad freedom to gather and release personal data enabling them to collect and distribute personal information from a broad range of sources, including the national tax office.

The database operators and online publishers Eniro, Ratsit and Hitta are some of the companies that will be exempt until an expert group has drafted new and stricter legislation regarding the processing of personal data by these.

It is expected that the relevant laws will be amended in the first half of 2019.

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