Tech Firms Push Back as ‘Right-to-Repair’ Gains Momentum

As “right-to-repair” laws gain traction in states including New York, which passed legislation last year, tech firms are girding to battle back against consumer rights to buy parts and access information about how to implement DIY fixes. Forced obsolescence being part of virtually every hardware manufacturer’s business plan, the rapid pace of device disposal and replacement has proven taxing on the environment, as well as costly for consumers. Some companies are said to design software that performs inadequately with replacement parts, or update software to intentionally degrade product performance with age. Continue reading Tech Firms Push Back as ‘Right-to-Repair’ Gains Momentum

Apple Plans to Open iOS to Third-Parties Thanks to EU Laws

Apple is planning to allow app sideloading in response to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, set to take effect in 2024. The move reverses long-held policies that were a source of ire to many Apple developers as well as global regulators. It is believed the new approach could spillover to other regions where lawmakers are at various stages of reining in Big Tech, with companies including Google and Meta Platforms also in the crosshairs. The news sent shares up among companies that offer dating apps, including Match Group and Bumble. Spotify also got a bump. Continue reading Apple Plans to Open iOS to Third-Parties Thanks to EU Laws

European Council Weighs in on the Artificial Intelligence Act

The European Council (EU’s governing body) has adopted a position on the Artificial Intelligence Act, which aims to ensure that AI systems used or marketed in the European Union are safe and respect existing laws on fundamental rights. In addition to defining artificial intelligence, the European Council’s general approach specifies prohibited AI practices, calls for risk level allocation, and stipulates ways to deal with those risks. The Council — comprised of EU heads of state — becomes the first co-legislate to complete this initial step, with the European Parliament expected to offer its version of the AIA in the first half of 2023. Continue reading European Council Weighs in on the Artificial Intelligence Act

Australia’s Highest Court Rules Google Links Not Defamatory

In a major reversal, Australia’s highest court found Google not liable for defamatory content linked through search results, ruling that the Alphabet subsidiary “was not a publisher” of the objectionable content. Google was sued for defamation for a 2004 article appearing in its search engine results, and both the trial court and a circuit court of appeals held Google responsible as a “publisher” because it was instrumental in circulating the contents of the offending article. The lower courts rejected Google’s reliance on the statutory and common law defenses of innocent dissemination and qualified privilege. Continue reading Australia’s Highest Court Rules Google Links Not Defamatory

IP Protection for NFTs and Blockchain Assets Is Still Unclear

As blockchain projects diversify into sales marketplaces for creative works, many find themselves dealing with copyright problems due to uncertainty as to how existing law applies to things like NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations). For instance, while purchase of an NFT confers certain rights, copyright isn’t one of them, unless the buyer applies for a standard copyright license. Spice DAO spent $3 million to purchase director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1970s illustrated pitch for an unfilmed version of “Dune,” only to have the “Dune” copyright holder block the ability to turn the storyboards into an animated film. Continue reading IP Protection for NFTs and Blockchain Assets Is Still Unclear

Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

The FTC and New York attorney general announced yesterday that Google is being fined $170 million following the investigation of YouTube’s alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The investigation claims that Google marketed the video platform to advertisers based on the popularity of channels with younger audiences, and tracked viewing histories of children to serve them ads, without first getting consent of the parents. Google and YouTube will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York in the largest COPPA fine to date (Congress enacted the law in 1998). Continue reading Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

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