IP: 5 ways to reduce the risk of privacy breach claims

Recent court decisions and government actions should make companies take a long, hard look at how they handle personal information

The increasing number of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement actions in recent years against high-profile companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter for alleged privacy breaches — and the penalties imposed by the FTC, including 20 years of FTC supervision and a record $22.5 million civil penalty against Google — should make companies take a long, hard look at their privacy policies and how they handle their consumers’ personal information.

But the courts have recently provided another reason to be concerned. In one of the largest privacy class action suits ever filed, the 7th Circuit in Harris v. comScore allowed a class action to proceed against an online data research company for alleged violations of federal privacy statutes, including the Stored Communications Act (SCA) and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). At the heart of the complaint was the plaintiff’s claim that comScore’s software collected more personal information about its users than was disclosed in the company’s terms of service and that the company secretly sold this information to third parties, who in turn used the data for marketing research.

Contributing Author

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Karen Bromberg

Karen H. Bromberg is a partner with Cohen & Gresser LLP and heads its intellectual property and technology group.

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