Four Internet Law New Year’s Resolutions to Start 2016 Off Right

Published: Jan. 05, 2016

Updated: Oct. 05, 2020

It is that time of year when everyone is making New Year’s resolutions. And while getting to the gym more often, eating better and being nicer to your in-laws are all admirable, and maybe even attainable personal goals, here are four business resolutions that our clients should work towards in 2016.

Review and Update Your Privacy Policy

When was the last time you updated your Privacy Policy? If it was more than a year ago, then it’s time to take another look. Privacy law moves fast and the ways in which your company may wish to use, analyze, and potentially monetize data likely moves even faster. Reviewing and updating your Privacy Policy annually helps ensure that your company keeps up with the vast array of new privacy laws, regulations, and best practices. And, a privacy policy that accurately describes your information collection, use, and sharing practices permits your marketing, business development, and engineering colleagues to freely innovate without legal getting in the way. Use the New Year as an opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and show your co-workers that considering privacy when developing new products and services (so called, Privacy by Design) is not the lawyers putting up roadblocks, but opening doors to innovate, be creative, and analyze important information to build products and services that your customers want. Plus, your customers and regulators are demanding transparency in your privacy practices. Don’t let them down; use the start of a New Year to take stock of your privacy practices and make them current.

Evaluate Data Security Practices

You already know that data security has become and will continue to be critically important for all companies that collect and store information about customers and employees. While data breaches have become the norm, companies should be proactive in their approach to data security to reduce the likelihood of breaches and be prepared to handle them when the inevitable happens. Security is not a one-size fits all approach. Your security program should be right-sized for your business and flexible to address the ever-changing threats and potential vulnerabilities in your systems, networks, and applications. The New Year represents an opportunity to evaluate your current security practices and to encourage buy-in and teamwork throughout the company – from the C-Suite through marketing, operations, HR, sales, and customer service. Security should be considered during the development of new products and services (that is, Data Security by Design) not after a breach has occurred or after a regulator has inquired about your data security practices. So, as you kick off 2016, resolve to evaluate and improve your data security practices: conduct appropriate training for employees; evaluate relationships with vendors that have access to your customers’ and employees’ information; and implement (or improve) critical security policies and procedures, such as Incident Response Plans and Information Security Policies.

Review Advertising Practices

The way in which companies advertise and market their products and services both online and offline should be truthful, cannot be deceptive or unfair, and must be evidence based. The New Year is the perfect time to review your advertising and ensure that it meets these requirements. The Federal Trade Commission and State Attorneys General continue to focus on advertising and marketing, especially related to endorsements and testimonials, advertising to children, online behavioral advertising, telemarketing and email marketing. Start the year off right by dusting off and reviewing the FTC’s Endorsements and Testimonials Guidelines, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act FAQs, the .com Disclosures, and CAN SPAM Act Business Guidance, as well as the various Digital Advertising Alliance Self-Regulatory Principles governing a variety of online advertising. It also is important to stay abreast of new advertising developments, including the FTC’s recent native advertising Enforcement Policy Statement explaining how established consumer protection principles apply to “native” advertisements that look like surrounding non-advertising content. A final quick way to stay current with advertising practices and trends is to listen to the series of webinars by my colleague Ken Dreifach, which are all available on YouTube, including Data Onboarding Background and Privacy Principles, Geo-targeting, Location Data and Privacy Compliance, COPPA and Online Data, and Cross-Device Regulation.

Stay Current with Privacy, Security and Marketing Legal Trends

Laws and best practices in the privacy, security, and advertising spaces move quickly – very quickly. It can be challenging to stay on top of new developments and trends. But we have you covered and you can earn MCLE credit to boot (for California and New York. Pending approval in Virginia). Mark your calendar for a free ZwillGen webinar:

Privacy Developments: What Will 2016 Bring?
Presenters: Jon Frankel and Anna Hsia 

Tuesday, January 19th at 2:30 PM EST
This webinar has been approved for 1 MCLE credit in California and New York. Pending approval in Virginia.

Click here to register

During the webinar, we will cover a variety of topics, including an FTC update and predictions; statutory standing and “harm”; updates on data breaches; telemarketing, big data and the Internet of Things; cybersecurity; Safe Harbor 2.0 and the new GDPR; and surveillance and information sharing.

Happy New Year everyone! We look forward to working with you in 2016.