Tag: privacy

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UK consults on new data protection regime
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GDPR: Irish supervisory authority fines WhatsApp 225 million
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UK unveils plan to diverge from GDPR
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Reminder for One-Month Deadline to Implement New SCCs in New Contracts
5
Get with the program – China’s new privacy laws are coming
6
Even the Best Fall Down Sometimes: Nine Network suffers large-scale cyber attack
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City of Oldsmar, Florida narrowly avoids ‘hot water’ in remote cyberattack on its infrastructure
8
A Home Affair: Department of Home Affairs ordered to compensate Asylum Seekers following inadvertent disclosure
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Less than two weeks to go: New Zealand Privacy Act commences 1 December 2020
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Australian Privacy Act Under Review

UK consults on new data protection regime

By Norin McFadden and Claude-Étienne Armingaud

The UK government has unveiled its much-trailed plans to reform its data protection laws, outlined in a consultation document which is open for public comment until 19 November 2021.

Since Brexit was finalised at the start of 2021, the United Kingdom has retained much of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. The government’s plans, if implemented, would see the UK move away from the EU’s approach in several key ways, which may lead to trouble for the continuation of the adequacy decision granted by the EU in June. If terminated, the adequacy decision, currently permitting free flows of personal data between the EU and the UK, could cause increased costs and bureaucracy for businesses on both sides of the Channel to continue their data transfers. 

Some of the changes to the UK GDPR proposed in the consultation document are:

  • Making the legitimate interests lawful basis easier to use, by publishing a limited, exhaustive list of legitimate interests that organisations can use without having to complete a balancing test.
  • Removal of the right to human review of decisions made on the basis of solely automated data processing.
  • Introducing a fee for responding to subject access requests and allowing organisations to refuse to comply with requests at a lower threshold than “manifestly unfounded”, as allowed in the current legislation.

The proposals also introduce potential changes to the UK’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, including:

  • Increasing the current maximum penalty of £500,000 for breaches of the direct marketing regulations to the higher of 4% of global turnover or £17.5 million, thereby matching the maximum penalty under UK GDPR.
  • Removing the requirement for websites to obtain consent before serving some analytics cookies.
  • Extending the “soft opt in” for direct marketing to organisations other than businesses, such as charities and political parties.

GDPR: Irish supervisory authority fines WhatsApp 225 million

By Claude-Etienne Armingaud, Camille Scarparo and Léa Fertani.

Further to investigations initiated by the Data Protection Commission (or DPC, the Irish supervisory authority) in 2018, Whatsapp Ireland Limited has received a EUR 225 million fine on 2 September 2021. The company infringed multiple GDPR provisions including in relation with the information provided to data subjects which breached the obligation to ensure transparency of processing (Articles 13 and 14 GDPR).

Following GDPR’s one-stop-shop mechanism and as WhatsApp operates cross-border flows of personal data, the DPC had initially been designated as lead supervisory authority (‘LSA’). Article 60 GDPR requires the LSA to submit a draft decision to its impacted counterparts across the European Union (the ‘Concerned Supervisory Authorities’). Such draft has been submitted in December 2020 and the Hungarian, Portuguese, Italian, French, Dutch, Polish, German (local and federal) Concerned Supervisory Authorities unanimously raised objections to the DPC in January 2021. The objections mostly addressed the lax approach by the DPC in the assessment of WhatsApp’s breach of GDPR as well as the amount of the initially contemplated fine in view of the dozens of millions of individuals affected by such breach across the European Union.

This resulted in a non-consensual situation, escalading to the dispute resolution process under Article 65 GDPR conducted by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB). The binding decision, adopted on 28 July 2021 and subsequently notified to the DPC, required the Irish supervisory authority to reassess and increase the fine, thus leading to the second-highest fine under GDPR since its entry into force in 2018.

UK unveils plan to diverge from GDPR

By Norin McFadden and Claude-Étienne Armingaud

The UK government has announced that it intends to consult on a new, post-Brexit data protection regime, potentially moving away from the UK General Data Protection Regulation that currently underpins the UK’s data protection legislation. The Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said, “It means reforming our own data laws so that they’re based on common sense, not box-ticking.

A public consultation on the new legislation will follow, but it is clear that the United Kingdom must be careful about any changes it makes to its data regime in order to avoid disrupting the EU-UK adequacy decision with EU GDPR awarded just two months ago. The adequacy decision allows personal data from the European Union to flow freely to the United Kingdom (and vice versa), without businesses needing to put any additional paperwork in place. In granting the adequacy decision, the European Union placed particular emphasis on the fact that the United Kingdom was continuing to base its data protection laws on the same EU GDPR rules that had applied when it was a member of the European Union. A European Commission spokesperson commented that the EU will be closely monitoring any developments in UK data laws and noted that: “In case of problematic developments that negatively affect the level of protection found adequate, the adequacy decision can be suspended, terminated or amended, at any time by the Commission.

It will be interesting to see how far the United Kingdom diverges, particularly as the current trend is that other countries seem to be keen to state that their data protection laws closely follow the EU GDPR.

The UK government also announced that its preferred candidate to be the next Information Commissioner, head of the UK data protection regulator, will be John Edwards, currently in charge of New Zealand’s data regulator, a country that also maintains an EU adequacy decision.

Reminder for One-Month Deadline to Implement New SCCs in New Contracts

By Jake Bernstein and Jane Petoskey

In early June 2021, the European Commission published a new set of standard contractual clauses (SCCs) effective June 27, 2021 for cross-border data transfers and between controllers and processors.  The new SCCs cover changes in data protection laws, including the invalidation of the EU-US Privacy Shield and the fallout from the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) Schrems II opinion (regarding US intelligence laws). The new cross-border data transfer SCCs also use a modular approach to allow for more accurate identification of roles and responsibilities of the contracting parties.  In terms of timing, organizations may use the old SCCs in new contracts until September 27, 2021, and contracts existing before September 27, 2021 must change to the new SCCs by December 27, 2022. For additional information on the SCCs, read our K&L Gates EU Data Protection Alert here.

Please do not hesitate to contact the K&L Gates LLP Cybersecurity and Privacy team of attorneys if you need assistance updating new or existing contracts with the new SCCs by the above deadlines.

Get with the program – China’s new privacy laws are coming

By Cameron Abbott and Ella Richards

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) passed the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) on Friday the 20th of August 2021. The new privacy regime strengthens the protection around the use and collection of personal data and introduces a new requirement for user consent.

The PIPL, closely resembling the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, prevents the personal data of PRC nationals from being transferred to countries with lower standards of data security; a rule that may pose inherent problems for foreign businesses. The PIPL was introduced following an increase in online scamming and individual service price discrimination – where the same service is offered at different prices based on a user’s shopping profile. However, while businesses and some state entities face stronger collection obligations, the PRC state security department will maintain full access to personal data.

Although the final draft of the PIPL is yet to be released, the new law is set to commence on the 1st of November 2021. Companies will face fines of up to 50 million yuan ($7.6 million USD), or 5% percent of their annual turnover if they fail to comply. For an in-depth discussion of the Draft PIPL released in August 2020, see our K&L Gates publication here.

Even the Best Fall Down Sometimes: Nine Network suffers large-scale cyber attack

By Cameron Abbott, Warwick Andersen, Rob Pulham and Max Evans

Channel Nine has suffered the largest cyber attack on a media company in Australia’s history, according to reports from IT News, the AFR and Nine News.

The cyber attack, reported by Channel Nine as a variation of a ransomware attack, struck early Sunday morning, resulting in television and digital production systems being offline for more than 24 hours. The attack impaired Channel Nine’s ability to broadcast from its Sydney studios, forcing the media outlet to shift operations to its Melbourne studios.

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City of Oldsmar, Florida narrowly avoids ‘hot water’ in remote cyberattack on its infrastructure

By Cameron AbbottRob Pulham and Jacqueline Patishman

News reports have surfaced reporting that a hacker in the US gained access to the Oldsmar’s water treatment plant system in an attempt to release a corrosive chemical into the Oldsmar’s water supply.

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A Home Affair: Department of Home Affairs ordered to compensate Asylum Seekers following inadvertent disclosure

By Cameron Abbott, Warwick Andersen, Michelle Aggromito and Max Evans

As a result of a recent class action, the Department of Home Affairs has been ordered by the Australian Information Commissioner, Angelene Falk, to pay compensation to asylum seekers after the Department was found to have interfered with the privacy of 9,251 detainees.

According to a media release from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) , the relevant breach stemmed from February 2014, where the Department published on its website a “Detention Report”, which had embedded within it a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet containing the personal information (including full names, date of birth and period of immigration detention) of 9,258 individuals who were in immigration detention at that time.

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Less than two weeks to go: New Zealand Privacy Act commences 1 December 2020

By Cameron Abbott and Keely O’Dowd

On 1 December 2020, the New Zealand Privacy Act 2020 will come into operation and repeal and replace the Privacy Act 1993.

The Privacy Act 2020 modernises New Zealand’s privacy laws and seeks to keep pace with international standards and technology. While New Zealand’s new privacy legislation is not as onerous as other international privacy laws, such as the GDPR, it still introduces significant changes including:

  • mandatory data breach notification;
  • new investigative and regulatory powers for the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner; and
  • new criminal offences and penalties, including fines of up to $10,000.
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Australian Privacy Act Under Review

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Keely O’Dowd

In December 2019, the Australian Government announced it would conduct a review of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

A year has almost passed and finally the Australian Government has publicly released details about the review. On 30 October 2020, the Australian Government released the Terms of Reference of the review. In particular, the review will cover:

  • The scope and application of the Privacy Act
  • Whether the Privacy Act effectively protects personal information and provides a practical and proportionate framework for promoting good privacy practices
  • Whether individuals should have direct rights of action to enforce privacy obligations under the Privacy Act
  • Whether a statutory tort for serious invasions of privacy should be introduced into Australian law
  • The impact of the notifiable data breach scheme and its effectiveness in meeting its objectives
  • The effectiveness of enforcement powers and mechanisms under the Privacy Act and how they interact with other Commonwealth regulatory frameworks
  • The desirability and feasibility of an independent certification scheme to monitor and demonstrate compliance with Australian privacy laws.
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