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Nate Garhart’s practice centers on protecting and maximizing the value of various forms of intellectual property, which often represent important assets and major revenue sources for organizations ranging from startups to public companies and nonprofits.

Nate’s work spans the gamut from selecting and registering trademarks, to protecting and enforcing copyrights, to strategic negotiation of licenses of all kinds. He also works with clients to minimize the legal risks related to their branding, advertising, and publicity strategies.

Online, he counsels clients on internet issues and e-commerce topics, drafts website terms of use and privacy policies helping clients comply with Europe’s GDPR and California’s CCPA, and reviews customer communications for compliance with current laws.

Contact: ngarhart@fbm.com

Since the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) was passed in 2018, employers have been watching carefully to see how the law will apply to data collected and maintained about their employees. Up until now, employment data had been exempted from most of the CCPA’s requirements. But the new amendments to the CCPA embodied in the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”) come into effect on January 1, 2023, and that, coupled with the fact that the legislature failed to extend the employer exemptions, means that many categories of human resources data will be subject to the requirements of the law.[1]

The Current CCPA Employer Exemptions Are Expiring

As it stands (and through the end of 2022), covered employers are only obligated to notify employees of the categories of data being collected and the purposes for which the data will be used. In the event of a security breach involving employee data, employers are required to notify affected individuals and could be liable for statutory damages. In response to these requirements, most covered employers developed privacy notices with the required disclosures and reviewed their data security policies and protocols to ensure consistency with best practices.

But starting in 2023, employee data will be treated as any other commercial information, and covered employers will need to add employee and human resources data to their ongoing compliance efforts. Indeed, under the CCPA, “personal information” is defined broadly to include information that “identifies, relates to, describes, is reasonably associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer household.” Cal. Civ. Code § 1798.140(o)(1). In the employee or human resources context, personal information could include an employee’s contact information, insurance and benefits elections, bank and direct deposit information, emergency contacts, dependents, resume and employment history, performance evaluations, wage statements, time punch records, stock and equity grants, compensation history, and many other forms of data routinely collected in the context of the employment relationship. Moreover, the CPRA introduces a new concept of “sensitive personal information” (such as financial information, social security numbers, communications content, health information, and biometrics) that must be considered and addressed by the employer.

New Requirements Take Effect in 2023

So what does this mean for employers? First, employers must prepare and provide a privacy notice to an employee (or a job applicant since such applicant is likely providing personal information) at or before the time personal information is collected. This could mean including a privacy policy (and a click-through mechanism) on any online application site, in the employee handbook, and/or on internal websites. The privacy policy is likely to be similar to the online privacy policy the employer includes for consumers, though it will need to be revised to accurately reflect the categories of personal information collected (along with the length of time the employer intends to retain data in each category), as well as the categories of third parties with whom such information will be shared (e.g., payroll service providers, etc.).
Continue Reading Employee Data Under the CCPA: Expiration of Employer Exemptions Requires Compliance as of January 1, 2023

With a little time to consider the finalized California Consumer Privacy Act regulations released by the California Attorney General on August 14, 2020, it is clear that some last-minute negotiations (or perhaps just some thoughtful additional analysis) took place that led to some unexpected changes. The lion’s share of the regulation requirements have been discussed in depth, so let’s just focus on the following noteworthy changes:
Continue Reading Twists in the Plot: California AG Releases Final CCPA Regulations

While far from getting us back to any kind of normal that predated the COVID-19 pandemic, states have begun to relax lockdown requirements and some previously closed “nonessential” businesses are returning to operations. With such openings, governmental entities, trade organizations, and others are wisely recommending protocols, including using wellness screenings, in an effort to lower the risk that such reopenings result in a reversal of trends that have flattened the infection curve. While such protocols focus on ensuring the health and wellbeing of employees, customers, and others physically visiting the businesses and are necessary in any consideration of reopening, businesses implementing new data collection from their employees and customers need to consider the privacy implications of doing so.
Continue Reading Reopening Plans and Recommended Protocols Beg New Privacy Issues

Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Mark Warner have introduced the Public Health Emergency Privacy Act in response to the bill of the same subject released by Senate Republicans (the COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act) at the end of last month. As with the CCDPA, the PHEPA regulates the collection of emergency health data. While the respective bills differ in many ways, the most glaring distinctions focus (not surprisingly) on enforcement, preemption, and certain uses of data.
Continue Reading Senate Democrats Release Competing COVID-19 Privacy Bill

Californians for Consumer Privacy has announced that it has secured and submitted enough signatures to qualify its California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”) for inclusion on California’s November 2020 ballot.

Alistair Mactaggart, the architect behind the ballot initiative that led to the California legislature’s adoption of the CCPA, pushed forward with the CPRA to amend perceived issues and shortcomings in the CCPA.
Continue Reading Signatures Submitted for Inclusion of New California Privacy Law on November Ballot

A group of Republican senators has proposed a new privacy law to govern the collection and use of certain personal information thought to be both important and at risk during the current coronavirus crisis.

While numerous companies and governments have developed and deployed apps and programs to track individuals and trace contacts between individuals in furtherance of the laudable goal of helping to better understand and address the pandemic, there have been concerns that such data could be collected without proper authorization and/or used for purposes outside of the scope for which the data is willingly provided.
Continue Reading Federal “COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act” Proposed

As we are all well aware by now, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) (Cal. Civ. Code Sections 1798.100 et seq.) went into effect on Jan. 1. Through its amendments and regulations (the latter of which have yet to be finalized as of this article’s publication), one aspect of the act has stayed largely consistent: the CCPA grants a private right of action only in limited situations. While the California Attorney General has the ability to impose fines for any CCPA violation, the private right of action is specifically limited (over significant debate and a proposed amendment that failed to pass) to data breach. Moreover, in creating that private right of action, the act specifically notes that violations “shall not be interpreted to serve as the basis for a private right of action under any other law.”

Does that mean there will not be significant litigation concerning the CCPA outside of the data breach realm? The answer is clearly a resounding “no.” Indeed, we have already seen multiple lawsuits filed taking direct aim at the CCPA’s claimed limitations on private enforcement. In those cases, in direct contravention of the stated limitation on private rights of action, plaintiffs have claimed (among other things) that the failure to provide proper notice required by the CCPA predicates a violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law (Cal Civ. Code. Section 17200) (the UCL). See, e.g., Burke v. Clearview AI, Case No. 3:20-cv-00370 (S.D. Cal., filed Feb. 27, 2020); Sheth v. Ring, Case No. 2:20-cv-01538 (C.D. Cal., filed Feb. 18, 2020). Whether such claims will fail as expressly barred by the act remains to be seen.
Continue Reading Private Rights of Action and the CCPA—Unlimited Limitation?

With all of the business interruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many worldwide trademark offices have taken steps to recognize the issues caused by the crisis. The offices in which applicants from the U.S. most commonly file – the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), and the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) – have provided some relief.
Continue Reading Trademark Office Deadlines and Coronavirus-Related Delays

With the explosion of COVID-19 cases worldwide, companies and governments have expanded their interest in the use of the vast stores of consumer data. Even where such collection and use of personal data is ostensibly for the public good, the privacy rights and legal requirements applicable to such data must be considered carefully.[i]
Continue Reading Public Ends From Private Means: Privacy Rights and Benevolent Use of Personal Data

On March 11, 2020, California Attorney General Xavier Barrera released a second revision to the draft California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) regulations. The new draft contains a number of important changes to the regulatory landscape under the CCPA. One very specific change—concerning data scraping—caught my eye. Since the CCPA has been discussed and, indeed, even earlier in connection with the GDPR, there has been an open question of whether entities that pull personal data from public sources (e.g., from the publicly available LinkedIn pages) were required to provide notice to the individuals whose data had been collected. The new regulations answer the question, at least in part.
Continue Reading Data Scraping Under the Revised CCPA Regulations