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High-Tech Law & Litigation Blog

European Competition Watchdog Says “Shazam!” and Opens In-Depth Investigation Into Apple-Shazam Deal Over Consumer Data Concerns

In December 2017, Apple announced its intention to purchase UK-based app maker Shazam for $400 million. Shazam is best known for developing one of the most popular music recognition apps, which uses a mobile device’s built-in microphone to listen to and identify songs for the user. Because of Shazam’s relatively low revenue numbers, the proposed acquisition did not contain an “EU dimension” based on certain “turnover” (read: revenue) thresholds set by the EU Merger Regulation, and therefore Apple was not required to notify the European Commission of the deal. However, Apple did report the transaction for regulatory clearance in Austria, where the deal met the national notification thresholds. Subsequently, Austria, joined by several other European countries, requested that the European Commission, the EU’s competition watchdog, examine the acquisition. Under Article 22(1) of the EU Merger Regulation, Member States may ask the Commission to examine a merger that does not have an EU dimension but that may otherwise significantly affect competition in the requesting Member State.

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Security Outlook for Small-Business-Targeted Web Hosts

In order to aid small businesses, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has released a Staff Perspective and a series of articles targeted to consumers and businesses about the availability of secure web-hosting and email providers. The Staff Perspective reviewed the services offered by eleven web-hosting companies and found that while most of these providers offer minimum security verification, most do not offer the more advanced services. Instead, small businesses are expected to implement these services themselves, although most likely do not have the institutional knowledge in order to do so. Without the services outlined in the FTC’s report, small businesses are open to phishing attacks, placing themselves and their customers at risk of financial harm.

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  • 12
  • January
  • 2018

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FTC Reaches First COPPA Settlement With Connected Toy Manufacturer

Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it had reached a settlement with VTech Electronics Limited, a Chinese manufacturer of electronic learning toys, and its North American subsidiary over charges that VTech violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA”), a rule designed to “strengthen kids’ privacy protections and give parents greater control over the personal information that websites and online services may collect from children under 13.” The FTC’s complaint centered on three web-based platforms VTech created and maintained to support its numerous connected toys. The platforms are the Learning Lodge Navigator, a platform akin to Apple’s App Store that allows users to download games and content to their VTech devices; Kid Connect, a children’s messaging app for smart phones; and Planet VTech, an online platform that allows online game play and messaging between users. Each of these products allowed for children to share personal information or required registration from parents, including information such as a child’s name and age. In some instances, VTech stated that the collected information would be encrypted, which it was not.

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AI is Here, Is Your Company Ready? (Hint: No)
First published by The National Law Journal

In this article, Danny Tobey discusses the importance of companies and their legal counsel preparing for the impact of AI. From questioning “What Happens to Tort Law” to discussing how AI could challenge professional judgment and create new privacy issues, the message is clear: Companies and their legal teams should be thinking about the changes AI will bring and how to manage associated risks as AI continues to evolve.

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  • 26
  • October
  • 2017

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The FTC Issues Clarifications on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule and Voice Recordings

On October 23, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission released a new policy enforcement statement regarding the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA”), a rule designed to “strengthen kids’ privacy protections and give parents greater control over the personal information that websites and online services may collect from children under 13.” The FTC’s new policy statement clarifies that the Commission will not require online providers and websites to acquire parental consent for the recording of a child’s voice for the purpose of replacing written words — such as for a command or a search done using a home voice control system. For example, the FTC will not enforce if a home voice control system records a child’s voice when they ask a question or give a request. This clarification is not without limit, as we explain here.

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Contributors

Jason A. Levine

Jason A. Levine Partner

Jennifer C. Chen

Jennifer C. Chen Partner

Devika Kornbacher

Devika Kornbacher Partner

Danny Tobey

Danny Tobey Partner

William R. Vigdor

William R. Vigdor Partner

Marc A. Fuller

Marc A. Fuller Counsel

Thomas W. Bohnett

Thomas W. Bohnett Associate

Megan Coker

Megan Coker Associate

Caroline Colpoys

Caroline Colpoys Associate

Trey Hebert

Trey Hebert Associate

Keeney, Jeremy C.

Jeremy C. Keeney Associate

Howard Lithaw Lim Associate

Kimberly R. McCoy

Kimberly R. McCoy Senior Associate

Elizabeth Krabill McIntyre

Elizabeth Krabill McIntyre Senior Associate

David C. Smith

David C. Smith Senior Associate

Janice Ta

Janice Ta Senior Associate

Margaret D. Terwey

Margaret Dunlay Terwey Associate

Ryan B. Will

Ryan Will Associate

Siho (Scott) Yoo

Siho (Scott) Yoo Senior Associate