Weekly IP Buzz for the week ending August 9, 2019

Weekly IP Buzz for the week ending August 9, 2019

Here's a summary of interesting developments in intellectual property, technology, social media, and Internet law for the week ending August 9, 2019.

Facebook Like Button and the GDPR: Protecting EU User Data Around The World

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Since the introduction of the European Union’s (“EU”) General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), technology giants such as Google and Facebook have found themselves having to grapple with the EU law to avoid tremendous fines for violating users’ privacy. In recent news, the Facebook “Like” button may get a revamp to align with GDPR standards. 

What’s the GDPR?

The GDPR sets guidelines for protecting data and privacy of individual users in the European Union.  It also addresses the transfer of any personal data of EU citizens moving outside of the EU.  Basically, any company that controls personal data such as names, email addresses, mailing addresses, and other sensitive data must have “appropriate” technical and organizational measures in place to adequately protect EU users’ sensitive data.

While technology companies had about a year to reformat their platforms to meet GDPR standards before the regulation became effective, many companies are still being dinged by the GDPR over integral parts of their platforms.  Even a feature like the Facebook “Like” button and how it can be used.

The Facebook Like Button Deemed a Violation of GDPR

For instance, in the latest chapter of technology companies versus the GDPR, Facebook’s “Like” button has raised issues about privacy and whether it conforms with the requirements of the GDPR.  According to a recent decision by the EU, the Facebook “Like” button makes third-party websites responsible for processing people’s sensitive data.  The “Like” button of Facebook is a well-recognized feature of Facebook that allows users to click on the “Like” button in order to show appreciation for another user’s post, photograph, or location.  

The issue for the EU Court of Justice was that the “Like” button allows for some third-party companies to use the button to access and analyze user data.  As such, the EU Court of Justice held that both the third parties and Facebook were in violation of the GDPR.

Read the full article here.

Amazon’s New Wake-Word Patent Application Raises Privacy Concerns

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A recent patent application filed by Amazon has raised eyebrows and reignited debate about consumer privacy in relation to artificial intelligence (“AI”) assistants.  One of Amazon’s latest patent applications covers a method for Amazon’s AI-assistant, “Alexa,” to start recording before the trigger or use of the device’s wake word.  

For those unfamiliar with AI-assistants, a “wake word” is the word that a user says to activate the AI-assistant.  Typically, by default, AI-assistants are named by their respective companies and respond to their “names.”  For example, iPhone users may be familiar with “Siri,” Microsoft users with “Cortana,” and Amazon users with “Alexa.”  

What’s New in Amazon’s Wake Word Patent Application? 

With Amazon’s recent patent application, however, technology would allow users to use the “wake word” later in a sentence command.  For instance, instead of saying “Alexa, play music,” the user would now be able to say, “Play music, Alexa.”  While Amazon says this innovation is designed to allow users to “speak” to their AI-assistants more naturally, this new method also means that AI-assistants would potentially be recording much more of a user’s speech in order to listen for the wake word instead of the current method that only begins recording after the utterance of the wake word.

As privacy experts are already concerned with Amazon’s current practice of recording user’s speech and sending it back to Amazon servers without the option to “opt-out” or delete such recordings, the technology disclosed in this new patent application would give Amazon’s Alexa the ability and opportunity to record more user data and speech.  While Amazon has always argued that their recordings are used to better tune Alexa in relation to human speech, this new technology would arguably give Amazon even more reason to record lengthier portions of a consumer’s speech, even before addressing the AI-assistant with the wake word.

Find the full article here.

Click to read the previous Weekly IP Buzz on Thriving Attorney.

For more posts, see our Intellectual Property Law Blog.

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Darin M. Klemchuk is founder of Klemchuk LLP, a litigation, intellectual property, and transactional law firm located in Dallas, Texas. He also co-founded Project K, a charitable movement devoted to changing the world one random act of kindness at a time, and publishes Thriving Attorney, a blog dedicated to exploring the business of the practice of law, productivity and performance for attorneys, and other topics such as law firm leadership and management, law firm culture, and business development for attorneys.

Click to learn more about Darin M. Klemchuk's law practice as an intellectual property lawyer.

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