Welcome to our fortnightly newsletter, where our editors put together handpicked stories from the world of tech law! You can find other issues here
SC Decides Not to Intervene in Delhi Govt.’s School CCTV Plan
On 6 July 2019, Delhi CM launched a mission to install CCTV cameras in all government schools in Delhi by November. The decision was challenged through a petition filed by an NLU student before the Supreme Court. In the latest development, the Supreme Court has refused to stay the Delhi govt’s plan to install CCTV cameras in school classrooms, which includes a plan to live stream the feed to parents of students. A Bench headed by Ranjan Gogoi did not entertain the plea that this move violated the right to privacy, despite the government making no moves to gain the approval of either the students or parents for the same. This decision is surprising given the recognition of the right to privacy as a fundamental right by a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Justice KS Puttaswamy v. Union of India.
Google Employees Admit to Eavesdropping using Google Assistant
- Lente Van Hee, Google employees are eavesdropping, even in your living room, VRT News has discovered, VRT News (10 July 2019).
- Soumyarendra Barik, Not ‘Okay Google’: Firm admits that workers listen audio from Assistant, Home; Some questions, Medianama (12 July 2019).
- Kari Paul, Google workers can listen to what people say to its AI home devices, The Guardian (11 July 2019).
- Benjamin Sibuet, Who’s Listening When You Talk to Your Google Assistant?, Wired (10 July 2019).
- Ry Crist, Amazon and Google are listening to your voice recordings. Here’s what we know about that, CNet (13 July 2019).
- Nick Statt, Google defends letting human workers listen to Assistant voice conversations, The Verge (11 July 2019).
Facebook’s draws President Trump’s ire over new cryptocurrency project ‘Libra’
Facebook is no stranger to controversy given the sheer number of data protection issues that have dogged the company in recent years, but the company’s push to join the cryptocurrency race may have earned them the wrath of the most powerful foe of all – US President Donald Trump. The President called out the social media network’s attempts to build a new currency by stating that the USA had just “one real currency”, and further stating that Facebook needed to submit itself to increased oversight of its banking and data protection efforts. This comes as a fresh blow to the company that unveiled their Libra cryptocurrency to widespread doubt and scepticism among those in the bitcoin sector, with many fearing that it represented yet another effort by the company to snoop and collect data on its users and associates. Libra is the name of Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, which differs from other decentralised currencies by virtue of being backed by a reserve of real assets.
- Tony Romm and Damian Paletta, President Trump takes aim at Facebook’s cryptocurrency, Libra, saying it should be regulated, The Washington Post (11 July 2019).
- Timothy B. Lee, There’s a big problem with Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency, ARSTechnica (11 July 2019).
- Taylor Telford, Why governments around the world are afraid of Libra, Facebook’s cryptocurrency, The Washington Post (11 July 2019).
- Iliya Zaki, Facebook and Libra Coin — What You Need To Know, HackerNoon (10 July 2019).
- David Marcus, Libra, 2 Weeks In, Facebook (3 July 2019).
Uber to make meal drops via Drones this summer in San Diego
Uber recently announced that Uber Elevate- the aerial arm of the ride share service uber, would start a fast food delivery service by utilising drones this summer. It is supposed to be launched in San Diego.They have been working in close collaboration with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure that they are sticking to all regulations. McDonalds being one of the partners has been working on technology to keep the food fresh and hot during the aerial delivery. The food would land on specially designed landing zones and not in residential apartments. An uber courier would then hand deliver the package to the customer.
Before kickstarting this venture Uber is considering several factors which would impact its operation.Firstly, the special landing zone faces the problem of thefts. Even though the technology has been developed to address these issues, the costs involved inevitably increases. Further, there are several restrictions on the use of drones over densely populated areas. As a result, Uber would not be able to expand its reach. However, Uber considers these drones as a gateway into the rural areas where it is difficult to manually deliver products.It also states that in many places this venture would effectively save time on delivery of fast food.
- Peter Suciu, Uber Drones to make meal drops this summer, Tech Law (21 June 2019).
- James Vincent, Uber says it will start delivering fast food by drone in San Diego this summer, The Verge (12 June 2019).
- Alen Ki, Uber may soon deliver Big Macs to you by drone, CNN Business (June 12, 2019).
- Peter Holley, Uber plans to start delivering fast food via drone this summer, Washington Post, (13 June 2019).
- Mike Spencer, Pros and cons of drones for business, Enterprise Centre (5 November 2019).
IIT-M professor suggests simple solution to combat fake news on WhatsApp
While the Central government and messaging service WhatsApp are at loggerheads on making messages traceable to combat fake news, V Kamakoti, a Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Madras and a member of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), has come out with the suggestion that the contact number of the originator of a WhatsApp message should tail it when forwarded.
Thailand Passes New Cyber Martial Law
Thailand has passed a cybersecurity act that gives overarching powers to state cyber agencies which has recently become effective. The Act provides that depending upon the severity of cybersecurity threats, people will have to provide access to their data or computer systems, allow the government to monitor their systems or allow officials to test the operation of a computer system and freeze equipment. It also creates a National Cybersecurity Committee that will be able to seize computers and data without a court warrant in cases of a ‘severe cyber threat’. Further, organisations that are classified as Critical Information Infrastructure Organisations (CII Organisations) have additional compliance obligations. The new laws have caused concerns since they may be used to further consolidate the power of the government and crack-down against any opposition through claims of ‘national security’. It may also drive businesses out of the country through the complex compliance burdens. Civil liberties groups believe that any threat to the government will be considered an emergency, allowing them to view and control the majority of the public’s data. Meanwhile, the government has maintained that the act is merely a tool for law enforcement and regulatory control. The new law is part of the pattern of restrictive laws being passed in Southeast Asia, including in Vietnam and Malaysia.
- Dhiraphol Suwanprateep, Thailand Cybersecurity Act is Effective, Global Compliance News (July 2, 2019).
- Patpicha Tanakasempipat, Thailand Passes Internet Security Law Decried as ‘Cyber Martial Law’, Reuters ( 28 February 2019).
- Adam Bemma, Threats and abuse: Critics Fear Effect of New Thailand Cyber Law, Al Jazeera (29 January 2019).
- Scott Ikeda, Does the New Thailand Cybersecurity Law Go Too Far?, CPO Magazine (10 March 2019).
- Aekarach Sattaburuth, Cybersecurity Bill Passed, Bangkok Post (28 February 2019).
France bans ‘Judicial Analytics’
France has banned the publication of statistical information about judges’ decisions and shocked the legal industry. “The identity data of magistrates and members of the judiciary cannot be reused with the purpose or effect of evaluating, analysing, comparing or predicting their actual or alleged professional practices,” the law states, and makes it punishable by a maximum five-year prison sentence. The French legislature is trying to turn off the use of A.I. and machine learning to understand or predict judicial behaviour.
In recent years, A.I. has made extraordinary inroads into the practice of law. Recent efforts to digitize legal texts, from federal regulations to courtroom transcripts, have created a nascent global industry in legal analytics. The use of technology to analyse case-law and scrutinize decisions has penetrated deep in both academia and private practice. France banning the use of public information to “assess, analyse, compare or predict” how judges make decisions, will result in less information about how their judicial system works, and people will have access to fewer tools to help them.
- Michael Livermore and Dan Rockmore, France Kicks Data Scientists Out of Its Courts, Slate (21 June 2019).
- Simon Taylor, France Bans Data Analytics Related to Judges’ Rulings, LegalWeek (4 June 2019).
- Carl Schonander, French judicial analytics ban undermines rule of law, CIO (3 July 2019).
- McCann FitzGerald, France Ban Analytics of Judges’ Decision, Lexology (21 June 2019).
- Lisa Shuchman, French Bar Group Now Wants a Data Analytics Ban That Applies to Lawyers, Law.com (3 July 2019).