EU Artificial Intelligence Act – Legislation Adopted by the European Council

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The long-awaited European Union Artificial Intelligence Act (the AI Act) is nearing implementation following its adoption by the European Council yesterday (21 May 2024). This signals the completion of the final major stage of the European Union (EU) legislative process and the AI Act is expected to enter into force imminently. We considered the impact of this legislation in detail in our previous article: EU Artificial Intelligence Act — Final Form Legislation Endorsed by European Parliament.

The only remaining formalities are the signature of the President and Secretary-General of the European Parliament and Council and publication in the Official Journal, which is expected to happen in the coming days. The AI Act will enter into force 20 days after this takes place. The AI Act will become fully applicable 24 months after its entry into force (June 2026). However, some provisions will apply before that date.

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NIST Releases Cybersecurity Framework 2.0

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On February 26, 2024, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released the NIST Cybersecurity Framework 2.0 (CSF 2.0). CSF 2.0 represents the first major update to the Cybersecurity Framework, which was first released in February 2014. CSF 2.0 provides an increased focus on entities’ governance functions and broadens the CSF’s scope. For companies subject to state and federal standards demanding “reasonable security,” CSF 2.0 is particularly important because it could very well become the de facto standard of care under various cybersecurity and data privacy laws.

Focus on Governance

CSF 2.0 builds on the five high-level functions from CSF 1.0 (Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover) by introducing a new core function—Govern. This function focuses on ensuring that an organization’s cybersecurity risk management strategy, expectations, and policies are established, communicated, and monitored. In particular, this new core function emphasizes that an organization’s cybersecurity framework must be (i) based on the organization’s individual circumstances, goals, and risk appetite; (ii) well established and communicated within the organization to ensure compliance and continuity; and (iii) continually reviewed and improved.

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Bletchley Park AI Safety Summit 2023

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On 1 and 2 November 2023, world leaders, politicians, computer scientists and tech executives attended the global AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park in the UK. Key political attendees included US Vice President Kamala Harris, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Industry leaders also attended, including Elon Musk, Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky, and Microsoft president Brad Smith.

Day 1: The Bletchley Declaration

On the first day of the summit, 28 countries and the EU signed the Bletchley Declaration (“Declaration”). The Declaration establishes an internationally shared understanding of the risks and opportunities of AI and the need for sustainable technological development to protect human rights and to foster public trust and confidence in AI systems. In addition to the EU, signatories include the UK, the US and, significantly, China. Nevertheless, there are notable absences, most obviously, Russia.

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The UK’s Online Safety Bill – Implications for US and International Businesses

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On 19 September 2023, the UK Parliament passed the Online Safety Bill (“OSB”). The OSB aims to protect individuals from illegal online content and focuses on the protection of children by requiring the removal of content that is legal but harmful to children. For example, social media platforms will be required to act rapidly to prevent children from viewing illegal material, or content that is harmful to them, such as pornography, online bullying, and the promotion of suicide, self-harm or eating disorders. The definition of illegal content covers content that is already unlawful under existing legislation, such as terrorism, hate speech and child sexual exploitation, and introduces new offences relating to more recent online phenomena such as revenge pornography, and ‘upskirting’ and ‘downblousing’ images. This is one of the most significant pieces of UK legislation post-Brexit and shows a distinctly UK approach to online harms, which businesses operating globally will need to comply with. This will need to be reviewed in parallel with the EU Digital Services Act, which has similar goals in making Europe a safe online environment.

A date for Royal Assent (when the OSB will become law) is expected shortly. The OSB’s wide scope makes it likely to result in implementation problems and potential challenges resulting from the impact the OSB is likely to have on freedom of expression and personal privacy. The underlying principles of the OSB are very different to those familiar with US laws and the constitutional protections for free speech. The risks of non-compliance will be significant, with extremely high potential fines of up to 10% of a company’s global revenue.

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Cybersecurity Enforcement Update: New York Department of Financial Services Announces Amended Cybersecurity Regulations and Latest Multi-Million-Dollar Cybersecurity Enforcement Settlement & FTC Settles Matter Involving Unsecured Genetic Data

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Recent enforcement actions and announcements show that state and federal regulators are continuing to focus intensely on cybersecurity and data protection. Notably, the New York Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”) recently issued the latest proposed amendments to its Cybersecurity Regulations. NYDFS also recently announced a $4.25 million cybersecurity consent order with OneMain Financial Group, LLC (“OneMain”). In addition, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently announced a settlement with genetic testing company 1Health.io (“1Health”).

New Proposed Amendments to NYDFS Cybersecurity Regulations

The NYDFS recently announced updated proposed amendments to its industry leading cybersecurity regulations. These latest amendments follow public comments on earlier proposed amendments circulated in November 2022. If adopted, companies regulated by NYDFS would face several new requirements, including the following:

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The European Commission Adopts Adequacy Decision on EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework

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On 10 July 2023, the European Commission adopted its long-awaited adequacy decision for the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework (the DPF). With immediate effect, the adequacy decision provides a new lawful basis for transfers from the EU to the U.S. This means that companies that participate in the DPF are able to transfer data from the EU to the U.S. without relying on another data transfer mechanism, such as Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) or binding corporate rules (BCRs).

Background to the Adequacy Decision

Pursuant to Article 45(3) of the GDPR, the European Commission has the power, by means of an adequacy decision, to decide that a non-EU country has sufficient standards of data protection to be treated as equivalent to those afforded in the EU.

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