- Do Update Privacy Policies. Even if your
company previously was not subject to certain laws, such as the
EU's General Data Protection Regulation, or California's
California Consumer Privacy Act as modified by the California
Privacy Rights Act (collectively, the "CCPA"), you should
any of your data practices have changed or any of the parameters
that could bring you under the purview of certain laws have
changed, it is time to reassess and update your policies. For
example, ask if any of the following have changed: the types of
data you collect, revenues, your target marketing audiences, or
actual customer numbers. Additionally, new state laws are coming
into effect at regular intervals. Regulators are issuing new and
updated regulations, which may bring new requirements and cases and
public settlements are instructive on where businesses went wrong.
Privacy policies are not a "set it and forget it"
document and must be seen as a living document that must be updated
to reflect reality or otherwise face the risk of an enforcement
action. Indeed, it is best practice to update privacy policies on
any significant change and certain laws, such as the CCPA, actually
require annual updates.
- Don't Ignore Employee Privacy. Certain
privacy laws now also apply to data collected from individuals in
the employment context, including from employees, contractors, and
board members. Companies must have separate privacy policies that
specifically address this type of employment data, in addition to
the data from individuals companies usually consider e.g. website
users and consumers. Employees have further rights to access data,
ensure inaccurate data is corrected and to have data deleted.
Companies will need to adjust their employee handbooks, internal
policies, and consider notes they take and retain for hiring and
- Do Address Dark Patterns. Dark patterns are
aspects or features of a user interface designed to, or do indeed,
confuse or manipulate the user or encourage the user to take a
certain action that may not be in their best interest. For example,
a dark pattern may exist if you see a cookie banner with two
buttons: one button in a shaded or lighter color with the option to
decline cookies (or manage cookie preferences) alongside a second
more prominent, or brighter button to have the user consent to all
cookies. If your interface choices draw an individual's eye to
the less privacy protective choice, this is likely a problem. These
practices deceive users and may have the effect of limiting their
meaningful choices under applicable laws. The FTC and State
Attorneys General are watching for dark patterns and bringing
enforcement actions against companies for them.
- Do Train Employees on Privacy and Security.
Make security, and training personnel on security a priority. We
have seen multiple data breaches, in some cases of information that
is considered sensitive, because an untrained employee fell victim
to a phishing scam or other malicious scheme or what looked to be
an innocent download or click. According to a recent study, the
human element was the cause of 82% of security breaches in 2022.
Having various security measures and policies in place is a first
step. But, internal policies must be circulated and enforced, and
employees should be kept abreast of and periodically trained (and
tested) on evolving threats and changes in data security.
- Do Address Data Retention. To further mitigate
risk, companies should implement a data retention policy that
balances their different legal obligations to retain data with the
need to minimize it. Whether it is employee, consumer, or customer
data, know how long you are legally required to retain it and then
destroy what should not or does not need to be retained. Many
companies hoard data in case they might want to use it, without any
current legal or business justification. In doing so, they
substantially increase risks in the event of a data breach. The
more data you have, the more you have to lose. Not only is there
increasing risk of class actions with respect to data security
breaches with laws such as the CCPA, which carry a private right of
action (including class actions) with statutory damages, but State
Attorneys General are also bringing enforcement actions against
companies for failing to adequately secure data when such failure
results in a security breach.
- Don't Ignore Vendor Relationships. State
privacy laws include requirements that companies have certain
contracts in place with contractors and service providers.
Contracts must allow some level of due diligence for businesses to
conduct due diligence to ensure compliance and security. Companies
should update or implement a data processing agreement or addendum
for each vendor, which agreement or addendum must contain specific
language for vendors that qualify as service providers or
contractors. State laws, such as the CCPA, even require specific
language be included in contracts with third party vendors that are
not processing data on behalf of a business and that use data for
their own purposes.
- Do Get Cyber Security Insurance. Cyber security insurance is necessary these days, with more security breaches than ever before, and more breaches likely to come in a recession economy. The cost of security breaches and the reputational fallout can be significant and insurance coverage can mitigate the costs. It is important to keep in mind security should be a priority and insurance coverage may be at stake if a company chooses to ignore privacy and security regulations. Even for companies that do obtain insurance coverage, in the event of an incident, they could be left hanging if their insurers determine they were not sufficiently proactive in implementing privacy and security practices
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.