Data Protection

On September 28, 2023, the Cyberspace Administration of China (“CAC”) issued draft Provisions on Standardizing and Promoting Cross-Border Data Flows (Draft for Comment) (规范和促进数据跨境流动规定(征求意见稿)) (draft “Provisions”) (Chinese version available here) for a public consultation, which will conclude on October 15, 2023. 

The draft Provisions propose significant changes to the existing

Updated August 8, 2023.  Originally posted May 1, 2023.

Last week, comment deadlines were announced for a Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that could have significant compliance implications for all holders of international Section 214 authority (i.e., authorization to provide telecommunications services from points in the U.S. to points abroad).  The rule changes on which the FCC seeks comment are far-reaching and, if adopted as written, could result in significant future compliance burdens, both for entities holding international Section 214 authority, as well as the parties holding ownership interests in these entities.  Comments on these rule changes are due Thursday, August 31, with reply comments due October 2.

Adopted in April, the FCC’s item proposing the new rules also includes an Order requiring all holders of international Section 214 authority to respond to a one-time information request concerning their foreign ownership. Although last week’s Federal Register publication sets a comment deadline for the proposed rules, the reporting deadline for the one-time information request has not yet been established.  However, because the FCC has fulfilled its statutory obligations regarding the new information collection presented by the one-time reporting requirement, carriers — as well as entities holding an ownership interest in these carriers — should prepare for the announcement of the reporting deadline.

The FCC’s latest actions underscore the agency’s ongoing desire to closely scrutinize foreign ownership and involvement in telecommunications carriers serving the U.S. market, as well as to play a more active role in cybersecurity policy. These developments should be of interest to any carrier that serves the U.S. market and any financial or strategic investor focused on the telecommunications space, as well as other parties interested in national security developments affecting telecommunications infrastructure.

Proposed Rule Changes for International Section 214 Authority

The FCC’s proposed changes to its regulation of international Section 214 authorizations generally concern additional compliance, disclosure, and reporting requirements. The FCC’s proposed rule changes are far-reaching, but the most notable of the proposals concern the following:Continue Reading Comments Due August 31 on FCC’s Proposal to Step Up Review of Foreign Ownership in Telecom Carriers and Establish Cybersecurity Requirements

On July 18, 2023, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced that she has circulated a proposal to the FCC’s commissioners to create “a voluntary cybersecurity labeling program that would provide consumers with clear information about the security of their Internet-enabled devices.”

According to the text of her announcement (the proposal itself is not

On July 10, 2023, the European Commission adopted its adequacy decision on the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework (“DPF”). The decision, which took effect on the day of its adoption, concludes that the United States ensures an adequate level of protection for personal data transferred from the EEA to companies certified to the DPF. This blog post summarizes the key findings of the decision, what organizations wishing to certify to the DPF need to do and the process for certifying, as well as the impact on other transfer mechanisms such as the standard contractual clauses (“SCCs”), and on transfers from the UK and Switzerland.

Background

The Commission’s adoption of the adequacy decision follows three key recent developments:

  1. the endorsement of the draft decision by a committee of EU Member State representatives;
  2. the designation by the U.S. Department of Justice of the European Union and Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway (which together with the EU form the EEA) as “qualifying states,” for the purposes of President Biden’s Executive Order 14086 on Enhancing Safeguards for U.S. Signals Intelligence Activities (“EO 14086”). This designation enables EU data subjects to submit complaints concerning alleged violations of U.S. law governing signals intelligence activities to the redress mechanism set forth in the Executive Order and implementing regulations (see our previous blog post here); and
  3. updates to the U.S. Intelligence Community’s policies and procedures to implement the safeguards established under EO 14086, announced by the U.S. Office of Director of National Intelligence on July 3, 2023.

The final adequacy decision, which largely corresponds to the Commission’s draft decision (see our prior blog post here), concludes “the United States … ensures a level of protection for personal data transferred from the Union to certified organisations in the United States under the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework that is essentially equivalent to the one guaranteed by [the GDPR]” (para. 201).

Key Findings of the Decision

In reaching the final decision, the Commission confirms a few key points:Continue Reading European Commission Adopts Adequacy Decision on the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework

In the past year, plaintiffs have filed a wave of lawsuits asserting claims under the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”) in connection with the alleged use of third-party pixels on websites that offer video content.  A recent decision establishes the limits of the VPPA’s reach and provides a well-reasoned ground for future motions to dismiss.

On June 22, 2023, the Oregon state legislature passed the Oregon Consumer Privacy Act, S.B. 619 (the “Act”).  This bill resembles the comprehensive privacy statutes in Colorado, Montana, and Connecticut, though there are some notable distinctions.  If passed, Oregon will be the twelfth state to implement a comprehensive privacy statute, joining California, Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut

Last week, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the creation of a new Privacy and Data Protection Task Force (the “Task Force”) to demonstrate the agency’s commitment to protecting consumer data and ensuring that the telecommunications industry remains secure from threat actors.

The Task Force will be led by Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan Egal and include

On April 17, 2023, the Italian Supervisory Authority (“Garante”) published its decision against a company operating digital marketing services finding several GDPR violations, including the use of so-called “dark-patterns” to obtain users’ consent.  The Garante imposed a fine of 300.000 EUR. 

We provide below a brief overview of the Garante’s key findings.

Background

The sanctioned company operated marketing campaigns on behalf of its clients, via text messages, emails and automated calls.  The company’s database of contacts was formed by data collected directly through its online portals (offering news, sweepstakes and trivia), as well as data purchased from data brokers.

Key Findings

Dark patterns.  The Garante found that, during the subscription process, the user was asked for specific consent relating to marketing purposes and sharing of data with third parties for marketing.  If the user did not select either of the checkboxes, a banner would pop-up, indicating the lack of consent, and displaying a prominent consent button.  The site also displayed a “continue without accepting” option, but this was placed at the bottom of the webpage – outside of the pop-up banner – in simple text form and smaller font size, which made it less visible than the “consent” button.  The Garante, referring to the EDPB’s guidelines (see our blogpost here), held that the use of such interfaces and graphic elements constituted “dark patterns” with the aim of pushing individuals towards providing consent.

Double opt-in.  The Garante noted that consent was not adequately documented.  While the company argued that it required a “double opt-in”, the evidence showed that a confirmation request was not consistently sent out to users.  The Garante recalled that double opt-in is not a mandatory requirement in Italy, but constitutes nonetheless an appropriate method to document consent.Continue Reading Italian Garante Fines Digital Marketing Company Over Use of Dark Patterns

On April 11, 2023, the Cyberspace Administration of China (“CAC”) released draft Administrative Measures for Generative Artificial Intelligence Services (《生成式人工智能服务管理办法(征求意见稿)》) (“draft Measures”) (official Chinese version available here) for public consultation.  The deadline for submitting comments is May 10, 2023.

The draft Measures would regulate generative Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) services that are “provided to the public in mainland China.”  These requirements cover a wide range of issues that are frequently debated in relation to the governance of generative AI globally, such as data protection, non-discrimination, bias and the quality of training data.  The draft Measures also highlight issues arising from the use of generative AI that are of particular concern to the Chinese government, such as content moderation, the completion of a security assessment for new technologies, and algorithmic transparency.  The draft Measures thus reflect the Chinese government’s objective to craft its own governance model for new technologies such as generative AI.

Further, and notwithstanding the requirements introduced by the draft Measures (as described in greater detail below), the text states that the government encourages the (indigenous) development of (and international cooperation in relation to) generative AI technology, and encourages companies to adopt “secure and trustworthy software, tools, computing and data resources” to that end. 

Notably, the draft Measures do not make a distinction between generative AI services offered to individual consumers or enterprise customers, although certain requirements appear to be more directed to consumer-facing services than enterprise services.Continue Reading China Proposes Draft Measures to Regulate Generative AI

On March 7, 2023, during the annual National People’s Congress (“NPC”) sessions, China’s State Council revealed its plan to establish a National Data Bureau (NDB) as part of a broader reorganization of government agencies. The plan is being deliberated by the NPC and is expected to be finalized soon. 

According to the draft plan, the new National Data Bureau will be a deputy ministry-level agency under the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), China’s main economic planning agency that is in charge of industrial policies.  The new bureau will be responsible for, among other areas, “coordinating the integration, sharing, development, and utilization of data resources,” and “pushing forward the planning and building of a Digital China, a digital economy, and a digital society.” 

The plan specifies the new agency will take over certain portfolios currently managed by the Communist Party’s Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission (the party organ that supervises the Cyberspace Administration of China, “CAC”) and the NDRC. Specifically, the NDB will assume responsibility for “coordinating the development, utilization, and sharing of important national data resources, and promoting the exchange of data resources across industries and across departments,” a function currently performed by CAC.  The NDB will also absorb the NDRC teams responsible for promoting the development of the digital economy and implementing the national “big data” strategy.Continue Reading China Reveals Plan to Establish a National Data Bureau