On October 10, 2011, Governor Brown signed into law a bill, AB22, that restricts the use of consumer credit reports in the hiring and promotion process.
On August 18, 2011, the Associate General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB" or the "Board") issued a report analyzing the Board's recent social media enforcement actions. The report seeks to provide guidance to employers that want to ensure that their social media policies appropriately balance employee rights and company interests.
We previously reported on our blog that a Connecticut ambulance company settled the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB's) allegations that the company violated an employee's federal rights by firing her for criticizing a manager on Facebook. The NLRB continues its enforcement blitz with another Facebook firing complaint.
On May 16, 2011, EU's Article 29 Working Party (WP29) adopted an opinion setting out privacy compliance guidance for mobile geolocation services.WP29 is comprised of representatives from the EU member states' data protection authorities (DPAs), the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European Commission. WP29's mandate includes (i) giving expert advice to the EU member states regarding the implementation of European data protection directives, and (ii) promoting uniform implementation of the directives in all EU state members as well as in Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. WP29's opinions, therefore, carry significant weight in the interpretation and enforcement of data protection laws by European DPAs. Not surprisingly, WP29 has concluded that geolocation data is "personal data" subject to the protections of the European data protection framework, including the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. The Working Party also determined that the collection, use and other processing of geolocation data through mobile devices generally requires explicit, informed consent of the individual. Below are the highlights of the opinion.
Mr. Kwang Hyun Ryoo, a partner at the Korean law firm of Bae, Kim & Lee LLC, is reporting in the firm's newsletter that on March 29, 2011, Korea enacted a comprehensive personal data protection law, entitled Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). Most of the act's provisions will come into force on September 30, 2011.
As we have reported previously on our blog, federal agencies, including the FTC, NLRB and EEOC have been very active in taking action against privacy and information security violations. This trend continues with the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC's) recent announcement of a settlement with three former executives a brokerage firm (GunnAllen Financial, Inc.). The SEC alleged that the former executives violated the Commission's Privacy Rule and Safeguards Rule (Regulation S-P) and aided and abetted the firm in violating these rules. This enforcement action marks the first time the SEC assessed financial penalties against individuals charged solely with violating Regulation S-P.
The Google Buzz settlement that the Federal Trade Commission announced on March 30, 2011 is the latest in the line of the Commission's numerous Section 5 actions related to privacy and data security violations. The Google Buzz settlement, however, is unique in several important ways. The settlement represents (i) the first FTC settlement order has requires a company to implement a comprehensive privacy program to protect the privacy of consumers' information, and (ii) the Commission's first substantive U.S.-EU Safe Harbor framework enforcement action. Let's dive in (make sure to read the "Action Item" at the conclusion of the post!).
On March 18, 2011, the Oklahoma State House passed the Electric Utility Data Protection Act (House Bill 1079). The state's Senate will consider the bill next.The Act seeks to establish standards to govern the use and disclosure of electric utility usage data (including personal information) by electric utilities, customers of electric utilities and third parties. The Act also requires electric utility companies to maintain the confidentiality of customer data and allow customers to access the data. State Rep. Scott Martin noted that customers will see energy savings from the Smart Grid, but are vulnerable to potential access of their data by third parties. "This legislation should ensure customers can reap the many benefits of this new system without having to fear someone getting access to their data without permission," said Martin. The legislation is said to have the support of the Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company, which has already converted 100,000 standard meters to smart meters in the state and plans to install 800,000 smart meters in the next two years.
This month, federal agencies and FINRA have announced significant privacy enforcement actions that have resulted in millions of dollars in fines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) imposed a $4.3M fine on a health plan for violations of the HIPAA Privacy Rule; the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled with several resellers of consumer reports allegations that the resellers failed to adequately safeguard consumer information; and FINRA imposed a $600K fine on two securities firms for failure to safeguard access to customer records. Here are the details:
Dan Or-Hof, a privacy and technology partner at the Israeli law firm Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer is reporting that a decision by Israel's National Labor Court imposes severe restrictions on the employers' ability to monitor employee emails. Organizations with employees in Israel must promptly take steps to verify that their employee monitoring policies and practices in the country are consistent with the ruling.
Yesterday we wrote on our blog about the NLRB's Facebook firing settlement. I was interviewed on Fox Live this morning about the case, its implications for employees and businesses, and other developments in workplace privacy. You can view the clip at http://video.foxnews.com/v/4531424/facebook-firing-case-settlement/?playlist_id=87937
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has announced that settlement has been reached in the closely watched Facebook firing suit brought by the agency.We have previously reported on our blog that the NLRB filed an administrative complaint against a Connecticut ambulance company alleging that the company violated an employee's federal rights by firing her for criticizing a manager on Facebook. In the complaint, the NLRB took the position that union and non-union employees have a right to criticize their employers, management or working conditions, and cannot be punished for engaging in such protected activity. The NLRB also alleged that the company maintained overly-broad rules in its employee handbook regarding blogging, Internet posting, and communications between employees. The complaint asserted that an employee's right to criticize the employer and management is an extension of the federal right to discuss unionization and form unions.
Dan Or-Hof, a privacy and technology partner at the Israeli law firm Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer is reporting that the EU Commission published the much-anticipated announcement on the adequacy of data protection law in Israel. Published on January 31, 2011, the decision adopted by the Commission determines that Israel provides an adequate level of protection for personal data transferred from the EU, however only in relation to automated international data transfers and to automated processing of data in Israel.
On December 23, 2010, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev signed legislation delaying until July 1, 2011 the enforcement of the country's omnibus data protection law (the Federal Law Regarding Personal Data). Pursuant to the new legislation, the revised effective date for the country's data protection law is January 1, 2011, but operators have until July 1, 2011 to bring their personal data information systems into compliance with the law.
2010 arguably was a breakout year for consumer privacy in the U.S., but the year also brought about significant changes to the legal landscape of employee privacy. Federal and state court decisions, state legislation and agency actions suggest that the U.S. may be moving towards a greater level of privacy protection for employees. Employers are well-advised to consider these developments in reviewing and revising policies that affect the privacy of their employees.