Author - Commercial Technology and Sourcing Melbourne

1
What is Required under The PIPL: A PRC-Based Representative or a Personal Information Protection Officer?
2
EU-REPUBLIC OF KOREA ADEQUACY DECISIONS FINALIZED
3
New GDPR Guidelines on Data Transfers
4
And it’s here! China’s new privacy laws come into effect
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FACIAL RECOGNITION REVERSION – FACEBOOK TO SHUT DOWN FACIAL RECOGNITION SYSTEM, AUSTRALIAN REGULATOR CRACKS DOWN
6
Long awaited increase to privacy breach penalties – a step closer to reality
7
Good practice – the storage of COVID-19 vaccination certificates
8
Ransomware plan of action
9
Privacy obligations when collecting COVID-19 vaccination status
10
Reminder for our Apple-friendly readers

What is Required under The PIPL: A PRC-Based Representative or a Personal Information Protection Officer?

By Dr. Amigo L. Xie, Xiaotong Wang, Grace Ye and Yibo Wu

Multinational entities with operations in or having businesses with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) should take note of the PRC’s new Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), which took effect on 1 November 2021 and is extraterritorial in scope and effect. 

This alert lays out the differences between the requirements under Article 52 PIPL (PIPO appointment) and Article 53 PIPL (PRC-based representative appointment / establishment of an agency in the PRC). It also examines statutory obligations under PIPL upon designated personnel and highlights important sector-specific regulations and provincial and municipal government practices.

Click here to read the full alert.

EU-REPUBLIC OF KOREA ADEQUACY DECISIONS FINALIZED

By Claude-Etienne Armingaud, Andrew L. Chung, Camille Scarparo and Eric Yoon

Following the conclusion of the adequacy talks in March 2021, the European Commission has adopted on 17 December 2021 an adequacy decision addressing the transfers of personal data to the Republic of Korea under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Law Enforcement Directive.

Both texts prohibit the transfer of personal data to “third countries” unless (a) the destination country benefits from (i) an adequacy decision or (ii) appropriate safeguards, such as standard contractual clauses (see our alert here) or codes of conduct (see our alert here); or (b) one of the limited derogations under Article 49 GDPR applies.

With regards to the adequacy talks, the Republic of Korea agreed on the implementation of additional safeguards. Accordingly, the reform of Republic of Korea’s data protection framework (the Personal Information Protection Act) in August 2020, implemented several additional safeguards including transparency provisions and enforcement power strengthening of the Personal Information Protection Commission (§70).

The Republic of Korea adequacy decision complements the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) of July 2011 and allows a seamless flow of personal data between the Republic of Korea and the European Union.

Unlike the UK adequacy decision which contains a sunset clause (see our alert here), the Republic of Korea adequacy decision is not limited in time. However, pursuant to Article 45.3 GDPR, the European Commission carry out a first review of the decision after three years to evaluate any evolution in the Republic of Korea data protection framework, that would lead to divergence with the EU regulations (§220). 

The Republic of Korea now belongs to the increasing group of third countries benefiting from an adequacy decision (including, since GDPR’s entry into force, Japan and the UK).

The firm’s global data protection team (including in each of our European offices) remains available to assist you in achieving the compliance of your data transfers at global levels.

New GDPR Guidelines on Data Transfers

Claude-Étienne Armingaud, Camille Scarparo and Bastien Pujol

On 19 November 2021, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) adopted new guidelines on the interplay between Article 3 GDPR (territorial scope) and Chapter V GDPR (transfer of personal data to third countries or international organization) of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).

Those draft Guidelines aim at clarifying the mechanism of international transfers and more specifically provide a necessary assistance to controllers and processors in the European Union (“EU”) or otherwise subject to GDPR, including guidance on when a data importer would be subject to GDPR and an interpretation of the concept of international transfer.

In order to characterize a processing as a “transfer”, the EDPB relied on the three following cumulative criteria:

  1. The data exporter (a controller or processor) is subject to the GDPR for the given processing;
    • As a reminder, while GDPR generally applies to all entities processing personal data and established in the EU, it can also have an extra territorial reach for certain processing operations consisting in (i) offering products or services to individuals in the EU (e.g. ecommerce and apps) or (ii) monitoring of EU individuals’ behavior taking place in the EU (e.g. cookies and other tracking technologies).
  2. The data exporter transmits or makes available the personal data to the data importer (another controller, joint-controller or processor); and
    • In that regard, the mere remote access to the data would still qualify as a “data transfer” and it remains to be hopefully clarified in the final Guidelines whether the sharing of personal data among joint-controllers (both subject to GDPR from the inception of the processing operations) would in and of itself be considered as a data transfer.
  3. The data importer is in a third-country or is an international organization.

In addition, a processing that meets these three criteria will be considered a transfer when the importer is established in a third-country and subject to the GDPR following provisions of article 3.2 GDPR. The EDPB considered that when the controller located in a third-country is already subject to GDPR, “less protection/safeguards are needed”. Nevertheless, conflicting national laws, government access in the third-country as well as the difficulty to enforce and obtain redress against an entity outside the EU should be addressed when developing relevant transfer tools.

The EDPB specified that personal data directly collected from the data subjects, at their own initiative, should not to be considered as a transfer.

An online public consultation is opened on the matter until 31 January 2022.

And it’s here! China’s new privacy laws come into effect

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Ella Richards

On 1 November 2021 the People’s Republic of China (PRC) effected the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL).

The PIPL joins existing Cybersecurity Law and Data Security Law to broaden privacy obligations within the PRC. This comprehensive legislation governs the treatment of personal information within the PRC and strengthens the existing data localisation requirements.

Our colleagues have summarised the PIPL Draft Bill here and prepared advice on the collection of employee’s personal information under the PIPL here.         

FACIAL RECOGNITION REVERSION – FACEBOOK TO SHUT DOWN FACIAL RECOGNITION SYSTEM, AUSTRALIAN REGULATOR CRACKS DOWN

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham, Max Evans and James Gray

Facebook (now referred to as Meta) has announced that it will shut down its decade-old Face Recognition system as part of a company-wide move to reduce the use of facial recognition.

The shutdown will see Facebook delete more than one billion individuals’ facial recognition templates and cease automatically recognising them in photos and videos posted to the platform. Facebook is no stranger to facial recognition controversy, having reached a $550 million USD settlement following an Illinois class action over the non-consensual collection and storing of users’ biometric information.

In its announcement, Facebook highlighted the benefits of facial recognition technology, such as improving accessibility for the visually impaired, but also conceded that regulatory uncertainty and growing concerns about the potential misuse of the technology outweighed those positive use cases.

The voluntary move by Facebook may be a prudent risk reduction step in Australia given there have been recent moves by the Australian privacy regulator against the indiscriminate use of facial recognition tools, including recently ordering an organisation to cease collecting and to destroy its existing facial images and biometric templates in respect of Australian individuals.

This certainly isn’t the end for facial recognition systems. Facebook suggested in its announcement that it intends to develop future applications for the technology once the IT environment allows for greater transparency, user control and privacy. We will keep you posted.

Long awaited increase to privacy breach penalties – a step closer to reality

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham, Max Evans and Ella Richards

On October 25 the Australian Attorney-General’s Department released a draft bill amending the Privacy Act 1988 (the Draft Bill), inviting industry submissions by 6 December 2021.

We have been hearing about an alignment with Australian consumer and competition law penalties for quite some time – and the Draft Bill does not disappoint.

Under the Draft Bill, the maximum penalties applicable to companies for serious or repeated privacy breaches will increase to the greater of:

  • $10 million
  • three times the value of any benefit obtained through the misuse of information, or
  • 10% of the corporate group’s annual Australian turnover.

The Draft Bill also enables the introduction of an online privacy code, covering a wide scope of organisations to regulate social media services, large online platforms and data brokerage services. It is expected that industry will be given the first opportunity to develop the code, for approval by the Commissioner – with the ability for the Commissioner to develop the code in certain circumstances.

Finally, the Draft Bill introduces information sharing powers to facilitate greater engagement between the Information Commissioner and law enforcement bodies, alternative complaint bodies and State, Territory or foreign privacy regulators. This means the Information Commissioner or the receiving authority will be able to share information and documents to more effectively exercise their respective functions and powers.

With regulators banding together, maximum penalties becoming meaningful and a binding online privacy code on the horizon – there has never been a better time to get your Privacy house in order!

Good practice – the storage of COVID-19 vaccination certificates

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Ella Richards

As the public’s focus in NSW and Victoria turns quickly to reopening and emerging from lockdowns, we have experienced an increased focus across the country on vaccination rates. Public health orders and laws in several Australian jurisdictions have changed to require businesses to, amongst other things, collect, store and hold vaccine information about their workers, and to take steps to ensure unvaccinated persons do not enter their premises.

This has led to businesses collecting vaccination information including in the form of government-issued COVID-19 vaccination certificates. However the collection of this information creates additional legal and cyber security risks. Some federal government issued certificates contain an individual healthcare identifier (IHI) – a number individually identifies an Australian for healthcare purposes (it is more sensitive than your Medicare number). The IHI combined with the individual’s name and date of birth creates an attractive opportunity for cyber criminals. It is so sensitive that it comes with its own specific legislation sanctions including criminal penalties for breach.

Businesses should ensure they have the right processes in place when collecting and storing this kind of information to avoid exposure to civil and criminal penalties, including up to two years’ imprisonment for improper use or disclosure of an IHI.

For more information on the appropriate processes for collection and storage of vaccination information, please contact Cameron Abbott from our Privacy team. K&L Gates will keep you informed of any further updates.

Ransomware plan of action

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Ella Richards

Following the 60% increase in ransomware attacks over the past year, the Department of Home Affairs has released a Ransomware Action Plan – proposing to introduce mandatory reporting requirements for companies who have been hit by a ransomware attack.

Under the proposal, companies with a turnover of $10 million or more per year will be required to inform the Australian Cyber Security Centre soon after experiencing a ransomware attack and will face civil penalties if they fail to comply. The government is also planning to introduce a standalone offence for cybercriminals who seek to target critical infrastructure as part of the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2020.

This document is part of Australia’s overarching 2020 Cyber Security Strategy, with industry and community consultation anticipated in the near future. Stand by for further developments.

Privacy obligations when collecting COVID-19 vaccination status

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Ella Richards

Some Australian jurisdictions have imposed obligations on businesses and employers to either sight, or collect and hold, information about their workers’ COVID-19 vaccination status, or to take reasonable steps to ensure unvaccinated individuals do not enter their worksites or premises. For example, on 7 October 2021, the Premier of Victoria released Directions that require employers to collect information about workers’ COVID-19 vaccination status before allowing them to work anywhere outside of the employees’ usual place of residence. Industry-specific obligations (with some differences to those Directions) also apply to some settings such as education, construction and healthcare. Similarly, under public health orders in New South Wales, certain businesses from 11 October 2021 must take reasonable steps to ensure people who are not fully vaccinated do not enter their premises.

The Victorian Government Directions for workers are in effect from today, 15 October 2021, meaning that many employees must provide proof of either receiving their first dose or having booked their first dose by 22 October 2021.

To comply with privacy obligations (including under applicable health records legislation), employers must provide employees with a clear collection statement that outlines, among other things:

  1. the types of sensitive information that the employer is collecting;
  2. the purpose of the collection;
  3. who the employer may disclose the information to, including specifying if any of these parties are outside of Australia; and
  4. a reference to the employer’s Privacy Policy that applies to the information collected about employees.

Even where a business is not subject to these mandatory collection requirements, they may wish to collect this information from employees to assist the business to maintain a safe and secure working environment (including, for example, to provide encouragement to staff to get vaccinated – subject to the requirements around providing incentives to do so).

If you would like advice on your Privacy obligations as an employer, please reach out to Cameron Abbott from our Privacy team. For further information on the Victorian Government Directions, see the Alert from our K&L Gates employment team here.

Reminder for our Apple-friendly readers

By Cameron Abbott and Ella Richards

Apple has released critical security updates for a vulnerability found by researchers at Citizen Lab for several Apple devices. This includes all iPhones, iPads, Mac Computers, Apple Watches and the Safari Web Browser.

The vulnerability could allow a threat actor to infect devices with spyware without the users knowledge. Once infected, the threat actor could then perform any action on the device that a normal user would. This could include actions like turning the camera and microphone on or recording messages, texts, emails, and phone calls.

Apple encourages all users of their products to update their devices as soon as possible.

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