New York Moves To Expand the Right of Publicity

As New York law currently stands basically the only right of publicity that is recognized in New York is the right to prevent appropriation of a living person’s name or likeness (e.g., portrait, picture, image) for commercial purposes.  A violation of the law can have both criminal and civil consequences, although only civil actions currently include the misappropriation of ones’ “voice,” in addition to names and photographs. New York courts have also allowed claims based on the use of look-alike models (Onassis v. Christian Dior-New York, Inc., 472 N.Y.S2d 254 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1984)).

New York does not recognize any common law right of publicity (Stephano v. News Group Publications, 474 N.E.2d 580 (N.Y. 1984)). Consequently all New York rights of publicity are purely creatures of statutory law.  Of interest in recent years is the fact that unlike over 20 other States in the United States and many jurisdictions internationally,* New York has never recognized any post-mortem rights of publicity. In other words, only living New York persons have any right of publicity and those are governed exclusively by statute!

Well that may change if and when New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signs a bill recently passed by both houses of the the NYS legislature and although the bill differentiates between “deceased personalities” and “deceased performers,” if signed into law it would broaden the current law and create a new transferable (and inheritable) right that would protect those rights of publicity after death – rights that would last for 40 years after the death of the individual.

This new legislation is likely to have implications to performers, celebrities and others who are domiciled in New York, as well as to advertisers, advertising agencies and sponsors, among others.  Once the bill is signed into law, watch for updates on Legal Bytes for more detail. In the meantime, if you have questions or want more information, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work.

* Note: In some jurisdictions, rights of publicity are referred to as “personality rights” and one should never assume these rights are identical in scope or effect.

 

Brazil Adopts Comprehensive Data Protection Law

Katie Hyman, Partner

Brazil’s Lei General de Proteção de Dados (“LGPD”) officially came into effect on Friday, September 18 2020. This Brazilian General Data Protection Law (LGPD), Federal Law no. 13,709/2018, was published on August 15, 2018, is heavily influenced by the EU GDPR and is Brazil’s first comprehensive framework regulating the use and processing of personal data. Prior to the LGPD, data privacy regulations in Brazil consisted of various provisions spread across Brazilian legislation.

The LGPD applies to businesses of all sizes, with only a few listed exceptions, such as where data are collected for artistic or academic purposes, or for national security and public safety. It will apply when data is collected or stored in Brazil or where data is processed for the purposes of offering goods or services to individuals in Brazil.

The LGPD defines “personal data” broadly: it means any information regarding any identified or identifiable natural person, including data that could be aggregated to identify a person. The general principles underlying the LGPD are set out in Article 6, and these will be used by the Brazilian data protection authority to determine a company’s compliance with the law. The principles are purpose, suitability, necessity, free access, quality of the data, transparency, security, prevention, non-discrimination and accountability.

In line with these principles, the rights of the data subject are set out in Article 18, and these are very similar to those in the GDPR, including access to data, correction of inaccurate data, portability, deletion of data processed with consent, information about entities with which the controller has shared data, information about the possibility of denying consent and revocation of consent.

Companies are required to report data protection breaches to the local data protection authority, but no deadline for reporting is included in the LGPD. Guidance on this is to come from the data protection agency, which is yet to be established. Companies that violate the LGPD can be fined up to 2% of the revenue of their organization, up to a total of R$50 million (approximately US$9 million) per violation. However, penalties for infractions will only start to be applied from August 1, 2021.

An official English translation is not yet available, but the IAPP has provided a translation and you can read it here: Brazilian General Data Protection Law.

If you want more information about this article feel free to contact Katie Hyman or me, Joe Rosenbaum or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work.

Swiss-US Privacy Shield

In July, we reported that the EU Court had invalidated the viability of the US-EU Privacy Shield (EU Invalidates the Privacy Shield . . BUT Says Contracts May Save the Day!).  A few weeks ago (September 8, 2020), the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) also decided to remove the United States from a list of nations that are considered to be providing “adequate level of data protection.”

Unlike the EU Court’s decision, decision by the Swiss FDPIC does not automatically invalidate the applicability of the Privacy Shield, because the list of countries on or off the list is technically not legally binding. That said, if your company is relying on the Swiss-US Privacy Shield to continue to transfer data from Switzerland to the United States, it would not be prudent to assume these transfers will continue to be viewed as complying with the adequate protection standards under Swiss law.  It seems to make sense to re-assess the risks and start relying on corporate policies and regulations, as well as legally binding contract clauses to ensure they are consistent with Swiss data protection law.

Even when the company policies and contract provisions are properly constructed, there still remains the risk that even these protections may be considered inadequate.  For example, if local authorities have the right to obtain the data without safeguards and legal protections consistent with those required under Swiss regulation, the transfer may be considered in contravention of Swiss law.  Similarly, if the entity to which the data is being transferred is not legally obligated, for any reason, to cooperate with the enforcement requirements that may apply under Swiss law this too creates a problem.  While encryption technology exists that can ensure no personal data can become available in another country, that approach only makes sense for pure storage capability (e.g., cloud based storage) but NOT if the data is intended to be used, displayed or otherwise handled in another nation.

While further guidance and information may ultimately be promulgated by the FDPIC, at present, a review of current procedures and data transfers, the exercise of caution and consideration of implementing additional steps to deal with this development in Switzerland, as with the EU Court decision, seems to be a prudent course of action.

At Rimon Law, our professionals are available to answer question about these developments, so feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work for information about this or any other matters.

EU Invalidates the Privacy Shield . . BUT Says Contracts May Save the Day!

Today (July 16, 2020), the EU Court of Justice, (the EU’s highest court) struck down the validity of the Privacy Shield – a mechanism that well over 5,000 U.S. companies have been using and relying upon in order to legally justify the transfer of personal data across the Atlantic into the US.  This same court had previously invalidated the “Safe Harbor” protocol, concluding the Safe Harbor failed to adequately protect privacy rights of EU citizens, since it accorded law enforcement in the United States priority over the rights of EU citizens – permitting law enforcement virtually unrestricted access to the data.

This new case began when Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy advocate, complained to Irish data protection regulators that Facebook’s reliance on standard contract clauses to permit data being transferred from the European Union to the United States did not provide adequate protection. Schrems argued that it didn’t prevent intelligence officials and other third parties in the United States from getting at the information. The Commissioner at the Irish Data Protection Authority took the complaint to Ireland’s high court and they referred certain questions regarding the validity of standard contractual clauses to the EU Court of Justice. Although Schrems’ complaint never raised the Privacy Shield issue, it was raised in oral argument before the court, opening the door for the court to include it in their opinion and decision.

While the European Court invalidated the Privacy Shield, it didn’t buy Schrems’ argument that standard contractual clauses should be deemed invalid as a matter of EU law or regulation. They basically said that standard contract clauses could be among the “effective mechanisms” if they required both sides involved in the transfer to ensure information is accorded the equivalent level of protection as required under EU law. They went on to note that the parties should not use those clauses if they can’t comply with that requirement.

As a result, while neutering the Privacy Shield, they did uphold the validity of the use of standard contractual clauses to legally move personal information outside the European Union, if these clauses were effective in providing the same level of privacy protection as the EU requires.

The case is Between the Data Protection Commissioner and Facebook Ireland Ltd. and Maximillian Schrems (Case Number C-311/18) and as always, if you have any questions or need more information about this posting, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the lawyers at Rimon with whom you regularly work.

Unsung Cyber Hero Adventures

On June 4, 2020, Steven Teppler and I (Joe Rosenbaum) were guests of Gary Berman, host of “Unsung Cyber Hero Adventures”.  You can watch the entire interview “The Judicial System & Cybersecurity” and many more on his “Unsung Cyber Hero Adventures” TV Network!

There is also a comic series and you can find out more by looking at  The CyberHero Adventures: Defenders of the Digital Universe.  The comic series, the streaming interview series and much more are all the brainchild of Gary L. Berman, a career marketing consultant and entrepreneur whose company – and the families it supported – fell victim to a prolonged series of insider cyber attacks.  Feeling powerless, Gary decided to educate himself about cybersecurity, attending conferences, listening to podcasts and learning from the real heroes, the cybersecurity experts in law enforcement, government, education, and business.

Crisis Management at the Intersection of Marketing, Privacy, Security and Reputation

For those of you interested and available, on Thursday, April 23rd at 1 PM ET, Joe Rosenbaum, NY Partner at Rimon Law and chair of Rimon’s Global Alliance will be conducting a one hour seminar entitled Crisis Management at the Intersection of Marketing, Privacy, Security and Reputation touching on some of the current issues in marketing, privacy, public relations, cybersecurity & reputation management arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the issues raised may well apply in many crisis situations, now, more than ever, as increased numbers of people are working, schooling and playing at home or at other remote locations, the value of online and mobile advertising and promotions has increased substantially. At the same time, the amounts of information being made available by people scrambling for information, trying to keep up with breaking news, and signing up for online, digital services and information, present legal challenges for compliance with both old and newly enacted privacy and data protection regulation. Not coincidentally, online and mobile scammers are seeking to capitalize on the growing number of inexperienced web surfing consumers and cyber criminals are using the opportunity to capture valuable personally identifiable as a result of lax or relaxed security measures. The inaccurate perception that strong security may be an obstacle to utility or speed and simply the increased number of inexperienced users accessing the Internet, provide fertile ground for exploitation. What you should know? What you can do? What you should be telling your clients and employees? What can we all do to help?

To register simply go to REGISTER: Crisis Management at the Intersection of Marketing, Privacy, Security and Reputation

The course is open to lawyers and non-lawyers, is approved for New York bar members who are eligible for 1 CLE credit per course through NY’s Approved Jurisdiction Policy and approved by the California State Bar for 1 hour of CLE credit.  Most other states recognize CA accredited courses and if you would like credit in any other state, please check your local state bar’s regulations.

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Although amended twice (September 13th and October 11th of 2018) after its initial passage by the California State Legislature and being signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in June of 2018, the California Consumer Privacy Act (California Civil Code Section 1798.100) (“CCPA”) becomes effective with the new year (January 1, 2020).

Although it is intended to protect and afford California residents with certain rights (in some areas, greater or somewhat different than the European Union’s General Data Protection Directive 2016/679), it affects non-profit entities that do business in California, and that collect personal information of consumers and either has annual gross revenues over $25 million OR buys or sells personal data of 50,000 or more consumers/households OR earns over half its annual revenue from selling consumer personal information.

If your organization fits into any of those categories, you are required to establish, put into place and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices to protect consumer data and to afford California residents the right to know what personal data is being collected about them; to know whether and to whom the consumer’s personal data is sold or disclosed; to refuse to permit the sale of their personal data; to access their personal information; and to ask you to delete personal information collected from them.  The law also prohibits discrimination against any consumer for exercising any of their privacy rights under the CCPA.

While many business have been busily amending their agreements with suppliers, service providers and likely have been presented updated and revised contracts with “CCPA” amendments in order to ensure those in the chain of collection, storage, handling, distribution and use are in compliance, if you do any business in or with California residents, don’t forget to update your privacy policies and any terms of use that apply to your websites, e-commerce and online/mobile presence generally.  Those sites, even those that do not require any registration or input directly from consumers, almost certainly will be collecting information that is covered by the broad definition of “personal information” under the CCPA.

If you would like to know more about the CCPA or have any questions about this post, don’t hesitate to contact me Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work.

 

Global Social Media Handbook

I am proud to be among the 22 legal professionals, including 7 of my colleagues at Rimon, who contributed and co-authored a new book entitled Handbook on Global Social Media Law for Business Lawyers, published by ABA Publishing. This comprehensive work, sponsored by the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association, was co-edited by Valerie Surgenor, a partner in the Glasgow, Scotland, law firm MacRoberts LLP and John Isaza, my friend and partner here at Rimon, P.C.   Although principally focused on the United States, there are contributions from foreign lawyers in key regions around the world, including Canada, the European Union, Australia, Russia and Asia.

The Handbook deals with national and international law principles and emerging issues related to social media law, ethics, compliance and governance, including cybersecurity, cyber terrorism and risk management in a social media environment (e.g., hacking, corporate espionage, data loss and data breach); intellectual property issues in social media;  defamation, “fake news” and social media;  implementation of a social media crisis plan; use of social media as a tool in recruitment of employees and the privacy implications to employers;  promotional, endorsement and social media disclosure guidelines promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission in the US; and recent trends in UK and European social media legislation and regulation.  There is a separate chapter that discusses information and records management within the context of social media.

If you are interested, you can order a copy directly from the ABA (Handbook on Global Social Media Law for Business Lawyers) and of course, if you need more information or want to discuss your particular requirements with knowledgeable and experienced professionals, feel free to reach out to me, Joe Rosenbaum, or to any of the lawyers at Rimon with whom you work with regularly.

 

First Joint Consultations May Foreshadow Effectiveness of Privacy Shield

–  Stephen Díaz, Partner, Rimon, P.C. &  Claudio Palmieri, Of  Counsel Rimon, P.C. (Principal, Studio Legale Palmieri –Rimôn Italia)

On October 6, 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union invalidated the so-called “Safe Harbor” that previously governed data transfers between the U.S. and the EU (Case C-362/14 – Maximillian Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner, 6 October 2015).

As you already know if you read our Legal Bytes’ posting in May concerning the US-EU Data Transfer Privacy Shield, personal data cannot be transferred to from the EU to a non-European Union/European Economic Area country, unless that country can ensure “adequate levels of protection” for such personal data. While the European Commission had identified a number of countries that met the ‘adequate protection’ test, the United States was not one of them and without the Safe Harbor understandings, transatlantic exchanges of data – both for commercial and national security reasons – were at risk of being non-compliant with EU regulations!  In an attempt to temporarily address the data transfer issues, the EU and the U.S. proposed a new framework for exchanges of personal data for commercial purposes, known as the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (“Privacy Shield”) which was formally launched on July 12, 2016.

Further complicating matters, a new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on May 25, 2018.    In furtherance of a formal and more permanent agreement under the Privacy Shield and in contemplation of the new regulations, representatives of the U.S. and the EU have announced they will meet in Washington, DC during the week of September 18, 2017, for the first Annual Review of the Privacy Shield.  In advance of the meeting, the EU’s official Working Group (WP 29) sent the European Commission their recommendations and consistent with previous pronouncements, they believe the meeting should focus on enforcement of rights and obligations, as well as changes in U.S. law since the adoption of the Privacy Shield.  WP29 recommended discussions focus on these issue and that any formal agreement must deal with both commercial, as well as law enforcement and national security access.

These concerns and considerations are explored in more detail in our full Client Alert: No Certainty in Future of Privacy Shield as Transatlantic Consultations Set to Begin and it is clear that the September consultations may well be an indication of whether the Privacy Shield will prove an adequate regulatory regime for the transatlantic transfer of personal data and whether meaningful progress is likely in the current environment.

If you would like more information, a better understanding or need guidance regarding compliance with these regulations, contact Stephen Díaz Gavin, a Rimon Law Partner based in Washington, DC or Claudio Palmieri is of counsel to Rimon, P.C. and the principal of Studio Legale Palmieri –Rimôn Italia in Rome, Italy. Of course you can always contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the lawyers at Rimon with whom you regularly work.

 

Forensic DNA and Missing Children: The Legal & Ethical Issues

Since 1983, when the day was designated by U.S. President Ronald Reagan as National Missing Children’s Day in the United States and spreading internationally through the Global Missing Children’s Network (GMCN), May 25th has been celebrated as International Missing Children’s Day.  GMAC is a jointly sponsored venture of the U.S. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC),  that focuses on educating parents on steps they can take in protecting their children, as well sharing best practices and information in investigating cases of child abduction, trafficking and illegal adoptions.

This year, I have the distinct privilege and great honor of speaking at the conference for Missing Children and Genetic Identity, organized by the Portuguese Association for Missing and Exploited Children [Associaçāo Portuguesa de Crianças Desaparecidas] and sponsored by Genomed, to be held at Lusófona University in Lisbon on the 25th of May 2017 – International Missing Children’s Day.

The conference will explore the connection between modern genetics and forensic science and on national and international efforts to aide investigations of missing and abused children.  The legal and ethical issues surrounding DNA collection and use, the pros and cons of storing DNA samples and maintaining a database of digital DNA ‘fingerprints’ as well as other bio metric information from individuals – convicted criminals, arrested individuals, victims, family members and even the general public – continues to be hotly debated on the national and international level throughout the world.  In addition to issues of privacy and security, the use and potential abuse of genetic and other bio metric evidence, whether to exonerate individuals or convict guilty individuals, is not just complicated, it is inconsistent across jurisdictional borders.  Sharing of critical information that may help identify a child or investigate a missing person, whether or not a crime may have been committed, is neither assured nor routine – despite the obvious benefits a regulated and carefully constructed information sharing system might be to family members, law enforcement and the forensic scientific community.

The conference, one of many throughout  the world on May 25th, will attract distinguished guests and provide a forum for discussion and shine a much needed spotlight on the legal and ethical challenges and opportunities at the intersection of science, law and law enforcement. I will publish a copy of my presentation and remarks after the conference concludes, but if you would like to know more about the conference, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the organizers directly.