Privacy Shield Data Transfer Agreement
On February 2nd Officials from the United States and European Union agreed to a cross-Atlantic data transfer deal called Privacy Shield after three months of negotiations. The negotiations centered around disagreements between European and American regulators on the extent of privacy individuals should be able to expect for their data. The EU and US reached the agreement after the US government made promises that it would not target Europeans to bulk surveillance when data reaches US servers. The deal will also subject some companies to binding arbitration in some disputes and require greater transparency with consumers on data usage. Negotiations had developed between the US and EU for a data transfer agreement after the European Court of Justice invalidated the preexisting arrangement between regulators which had endured for 15 years. The deal still needs to be accepted by each of the 28 member states of the EU.
$625.6 Million Verdict Against Apple for Patent Infringement
On February 3rd, a Federal District Court in East Texas awarded VirnetX a $625 million verdict against Apple for patent infringement. A jury found that Apple’s FaceTime, VPN, and iMessage applications had infringed on VirnetX’s patents. Apple had originally succeeded in vacating a $368.2 million judgment for the same infringement activity in 2012. However, by the time the case was retried, Apple’s damages were further increased by its continued use of the infringing technologies.
Lyft agrees to a $12.25 million settlement with drivers
On January 27, Lyft settled a class action lawsuit with its drivers for $12.25 million in San Francisco, pending acceptance of its terms by the Judge, and has agreed to new terms for terminating drivers. Under the agreement, Lyft will only be able to terminate drivers for with notice and for a listed reason, whereas it had previously been able to terminate drivers at its own discretion and without notice. The class action lawsuit sought the reclassification of drivers as employees instead of contractors, which would have entitled them to additional benefits which could have increased Lyft’s costs. Uber also faces a similar upcoming class action lawsuit, in which its drivers also seek reclassification as employees rather than contractors. The outcome of these cases could impact the development of a variety of emerging businesses known as the sharing economy, which combine a flexible workforce with on demand application based services.