We spoke with Stacey Brandenburg and Kandi Parsons, two Shareholders with ZwillGen who advise clients on privacy and security for technology-related matters. Stacey and Kandi shared their expertise with us on privacy trends that need our close attention this year.
With the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) poised to receive a new chairman and three new commissioners, 2018 could be a year of heightened activity on privacy and security issues. While it is too early to know whether the new leadership will increase the Commission’s enforcement efforts, we can anticipate many issues to watch. Here are just a few:
Connected devices (such as thermostats and doorbells) are increasingly prevalent, and they implicate myriad privacy and security issues. Devices should be sufficiently secured to prevent unauthorized access, and disclosures to users should be clear and fulsome. The FTC likely will be monitoring this space to identify insufficient practices and to provide guidance in this area.
Cases and guidance regarding children’s privacy are always popular with the FTC and other regulators. We anticipate additional COPPA cases, potentially as applied to advertisers or connected toys. We also expect the FTC and Department of Education to issue joint guidance for education technology providers.
Blockchain, connected cars, and cross-device tracking are just a few of the hot, new technologies that the FTC featured during its workshops in 2017. And the agency just announced a cryptocurrency case, involving an alleged “get rich quick” type scheme. See FTC Shuts Down Promoters of Deceptive Cryptocurrency Schemes. As mainstream companies adopt these technologies and others like artificial intelligence, we expect policy guidance, and potentially more enforcement, from the FTC regarding consumer disclosures and use restrictions for certain data.
As the Commission grapples with what is sufficient to establish an injury in privacy cases, we expect that the FTC will refocus its energies on cases with demonstrable harm such as in security cases and on deception cases where injury is not required. Additionally, the FTC likely will continue to utilize other statutory tools, such as Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which contains security requirements, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, to bring its cases. See, e.g., In the Matter of PayPal.
In addition to the FTC’s efforts in the privacy and security space, the State Attorneys General are exercising their authority to address these issues, and we expect that trend will continue and broaden over the next year.
ZwillGen has built a strong practice counseling leading Internet and tech companies and handling their high profile online legal issues. Their scope of experience gives clients the fullest range of services to tackle emerging legal threats and the ever-changing business environment. Some of the biggest names in technology rely on ZwillGen to respond to and resolve their most serious legal challenges. To learn more visit: https://www.zwillgen.com.
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