BLOGS: Privacy and Data Protection

Monday, November 1, 2010, 11:06 AM

Privacy Bulletin: Issue No. 48

In the News
Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Google:
A class action lawsuit was filed against Google in a US District Court in San Jose, California. The suit alleges that Google violates the privacy of its users by sharing personal information and Internet search queries of its users with third parties. "User search queries, which often contain highly-sensitive and personally identifiable information, are routinely transferred to marketers, data brokers, and sold and resold to countless other third parties," the complaint said.

Facebook and Zynga Named in Class Action Lawsuits Alleging Privacy Violations: Lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California allege that Facebook and Zynga shared users’ personal information with advertisers and other unauthorized individuals in violation of their own privacy policies, as well as state and federal privacy laws protecting electronic communications. These lawsuits follow an October 18th Wall Street Journal article that revealed that Facebook applications transmit a user’s Facebook ID to third parties. The Facebook ID could provide access to a user’s personal information. Neither Facebook nor Zynga have commented on the lawsuits.

Tuberculosis Lawsuit Against CDC Revived: The lawsuit filed by a man who was the subject of a 2007 international tuberculosis scare was revived by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court reversed a lower court’s decision to dismiss his lawsuit claiming that officials with the Centers for Disease Control revealed his private medical condition to publicize the possibility that the disease could be spread worldwide. A lower court had dismissed his lawsuit on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence that the CDC was to blame for the privacy breach.

Energy Department Warns of Privacy Concerns Surrounding Smart Grid Technologies: The use of smart grid technologies, which collect information on consumers' energy consumption, allow utilities to help consumers reduce their energy costs. However, Department of Energy officials warned that these technologies could also disclose private information regarding the activities of a particular household. The Department warned that controls should be implemented to ensure that the information is collected and used in line with privacy expectations.

Facebook Lobbies California Lawmakers on Privacy Act: Facebook fought the passage of a California state Senate bill that was designed to restrict social-networking sites from displaying the addresses and phone numbers of minors. Once the Social Networking Privacy Act passed the Senate, Facebook began to lobby against its passage in the California Assembly. Senator Ellen Corbett, the sponsor of the legislation told the reporter who broke the CA lobbying story that “It appears they just worked in the background, to kill the bill.”

Privacy and Data Protection Team
The attorneys in Womble Carlyle’s Privacy and Data Protection Team provide a wide array of privacy services to clients. We work with clients to assess their privacy and data security obligations, and then develop a compliance plan and controls to meet their needs. This includes privacy and security assessments; drafting and reviewing policies and procedures; training employees; managing privacy risks in contracts and mergers and acquisitions; and providing dedicated staffing for client privacy projects and ongoing privacy management. Our team does not operate in a vacuum—our goal is to help clients avoid pitfalls in privacy and data protection so they can focus on their core business. We also assist clients when privacy protections do not work by helping clients address security breaches. The firm also assists clients regarding monitoring and affecting privacy and data protection legislation and regulations. Should the need arise, we aggressively represent our clients in litigation and in agency or law enforcement matters.

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