A Post About Bread! (And Data too, I Guess)

We’re big fans of January around here, enjoying, as we do, the prospect of starting the new year off the right way and looking at things afresh. There’s something special about the focus that comes with new beginnings and the excitement of starting new projects after the whirlwind of the holiday season. The one thing… Read More

Predictions, Lists, and Complete Wild Guesses II

After a whirlwind start to this year (let’s leave the decade debates aside please), we’re finally ready to start making our 2020 predictions for privacy, data partnerships, and data strategy. This is where we lay out our view for how businesses, regulators, government, and internet users will shift the rules and change the way we… Read More

Responding to a Data Crisis in Three Steps

It’s been a week, folks.  Not even a week.  And we’ve already got a looming hot war, an active cyberwar, three major data breaches, and the promise of a major fight over GDPR on the very near horizon.  Apparently, 2020 is going to be like 2019, just more so. Normally, this is the time of… Read More

2019: The Year of Meh

To me, the most meaningful meme of this year was “OK, Boomer” (Baby Yoda was a non-event, don’t @ me).  It not only perfectly captures the very real, politically potent generational conflict going on right now, but it also reflects how completely ignored Generation X is in our current culture wars. (I feel no guilt… Read More

Two Gifts You Should Think About Returning

Happy Boxing Day from everyone at Ward PLLC.  We hope that you’re all having an enjoyable, and suitably private, holiday season. For many people, today is a day of quiet, calm, reflection, relaxation, and desperately trying to find out if you can get cash refunds from Restoration Hardware for the gifts your in-laws inexplicably decided… Read More

Enough with the Tracking Already

You may not have read the New York Times Privacy Project yet, but if not, now is the time to do so.  They have begun a series on the nature of tracking individuals via cellphones, armed with a treasure trove of over 50 billion pings on 12 million phones.  The results are dramatic, showing just… Read More

Who Can Sue Over Lost or Misused Data?

It’s hardly controversial to say that data breaches are a bad thing for business, resulting in lost customers, lost confidence, and lost credibility.  But what about the lost data?  What kind of consequences come, for instance, when a malicious insider sells vast quantities of customer data, or an outsider exploits a weakness in your security… Read More

Why Deference Matters in Privacy – A Supreme Court Case Study

Summer is always an interesting time for lawyers, because it’s the time of year when the Supreme Court’s term comes to a close and when, typically, they issue their most controversial or difficult rulings.  In fact, the Court sometimes waits until the actual last day of the term before handing out the tough, 5-4 split… Read More

Europe Gets Tough

One of the questions I hear most frequently is “will the GDPR be as big a deal as everyone promised?” Of course, the real question is “will the GDPR be as big a deal as you, Jay, promised,” and it is a fair one.  Privacy commentators spent a great deal of time in 2018 talking… Read More

Who’s Afraid of a Data Breach?

One curious effect of the commonness of data breaches is that we’ve become inured against shock.  It used to be that a sizeable data breach was big news, certainly if the data lost or accessed was of a sensitive nature.  Remember the Target data breach in 2013?  It dominated news cycles for weeks, largely because… Read More

Getting Bad Advice

The Internet is a risky place for “expertise.”  Because it is both a platform and a megaphone, it creates its own multiplier effect for whatever you put into it.  If the arguments of the last few years have proven anything, it’s that even a poorly concocted lie spreads far faster than a well-explained truth, largely… Read More

Genetic Testing and the Illusion of Privacy (Policies)

One recent trend that makes privacy professionals very nervous is the “what’s my DNA say about me” fad.  You swab your cheek, mail it off to a lab, and presto: you learn that you’re 99% Irish/Scottish and 1% Pacific Islander with a high chance of getting appendicitis.  Obviously, unlocking the mysteries of our ancestry is… Read More

How to Protect Your Data in a Data Partnership – from “Data Leverage”

We spend an enormous amount of time talking about the benefits of data partnerships but, of course, they aren’t without their risks.  No one enters into a business relationship assuming that everything will go exactly as planned (without serious problems later, anyway).  But how do you identify ways to protect your business, your data, and… Read More

What’s Five Billion Among (Facebook) Friends?

The Internet went into full “give me a Drudge Report siren” mode last week about Facebook’s announcement that it anticipates a fine of three to five billion dollars from the FTC in the coming months.  The fine, a result of Facebook’s violation of a 2011 consent decree with the Commission related to privacy practices, tracking,… Read More

The Dangers of a Biometric Future

Biometric data is information at its most sensitive.  Not only do health and physical characteristics carry with them the very concept of our personhood and humanity, they are also often immutable and, therefore, permanently identify us.  I can change my email address or my password, and I can even get a new legal name if… Read More

The Undefended Principles of a Free Internet

For most of us who remember a time before widespread access to the Internet (it was mostly Donald Duck games on your Commodore), going online was a decidedly American-feeling affair.  One could be forgiven the thought, given that the largest internet service provider for years was….America Online.  And, largely, that tracked the history and development… Read More

The World’s Toughest Internet Law?

It seems that every time we turn around, there’s new data or Internet legislation on the table that the media describes along the lines of  “similar to the GDPR,” or “GDPR-like.”  It makes sense, of course, given that the GDPR is the most important legislation on privacy in several generations, though it can blur some… Read More

We’re Learning the Wrong Lessons

It’s easy to criticize companies like Facebook or Google for their conduct when it comes to data, largely because they are so frequently the subject of widely-publicized reports and news articles. The stories documenting tech giant misdeeds (ironically, often displayed in Facebook’s newsfeed) demonstrate a growing awareness of surveillance capitalism and surveillance states, as well… Read More

Weekly Data Privacy Roundup

We’re starting something new, a weekly collection of some of the stories that we saw or found interesting but, for some reason, didn’t have time to address meaningfully (by which we mean throw as many gifs at as possible).  This week is heavy on government action, which is a good indication of the trends we’re… Read More

The Values Crisis

Let’s talk about values. We sometimes talk about “use cases” for data, which is a shorthand for “how do you intend to make this particular information set perform a new category of work or combine with other information sets to perform a new category of work.”  It’s important, as we discuss in Data Leverage, to… Read More