Following a brutal campaign – one laced with Wikileaks’ email dumps, confidential Clinton emails left unprotected, flurries of Twitter and other social media activity – it will be interesting to see how a Trump Administration will address the serious issues of privacy, cybersecurity and electronic communications, including in social media.

Mr. Trump had not been too specific with many of his positions while campaigning, so it is difficult to have a sense of where his administration might focus. But, one place to look is his campaign website where the now President-elect outlined a vision, summarized as follows:

  • Order an immediate review of all U.S. cyber defenses and vulnerabilities by individuals from the military, law enforcement, and the private sector, the “Cyber Review Team.”
  • The Cyber Review Team will provide specific recommendations for safeguarding with the best defense technologies tailored to the likely threats.
  • The Cyber Review Team will establish detailed protocols and mandatory cyber awareness training for all government employees.
  • Instruct the U.S. Department of Justice to coordinate responses to cyber threats.
  • Develop the offensive cyber capabilities we need to deter attacks by both state and non-state actors and, if necessary, to respond appropriately.

There is nothing new here as these positions appear generally to continue the work of prior administrations in the area of cybersecurity. Perhaps insight into President-elect Trump’s direction in these areas will be influenced by his campaign experiences.

Should we expect a tightening of cybersecurity requirements through new statutes and regulations?

Mr. Trump has expressed a desire to reduce regulation, not increase it. However, political party hackings and unfavorable email dumps from Wikileaks, coupled with continued data breaches affecting private and public sector entities, may prompt his administration and Congress to do more. Politics aside, cybersecurity clearly is a top national security threat, and it is having a significant impact on private sector risk management strategies and individual security. Some additional regulation may be coming.

An important question for many, especially for organizations that have suffered a multi-state data breach, is whether we will see a federal data breach notification standard, one that would “trump” the current patchwork of state laws. With Republicans in control of the executive and legislative branches, at least for the next two years, and considering the past legislative activity in this area, a federal law on data breach notification that supersedes state law does not seem likely.

Should we expect an expansion of privacy rights or other protections for electronic communication such as email or social media communication?

Again, much has been made of the disclosure of private email during the campaign, and President-elect Trump is famous (or infamous) for his use of social media, particularly his Twitter account. For some time, however, many have expressed concern that federal laws such as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Communications Act are in need of significant updates to address new technologies and usage, while others continue to have questions about the application of the Communications Decency Act. We also have seen an increase in scrutiny over the content of electronic communications by the National Labor Relations Board, and more than twenty states have passed laws concerning the privacy of social media and online personal accounts. Meanwhile, the emergence of Big Data, artificial intelligence, IoT, cognitive computing and other technologies continue to spur significant privacy questions about the collection and use of data.

While there may be a tightening of the rules concerning how certain federal employees handle work emails, based on what we have seen, it does not appear at this point that a Trump Administration will make these issues a priority for the private sector.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Photo of Joseph J. Lazzarotti Joseph J. Lazzarotti

Joseph J. Lazzarotti is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He founded and currently co-leads the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group, edits the firm’s Privacy Blog, and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP)…

Joseph J. Lazzarotti is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He founded and currently co-leads the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group, edits the firm’s Privacy Blog, and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) with the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Trained as an employee benefits lawyer, focused on compliance, Joe also is a member of the firm’s Employee Benefits practice group.

In short, his practice focuses on the matrix of laws governing the privacy, security, and management of data, as well as the impact and regulation of social media. He also counsels companies on compliance, fiduciary, taxation, and administrative matters with respect to employee benefit plans.

Privacy and cybersecurity experience – Joe counsels multinational, national and regional companies in all industries on the broad array of laws, regulations, best practices, and preventive safeguards. The following are examples of areas of focus in his practice:

  • Advising health care providers, business associates, and group health plan sponsors concerning HIPAA/HITECH compliance, including risk assessments, policies and procedures, incident response plan development, vendor assessment and management programs, and training.
  • Coached hundreds of companies through the investigation, remediation, notification, and overall response to data breaches of all kinds – PHI, PII, payment card, etc.
  • Helping organizations address questions about the application, implementation, and overall compliance with European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and, in particular, its implications in the U.S., together with preparing for the California Consumer Privacy Act.
  • Working with organizations to develop and implement video, audio, and data-driven monitoring and surveillance programs. For instance, in the transportation and related industries, Joe has worked with numerous clients on fleet management programs involving the use of telematics, dash-cams, event data recorders (EDR), and related technologies. He also has advised many clients in the use of biometrics including with regard to consent, data security, and retention issues under BIPA and other laws.
  • Assisting clients with growing state data security mandates to safeguard personal information, including steering clients through detailed risk assessments and converting those assessments into practical “best practice” risk management solutions, including written information security programs (WISPs). Related work includes compliance advice concerning FTC Act, Regulation S-P, GLBA, and New York Reg. 500.
  • Advising clients about best practices for electronic communications, including in social media, as well as when communicating under a “bring your own device” (BYOD) or “company owned personally enabled device” (COPE) environment.
  • Conducting various levels of privacy and data security training for executives and employees
  • Supports organizations through mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations with regard to the handling of employee and customer data, and the safeguarding of that data during the transaction.
  • Representing organizations in matters involving inquiries into privacy and data security compliance before federal and state agencies including the HHS Office of Civil Rights, Federal Trade Commission, and various state Attorneys General.

Benefits counseling experience – Joe’s work in the benefits counseling area covers many areas of employee benefits law. Below are some examples of that work:

  • As part of the Firm’s Health Care Reform Team, he advises employers and plan sponsors regarding the establishment, administration and operation of fully insured and self-funded health and welfare plans to comply with ERISA, IRC, ACA/PPACA, HIPAA, COBRA, ADA, GINA, and other related laws.
  • Guiding clients through the selection of plan service providers, along with negotiating service agreements with vendors to address plan compliance and operations, while leveraging data security experience to ensure plan data is safeguarded.
  • Counsels plan sponsors on day-to-day compliance and administrative issues affecting plans.
  • Assists in the design and drafting of benefit plan documents, including severance and fringe benefit plans.
  • Advises plan sponsors concerning employee benefit plan operation, administration and correcting errors in operation.

Joe speaks and writes regularly on current employee benefits and data privacy and cybersecurity topics and his work has been published in leading business and legal journals and media outlets, such as The Washington Post, Inside Counsel, Bloomberg, The National Law Journal, Financial Times, Business Insurance, HR Magazine and NPR, as well as the ABA Journal, The American Lawyer, Law360, Bender’s Labor and Employment Bulletin, the Australian Privacy Law Bulletin and the Privacy, and Data Security Law Journal.

Joe served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Laura Denvir Stith on the Missouri Court of Appeals.