August 13, 2012
Intellectual Property, Internet & E-Commerce Alerts

California DOJ Unveils Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit
by Cyrus Wadia

California Attorney General Kamala Harris recently announced the formation of the Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit, a State Justice Department unit dedicated to protecting consumer privacy through civil prosecution of state and federal privacy laws.

Privacy Unit

The California Constitution guarantees privacy as an inalienable right. The PEP Unit combines various privacy functions of the Department of Justice into a single enforcement and education unit.  A staff of Department of Justice prosecutors and employees will enforce laws regulating the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of private or sensitive information by individuals, organizations, and the government, including laws relating to cyber privacy, health privacy, financial privacy, identity theft, government records, and data breaches. The former Chief of California Office of Privacy Protection, Joanna McNabb, will oversee the unit's education and outreach efforts.

eCrime Unit

The Privacy Unit is part of an ongoing effort to address growing data privacy concerns.  It resides under the eCrime Unit which was created last year to prosecute crimes involving technology such as the following:

·         Identity theft – The Internet provides new ways for criminals to steal personal information and identities whether through email phishing scams or trolling the Internet for personal information about others.

·         Fraud committed using the Internet – This includes scams perpetrated via email and on Internet auction websites.

·         Theft of computer components or services – Burglary and robbery of computers or other electronic devices by highly-organized gangs at manufacturing sites, storage facilities and retail stores.]

·         Intellectual property crimes, such as counterfeiting or piracy – Large numbers of websites and online networks exist solely for the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, such as movies, music and software.

·         Child exploitation – Disrupting online child pornography networks and those who commit sex crimes against children using the Internet or social media.

For further information, please contact Cyrus Wadia, head of Cooper, White & Cooper’s Intellectual Property Group.
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