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!).