As 2019 came to a close, we looked ahead into 2020 and noted that data would continue to be a huge issue for the digital economy. We have not been disappointed. On February 19, 2020, the European Commission (the “Commission”) released its 35-page document entitled “A European strategy for
In 2018, Congress passed the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) to modernize the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). CFIUS is chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury and is empowered to review certain transactions involving foreign investment in the U.S.…
On January 7, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) announced its 2020 examination priorities. In doing so, OCIE identified certain areas of technology-related concern, and in particular, on the issue of alternative data and cybersecurity. [For a more detailed review of OCIE’s…
On January 7, 2019, the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a draft of a memorandum setting forth guidance to assist federal agencies in developing regulatory and non-regulatory approaches regarding artificial intelligence (AI). This draft guidance will be available for public comment for sixty days, after which it will be finalized and issued to federal agencies.
According to the draft, the guidance was developed with the intent to reduce barriers to innovation while also balancing privacy and security concerns and respect for IP. The proposed guidance features ten principles to guide regulatory approaches to AI applications. In addition, in what may be a boon for those in the private sector developing AI infrastructure, the OMB reinforces the objective of making federal data and models generally available to the private sector for non-federal use in developing AI systems.
Initial responses to the proposed guidance has been mixed, and it remains to be seen how the principles in the guidance (when finalized) will be put in practice. Notably, however, those who intend to invest significant resources in AI-based infrastructure should be aware of what may prove to be the emerging blueprint for AI regulation in the near future.
With the online shopping season in full swing, the FTC decided that online retailers might benefit from a reminder as to the dos and don’ts for social media influencers. Thus, the FTC released a new guide, “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers,” that reiterates its position about the responsibility of “influencers” to disclose “material” connections with brands when endorsing products in online posts. Beyond this new guide, which is written in an easy-to-read brochure format (with headings such a “How to Disclose” and “When to Disclose”), the FTC released related videos to convey the message that influencers should “stay on the right side of the law” and disclose when appropriate the relationship with a brand he or she is endorsing. This latest reminder to influencers comes on the heels of the FTC sending 90 letters to influencers in April 2017 notifying them of their responsibilities under the FTC”s Endorsement Guides, and the prior publishing of an Endorsement Guides FAQ. With the release of fresh guidance, now is a good time for brands with relationships with influencers to ensure endorsements are not deceptive and remain on the right side of the law. Indeed, advertisers should have reasonable programs in place to train and monitor members of their influencer network and influencers themselves should remain aware of requirements under the Endorsement Guides.
This week, the FTC entered into a proposed settlement with Unrollme Inc. (“Unrollme”), a free personal email management service that offers to assist consumers in managing the flood of subscription emails in their inboxes. The FTC alleged that Unrollme made certain deceptive statements to consumers, who may have had privacy concerns, to persuade them to grant the company access to their email accounts. (In re Unrolllme Inc., File No 172 3139 (FTC proposed settlement announced Aug. 8, 2019).
This settlement touches many relevant issues, including the delicate nature of online providers’ privacy practices relating to consumer data collection, the importance for consumers to comprehend the extent of data collection when signing up for and consenting to a new online service or app, and the need for downstream recipients of anonymized market data to understand how such data is collected and processed. (See also our prior post covering an enforcement action involving user geolocation data collected from a mobile weather app).
In an effort to modernize communications, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) decided to allow cable operators to deliver general subscriber notices required under so-called Subpart T rules (47 CFR §§ 76.1601 et seq.) to verified customer email addresses. This decision was announced through a Report and Order on November 15, 2018. This update is part of the greater trend towards using electronic communications and electronic contracting to replace paper as supported by the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (“E-Sign Act”) and related state laws. The E-Sign Act allows electronic records to satisfy legal requirements that certain information to be provided in writing if the consumer has affirmatively consented to such use. However, the E-Sign Act allows federal agencies like the FCC to exempt a specified category or type of record from the normally required consent requirements if it makes the agency’s requirements less burdensome and does not harm consumers. In this case, based on an understanding that it would be impractical for cable operators to attempt to receive permission from each individual customer prior to initiating electronic delivery of these general notices, the FCC waived the consent requirement pursuant to their discretion under the E-Sign Act.
Last week the WSJ published an article detailing how companies are monetizing smartphone location data by selling it to hedge fund clients. The data vendor featured in the WSJ article obtains geolocation data from about 1,000 apps that fund managers use to predict trends involving public companies. However, as we’ve…
As we approach the end of 2017, it is a time to reflect on the dizzying pace of technology evolution this year, and the amazing array of legal issues it presented. Similarly, it is a time to look forward and anticipate what technology-related issues we will be thinking about in the coming year.
For 2017, the list is long and varied.
This year, the true potential of blockchain was recognized by many in the commercial sector. While recent blockchain-related headlines have focused on the rise (and regulation) of cryptocurrencies, a great deal of the blockchain action has been in back office applications in financial services, supply chain and other areas. Industry wide consortia have been formed, trials and proof of concepts have been run, and, as evidenced by the recent announcement by the Australian Stock Exchange to replace its clearing and settlement system with a blockchain based system, we are moving into full production implementations of blockchain systems.
Cybersecurity garnered major attention in 2017. Unfortunately, data breaches continued to be a constant headline item, as were related class action litigation. As a result, cybersecurity was a “top of the agenda” item for state and federal agencies, state legislatures, regulators, corporate boards, GCs and plaintiffs’ lawyers.
As a related matter, privacy issues were also front and center this year. In particular, we saw increased activity in some of the cutting edge areas of privacy law, including biometrics-related litigation (particularly under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (known as BIPA)), video streaming privacy (particularly under the Video Privacy Protection Act, or the VPPA)) and mobile-related privacy issues.
There are many other issues that occupied our minds this year, including artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, online copyright liability (including application of the DMCA in online contexts), and publisher/distributor liability for third party content online (under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act). Additionally, parties involved in agreements of all types have been increasingly focused on technology-related legal risk, and were more intent on addressing and shifting technology-related risks with very specific contractual provisions.
I am pleased to announce that Proskauer has recently launched a new blog focused exclusively on the use of blockchain in business. The blog will be wide ranging in nature, covering the legal issues associated with blockchain as applied to financial services, health care, real estate, supply chain management, media…