Government Shutdown Security Breach Victims Seek Hope

From December 2018 to January 2019, the U.S. experienced the longest government shutdown in the country’s history. Though millions of people and organizations were affected by data breaches and cybersecurity threats during the shutdown, reports that those impacted have virtually no chance of receiving compensation.

A case which could decide the issue is currently under review:


“It would be fair to say that data breach lawsuits against a government agency is definitely an uphill battle,” said Craig Newman, a Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler partner and chair of its privacy data security group. “The added component of sovereign immunity makes it far more complex and challenging for the plaintiffs bar.”

“Normally what you read about most recently is the Marriott breach that was grabbing the headlines,” Newman added. “The plaintiff had to show they had standing, they suffered concrete harm or injury that has been a hotbed of contention in data breach litigation.” Newman noted courts have taken differing positions on the issue of cognizable damage from data breaches.

However the OPM plaintiffs have cited case law they say allows legal remedies for data breaches without actual harm.”


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