Christopher Ballod Quoted By Legaltech News for Article on Privacy Law Enforcement During COVID-19 Pandemic

Philadelphia, Pa. (May 8, 2020) – Data Privacy & Cybersecurity Partner Christopher E. Ballod was recently quoted by Legaltech news in an article titled “COVID-19 Has Shut Down Lots of Things – But Not Privacy Regulators,” about the continuing enforcement of privacy laws during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the article explains, although telehealth-related privacy laws under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) have been relaxed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of privacy laws remain undisturbed. Indeed, there may be a particular need for enforcement of these laws now, as criminals continue to capitalize upon COVID-19 anxiety and remote work arrangements.

Mr. Ballod, a partner in Lewis Brisbois’ Philadelphia office, told Legaltech that instead of seeing a loosening of privacy regulations, he has noticed an increase in enforcement actions. He explained that Lewis Brisbois recently has been handling a growing number of incident response cases, commenting, “I’m not seeing large sweeping changes or [regulators] willing to make large sweeping changes just yet. … If anything I’m seeing more enforcement actually.”

Mr. Ballod explained that the uptick in privacy enforcement actions may be the result of regulators being more vigilant because they are aware of the steady stream of COVID-19-themed phishing e-mails that malicious actors have been utilizing. Alternatively, he suggested, regulators may simply be more productive while they are working from home. He described, “It could be that the office environments are less productive for them, which is true for some businesses.

Moreover, according to Mr. Ballod, although regulators currently may be particularly focused on privacy laws, it is unlikely that a federal privacy law will pass in the near future. He told Legaltech that unless there is a large-scale data breach of some kind, finding support for such a law will be difficult now, given the fact that the current pandemic requires so much federal attention.

Mr. Ballod explained, “The COVID-19 pandemic in my mind is definitely taking a privacy law off the table for the foreseeable future. I do think there are other issues, especially in a[n] election year, with a pandemic that will keep that from being at the forefront.”

Mr. Ballod, CIPP/US, CIPP/E, is a vice chair of the firm's Data Privacy & Cybersecurity Practice, and a member of its Corporate and Complex Business & Commercial Litigation Practices. He regularly counsels clients on the prevention of data breach incidents and during the response and notification process after an incident occurs. He is also a frequent contributor to the firm's Digital Insights blog.

You can read the full article on Legaltech news (subscription may be required).

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