Open Journal Systems

Facebook agrees to pay $550 million to settle privacy lawsuit, days after Supreme Court declined to hear case

After violating an Illinois law for collecting data for facial recognition purposes, Facebook has settled a lawsuit for $550 million. This settlement follows a failed attempt by Facebook to petition to the Supreme Court. In Illinois, in order to collect biometric data, including scans of one’s face, explicit permission must be obtained. Plaintiffs alleged that Facebook did not follow the law as part of the feature involved in tagging photos. The lawsuit was brought pursuant to the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which allows users to pursue a private right of action. 

Brands Are Building Their Own Virtual Influencers. Are Their Posts Legal?

CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) influencers are becoming more popular on social media. Posts are sponsored by brands like Dr. Pepper, Casper, Old Spice, and Turbo Tax. Similarly to traditional influencers, CGI influencers post content such as selfies and memes, and include “personal” information in their posts as an attempt to connect with their followers. This humanlike behavior is intended to make the posts seem more genuine, but because they are not real people, they are less prone to scandal. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that an endorsement must “represent the accurate experience and opinion of the endorser”, which creates problems for CGI influencers, who cannot actually experience anything. There is concern over deception, as it is very difficult to tell the difference between CGI influencers and actual human influencers. The FTC has not yet expanded its current policies to include the challenges of CGI influencers, and have had difficulty getting influencers to comply with existing regulations. 

Apple Takes a (Cautious) Stand Against Opening a Killer’s iPhones

Attorney General William Barr has asked Apple for help opening two phones used by a gunman in a shooting last month in Pensacola, Fla, which has Apple preparing for a legal battle. This escalating situation represents the clash between Apple’s commitment to protecting privacy and the claims of the United States government that refusing to assist the Justice Department is putting the country at risk. The situation is complicated by the relationship between President Trump and Apple which has allowed Apple to avoid tariffs in the trade war with China. The government argues under the Fourth Amendment that the government can violate individual privacy for public safety reasons. This situation follows a similar issue in 2016, when Apple fought the F.B.I. when ordered to open the iPhone of a gunman involved in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. That situation was ended when a private company came forward and was able to open the iPhone. This recent development reflects the ongoing battle Apple has faced between protecting privacy and protecting public safety. 

AI License Plate Readers Are Cheaper – So Drive Carefully

New technology by Rekor Systems has lowered the cost of automated license plate readers (ALPRs), making it a cost-effective option for police departments. This technology has been implemented in Sands Point, NY, where the police department has been able to log the license plate of every vehicle traveling through Sands Point, and the police chief stated the software “makes a gated community without putting a gate up’. There has been requests for new legal restrictions on the use of ALPRs, as there is evidence that the technology disproportionately targets police attention toward lower income communities and people of color. The New York Civil Liberties Union has also expressed concerns that ALPRs can give government agencies too much knowledge about the private lives of the public. Some states have begun to implement restrictions on ALPRs, but most have not yet addressed the increasing use of this technology. 

Science Panel Staffed with Trump Appointees Says E.P.A. Rollbacks Lack Scientific Rigor

A panel of scientists, many selected by the Trump administration, find that new Environmental Protection Agency regulations contradict scientific evidence. These new regulations are directed at many Obama-era regulations including regulation of waterways and limiting vehicle tailpipe emissions, and the agency also plans to limit scientific data that can to be used to draft health regulations. The panel found “no scientific justification” for excluding specific bodies of water from protection, and found “significant weaknesses in the scientific analysis” for the proposed rollback of vehicle emission standards. A professor at Vermont Law School believes that the agency’s disregard of their own scientists will present problems for these regulations in courts. 

Trump Administration Says Obamacare Lawsuit Can Wait Until After the Election

Although the administration agues that a key part of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, lawyers for the President are not in a rush to settle this case in the Supreme Court. In a recent filing to the Supreme Court, the administration says that the Supreme Court should wait for lower courts to rule on specific questions carefully, as there is no “present, real-world emergency”. If the coverage expansions and protections for those with pre-existing conditions are eliminated, it is estimated that 20 million people would lose their health insurance, which could have substantial effects on the health care system.