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CLIENT ALERT: The European Union's New Data Privacy Law Goes Into Effect

On May 25, 2018, the European Union’s (“the EU”) new data privacy law went into effect.[1]   The General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) concerns the processing of personal data that can be searched according to specified criteria such as geographical scope. 

Who it affects

The GDPR applies to all organizations that maintain offices or store data in the EU.  It also applies to many of the core organizations on the web.  For instance, it applies to social media, apartment rental, e-commerce, and internet search sites.  If your website conducts business in the EU, then the GDPR will apply.  Additional factors that would require a company to be GDPR compliant include sales or marketing to EU citizens, accepting any EU country’s currency, an EU country domain suffix, shipping services to the EU, or language translation or website in an EU language.

General global marketing does not require GDPR compliance.  If you use Google Adwords, and an EU citizen and resident visits your webpage as a result of this ad, the GDPR would not apply because there was no targeted interface with EU citizens.  The fact that an unsolicited EU citizen can and does visit your website does not require your organization to be GDPR compliant.  If you take no steps to interface with EU citizens, GDPR compliance is not required. 

Steps you should take now if your organization must be GDPR compliant

  • Provide customers and website visitors with detailed information on how data will be collected and used.
  • Redesign consent forms so that users must affirmatively agree to all uses of their data, and they can select those uses to which they agree and those to which they decline.
  • Create forms that distinguish between consent versus agreement to general terms and conditions.
  • Store customer preferences.
  • Audit data regularly, including where data is stored, why data is collected, how data is obtained, and how much duplication of data exists across multiple sites.
  • Audit your service providers’ data, and review their data procedures.
  • Understand whether your organization is a data processor or data controller. A processor processes personal data on behalf of a controller, whereas a controller determines the purpose and means of how data is processed.
  • Ask for explicit consent from consumers anytime you want to use data for ad targeting purposes.
  • Use “group data” that isn’t precise enough to target individual consumers.
  • Implement procedures and technology that ensures data can be permanently erased.
  • Appoint a Data Protection Officer who is knowledgeable about the GDPR to oversee compliance with respect to data collection, storage, and data processing.
  • Train all employees that have access to personal data on the GDPR requirements, including the requirement that internal data on employees must comply with the GDPR.
  • Prepare for data breaches by creating internal processes to detect, report, and investigate breaches in compliance with the GDPR.

What organizations should NOT do if you are required to be GDPR complaint

  • Rely on the E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield to avoid compliance with the GDPR. Companies are still required to comply with the GDPR in order to receive Privacy Shield coverage, and the scope of the GDPR is much wider than the scope of the Privacy Shield.
  • Create exposure to the hefty penalties imposed by the GDPR for non-compliance. Companies are liable for 4% of their annual turnover or 20 million Euros, whichever is greater.
  • Risk reputational damage by receiving attention for non-compliance. The first companies to be penalized are more likely to receive significant media coverage for their noncompliance. 

There may be legal challenges to GDPR regarding applicability to non-EU companies 

This is a new, unprecedented law. The previous European data privacy law, the Data Protection Directive, was implemented in 1998, and was much narrower in scope.  The GDPR’s applicability and requirements are vast, and non-EU companies are likely to bring legal challenges in terms of its applicability to them. 

Who to contact with questions

Should you have any questions concerning the General Data Protection Regulation, please contact Matthew A. Heinle, Esq. (maheinle@bmdllc.com), who is a partner at Brennan, Manna & Diamond.

 

[1] General Data Protection Regulation, https://gdpr-info.eu/.

CLIENT ALERT: New Opportunity Zone Incentives Promise to Spur Economic Development

Created as part of the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, “Opportunity Zones” are designed to encourage long-term investments in underserved communities. By offering tax benefits to private investors who choose to invest their capital at the nexus of need and opportunity, the program supports a broad array of investments and offers opportunity for creative problem-solving strategies to address community needs. The program offers investors tiered tax benefits depending on the term of the investment, including a temporary deferral and partial reduction of unrealized capital gains, as well as the potential to exclude all future appreciation on the investment. The program is designed to tap into the estimated $6T+ of unrealized capital gains held by U.S. individuals and companies by incentivizing investors to re-invest that capital in low-income communities to spur economic development and job creation.

CLIENT ALERT: Medicare Trust Fund to Run Out of Funding Beginning in 2026, Likely to See an Increase in Audits, Overpayment Demands and Extrapolations

Pursuant to a Medicare Trustee Report released on June 5, 2018, the Medicare trust fund will run out of funding beginning in 2026, which is three years earlier than previously expected. Although the Trustee’s report requests that Congress and the President act with urgency to remedy this problem, in the short term, we expect to see an increase in government payer audits, overpayment demands, and extrapolations.

CLIENT ALERT: Class Action Waivers in Employment Contracts Upheld by Supreme Court

On May 21, 2018, in a 5-4 decision and a major win for employers, the United States Supreme Court upheld the legality of waivers in employment contracts that prohibit employees from grouping claims together in collective or class actions in favor of individual arbitration proceedings. See Epic Sys. Corp. v. Lewis, ___U.S.___ (2018).

CLIENT ALERT: Prohibition on Recoupment Prior to Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

In April, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Family Rehabilitation, Inc. v. Azar No. 17-11337 (5th Cir. 2018), held that district courts are authorized to enjoin the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) and its contractors from recouping alleged overpayments prior to the completion of the administrative appeal process.

CLIENT ALERT: Low Volume Appeals Settlement for RAC Appeals

In April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a new settlement proposal to providers with outstanding appeals at the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (“OMHA”) and the Medicare Appeals Council (“MAC”). Essentially, CMS is offering to pay up to 62% of the claim to the provider for qualifying claims that are currently in the appeal process. Interested providers may submit an Expression of Interest (“EOI”) to CMS by June 8, 2018. Providers should explore this settlement opportunity and submit an EOI to receive an offer of settlement. Providers may decline the offer after the EOI is submitted. Brennan, Manna & Diamond, LLC’s Provider Relations, Audit, and Appeals Unit, a division of its Healthcare Department, is able to assist providers with filing the EOI, analyzing the outstanding claims subject to the settlement, and reviewing the Administrative Agreement that is offered by CMS.