Included in this edition of Data & Privacy News: Privacy legislation on the horizon for US state Virginia; Large compilation of data breaches posted online and more...


Biden administration appoint privacy veteran to oversee negotiations for replacement privacy shield

Christopher Hoff has been selected as deputy assistant secretary for services at the U.S. Department of Commerce, with his tenure commencing on inauguration day. 

Hoff will be the U.S. representative for ongoing discussions on a framework to protect commercial transfers of personal data across the Atlantic following the Schrems II decision in July 2020. 

The Biden administration has signalled this area as a clear priority by filling the position on day one, with most other Commerce Department appointments yet to be made.

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Large compilation of data breaches posted online

A compilation of data breaches has been posted on an online hacking forum containing more than 3.2 billion unique pairs of cleartext emails and passwords from past data leaks. 

The breach is similar to the breach compilation in 2017, when 1.4 billion credentials were made available online. Both contained a script named count_total.sh, however the latest leak also included the scripts query.sh for querying emails and sorter.sh for sorting the data.

It is unclear which leaked databases have been used in the compilation, though they do originate from domains all over the world.

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Information Commissioner confirms Conservatives illegally collected data to racially profile voters

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has heard how the Conservative Party acted illegally in collecting data that related to the ethnicity and religion of British voters. 

In November 2020, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) published a report which revealed that the Conservatives had bought onimstic data identifying a person's country of origin, ethnic origin and religion and attached it to 10 million voter records. 

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham confirmed to the Select Committee that the Conservatives had deleted the data on recommendation from the ICO.

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Privacy legislation on the horizon for US state Virginia

A Consumer Data Protection Act is on the horizon for the U.S. state of Virginia with the Virginia General Assembly introducing and debating the privacy legislation to the edge of passage. 

Both the first and second readings of Senate Bill 1392 have been unanimously passed by the Virginia Senate with a third reading expected in February. If the law is enacted, then the governor could sign the bill into law by the end of February. 

Currently the bill applies to businesses that control or process data for at least 100,000 individuals situated in Virginia or to those that make 50% of their gross revenue from the sale, control or process of personal data to at least 25,000 consumers.

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Amazon report large increase in government demands for data during 2020

Amazon have reported an 800% increase in government data demands in the last six months of 2020.  

Amazon's bi-annual transparency report states that the company processed 27,664 government demands for user data in the second half of 2020, which was an increase from 3,222 data demands in the first half of the year. 

Of all the requests received, Germany accounted for 42%, followed by Spain at 18% and Italy and the U.S. at 11%. 

Amazon have not commented on the reason for the sharp increase in data demands.

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Key Contacts

Ross McKenzie

Ross McKenzie

Partner, Commercial Services
Aberdeen, UK

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Helena Brown

Helena Brown

Partner, Head of Data
Edinburgh, UK

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Dr. Nathalie Moreno

Dr. Nathalie Moreno

Partner, Commercial Services
London

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