shutterstock_384992695Wearable device data may be the next big thing in the world of evidence for employment cases since social media. Given that it has already been used in personal injury and criminal cases, it is only a matter of time before wearable device data is proffered as evidence in an employment case.

From Fitbit to the Nike FuelBand to a slew of others, the worldwide wearable market has exploded in recent years. In a world increasingly obsessed with health and fitness, wearable devices offer instantaneous and up-to-the-minute data on a number of metrics that allow the user to assess his or her own health and fitness. Wearable devices can track information like heart rate, calories, general level of physical activity, steps taken, diet, blood glucose levels and even sleep patterns. Given the nature of the information captured, it is easy to see how wearable device data may be relevant to claims of disability discrimination, workers’ compensation and even harassment.
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Cross Posted from Employment Law Lookout

PokemonYour employees may be on a quest to catch ‘em all. Over 15 million people have downloaded the Pokémon GO game since its release two weeks ago. In this augmented reality game, players use their mobile devices to catch Pokémon characters in real-life locations captured by the camera in a user’s cellular phone. Though the game is very popular with Pokémon GO players, employers may not like the game quite so much.

Data And Security Concerns

There are data security concerns that arise from use of the Pokémon GO app.

First, users that want to play Pokémon Go must sign in to the app. There are two ways to do so—through an existing Google account, or through an existing Pokémon Trainer Club Account. Up until very recently, the Pokémon website did not allow users to sign up for Pokémon Trainer Club Accounts due to overwhelming demand. Thus, for most people, the only way to play Pokémon GO was by signing in to the app with their Google accounts. Even though the option to create a Trainer Club Account is now available, doing so requires more time and effort than signing in through an existing Google account.
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The clock is now ticking. On May 4th the European Parliament published the final text of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), and the rules of the game have significantly changed – at least in the context of EU data protection law. First, the GDPR changes the underlying approach to data protection law, with a new emphasis placed on accountability and risk-based approaches. “Privacy by Design” and “Privacy by Default” have been included in the regulatory ecosystem. Second, significant changes have been made to the obligations of “controllers” and “processors”. These include specific criteria for having compliant privacy notices and vendor management contracts. Third, enforcement is now a very real, and potentially risky, thing. With the possibility of administrative fines being up to 4% of a business’ global gross revenue, private rights of action by individuals, and non-profit privacy watchdog groups (also known as “Civil Society”) having the right to complain of a company’s privacy practices directly to the local Data Protection Authorities; compliance with the GDPR will now be one of those risks that any business who touches EU data will need to seriously consider. Fortunately, the GDPR won’t go into effect until May 25th 2018. However, businesses with significant data from the EU need to start considering how to comply now.
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Cross Posted from Employment Law Lookout

Over the last decade, communication via email and text has become a vital part of how many of us communicate in the workplace. In fact, most employees could not fathom the idea of performing their jobs without the use of email. For convenience, employees often use one device for both personal and work-related communications, whether that device is employee-owned or employer-provided. Some employees even combine their personal and work email accounts into one inbox (which sometimes results in work emails being accidentally sent from a personal account). This blurring of the lines between personal and work-related communications creates novel legal issues when it comes to determining whether an employer has the right to access and review all work-related communications made by its employees.
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Over the past several years, technology has dramatically increased employee accountability in the workplace. For example, in an office environment, employees are expected to respond to emails immediately because they are either sitting in front of their computers or carrying a mobile device on which they can access their email. As for employees who work outside the office, the availability of employer-issued phones and, alternatively, the proliferation of “bring your own device” policies, has resulted in off-site employees being generally just a phone call away. In specific industries in which employees drive motor vehicles while conducting business for the employer, yet another method of accountability exists: GPS.
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It is the beginning of 2016, and American companies are anxiously awaiting news of whether or not a new “Safe Harbor 2.0” will emerge. In October of 2015, the European Court of Justice declared invalid Safe Harbor 1.0 in the Schrems decision. This had an immediate effect on any American company collecting personal data from the EU by removing the legal basis for this kind of data transfer. As of October 2015, consumer, client, and even employee data cannot be legally transferred to the US under the Safe Harbor Framework.

Fortunately, the data protection regulators (“DPAs”)recognized the turmoil this decision created within the business community on both sides of the Atlantic. As a result, the Article 29 Working Party (which is the convention of DPAs from each of the EU Member States) issued an enforcement moratorium on enforcement actions until the end of January 2016, so that they could assess the effectiveness of data transfer tools available. As part of this moratorium, the Working Party called on “…Member States and European institutions to open discussions with U.S. authorities in order to find legal and technical solutions”; and that the “current negotiations around a new Safe Harbor could be part of the solution.”
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Today the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) issued its Judgment in the Schrems case, and in doing so, added another tremor to the ongoing seismic shift related to cross-border privacy law. The two major elements of today’s Judgment are: 1) that Commission Decision 2000/520/EC  of 26 July 2000 of the adequacy of the protection provided by the US Safe Harbor Framework (the “Safe Harbor Decision”) is invalid, and 2) even if the Safe Harbor Decision were otherwise valid, no decision of the Commission can reduce the authority of a national data protection authority to enforce data protection rights as granted by Article 28 of Directive 95/46/EC (the “DP Directive”).

Clearly, the first element brings a more immediate concern for all the companies participating in the Safe Harbor framework. However, the second element will have much longer term consequences for the stability of US-EU commerce and privacy law.
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Under section 56 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), it is now a criminal offence for any person or organisation to require an individual to submit a ‘subject access request’ (i.e. the right for an individual to access any of their personal data held by third parties on payment of a fee, provided certain requirements are met) in order to obtain and provide a copy of their criminal record. This will not prevent employers and others from obtaining access to criminal records through legitimate means (for example, seeking disclosure officially through the Disclosure and Barring Service). The offence was created over a decade and a half ago but has only been brought into force on 10 March 2015.
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A company faced with a security breach has a lengthy “to do” list, things to accomplish with respect to its incident response plan. It must, among other things, determine the root cause of the vulnerability or breach, investigate and eliminate the vulnerability or breach, determine the full nature and extent of the breach, determine who to notify and finalize the notifications.

If the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) has its way, a unionized employer facing a security breach involving employee personal information would have yet another responsibility – bargaining over the impact of or response to the security breach.
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We have all heard about the need for companies to develop “Bring Your Own Device” (or “BYOD”) policies and protocols because of the rapid proliferation handheld and mobile computing devices that are owned by the employee (or Officer, or CEO even). These policies have both benefits, as well as the potential for liability in the global context of international business.

So far, managers, lawyers, HR professionals, and the rest of us who worry about such things have been able to limit our concern with devices that actually look like computing devices. The smartphone, the tablet, the personal laptop; these are all things that those of us who want to manage the balance between a company’s assets, and its employee’s flexibility end up thinking about. However, this is about to change in a very subtle and almost invisible way. Now we have to worry about our employee’s clothes.


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