California Remains a Privacy Bellwether
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June 15, 2021
Welcome to Privacy Insider, a round-up of the week's most important stories.
Hello! Happy mid-June! While things sometimes slow down in the summertime as legislatures adjourn for breaks and the EU prepares for its August off, there have still been some significant developments in the last week.
While the news that Amazon could soon face a $425 fine for violations of the EU General Data Protection Regulation is pretty sexy, I'm more interested in the news out of the EU's highest court on which DPA can take action in privacy enforcement and when (story #3 below).
It indicates some problems with the EU General Data Protection Regulation's one-stop-shop mechanism. In practice, it aims to streamline data privacy enforcement by identifying a lead data protection authority for each company, depending on its geolocation. The idea is that each regulator can handle its jurisdictions' enforcement cases, with backup from two other DPAs. But the problem has been that each member state's DPA has a different sized staff, personality and speed. In addition, many companies have EU headquarters in countries like Ireland, leading to an overburden of cases and subsequent complaints about the efficiency with which it performs its duties.
This week, the European Court of Justice has ruled that DPAs could ostensibly take action even if they aren't the lead authority in a case. That differs from the unified approach anticipated and could lead to an uptick in privacy enforcement.
However, the court said that this could only happen in certain circumstances, and it's not yet clear what those circumstances are.
Enjoy reading, and I'll see you next week!
Colorado's new privacy law: What is it?
Last week, Colorado dominated the privacy Twittersphere when it announced its privacy law had passed the state's legislature. The Colorado Privacy Act contains some similarities to California and Virginia's privacy laws with some fundamental changes, including its provisions on how companies handle "sensitive data." Here, learn which businesses the law captures and where you should start to become compliant ahead of its 2023 effective date.
2. Amazon likely to face $425 million fine for alleged GDPR violations
Amazon could face a $425 million fine under the EU General Data Protection Regulation, Reuters reports. Luxembourg's data protection authority (DPA), which is Amazon's DPA since its EU headquarters is there, has circulated a draft decision to the 26 other DPAs. The specific allegations against Amazon haven't been made public but relate to the company's collection and use of personal data and not its cloud services, the report states. DPAs must agree on the fine before it can be final.
3. CJEU ruling could mean increased EU privacy litigation
The Court of Justice of the European Union (Europe's highest court) ruled today that in certain circumstances, national data protection authorities (DPA) can take action even if they aren't the designated lead DPA. It's significant because of the number of complaints recently about DPAs not moving fast enough in data privacy investigations. The ruling stems from an initial case by the Belgian DPA against Facebook's cookie tracking of non-users, TechCrunch reports.
4. IKEA fined $1.2 million for allegedly spying on employees
A French court has ordered furniture retailer IKEA to pay $1.2 million for spying on its French staff, Reuters reports. Ingka Group, which owns most IKEA stores worldwide, faces the fine after its French branch was found guilty of "improperly gathering and storing data on its employees." The group was accused of reviewing employees' bank accounts, targeting union leaders and paying for access to police files.
5. A roundup of Apple's forthcoming privacy and security features
WIRED reports on the privacy and security changes Apple announced last week coming to iOS and macOS. Among the highlights is Apple Mail's new feature called "Mail Privacy Protection," which aims to stop marketers and others from collecting tracking pixels embedded in emails that can deliver information back to the sender, such as a user's location and software platform. Its new "App Privacy Report" will allow users to see how many times an app has accessed information like location, camera and contacts.
6. WhatsApp launches privacy campaign following backlash
Following significant backlash over changes to its terms and conditions, WhatsApp has launched a privacy-focused advertising campaign, BBC News reports. The company also said it is "standing firm against pressure from governments … to compromise on the way that it encrypts messages," the report states. WhatsApp is banned in China and has filed suit against the Indian government over rules that would force it to break its own encryption policies.
The Osano staff is a diverse team of free thinkers who enjoy working as part of a distributed team with the common goal of working to make a more transparent internet. Occasionally, the team writes under the pen name of our mascot, “Penny, the Privacy Pro.”