UK Information Commissioner intends to fine Marriot International 99 million pounds and British Airways 183.39 million pounds. The GDPR bites for data breaches

July 16, 2019

With the General Data Protection Regulation in force in the United Kingdom the Information Commissioner has greatly enhanced powers to fine those who breach data protection laws.  And in that vein the Commissioner announced on 8 July 2019 an intention to fine British Airways £183.39 million for a data breach in September 2018 which resulted in personal information of 500,000 were compromised.  As is often the case investigation after the breach revealed Read the rest of this entry »

Federal Trade Commission to settle complaint with Facebook over privacy breaches for $5 billion.

July 14, 2019

Although the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has not made a formal announcement the detailed reporting of the deliberations and voting by FTC Commissioners in favour ( 3-2) make it almost certain that once the civil division of the Justice Department approves the settlement, an almost certainty, an announcement will be formally made and Facebook will be liable to pay $5 billion. The Wall Street Journal broke the story with FTC Approves Roughly $5 Billion Facebook Settlement

Wired has undertaken a comprehensive report of the saga, which started with the FTC opening its investigation in March 2018, a week after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke.  

The problem Facebook faces Read the rest of this entry »

Commonwealth Bank enters into an enforceable undertaking with the Australian Information Commissioner. A weak and ineffective regulatory response to serious data breaches.

July 2, 2019

On 27 June the relatively new Information Commissioner signed off on an enforceable undertaking with the Commonwealth Australia Bank arising out of 2 data breaches, the first involving the loss of 2 magnetic data tape containing what the Information Commissioner customer statements relating to 20 million customers in 2016.  The CBA was not able to work out whether the records were destroyed or something else came of them.  The second breach arose in August 2018 with sensitive information being available to those who were not able to access that material. This enforceable undertaking was entered into with the CBA already the subject of a very critical APRA report on the CBA’s risk management and reactive approach to compliance.  The CBA entered into a enforceable undertaking from the CBA in early May 2018.  And yet the CBA was involved in a second data breach 3 months later, in August 2018.  What does that say about CBA’s commitment to risk management?

There is a contrast in styles between the Information Commissioner’s media release and that of the Bank.

The Commissioner’s media release reads Read the rest of this entry »

Jeremy Lee v Superior Wood Pty Ltd[2019] FWCFB 2946; Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission considering breach of the Privacy Act, biometric data, unfair dismissal

July 1, 2019

The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission recently handed down a very important decision in Lee v Superior Wood Pty Ltd [2019] FWCFB 2946 regarding the application of the Privacy Act. The Full Bench undertook a careful analysis of the Act and applied the Australian Privacy Principles (the APPs) to the facts in the context of an unfair dismissal claim, in this case appeal from a Commissioner at first instance.

The Facts

Superior Wood operates two sawmills at Melawondi and Imbil [2] in Queensland. It had approximately 150 employees, 80 of whom, including Lee,working at the Imbil site. Lee was employed as a casual general hand and worked for  3 ¼ years. Superior Wood is Read the rest of this entry »

Landmark White considers sale as cash runs out. The reputational effect of data breaches.

June 25, 2019

The focus of reporting on data breaches is on the personal information which is taken, potentially to commit fraud and the distress that others have that information without permission.  What is less reported is the potentially catastrophic effect data breaches may have on an business’ prospects, if not survival.  

In the United States Retrieval – Masters Creditors Bureau filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after it suffered a data breach in March.  The fallout from the data breach has been described as creating a “cascade of events” with led to the bankruptcy.  In Australia the Australian Financial Review (AFR) has reported that Landmark White is considering a full or partial sale of its business as it suffers a liquidity crisis caused by its second suspension by its lender clients.  In both cases the Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Cook’s Commencement address at Stanford puts privacy front and centre of the current technology debate

June 24, 2019

Amongst the big 4 tech giants in their own given areas, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Apple, Apple has made the strongest public stand on protecting its users privacy.  It too a stand as a civil rights issue in protecting privacy when in in 2016 when it refused to assist the FBI in in cracking a password on an iphone owned by a terrorist.  That included fighting the FBI in the Federal Court.

Facebook’s recent pivot to a privacy friendly future with the statement A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking in March has been treated with some scepticism when the Guardian recently reported that Zuckerberg knew of poor privacy practices associated with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.  The evidence, emails uncovered by the Federal Trade Commission in its investigation as to whether Facebook has breached a 20 year consent decree, which it almost certainly has.  Facebook has reportedly set aside $3 billion in anticipation of a record fine from the FTC though the figure could be as high as $5 billion.  Today Facebook through Read the rest of this entry »

Australian Catholic University suffers a data breach…another university gets hacked

June 17, 2019

Earlier this month the Australian National University suffered a data breach, see my post here.  Now the Fairfax press reports in Australian Catholic University staff details stolen in fresh data breach that the Australian Catholic University has suffered a data breach where personal information has been stolen.  The hackers Read the rest of this entry »

Radiohead makes the best of a bad situation and releases stolen session recording before the hackers/thieves do.

June 12, 2019

Recordings of outtakes and studio sessions from Radio Heads OK Computer album have been released by Radio Head to thwart the thieves or hackers who obtained a copy held by band member Thom Yorke.  The villains wanted a ransom or they would be released according to the Fairfax Press in ‘Hacked the hackers’: Radiohead releases 18 hours of ‘stolen’ OK Computer sessions.  So Radio Head rendered the threat meaningless and released the material.  The release is not free, costing 18 pounds so is not an altruistic gesture.  The next turn is the villain’s, does he (it is usually a he) or they release the material for free, thereby reducing Radio Head’s revenue.  It wouldn’t completely Read the rest of this entry »

UK Information Commissioner prosecutes unauthorised access to personal information..part of a growing problem

June 11, 2019

Organisations and agencies that collect and use personal information have a chronic problem of staff accessing that information without authorisation.   It is a very significant problem in the health industry with staff looking into the health records of celebrities; George Clooney in 2007, of Brittany Spears in 2008, Michael Jackson’s health records in 2011 and Kim Kardashian in 2013 to name a few. Last year 2 staff members at the Ipswich Hospital were reprimanded and one sacked for accessing Ed Sheeran’s health records relating to his treatment for a writs injury caused by a bicycle accident.  These instances are a fraction of the breaches of this nature that occurs. The breaches rarely come to light because the organisations notify those whose personal information have been compromised.  And they are only occasionally notified to the regulator. 

A case of snooping that was reported to the regulator resulted in a successful prosecution. In the United Kingdom unauthorised access of personal information is criminal offence. The UK Information Commissioner successfully prosecuted a former customer services officer at Stockport Homes who unlawfully accessed personal data, being anti social behaviour cases 67 times in 2017.  The breaches were Read the rest of this entry »

Australian National University suffers hack, again (2nd time in a year) with personal information collected over 19 years affected.

June 4, 2019

The Australian National University has had a very serious data breach.  Not just that a hacker or hackers breached its data security and accessed personal data, collected over a 19 year period, but that it started late in 2018 and was only detected two weeks ago.  That happens.  Sometimes hackers can remain in a system for years.  That may be a reflection on the sophistication of the attackers but it is more often a reflection on the adequacy of the organisation. 

This is second data breach in less than a year.  That bespeaks a real structural and governance problem with data security.  What also happens when data breaches like this happen is the data handling practices of the organisation come under the spotlight.  And ANU will have, or at least should have, a few questions to answer. Apart from the obvious about Read the rest of this entry »