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  • Utah enshrines two acts to create cybersecurity notification guidelines

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On March 19, Utah enacted SB 98 which amended the state’s online data security and privacy requirements. SB 98 will include new protocols that individuals and governmental entities must follow under its data breach reporting requirements. SB 98 will require individuals and governmental entities to provide specific information about the breach, including, among other things: (i) when the data breach occurred; (ii) when the data breach was discovered; (iii) the total number of individuals affected by the breach, with a separate count for Utah residents; (iv) the type of personal data involved; (v) a brief description of the data breach; and only for government entities (vi) the path of means by which access was granted to the system if known; (vii) the individual or entity who perpetrated the breach if known; and (viii) the actions taken by the governmental entity to mitigate the effects of the breach. Additionally, the Cyber Center will be tasked with assisting the governmental entity in responding to breaches. This assistance may include: (a) conducting or participating in an internal investigation; (b) assisting law enforcement with their investigation if necessary; (c) determining the scope of the data breach; (d) helping the entity to restore the integrity of the compromised system; and (e) providing any other necessary support in response to the breach.

    On that same day, the governor also signed into law HB 491 which enacted the Government Data Privacy Act. Similarly, the bill will describe the duties of state government agencies related to personal data privacy, including breach notification requirements, limits on data collection and use, and the ability to correct and access personal data. On structure, the bill created the Utah Privacy Governing Board to recommend changes in the state privacy policy, established the Office of Data Privacy to coordinate implementation of privacy protections, and named the Personal Privacy Oversight Commission to the Utah Privacy Commission and amended the commission’s duties. Both SB 98 and HB 491 will go into effect on May 1.

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues State Legislation Data Breach Utah

  • District Court sides with bank in class-action suit against foreign currency swap overcharges


    On March 5, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed a purported class action complaint in which plaintiffs alleged the defendant banks used “fictional” foreign exchange rates that deviated from those incorporated into plaintiffs’ agreements with the defendants. Specifically, the plaintiffs asserted that defendants charged the plaintiffs “fictional” rates imposed by credit card companies, and in so doing, breached their relevant contracts with the plaintiffs and violated several state consumer protection laws.

    In dismissing the complaint, the court concluded that although the plaintiffs had standing to sue, their breach of contract claim failed as a matter of law because the complaint failed to identify any specific promises regarding exchange rates in the relevant contracts, and a singular reference to credit card companies’ rules did not incorporate such rules into the relevant contracts. The court further rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that an agency relationship existed between the credit card companies and defendants, reasoning that the plaintiffs failed to plausibly demonstrate defendants had any ability to control the rates. 

    The court similarly dismissed all the plaintiffs’ consumer protection law claims, concluding that the relevant laws did not permit for a breach of contract to serve as the basis for an unfair or deceptive trade practice.

    Courts Virginia Standing Consumer Protection Data Breach

  • Washington Appeals Court disagrees with appellant in a class action data breach; affirms lower court’s decision


    On January 8, the Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed superior court rulings granting final approval to a class action settlement, denying a motion to consolidate six class action lawsuits, and approving a class notice plan. According to the opinion, in 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified the respondent company, a nonprofit organization serving low-income individuals, of a data breach that exposed the social security numbers of 163,499 individuals. In 2022, appellant filed a class action lawsuit against the respondent company, one of six such separate class action lawsuits. The appellant filed a motion to consolidate the six pending class action lawsuits, which was denied. Subsequently, plaintiffs in one of the class action lawsuits signed a settlement agreement and release that would release, discharge, and bar all claims asserted in the other class action lawsuits and provide compensation anywhere from $100 to $25,000 to impacted individuals. The appellant plaintiff then filed the instant appeal alleging that the lower court abused its discretion by denying her motion to consolidate the six actions, that the class action plan failed to provide reasonable notice, and that the settlement was not fair, reasonable, or adequate because “the settlement is the product of collusion between the settling parties.” The appellate court disagreed and ultimately upheld the lower court’s rulings. 

    Courts Washington Appellate Data Breach Unfair DHHS Class Action

  • FCC adopts updated data breach notification rules

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On December 21, 2023, the FCC announced it adopted an updated data breach notifications rule. The rule was formerly designed to protect consumers against pretexting, “a practice in which a scammer pretends to be a particular customer or other authorized person to obtain access to that customer’s call detail or other private communications records.” As previously covered by InfoBytes, the FCC promulgated its notice of proposed rulemaking in January 2023. The rule has been updated to expand the data breach notification requirements to, among other things: (i) cover different categories of personally identifiable information that carriers hold; (ii) expand the definition of “breach” to cover unintended disclosures of consumer information, except in situations where such information is obtained in good faith by an employee or representative of a carrier or telecommunications relay service (“TRS”) provider, and where there’s no improper use or further disclosure of that information; (iii) require TRS providers and carriers to notify the FCC, FBI, and U.S. Secret Service as soon as practicable and no later than seven business days after the reasonable determination of a breach; (iv) no longer require TRS providers and carriers to notify consumers of a data breach if they reasonably determine no harm to consumers is reasonably likely; and (v) no longer require carriers to follow a mandatory waiting period to notify consumers of a breach. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in her statement that the update to the data breach policy is the first in 16 years and that under the Communications Act, “carriers have a duty to protect the privacy and security of consumer data.” The rule was adopted on December 13, 2023. 

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FCC Data Data Breach

  • FTC approves amendment to Safeguards Rule requiring nonbanks to report data breaches

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On October 27, the FTC approved an amendment to the Safeguards Rule to require nonbanks to report data breaches. Under the amended rule, financial institutions, including mortgage brokers, motor vehicle dealers, and payday lenders, will be required to notify the FTC of data breaches as soon as possible, and no later than 30 days after the discovery of incident involving at least 500 consumers. Notice of an incident is required if unencrypted consumer information was acquired without their authorization, as the FTC noted that encrypted consumer information is unlikely to cause consumer harm. The FTC will provide an online form that will be used to report certain information, including the type of information involved in the security event and the number of consumers affected or potentially affected. Additionally, the amended rule will require nonbanks to “to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive security program to keep their customers’ information safe.” As previously covered by InfoBytes, the FTC recently extended compliance on some Safeguards provisions finalized in October 2021 (covered by InfoBytes here), to June of this year.

    The commission voted 3-0 to publish the amendment, which will become effective 180 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security Federal Issues Data Breach FTC Safeguards Rule Nonbank Supervision

  • Healthcare clearinghouse settles for $1.4M over data breach

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On October 17, a healthcare clearinghouse reached a $1.4 million settlement with a coalition of 33 state attorneys general for allegedly exposing the protected health information of approximately 1.5 million consumers. As a health care clearinghouse, the company facilitates transactions between health care providers and insurers. The states began investigating the company in 2019, when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services discovered that personal health information maintained by the company was available through search engines, which appeared to be the result of a coding error by the company. According to the states, after the company was alerted to the breach, it delayed notification to impacted customers for over three months and sent notices to impacted consumers that were vague and confusing. Under the settlement, in addition to the $1.4 million payment, the company agreed to overhaul its data security and breach notification practices. The multistate coalition was led by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security Data Breach State Attorney General Settlement Indiana

  • Software provider settles allegations related to data breach

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On October 5, a software provider serving nonprofit fundraising entities agreed to pay almost $50 million to settle claims with 49 states and the District of Columbia alleging that the provider maintained insufficient data security measures and inadequately responded to a 2020 data breach. Specifically, the settlement resolved claims that the software provider violated state consumer protection laws, breach-notification laws, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

    According to the allegations, the data breach exposed donor information, including Social Security numbers and financial records, of over 13,000 nonprofit groups and organizations and the provider waited two months before informing these clients of the breach.

    The settlement requires the provider to improve its cybersecurity protections and breach notification procedures.

    Earlier this year, the software provider also settled claims with the SEC for $3 million to address allegations of misleading disclosures relating to the same 2020 data breach.


    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security SEC Data Breach HIPAA Consumer Protection Settlement

  • SEC adopts breach-reporting rules, establishes requirements for cybersecurity risk management

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 26, a divided SEC adopted a final rule outlining disclosure requirements for publicly traded companies in the event of a material cybersecurity incident. The final rule (proposed last year and covered by InfoBytes here) also requires companies to periodically disclose their cybersecurity risk management processes and establishes requirements for how cybersecurity disclosures must be presented. The final rule requires that material cybersecurity incidents be disclosed within four days from the time a company determines the incident was material (a disclosure may be delayed should the U.S. attorney general notify the SEC in writing that immediate disclosure poses a substantial risk to national security or public safety). Companies must also identify material aspects of the incident’s nature, scope, and timing, as well as its impact or reasonably likely impact on the company, and are required to describe their board’s and management’s oversight of risks from cybersecurity threats and previous cybersecurity incidents. These disclosures will be required in a company’s annual report. The final rule will also mandate foreign private issuers to provide comparable disclosures on forms related to material cybersecurity incidents and risk management, strategy, and governance.

    The final rule is effective 30 days following publication of the adopting release in the Federal Register. The SEC noted that incident-specific disclosures will be required in Forms 8-K and 6-K beginning either 90 days after the final rule’s publication in the Federal Register or on December 18, whichever is later, though smaller reporting companies are provided an extra 180 days before they must begin providing such disclosures. Annual disclosures on cyber risk management, strategy, and governance will be required in Form 10-K and Form 20-F reports starting with annual reports for fiscal years ending on or after December 15. In terms of structured data requirements, all companies must tag disclosures in the required format beginning one year after initial compliance with the related disclosure requirement.

    SEC Chair Gary Gensler commented that, in response to public comments received on the proposed rule, the final rule “streamlines required disclosures for both periodic and incident reporting” and requires companies “to disclose only an incident’s material impacts, nature, scope, and timing, whereas the proposal would have required additional details, not explicitly limited by materiality.”

    In voting against the final rule, Commissioner Hester M. Pierce raised concerns that the final rule’s compliance timelines are overly aggressive even for large companies and that the short incident disclosure period could potentially mislead otherwise uninformed investors and “lead to disclosures that are ‘tentative and unclear, resulting in false positives and mispricing in the market.’” The final rule allows a company to update its incident disclosure with new information in subsequent reports that was unavailable at first and could impact investors who may suffer a loss due to the mispricing of the company’s securities following the initial reporting, Pierce said. She also criticized the risk to national security or public safety exemption as being overly narrow. Commissioner Mark Uyeda also opposed the adoption, writing that “[n]o other Form 8-K event requires such broad forward-looking disclosure that needs to be constantly assessed for a potential amendment.” Uyeda also questioned whether “[p]remature public disclosure of a cybersecurity incident at one company could result in uncertainty of vulnerabilities at other companies, especially if it involves a commonly used technology provider, [thus] resulting in widespread panic in the market and financial contagion.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues Securities Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security SEC Data Breach Risk Management

  • 11th Circuit orders reexamination of breach class boundaries

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On July 11, a split U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit partially vacated the greenlighting of two data breach class actions, holding that a district court must re-analyze the boundaries of the classes. Both the nationwide and California classes are individuals who sued a restaurant chain after their card data and personally identifiable information were compromised in a cyberattack. Plaintiffs claimed that information for roughly 4.5 million cards could be accessed on an online marketplace for stolen payment information. Two of the three named plaintiffs also said they experienced unauthorized charges on their accounts. Plaintiffs moved to certify two classes seeking both injunctive and monetary relief—a nationwide (or alternatively a statewide) class for negligence and a California class for claims based on the state’s unfair business practices laws. The district court certified a nationwide class and a separate California-only class. The restaurant chain’s parent company appealed, arguing that the certification violates court precedent on Article III standing for class actions, that the classes do not meet the commonality requirements for certification, and that the district court erred by finding that a common damages methodology existed for the class.

    On appeal, the majority found that at the class certification stage, plaintiffs only had to show that a reliable damages methodology existed. The majority also determined that the district court correctly found that plaintiffs’ expert presented a sufficient methodology for calculating damages and that “it would be a ‘matter for the jury’ to decide actual damages at trial.” However, the majority remanded the case with instructions for the district court to clarify what it meant when it certified classes of individuals who had their “data accessed by cybercriminals.” According to the opinion, the district court meant for this term to encompass individuals who experienced fraudulent charges or whose credit card information was posted on the dark web. The majority expressed concerns that the phrase “accessed by cybercriminals” is broader than the two delineated categories provided by the district court and could include individuals who had their data taken but were otherwise uninjured. The majority also vacated the California class certification after determining that two of the three named plaintiffs lacked standing because they dined at the restaurant outside of the “at-risk” timeframe. The district court’s damages calculation methodology, however, was left undisturbed by the appellate court.  

    Partially dissenting, one of the judges wrote that while she agreed that one of the named plaintiffs had standing to sue, she disagreed with the majority’s concrete injury analysis. The judge also argued that the district court erred in its damage calculations by “impermissibly permit[ting] plaintiffs to receive an award based on damages that they did not suffer.”

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security Courts State Issues California Appellate Eleventh Circuit Consumer Protection Class Action Data Breach

  • 1st Circuit confirms standing for data breach victims


    On June 30, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit overruled a district court’s dismissal of a putative class action against a home delivery pharmacy service for allegedly failing to prevent a 2021 data breach that exposed the personally identifiable information (PII) of over 75,000 patients. The class action complaint alleged state law claims for negligence, breach of implied contract, unjust enrichment, invasion of privacy, and breach of fiduciary duty, and sought damages and injunctive relief. The putative class was comprised of U.S. residents whose PII was compromised in the data breach. The two named plaintiffs were former or current patients whose PII were compromised in the data breach, and one of the two named plaintiffs had her stolen PII used to file a fraudulent tax return. The district court dismissed the lawsuit for lack of Article III standing.

    Affirming in part and reversing in part, the 1st Circuit held that the complaint “plausibly demonstrates” the plaintiffs’ standing to seek damages, applying the principles articulated by the Supreme Court in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, which clarified the type of concrete injury necessary to establish Article III standing (covered by InfoBytes here).

    First, the court concluded that, with respect to the named plaintiff whose PII was used to file a fraudulent tax return, the complaint’s “plausible allegations of actual misuse” of the stolen PII constituted a “concrete injury in fact” for purposes of Article III standing. According to the 1st Circuit, there existed “an “obvious temporal connection” between the timing of the data breach and the filed return, among other facts. The appellate court also found that the fraudulent tax return could make it probable that more of the named plaintiff’s information could be further misused—changing the risk of future misuse from speculative to “imminent and substantial.”

    Second, with respect to the named plaintiff for whom there was no allegation of actual misuse of PII, the court reasoned that “the complaint plausibly alleges a concrete injury in fact based on the material risk of future misuse of [plaintiff’s] PII and a concrete harm caused by exposure to this risk.” The appellate court also found that, because the data here was compromised in a “targeted attack,” then “it stands to reason that [such data] is more likely to be misused…and the risk of future misuse is heightened when the compromised data is particularly sensitive.”

    Third, the court concluded that the complaint plausibly alleged a “separate concrete, present harm” caused by exposure to the risk of future harm, “based on the allegations of the plaintiffs’ lost time spent taking protective measures [against further identity theft] that would otherwise have been put to some productive use.” “The loss of this time is equivalent to a monetary injury, which is indisputably a concrete injury,” the appellate court wrote, adding that it joins other circuits in holding that time spent responding to a data breach is sufficient to establish standing.

    Finally, the court held that plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue injunctive relief “because their desired injunctions would not likely redress their alleged injuries” as any such relief would only safeguard against future breaches and would not protect “plaintiffs from future misuse of their PII by the individuals they allege now possess it.”

    Courts Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security Appellate First Circuit Data Breach Class Action Consumer Protection


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