The Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) issued a press release on September 8, 2023, detailing how the agency plans to use at least part of the $80 million dollar allocation it received from the Inflation Reduction Act last year. I.R.S. Commissioner Danny Werfel plans to use the funds to make compliance enforcement efforts and tax evasion identification more effective and efficient. How does he plan to do this? The overwhelmed and perhaps overworked agency will be using artificial intelligence (AI) programs and features to expedite and assist with redundant processes as well as to audit parties that are too complicated or large for the I.R.S.’s current capabilities.
A woman attempting to chaperone her daughter’s Girl Scout troop on a trip to attend a Rockette’s show at Radio City Music Hall was denied entry based on facial recognition technology. The security subsequently revealed that she was on a list of excluded attorneys as her firm was involved in ongoing litigation against Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment (which owns Radio City Music Hall). this could be one of the consequences of allowing private corporations to use facial recognition technology.
On March 10th, 2023, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapsed practically overnight, followed only two days later by the collapse of Signature Bank. Prior to its collapse, SVB uniquely served a single category of customers – start-ups. As the largest bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis, SVB’s bankruptcy resulted in significant consequences for the tech industry. While SVB has since been acquired by First Citizens BancShares, the House Financial Services Committee is currently seeking answers from both regulators and SVB executives about how such a failure could have occurred and how to prevent it from happening again.
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.
On June 24, the Supreme Court officially overturned Roe v. Wade. In doing so, it declared that there was no longer a constitutional right to abortion, allowing state police power to determine its legality. Immediately after this decision, trigger laws went into effect across a quarter of the states, making abortions illegal. Post Dobbs, information collected on personal devices, especially through period-tracking and telemedicine apps, is at risk of being exposed and utilized as criminal evidence.
Net neutrality (or network neutrality) is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs), such as Verizon or Comcast, should not be able to block or prioritize different sorts of data. The Ninth Circuit, which is comprised of Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, and Washington state, is the largest Court of Appeals in the United States both in population and land mass. Recently, the Ninth Circuit ruled in a case that net neutrality requirements applied to internet service providers in those states. This decision put to test the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia’s 2019 decision of Mozilla v. FCC, which ruled that states would be able to create regulations regarding net neutrality.
Throughout the end of 2021, the Biden administration intensified its crackdown on civilian organizations believed to be supporting China’s military. As a result, the U.S. Commerce and Treasury departments, acting pursuant to the president’s June 3 Executive Order, recently unleashed a barrage of economic sanctions by effectively blacklisting more than forty Chinese companies, tech firms, and research institutes. Such far-reaching measures have ensnared prominent businesses across a variety of industries, including facial recognition specialists, artificial intelligence companies, and the world’s largest producer of commercial drones, DJI Technology Co. Those targeted were added to either the Commerce Department’s entity list, which blocks trade with U.S. exporters of software and other technologies, or to a Treasury list restricting access to American investment. Placement on the Treasury’s list can be especially damaging to an organization’s financial stability because the agency’s policies not only bar those sanctioned from transacting with domestic businesses but also prohibit American investors from taking stakes in companies on the list. Unsurprisingly, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry quickly denounced the sanctions as an “unwarranted suppression” of Chinese enterprises. Some of the listed companies themselves also publicly criticized their presence on the blacklists, including the artificial-intelligence start-up SenseTime Group which called the accusations against it “unfounded.” U.S. officials, however, defended the decision – citing both national security threats and human rights violations as causes for the sanctions.
The process of the criminal trial of the youngest woman self-made billionaire, has recently started up again after being stalled due to Covid restrictions in the past year. Former CEO and founder of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes, and her former president and one-time boyfriend, Ramesh Balwani, have been accused of misleading investors and raising hundreds of millions of dollars by making false or exaggerated claims in defiance of the anti-fraud provisions of federal securities laws. While she is currently facing a federal indictment on twelve different charges, including two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and ten counts of wire fraud, Holmes has already settled her civil charges, which were brought forth by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). The civil charges brought forth by the SEC have now put Silicon Valley on alert by ensuring that technology companies who claim that they have a new groundbreaking technology that can change the world must be based on factual evidence, not purely myths.
Recently, whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before a Senate subcommittee that Facebook has been deliberately putting its own profits before users’ safety. As Facebook’s former product manager for civic misinformation, Haugen calls for federal regulation of social media platforms and asserts that Facebook will not solve what she calls a “crisis” of deliberately ignoring users’ wellbeing for the sake of its own profits without Congress’s help. She points to tobacco, automobiles, and opioids, stating that when it became clear that those products were harming people, the government took action.
Since the start of 2021, cyber-attacks have dominated headlines across every industry. From governments and government organizations, healthcare companies, and banks, to gaming companies and oil pipelines, ransomware has impacted organizations of all types and sizes. The scale and scope of these attacks have continued to grow and have far reaching consequences. Despite current agency attempts to strengthen cybersecurity through regulation, individual users continue to pose a serious threat due to insufficient security education.