The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (the “Court”) vacated a $4,348,000 civil monetary penalty (“CMP”) imposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (“HHS-OCR”) in 2017 against the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (“MD Anderson”) for alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) Privacy Rule and HIPAA Security Rule. The Court held that OCR’s actions were “arbitrary, capricious, and otherwise unlawful” and remanded the case for further proceedings. While the case is not binding precedent outside the Fifth Circuit, MD Anderson is the first HIPAA Covered Entity to appeal its fine to a Circuit Court since the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule took effect. The ruling likely will motivate future HIPAA settlement negotiations with HHS-OCR and encourage HIPAA Covered Entities to appeal enforcement outcomes they consider unreasonable.
As the COVID era drags on, it is clear that work life “post-COVID” may be very different from life “pre-COVID.” This is especially true as it relates to IT security. More and more employees have shifted to a telecommuting work model, and for many businesses that may be the case for an indefinite period of time. This raises important questions as to which security improvements or other changes IT departments need to make in 2021 to keep their businesses and client data safer from cyberattacks.
Privacy laws continue to proliferate both across U.S. states and at the international level, making it imperative for businesses to implement strong and adaptive data governance programs. In the latest episode of the Faegre Drinker on Law and Technology Podcast, host Jason G. Weiss and guests Mary Devlin Capizzi and Peter Blenkinsop look back on the evolution of privacy laws over the last 20 years, evaluate the impact of recent laws and how they may shape the future of privacy regulations, and provide some helpful guidance for companies working to stay on top of this evolving regulatory landscape.
It is estimated that by the end of 2020, there will be more than 50,000,000,000 (yes, billion) connected devices that are part of the Internet of Things (IoT). This is a five million percent increase in IoT devices over the last 20 years. Most of these devices are designed and manufactured for use in homes and vehicles or are wearable devices. These devices include everything from home security cameras to baby monitors, thermostats, car ignition starters, smart watches and even medical devices, such as pacemakers. There are literally thousands of different types of IoT devices that integrate into almost every aspect of your home and work life.
As COVID-19 vaccine approvals and eventual distribution kicks into high gear, there has been a corresponding – and not particularly surprising – increase in cyber threat activity targeting both vaccine producers and other companies involved in the vaccine distribution chain. Most notably, “cold chain” companies responsible for safely storing and transporting the vaccines have been targeted. The problem has become so severe that both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently issued a joint security alert on December 3, 2020 highlighting the risk to the coronavirus vaccine distribution chain.
Following on from last week’s big announcement by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) on its expectations for international data transfers after the European Court of Justice’s July 16 Schrems II decision, the European Commission released a draft set of new Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) and a draft implementing decision. The Commission’s draft set of clauses allows for two new types of transfer and contains important updates to bring the text of the clauses in line with the General Data Protection Regulation. The draft documents are now available for public consultation, and both the EDPB and the European Data Protection Supervisor will be asked for their opinions on the documents. Following the Schrems II decision, many organizations have been waiting for guidance on additional safeguards and for the (long overdue) arrival of updated Standard Contractual Clauses. While the last few days have seen some welcome developments after a period of hiatus, organizations will likely need some time to assess the practical implications before making radical changes to international data transfer arrangements.
For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.