This Week in Tech: Law & Order Edition

Technology Law Graphic

While the SHIFT San Francisco office wasn’t obsessing over the penultimate Game of Thrones episode or bemoaning this week’s atmospheric river-fueled rainstorms, we got swept up in the news of the week. These are some of the stories that our B2B tech teams have been talking about:

California Privacy Law

With GDPR still fresh in communicators’ minds, a pending California law could bring similar protections and regulations to the U.S. The article, “California Is Bringing Law and Order to Big Data. It Could Change the Internet in the U.S.” [Ed. Note: I see what you did there nbcnews.com … and borrowed it], outlines the efforts the state’s top officials are taking to figure out how to enforce a strict new digital privacy law set to go into effect in the new year. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) would require companies to share what data they collect, restrict how data can be used for ad targeting and gives users the right to request companies delete their personal data and stop its sale.

Backers of the CCPA believe that the most populous state in the nation can set the standard for the largest global companies, as they will not want – or be able – to support different versions of online properties for each state. Tech companies (and their lobbyists) are, naturally, against the regulation, claiming it will be too difficult to comply to inconsistent laws from state to state. Those likely to be most impacted by the policies would be the largest of the tech giants such as Facebook and Google, as well as those in the digital advertising space. It will be interesting to see how sharp the law’s teeth are when it goes into effect on Jan. 1.

San Fran Scan Ban

On Tuesday, San Francisco banned the use of facial recognition technology by the police department and local government agencies. The Stop Secret Surveillance ordinance passed 8-1 and also prevents city agencies from adopting other surveillance technologies – such as automatic license plate readers – without approval from the Board of Supervisors.
Advocates of the ban feared the tech would be used disproportionately in “overpoliced communities,” and said that the tech is not as reliable on people of color and women as it is on white males, potentially resulting in biased results. Other Bay Area cities are considering their own bans, as are states including Massachusetts and Washington.
[Ed. Note: Credit goes to the Twitterverse for the headline’s inspiration.]

Supreme Court v Apple

In a ruling that could eventually affect all online marketplaces, on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Apple, stating that iPhone users could pursue an antitrust lawsuit involving the App Store. iPhone users claim that the 30 percent commission on apps sold through its proprietary store is a monopoly that results in developers’ passing along that cost as higher app prices. Apple’s argument, that developers, not consumers, should be allowed to pursue such legal action, but the court did not agree.

Why should you care (especially if you’re not an iPhone user)? The eventual ruling could have a wider ranging impact that extends and applies to all electronic marketplaces – from Facebook to Amazon to Google and beyond, impacting their business models and revenue streams. For Apple users and shareholders, a loss for Apple would likely mean nine-figure penalties and have a chilling impact on its bottom line.

Related Pro Tip

Interested in learning more about how data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA affect marketers and PR professionals? Check out SHIFT’s GDPR Primer for Marketing and Public Relations resource on our blog.

Leslie Clavin
Vice President

Posted on May 17, 2019 in Law, Technology

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