Blockchain technology is seeing increasingly wide use internationally, but security issues are becoming a major problem.

Blockchain is a public electronic ledger that can be openly shared among users and that creates an unchangeable record of their transactions. Each transaction, or “block”, is time-stamped and linked to the previous one. Each block is then linked to a specific participant. Blockchain can only be updated by consensus between users in the system, and when new data is entered, it can never be erased, edited, adjusted, or changed.


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For over twenty years, my father was a wholesale seafood supplier. One day over dinner (probably lobster, because that’s just how we rolled), my father tells us that he has hired an off-duty US Department of Agriculture inspector to inspect the fish that his company will be sending out to its grocery store clients. When I asked him if this was a legal requirement, he said it was not (the Department of Health and Human Services, via the FDA, apparently regulates fish, not the USDA). When I then asked him why he was doing it, he said, “If you were in the grocery store and you saw one piece of fish labelled ‘USDA Government Inspected’ and one piece of fish without that label, which one would you buy?” An informal “seal” program had been born!

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Once again, we realize that we have little control over how information we share on social media is ultimately used. The recent revelation that a data analytic firm retained by Trump’s presidential campaign used the Facebook data of more than 50 million people to target them with political ads is both shocking and unsurprising at

Recently, I counseled an employer regarding the termination of a high level HR employee. The termination wasn’t fun but the company’s termination process was followed. Unfortunately, that was the problem. The employer collected and turned off the exiting employee’s company badge. The employer took the same actions for the corporate credit card. The exiting employee’s laptop was collected and IT was informed to shut down the individual’s access to all systems immediately.

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Semper Fidelis is the U.S. Marines’ motto – “always faithful.” Perhaps an ironic twist of phrase in the context of its recent and preventable data breach. Let’s recap. The Marine Forces Reserve recently announced that personal information of over 21,000 Marines, sailors, and civilians were “compromised.” The PI included social security numbers, bank account and routing numbers, card information, name, address and other contact information. In other words, PI which is a treasure trove for identity thieves. Some of the PI may have been redacted in part. How did this breach occur? The culprit was an e-mail incorrectly sent with an unencrypted attachment. The email was sent out by the Defense Travel System which manages travel itineraries and expense reimbursement. Obviously sensitive location information is also in play. Probably not a big thing for a travelling salesperson, but highly problematic for defense sector travel.

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On February 27, 2018, the Supreme Court heard arguments in United States v. Microsoft Corp., a case that will decide whether a digital communications provider has to comply with a U.S. search warrant for user data that is stored outside of the U.S. U.S. v. Microsoft could have major consequences for digital privacy and international data sharing, especially for the cloud-computing industry.

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St. Louis was named after Louis IX (born in 1214!), hosted a World Fair (technically, the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition), the fleur-de-lis is ubiquitous, and we love soccer and football, although we have neither major league football nor soccer teams (St. Louis FC, our USL minor league soccer team, has a crest which features, you guessed it, a fleur-de-lis). However, St. Louis is known as the “Gateway to the West” – directionally away from Europe. Every once in a while, St. Louisans, like the rest of America, need to heed to what is going on over the pond, particularly when it comes to privacy and data security developments. Below is a brief update on a few foreign issues to begin the New Year.

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It’s time for year-behind-us reminisces and year-before-us prognostications and, for those of us with nothing better to do during the last few days of 2017 and first few days of 2018, attention turns to HIPAA enforcement. So what happened and what can we look forward to? If past is prologue, expect the sound of silence as there was nominal Office for Civil Rights (OCR) activity in 2017 and, with the one noisy exception, no actions to cause your ears to burn.

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