Having escaped the bleak midwinter of the Midwest for a few brief days, I find myself sitting poolside in sunny Orlando experiencing a few tantalizing hours of near summer temps. As I watch the inflatables being splashed about gleefully by children (mine included) impervious to the water’s lingering chill, my thoughts naturally turn to privacy and security (which is not a euphemism for my ill-fitting swimsuit by the way).

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Following the GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and other newly introduced state privacy legislation, the Washington Senate has proposed its own GDPR-like consumer privacy act. Washington Senate Bill 5376, the Washington Privacy Act, as first proposed on January 22, 2019 and substituted February 24, 2019 applies “not only to technologies and products of today but to technologies and products of tomorrow.” If approved, it will go into effect July 31, 2021.

The Act will apply to legal entities that conduct business in Washington or produce products or services that intentionally target Washington residents. These entities must also either (1) control or process data of at least 100,000 consumers or (2) derive 50 percent gross revenue from the sale of personal information and process or control personal information of at least 25,000 consumers. Under the Act, personal data is any information that is linked or reasonably linkable to an identified or identifiable natural person.

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US relations with the European Union took another hit last week, when the European Parliament voted to suspend Privacy Shield, the agreement between the US and the EU that allows companies to transfer the personal information of EU citizens out of the EU to US companies that have promised to adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). Between the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, the passage of the CLOUD Act and the Russian hack (sorry – alleged Russian hack) of the 2016 election, the EP felt that Privacy Shield did not provide an adequate level of protection for EU citizens. The US has until September 1 to become compliant.

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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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The influence of the Internet of Things (IoT) will undoubtedly be transformational with a total potential economic impact estimated to be $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year by 2025. In the race into the IoT marketplace, there are both known and unknown legal hurdles that will affect those who offer of goods and services during the proliferation of the Internet of Things.

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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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