'No Harm No Foul' Becoming The Norm In Data Breach Lawsuits

from the no-blood-no-foul dept

Back in April, a judge ruled that Wells Fargo should not be penalized for a data breach because there was no evidence that those who acquired the data had done anything criminal with it. This seemed like poor reasoning; Wells Fargo had no control whether anyone would use the data in a criminal manner, but it did have control over how it stored the data. In that case, data was lost because it was stored in an unencrypted format on a laptop. Certainly some could argue that that was negligent. But it looks like this line of reasoning is becoming standard. A recent suit brought against data broker Axciom for letting customer data slip out was dismissed since the plaintiffs couldn't prove that anything bad had been done with it. Again, either the company was negligent in letting personal data out, or it wasn't; that should be the measure upon which these cases are decided, not what was done later with the data. There is a flipside, which is that if plaintiffs started winning these cases, data breach lawsuits could easily become the latest class action charade (We can see the commercials now, "Has your personal data been leaked? Call the law offices of..."). But companies can't keep getting let off the hook just because harm can't be proven, or they'll have little incentive to protect the data.

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  1. identicon
    Adrian Lamo, 21 Oct 2006 @ 5:03pm

    illusion of privacy

    Personally identifying information is so widespread on the net and elsewhere, I can't possibly imagine a world where its mere existence in someones hands creates liability.

    Let me save you some trouble. ALL your information is vulnerable, every last one of you. Every damn person everywhere has their identity in the hands of someone else.

    Now that we've established that nobody is safe, can we stop with the periodic "23 million identities stolen," and accept that it's around 300 million, and get over it?

    Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.

    EOT

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