The law and policy of internet and digital technology use

Author Archives: Neil Riemann

FTC Updates COPPA Guidance for Connected Toys

COPPA regulates websites and online services that collect personal information from kids under 13. The FTC revised its COPPA Compliance Plan for businesses a few days ago. The major revisions address “changes in technology,” namely the proliferation of connected toys and other internet-connected devices aimed at kids.

In this revised guidance, the FTC concludes that online services include internet-connected toys and other internet-connected devices that collect personal information from children under 13. If a toy or device collects pictures of the child, for example, it’s covered. If it records the child’s actions or voice, that’s covered too. If it uses persistent identifiers associated with a child, that’s also in. The same for toys that collect geolocation data which would disclose the child’s location.

If you make an implicated product, you’ll need a COPPA-compliant privacy policy. A compliant policy properly discloses the PI your business collects from kids, as well as that collected by any third-party. The policy must also explain parents’ rights under COPPA. You’ll also have to give affected parents direct notice of these things and get their verified consent to the collection of PI.

The new Plan does identify two new options for obtaining verified parental consent—knowledge-based authentication questions and facial recognition against a verified photo ID.

COPPA makes some exceptions. The FTC views these exceptions as applicable to “a narrow class of personal information” in “certain circumstances.” Be careful if you intend to rely on one of them.

HIPAA and the Cloud—Considerations for Cloud Service Providers Serving Covered Entities and Business Associates

This is the flip side of last week’s post. Here’s a quick summary of some key compliance points for Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) who serve medical practitioners and their business associates. (1) Information de-identified per HIPAA’s Privacy Rule is not ePHI. If that’s all a CSP is hosting, HIPAA will not regulate the hosting. (2) CSPs can… Continue Reading

HIPAA and the Cloud—Considerations for Covered Entities and Business Associates Using Cloud Providers

Here’s a quick summary of key compliance points arising from the use of “Cloud Service Providers” (CSPs) by medical providers. (1) Providers can use a CSP. (2) The CSP is a “Business Associate” subject to HIPAA. This is true even if it holds only encrypted electronic personal health information (ePHI). (3) This means providers can only use… Continue Reading

US Issues “Significant Guidance” on Privacy Rights of Transgender Students

A couple of months ago, the civil rights units of the United States Departments of Justice and Education issued a “significant guidance” letter to schools concerning the requirements of Title IX and FERPA that apply to transgender students. The anti-discrimination aspects of this guidance got fair play in the press, but the privacy notes were overlooked.… Continue Reading

Clinical Research Apps, Reidentification, and Informed Consent

I saw a thought-provoking article in Gizmodo the other day about a clinical research app Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) has developed using Apple’s open-source ResearchKit framework. The article featured this rather alarming headline: Apple’s Health Experiment is Riddled with Privacy Problems. GSK’s Patient Rheumatoid Arthritis Data from the Real World (PARADE) study will use the app to track… Continue Reading

North Carolina Criminalizes Nonconsensual Geotracking

The North Carolina General Assembly recently amended NC’s cyberstalking law to prohibit nonconsensual geotracking. The Governor hasn’t signed it yet, but he almost certainly will. Sponsored by Senators Fletcher Hartsell and Josh Stein, the amendment makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly geotrack another or cause her to be geotracked, absent her consent. There are 11… Continue Reading

NAIC Adopts Cybersecurity Principles

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Cybersecurity Task Force just adopted regulatory guidance on cybersecurity. This guidance for regulators comes in the form of 12 “Principles for Effective Cybersecurity” designed to promote uniformity in an industry regulated by the states. Most of the principles are standard issue stuff: regulators must ensure protection for PII collected, stored, or… Continue Reading

Markey Report Highlights Security Issues with Car Electronics

United States Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts recently issued a report on the security of car electronics. How secure are they? Not very. Today’s cars contain more than 50 networked electronic control units that may collect data, some of which are collecting data we might not want collected and some or all of which are typically vulnerable to… Continue Reading

White House Issues Interim Progress Report on Big Data

Earlier this month, the White House released its Interim Progress Report on implementation of the recommendations made by its big data and privacy working group. Highlights: (1) Draft legislation implementing a revised Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights (first published for comment in 2012) will be released by the end of the month. (2) The administration… Continue Reading

FINRA’s Report on Cybersecurity Practices

FINRA just published a report on the cybersecurity practices of member firms based on the targeted examinations it recently conducted on this very topic. While the report  claims that it creates no new legal or regulatory requirements, it doesn’t read that way, and broker-dealers would be foolish to overlook it. (NB: Cybersecurity goes beyond protecting customer information from disclosure to hackers.… Continue Reading