NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

In an opinion released May 14, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that Uber drivers should be classified as independent contractors, and not company employees. According to the NLRB, Uber drivers qualify as independent workers because they are given “significant entrepreneurial opportunity” and “virtually complete control of their cars, work schedules, and log-in locations, together with their freedom to work for competitors of Uber.” The opinion is a victory for Uber and a setback for drivers and labor advocates, since it makes it more challenging for drivers to file labor complaints, form a union, or seek federal protection. Continue reading NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

In what could become a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled to allow individual iPhone users to sue Apple in antitrust violation cases related to the tech giant’s App Store. In a 5-4 decision written by Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that determined App Store customers could sue Apple for allegedly driving up prices by forcing them to purchase apps exclusively from the App Store. Apple lost its argument that was based on the contention that third-party developers set the prices for apps. While Apple holds steady in its belief that it does not represent a monopoly, the ruling could have future ramifications regarding consumers who seek to sue other app sellers for antitrust violations. Continue reading Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

A regional court in Munich recently ruled that Amazon’s click-to-purchase Dash buttons for Prime members violate German consumer protection legislation. Based on the contention that the thumb-sized, adhesive Dash buttons do not always provide the latest pricing information, the court ordered Amazon to halt taking purchase orders through the Wi-Fi-connected devices. The decision follows a case brought against Amazon by a German consumer protection watchdog group that says it took action after fielding complaints by consumers. Germany is Amazon’s second largest market. Continue reading German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

The EU’s European Commission announced its plans to make Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services operating within the European Union to dedicate at least 30 percent of their catalogs to content produced locally. A final vote approving the new law, described as “a mere formality” by Roberto Viola of the European Commission, is expected in December. The European Union plans to publish a report that details the percentages of European projects that are tied to multiple streaming platforms. Netflix is reportedly already close to the 30 percent quota. Continue reading EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

New California Privacy Bill Leads to Concern Across Industries

Since California passed the consumer privacy bill known as AB 375, numerous tech companies, trade associations and lobbyists have been pushing for changes before it goes into effect in January 2020. The strict law was passed quickly to fend off an initiative from Californians for Consumer Privacy, which wanted to put the issue on the ballot. Now, with a few days left in the legislative session, lawmakers in California may vote on a replacement bill, SB-1121, that could substantially change the intent of the original law. Continue reading New California Privacy Bill Leads to Concern Across Industries

Tech Giants Pushing for More Favorable Federal Privacy Law

Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft and other tech companies are lobbying to begin work on a federal privacy law, with the goal of creating regulations that would favor them more than the strict law passed in June by California. The California law, a benchmark in the U.S., gives users the right to know what information tech companies are collecting and why, as well as with whom they’re sharing that data. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said its tech company members want to be “a constructive part of the process.” Continue reading Tech Giants Pushing for More Favorable Federal Privacy Law

President Bans Government Use of Huawei, ZTE Components

As part of the Defense Authorization Act, President Trump banned the use of Huawei and ZTE technology by the U.S. government and its contractors. Many Republicans regard the two Chinese companies as national security threats, which led to the passage of a Senate amendment in June to reinstate a trade ban on ZTE, which would have had the impact of shutting that company down. Trump worked to lift the ZTE ban, and the House did not sign off, setting off questions as to whether the two chambers would find a compromise. Continue reading President Bans Government Use of Huawei, ZTE Components

California Data Privacy Measure Is Likely to Impact the Nation

It’s not just Europe that’s battening down the privacy hatches with the recently activated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). California voters in November will likely be able to weigh in on the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, an initiative that would provide the state one of the broadest online privacy laws in the country. One of this initiative’s most significant backers is San Francisco real estate mogul Alastair Mactaggart, who put more than $2 million of his own money into getting it on the ballot. Continue reading California Data Privacy Measure Is Likely to Impact the Nation

Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring More Power to Tech Giants

Many lawmakers in Washington — from Senators Elizabeth Warren to Ted Cruz — are concerned about the amount of power that big tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have accrued. Some have even floated the idea of an antitrust law to curb their influence. But the U.S. Supreme Court just heard a case — Ohio v. American Express — that may actually give the technology giants even more power, say the experts. The case looks at how to analyze “harmful conduct” by companies that serve “multiple groups of users.” Continue reading Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring More Power to Tech Giants

IEEE Publishes First Draft Guidelines for ‘Ethically Aligned’ AI

The IEEE just published the first version of a 136-page document that it hopes will help technologists build ethically designed AI systems that can benefit humanity and avoid the pitfalls inherent in the new field. Ethics, says the IEEE, is something that technologists should consider when building autonomous systems, and it lists recommendations in the new document, titled “Ethically Aligned Design,” which are based on the input of more than 100 specialists in AI, law, ethics, philosophy and policy. Continue reading IEEE Publishes First Draft Guidelines for ‘Ethically Aligned’ AI

Global Tech Firms Wary of China’s Broad Cybersecurity Law

China has adopted a broad and controversial cybersecurity law that places new requirements on tech companies, which foreign businesses fear may be used to negatively affect competition. The law, designed to tighten state control over technology and information while ramping up online security, addresses areas such as data storage, technical support, censorship and government certification of hardware. According to The Wall Street Journal, “The law drew criticism from foreign business groups due to the expansive list of sectors that are defined as part of China’s ‘critical information infrastructure,’ making sectors including telecommunications, energy, transportation, information services and finance subject to security checks.” Continue reading Global Tech Firms Wary of China’s Broad Cybersecurity Law

New York Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

New York passed a bill in June legalizing daily fantasy sports, enabling popular services such as DraftKings and FanDuel to operate in the state. Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law. “Daily fantasy sports have proven to be popular in New York, but until now have operated with no supervision and no protections for players,” explained Cuomo. “This legislation strikes the right balance that allows this activity to continue with oversight from state regulators, new consumer protections, and more funding for education.” Continue reading New York Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

Sharing HBO GO or Netflix Passwords Is Now a Federal Crime

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled that using another person’s password to access online services such as HBO GO and Netflix is now considered in violation of federal computer laws. “But don’t panic,” suggests Variety. “It’s not likely that subscription VOD providers will suddenly have the feds descend on people swapping their login credentials.” While a 2015 study from Parks Associates projected that SVOD services could lose up to $500 million in revenue from password sharing, several services have downplayed the impact. During CES, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even noted that many violators often become paying customers. Continue reading Sharing HBO GO or Netflix Passwords Is Now a Federal Crime

Fantasy Sports May Return to New York if Governor Signs Bill

The New York legislature passed a bill over the weekend that would legalize and regulate fantasy sports in the state. Last fall, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said daily fantasy sports are a violation of state gambling laws; courts then ruled to shut down DraftKings and FanDuel. The new decision could impact the industry’s ongoing efforts “to pass bills in statehouses that would validate its contention the practice isn’t gambling and shouldn’t be subject to state gambling bans or other restrictions,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The industry has won passage of bills in Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri and Colorado, but it has lost battles in several other states.” Continue reading Fantasy Sports May Return to New York if Governor Signs Bill

Appeals Court Rules for Vimeo in Copyright Infringement Case

In a blow to record companies — and a win for Internet service providers, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York yesterday ruled that Vimeo cannot be held liable for copyright infringement if the video-sharing site unknowingly hosts older music that was uploaded by users. In addition, the court ruled that it is not enough to prove Vimeo ignored infringement if company employees had watched videos containing copyrighted sound recordings. The case, which centered on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), was being watched closely by Silicon Valley. Continue reading Appeals Court Rules for Vimeo in Copyright Infringement Case

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