In an action to keep company executives in check, the Justice Department (DOJ), created a policy where executives and compliance chiefs sign and personally attest to the effectiveness of their compliance programs. The individuals would therefore be held personally liable for their roles in the company’s wrongdoing. The DOJ and Google had a pending dispute, which was due to Google’s non-compliance with assisting authorities in an investigation. The DOJ and Google reached an agreement, with a stipulation attached, resolving the dispute over Google’s loss of data responsive to a 2016 search warrant. In the stipulation, Google has said that it has spent over 90 million dollars on additional systems and resources to improve its compliance programs, including an agreement to allow an Independent Compliance Professional to serve as a third party to monitor that Google is fulfilling its compliance legal obligations. This policy, as already seen in the settlement with Google, is forcing compliance to become a top-tier concern for big companies or face serious consequences.
In the last few years, especially after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a noticeable growth in US labor organizing. Workers all over the country, from both large corporations and small companies, have gone on strikes and began forming labor unions in an effort to get better wages, working conditions, and benefits. Most recently, employees at large rail unions rejected a tentative deal to avert a walkout in September 2022 after it failed to adequately address their concerns. This is the latest, but certainly not the only, instance of workers demonstrating their increased bargaining power. We have also seen increased unionization movements by corporate employees at corporations like Amazon, Google, and Starbucks. However, as more corporate employees attempt to unionize, corporations have begun to push back, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has stepped in to put a stop to blatant anti-unionization efforts.
A settlement has been reached in a $100 million dollar class action lawsuit against Google impacting an estimated 1.4 million Illinois resident users. The order comes as a result of Rivera, et al. v. Google LLC , where users photographs appeared in the storage application service, known as Google Photos, without having acquired proper consent nor provided notice to its users. Google is only one of many technology giants joining trending litigation in violation of the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). While this settlement is one of the largest in Illinois to date, one can expect there to be more class-action lawsuits on the way.
With new antitrust bills aimed against Big Tech stuck in Congress, across the pond, European Union (EU) lawmakers are close to an agreement on a new and sweeping digital-competition law. This large piece of legislation, known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA), is aimed at Big Tech companies and its stated purpose is to ensure fair competition and open digital markets. DMA, along with its sister act, the Digital Services Act (DSA), are flagship pieces of EU legislation that are currently in the final stages of EU lawmaking procedure.
Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are dominating the headlines with record-breaking profits and dismissals of antitrust lawsuits; however, that may not last long with new antitrust bills gaining traction in Congress. In fact, when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16 – 6 to advance a major antitrust bill on January 20, 2022, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, the tech companies stock prices dipped. Currently, with bipartisan support, the bill is on a path to pass the Senate.
Sei Unno Associate Editor Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2019 Facial recognition has become mainstream, whether the laws are ready or not. Video games are using facial recognition to check the ages of their users and cars are being equipped with technology to identify drivers who are fatigued or distracted. In the U.S., states …
In 2014, in the District Court of Arizona, a judge ruled that “Google” was not a generic term and was eligible to receive trademark protection in Elliott v. Google. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling. In 2011, Forbes estimated that the “Google” trademark was worth $113 Billion; the trademark is worth more now in 2018 and the company’s trademark is likely its most valuable asset. The suit first ensued when Elliott purchased over 700 domain names with the word “Google” and after the company had successfully won a name dispute, Elliott filed to cancel “Google” trademarks. Elliott claimed that Google was a generic term and should not receive trademark protection. The Ninth Circuit’s ruling in this case will most definitely affect companies and entrepreneurs of all sizes, perhaps giving companies more protection than they were afforded in the past; what some are calling an unintended consequence.
Recently, Google added new functionality to the Google Arts & Culture app that allows users to snap a selfie and find artwork from around the world that resembles the user. The app very quickly rose to the top of the charts as users around the United States took plenty of photos. Almost everywhere around the United States at least. Illinois and a few other states have laws that prohibit the collection or use of biometric (iris, fingerprint, etc.) data by businesses except under certain circumstances. The Google Arts & Culture app uses biometric data to compare a user’s image to the Mona Lisa (or any other portrait).
Google answered Amazon’s Echo Dot by recently launching their own pint-sized smart speaker, the Google Home Mini. Recently, Google was forced to disable one of the features on the Home Mini after it was discovered that a technical glitch led to near 24/7 audio recording. Google responded quickly and appropriately, investigating the cause and quickly releasing an update to disable the hardware responsible for the glitch. The Equifax hack – a breach of personal data including social security numbers, driver’s license information, and other credit details – exposed nearly half the country and waited months to respond. Upcoming European legislation that can significantly impact American companies with European Union clients may be part of the reason for their drastically different responses.