Bill Boeck

In a number of prior posts, I suggested that privacy related issues may be a significant area of potential corporate risk in the months and years ahead. Among the potential sources of risk are the legal requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU’s privacy regulation, which just went into effect in May 2018. Because GDPR is still relatively new, we are still learning what it means in terms of corporate risk. In the following guest post, Bill Boeck takes a look at one interesting and arguably surprising aspects of GDPR’s requirements. Bill is currently Senior Vice President and Insurance and Claims Counsel with the Lockton Companies.  He is Lockton’s global leader for cyber claims and for the development of proprietary cyber wordings and endorsements.  Bill also leads Lockton’s US financial lines claims practice. A version of this article previously was published on the Lockton Cyber Risk Update Blog. I would like to thank Bill for his willingness to allow me to publish his article on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Bill’s article.
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On July 24, 2019, in a development that underscores the heightened significance of privacy-related issues, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Facebook will pay a record-breaking $5 billion penalty and submit to new restrictions and a modified corporate structure. In a related development, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also announced that Facebook had agreed to a $100 million settlement to resolve the agency’s allegations that the company misled investors regarding the risk of misuse of Facebook user data. Both agency actions followed the March 2018 revelations data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica had obtained access to user data of millions of Facebook users.  The FTC’s July 24, 2019 press release about the $5 billion penalty can be found here. The SEC’s July 24, 2019 press release about the $100 million settlement can be found here.
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Earlier this year when I questioned whether or not privacy-related issues might represent an important emerging area of corporate liability, I was thinking we might see privacy claims emerge over time. I was thinking a longer time frame, over the course of years. What has happened is that the privacy-related claims are materializing now. As I previously noted, in July investors filed a securities suit against Facebook following the company’s quarterly earnings release that disappointed investors in part because company’s growth rate was affected by allegedly unanticipated expenses and difficulties in complying with the EU’s update privacy requirements in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect in May.

Investors have now filed an additional lawsuit against a company reporting GDPR-related difficulties. As discussed further below, on August 8, 2018, investors filed a lawsuit against Nielsen Holdings plc after the media performance ratings company disclosed in its quarterly earnings release that GDPR-related changes affected the company’s growth rate, pressured the company’s partners and clients, and disrupted the company’s advertising “ecosystem.”  The Nielsen lawsuit underscores the suggestion that privacy-related concerns could be a significant source of corporate liability.
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It was perhaps inevitable after Facebook’s disappointing quarterly earnings announcement last week triggered what reportedly is the largest single day share price drop ever that securities class action lawsuits against the company would follow. And indeed on Friday at least two securities class action lawsuits were filed against the company. While the lawsuit filings may have been predictable, at least one of the lawsuits contains an interesting and unexpected variant on the standard pattern –  one of the two lawsuits contains allegations that the company made misrepresentations about its readiness for the May 2018 effective date of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and about the impact of GDPR compliance on the company’s business and operations. As discussed below, these allegations reflect the growing liability exposures arising from growing privacy-related concerns and regulation.  
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david danaAmong the many concerns that arise whenever unauthorized appropriation or use of consumer data occurs is the possible violation of the consumers’ privacy that the access may represent. In numerous cases, aggrieved parties have tried to assert claims for these alleged privacy violations, but by and large these attempts have not been successful. However, as

Cyber security and related privacy issues increasingly dominate the headlines. And for good reason: according to statistics cited in a recent Wall Street Journal article, cyber attacks –ranging from malicious software to denial of service attacks – increased 42% in 2012. The trend has only accelerated in 2013. As the possibility and potential scope of

Smaller companies increasingly are the subject of data breaches  and those smaller companies “are the number-one target of cyber-espionage attackers,” according to a recent study detailed in a April 24, 2013 CFO.com article entitled “Should You Consider Cyber Insurance?” (here). Smaller companies increasingly are the subject of cyber attacks due to “inadequate security