cyber liability; data breach; FTC; hacking; security

Months. Actually, years. That’s how long the notion has been brewing that the Federal Trade Commission has no authority to enforce reasonable data security under the unfairness prong of FTC Act Section 5. The stakes are high – the FTC can pursue essentially any commercial company under the FTC Act for unfair or deceptive trade practices in interstate commerce. And if the FTC indeed has the authority to take any such company to court for “unfair” data security practices under Section 5, without any FTC regulations under Section 5 setting standards for exactly what constitutes adequate data security… well, one can appreciate why many in the general business community are uneasy.

When the FTC sued Wyndham in federal court for inadequate data security, Wyndham raised every argument its lawyers could think of to dismiss the FTC’s unfairness claims.  After failing to convince the trial court, Wyndham next took an interlocutory appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the first appellate court to ever consider this issue, and asked that the FTC be stopped. But instead of a red light (a ruling of no FTC authority) or a yellow light (a ruling on other grounds), the Third Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision, handed down this week, gives the FTC a clear green light to pursue its claims against Wyndham for alleged unreasonable data security as an unfair business practice.
Continue Reading Third Circuit gives FTC green light for data security enforcement