Archive for the 'Intellectual Property' CategoryPage 2 of 17

Uber, in Trouble Again, For Allegedly Stealing Trade Secrets from Waymo

Uber has a bit of a history of asking for forgiveness instead of permission when it comes to the law–a trend which hasn’t worked out particularly well for them. This has come back to bite them again in the case brought against them by the Google owned self-driving car project Waymo.

After an engineer, Anthony Levandowsky, allegedly left Waymo with thousands of confidential files he set up a firm which Uber promptly purchased for $680M. It’s no surprise Uber was interested in what he was offering, they have long been developing their own self-driving technology. Among this technology is a laser navigation tool known as Lidar.

Just about a week ago, the judge handling the case-Judge William Alsup-ruled that Levandowsky knew or should have known he was in possession of this confidential material and barred Uber from using any of the technology brought by Levandowsky in their products. The judge’s order states that Waymo has produced “compelling evidence” that Levandowsky and Uber had planned the acquisition of Levandowsky’s firm before he had even left Waymo. The order also says that the evidence showed that Uber hired Levandowski even though they “knew or should have known that he possessed over 14,000 confidential Waymo files.” Judge Alsup’s order requires Uber to not to allow Levandowski to work on their Lidar project or use the files he downloaded for the duration of the lawsuit. It also requires them to return all the files to Waymo by this Wednesday, May 31st. Despite all this, the ruling has still been hailed as something of a victory for Uber. Waymo didn’t get their ultimate wish-shutting down Uber’s Lidar project entirely until the lawsuit is resolved. The court also didn’t consider some of the things claimed by Waymo as true trade secrets-not surprise given that Waymo had listed 121 potential trade secrets that were allegedly stolen. What’s more, while Waymo has succeeded in receiving an injunction on the issue of trade secret misappropriation, they have failed to do so on their second cause of action for patent infringement.

UberDespite this, the ruling is a huge blow against Uber’s self-driving car program. As the case goes on, it could get worse for both Uber and Levandowsky. Federal trade secret law includes potential repercussions in both civil and criminal law. Levandowski himself invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself when attorneys representing Waymo questioned him.

The trade secret rulings here are the meat of this order and the problems for both Uber and Levandowski. In this two-part article, let’s look at how civil and criminal trade secret law works and how it was applied in reaching this order.

How Civil Trade Secret Law Works

Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber is firmly in the realm of civil law. Thus, it is civil trade secret law that was used in reaching this ruling. Waymo’s lawsuit alleges violations of both the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act and the Defend Trade Secrets Act.

California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act is one of the many nearly identical state laws handling trade secrets based on the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Every state except New York, North Carolina and Massachusetts. It’s worth noting that near identical is not identical and many states have small but meaningful differences in their approach to trade secrets.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act is a federal law passed by the Obama administration in May of last year. It serves to extend the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (basically federal criminal law applying to trade secret theft) to include a civil cause of action nearly identical to the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

So what exactly is a trade secret? Any information can qualify so long as it fulfills certain criteria. First, the information must be more valuable for the very reason that it secret-if it isn’t actually secret it is basically impossible for this to be the case. Second, its owner must have taken reasonable steps under the circumstances to make sure it stays secret.

Where something that qualifies as a trade secret is misappropriated, that violates civil law. The California version of the Uniform Trade Secret Act (CUTSA) treats misappropriation as acquiring a trade secret through improper means or from somebody you know or have reason to know got the secret by improper means. It also includes using or disclosing a trade secret you acquired or at least should know was acquired by improper means. Improper means include, but aren’t limited to theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach or inducement of a breach of duty to maintain secrecy, or espionage. However, improper means never includes a situation where you figure out the trade secret on your own.

Mr. Levandowski left Waymo with confidential files his employment agreement clearly said were not his to take. The evidence shows that there is at least a strong chance Uber bought Levandowski’s firm knowing exactly what it was getting. This means that there is a strong case against both for misappropriating Waymo’s trade secrets. While not all of the things claimed as trade secrets by Waymo, as with most trade secret cases exactly what those secrets are is heavily redacted to maintain their secrecy, enough satisfied the test described above to put both Levandowski and Uber in hot water.

Injunction Against Uber

The order has granted a preliminary injunction against Waymo with the effects described above. A preliminary injunction is an order stopping a party to a lawsuit from doing something before the lawsuit even really gets underway.

In order to receive a preliminary injunction a party needs to show a likelihood that they’ll win, the potential that they will be harmed in a way money can’t fix, a public interest in such an injunction, and that they will be more harmed by the lack of an injunction than the party it’s brought against will be harmed by the injunction itself.

We’ve seen that there’s a pretty good case here for trade secret misappropriation. However, likelihood of success was where Waymo lost on their patent infringement arguments for the injunction-they simply didn’t have enough evidence.

In terms of irreparable harm, the technology in question has the potential to change who controls the burgeoning market of self-driving cars going forward. This is something of incalculable value and thus no simple money damages could properly address it. There is also a clear public interest in both protecting intellectual property rights and preventing unfair competition via potential corporate theft.

However, it is the balance of harms element that really led to the limitations that led to some calling the ruling an Uber victory. As serious as the harm would be to Waymo if the Lidar project used their trade secrets to advance their technology, shutting down Lidar altogether for the multiple years it will take for the lawsuit to resolve would kill Lidar altogether. This is extreme in the opposite direction, thus why the judge chose to simply prevent Lidar from using any of the secrets they may have misappropriated.

What Does This Mean For Uber and Levandowski?

The process of ensuring that none of Waymo’s documents, and the information contained therein, makes its way into the Lidar project is no mean feat and will certainly slow down Uber’s progress; giving Waymo a leg up on its competition. It also means that, at least for now, Uber may have spent nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars on nothing. The order also indicates a strong chance of success for Waymo in their trade secret action against Uber. This could lead to an enormous money judgment against Uber in the future.

As bad as it is for Uber, it’s much worse for Anthony Levandowski himself. The judge in this case has already referred his situation to the US Attorney’s Office, recommending criminal charges against Levandowski. This is an uncommon move on the part of this judge and could ultimately lead to up to fines of up to half a million against Levandowski and up to a decade in prison. Later this week, we’ll look into exactly how the criminal side of trade secret works. However, suffice it to say, Levandowski is facing down some serious charges.

Echo Look Revives Debate on Privacy Concerns

If you were told you could purchase a device which listens to everything you say throughout the day, and occasionally records what you say, you’d understandably be less than excited to buy now.  However, when that device comes with enormous potential for convenience–like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home–many have decided that the privacy concerns are not so bad as to put them off the device.

For those unfamiliar, the Amazon Echo (commonly referred to by the name it answers to-Alexa) and the Google Home are very similar to the Cortana or Siri devices on your phone-they take verbal commands and quickly send your request to a server which attempts to find an answer which is as responsive to your query as possible.  The main difference between the products is that while Siri is a tool you activate on your phone, the Echo and the Home are devices you place in your home and essentially leave on to respond to you whenever needed.

While on, these devices are always listening to what you say in order to listen for a “wake word” or command to start paying attention to whatever you say next.  Always listening does not mean always recording, both the Home and Alexa begin recording whatever you say as soon as you say a wake word-this recorded audio is sent to a server, associated with your personal account, and stored.

This obviously created enormous privacy concerns when these devices were initially released.  However, some but not all of the concerns were abated by the fact that you can mute the microphone when the devices are not in use-rendering the device useless until unmuted but keeping it from listening in general.  You can also disable audio recording and data sharing altogether for the Home but not the Echo.  However, doing so makes the Home completely inoperable.  Finally, you can delete your history of recorded requests online for both products-although both Google and Amazon recommend against it and neither are clear as to what data is stored after deletion.

These provisions, along with the privacy policies of both companies, have helped alleviate some-but not all of the privacy concerns since the products were released.  However, just recently, Amazon has announced the Echo Look-a product which adds a whole new layer of privacy concerns to the mix.

echo lookThe Echo Look

The Echo Look is essentially the Echo but with a camera which records and takes pictures of your outfits at your request.  At the moment, Amazon has said that the Echo Look is limited to pictures of fashion and the room you’re in.  However, they have made no assurances that this will continue to be the case.

As you might imagine, an enormous amount of information can be gleaned from any given picture and a company with as developed a machine learning algorithm for identifying what’s what in a picture as Amazon could parse the information in any given picture with great ease-then likely use that information to employ more targeted advertising for you.

Amazon Echo Look seems to be fairly secure, with numerous encryptions and security measures protecting the pictures you take and the camera itself.  This is good, cameras of this sort have a bit of history of poor security.  It was not so long ago that a search engine called Shodan was launched which allowed users to search and browse unsecured webcams.

You can see the privacy concerns raised by the Echo, Home, and Echo Look.  However, what does this mean from a legal standpoint?  The truth is, privacy law-beyond a few federal statutes-is primarily a matter of state by state legislation.  This is especially true in California where the state constitution explicitly includes a right to privacy.  However, no matter where you are, there are a few issues which could always come up as part of or as cause for a legal action.  Where your private data is breached by an outside party, an increasingly common occurrence, that can give rise to a lawsuit.  What’s more, companies are generally bound to their own privacy policies.  Where they ignore their own policy or mislead a consumer as to their privacy policies this can lead to legal hot water.    Finally, you have to ask how the data collected by these companies may be used by law enforcement.

Privacy Policies of the Echo and the Home

Both the Home and the Echo follow the privacy policies of the companies that made them-Google and Amazon respectively.  These are two companies with that gather and employ an enormous amount of data on their users.  Thus, they both have fairly robust privacy policies.  However, this does not mean that they will not and do not use or sell the data they collect about you.

Google’s privacy policy for the Home specifically states: “Google will share your information with companies, organizations, and individuals outside of Google if Google has a good-faith belief that access, use, preservation, or disclosure of the information is reasonably necessary to meet applicable law, regulation, legal process, or enforceable government request.” In short, it appears that Google doesn’t ask for your permission to share your voice recordings.”  They do promise not to share your personal information with anyone.  However, in a legal context this likely applies to personally identifiable information-information that can be used to identify you.  Other data, such as commonly sold aggregate data (information stripped of identifiers and sold to advertisers) is still fair game.  What’s more, they also do not limit their own uses of your data and likely use the information for targeted advertising purposes.

The Amazon Echo privacy policies are similar-allowing them the same leeway as Google’s policy.   However, both the Echo and the Echo Look policies promise explicitly not to use the data they collect to provide targeting advertising opportunities to  third-party companies.  They even give you the option to opt out of Amazon targeted advertising at this link.

One thing you’ll note in the Google policy, which is shared by the Amazon policy, is that it leaves the door open to share your data with law enforcement where required by law.  This makes sense, neither Amazon nor Google are looking to defy a valid court order.  However, the idea that the police might make use of all the data recorded on your device might be a bit concerning to some-and it’s a concern that has already come up in court.

Will Your Data Be Shared?

Just a few months back, Arkansas police sought a warrant demanding that Amazon turn over all the information recorded from the Amazon Echo of a murder suspect out of Bentonville by the name of James Andrew Bates.  After one Victor Collins was found dead in Mr. Bates’ hot tub, the police noted his Amazon Echo and sought the data from it.

Amazon initially resisted the demand for the evidence, arguing that the First Amendment protected the information recorded from the Echo and, because of this, the police needed to show a compelling need to access the information and no other way to get it.

At a minimum, a valid warrant requires probable cause (a fairly low standard requiring only a reasonable basis for believing evidence could be contained in the thing or place to be searched) and it must describe with particularity what the search would seek to find.

Searching through data to find evidence of a crime is nothing new, police have searched everything from cell phones to World of Warcraft chat logs.  These often require subpoenas or warrants to gather this information from a third party such as Amazon.  Here, there were a few potential issues with receiving a warrant-even beyond Amazon’s First Amendment arguments.  First, probable cause is a low bar-but it isn’t nothing.  The theory that an always-on recording device might have recorded information related to the crime is likely enough to meet the standard where it recorded near the crime.  However, the basis is a bit thin when you consider the device only records when a “wake word” is spoken.  Second, the warrant just asked for everything Amazon had ever recorded.  This in no way describes with particularity what is to be produced.  The police are very unlikely to need the times Mr. Bates asked Alexa how many feet are in a mile or for a good recipe for pork shoulder.

However, despite these issues, Amazon did end up producing the requested searches.  This was not because a court ruled against them, but rather because Mr. Bates ultimately consented to release the recordings of his own volition.  This left the issue without a satisfying conclusion as to legal precedent.  However, in the right circumstances, law enforcement could almost certainly obtain the data recorded from a Home, Echo, or Echo Look.

Is It Worth It?

As it is, trading privacy for convenience is so common in today’s online world as to be nearly unavoidable.  When it comes to the Echo or the Home, you have to ask yourself whether that trade off is worth it to use these devices.  Ultimately, all you can do is know your rights and make that decision for yourself.

ISPs Swears They Won’t Sell Your Browser History

Congress voted to take away your privacy rights when it comes to how internet service providers (ISPs) may use your data, and President Trump signed it into law. Just recently they officially repealed Obama era privacy regulations out of the FCC which required ISTs to get permission before selling a customer’s data–their browsing history, how long you spend on a given site, how often you visit a given site, app usage, email addresses, etc.

As you can imagine, removing these protections has resulted in a bit of a panic over how ISPs will proceed under these new rules. In an attempt to alleviate some of those fears, several of the largest ISPs have made statements promising not to sell the browsing history of individual clients. However, it’s hard to avoid that they have worded their promises very specifically in every case-so specifically that their promises almost amount to nothing. Let’s a take a look at the words of the biggest ISPs and what exactly they have (and haven’t) promised as well as what that means after the repeal of these privacy protections.

From The Horse’s Mouth

As mentioned, the rule changes had big ISPs quick to release statements to reassure their customers. Comcast released a statement saying “We do not sell our broadband customers’ individual web browsing history. We did not do it before the FCC’s rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so.” Verizon’s Chief Privacy Officer told their users  “Verizon does not sell the personal web browsing history of our customers. We don’t do it and that’s the bottom line.”  An AT&T Vice President said “AT&T’s privacy protections are the same today as they were five months ago when the FCC rules were adopted. [We] will not sell your personal information to anyone, for any purpose. Period.”

These certainly sound promising, but they are very carefully worded. They promise not to sell “individual browsing history” or “personal information.”  However these promises, especially individual browsing history–perhaps intentionally–hit only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how ISPs could and almost certainly will collect your data and metadata. The ISPs notably did not promise not to sell aggregate data (the most commonly way of selling metadata) or promise not to review and use the history for their own marketing-both potentially invasions of your privacy. Aggregate data is where they collect your browsing information, strip identifying information, then sell it along with the data of many other users–this is used for targeted advertising among other things. What’s more, once data is sold, those who buy it have no compunctions about how they must make use of that data.

This is far from a new concept, and at least one ISP has commented in the past that your browsing habits are already being collected and sold “by virtually every site you visit on the internet.”  This is true, the biggest websites-the Facebooks, Googles, and Amazons of the world-gather and sell staggering amounts of data from their users.

However, as true as it is, the situation with ISPs is fundamentally different. ISPs have the ability to monitor you literally the entire time you use the internet–something no website can boast. The difference in the level of intrusion between an ISP and any website is a matter of degrees. No website could hope to have the sheer level of access to your internet activity that an ISP has–which is literally all of it. What’s more, you can choose to go to a website–even sites as ubiquitous as Google have alternatives which do not track your internet use such as DuckDuckGo. Over half of people in the U.S. have only one choice of internet provider–a large part of the argument behind treating the internet as a utility like electricity or water. This means that your options would be to either have every action you take on the internet potentially monitored and monetized or have no internet whatsoever.

ISPs Seem to Be Forgetting Their Own History

The promises of the ISPs are also a bit hollow in light of their own past behavior regarding your data. Not so long ago, AT&T was in hot water for misleading customers by describing an opt-in agreement providing consent to track and sell its users browsing history as a “discount.” Comcast was in the news less than a year ago saying that it should be able to sell its users’ browsing information.

Back in 2014, Verizon got in trouble for including an HTTP header for its mobile customers which allowed third-party advertising companies to gather information on your browsing habits-even if you used a private browsing mode or cleared your cookies. Even after her own recent statements reassuring customers, Verizon’s Chief Privacy Officer acknowledged that Verizon intends to use your browsing habits in ways other than outright sharing your personal browsing history–specifically targeted advertising and selling data in aggregate as mentioned above.

The States May Come to Your Rescue

In this day and age, the internet is basically a necessity. While Verizon’s transparency is at least to be applauded, the very idea that your every internet action could be tracked and sold–with the alternative of never using the internet–is unlikely an attractive prospect to many. However, there has already been a move towards bridging the gap created by the recently repealed privacy protections through state law. Just a few days back Minnesota passed a law requiring ISPs to receive express written consent from a user before harvesting any of your data.

Whether this trend will spread remains to be seen, the changes to your privacy protections all still fresh. Keep an eye on state legislature, it seems likely that protecting your browser history will quickly become a hot button issue.

Tesla is in Hot Water Over Self-Driving Cars

When you about technologies of today which were once thought of as the realm of science fiction you think about 3-D printing, you think the levels we’ve reached with AI, and on that note–you think of self-driving cars.  From the silver screen to reality, the past couple years have seen enormous leaps forward in the technology behind autonomous vehicles.  That surge in technology, however, has been accompanied by a surge in lawsuits as states scramble to figure out laws to properly regulate how self-driving cars can be made, handled, and sold.  Uber has seen many a legal challenge-mostly due to their unwillingness to purchase permits-as they have rolled out self-driving cars. When Google was first testing their self-driving technology, they narrowly missed traffic tickets after a police pulled their test car over.  The reason?  The new car was only safe to drive at below 25 miles per hour so it was going 24 in a 35 zone-the officer didn’t end up giving the car a ticket.  Now, having just barely entered the market, it seems like it’s Tesla’s turn to potentially face some legal hot water over the technology.

Tesla unveiled its self-driving technology back in 2014.  However, it wasn’t until October of last year that cars with the feature were actually sold.  The feature has been dubbed Autopilot 2 and costs about $5,000 extra.   Just a few days ago, a class action lawsuit was initiated against Tesla.  The suit alleges that Tesla’s driverless technology is so unsafe as to violate consumer protection and unfair practices laws.  As the technology becomes more commonplace, lawsuits like these were nearly inevitable.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at the lawsuit against Tesla and the state of the law when it comes to driverless cars.

TeslaIs Autopilot Dangerous?

The lawsuit, brought in Federal Court in California’s Northern District, includes plaintiffs from Colorado, New Jersey, and Florida.  It includes allegations of violations of consumer protection laws of all three of those states.

The lawsuit accuses Tesla of many illegal practices.  It alleges that they are selling “vaporware,” a colloquial term for software that is advertised but non-existent.  The lawsuit alleges the Tesla advertised many upcoming safety and functionality features of their self-driving software that simply never materialized. They also say that salesmen at Tesla dealerships told plaintiffs that features that were upcoming were already part of the software.  Instead of the software they were promised, the lawsuit alleges that the using the Autopilot 2 software as is is dangerous-comparing the function to the quality of driving one would expect from a drunk driver.  They point to a specific review of the software which described the car serving across double yellow lines and nearly hopping the curb.  They point to other reviews which describe sudden hard stops at 50 MPH.  They describe plaintiffs as flabbergasted to learn that their cars couldn’t yet change lanes or exit the freeway without assistance, despite apparently being told this function was available in Tesla marketing materials.  They also describe individual experiences of plaintiffs where their cars behaved erratically while on autopilot mode.

Based on this, the lawsuit accuses Tesla of false and misleading advertising-something protected against in essentially every consumer protection statute; along with false advertising, and protections against defective products.  The statutes in the case follow the usual requirements for a claim of false advertising: knowingly making false representations about a product, with the capacity or tendency to deceive the consuming public and convince them to buy the product, with the intent to get people to buy that product.

The lawsuit also charges Tesla with violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (requiring immediate action from manufacturers where a safety defect poses an unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident) and fraud by concealment (the deliberate hiding or suppression of an important fact with the intent to deceive).

So basically, the lawsuit is saying that the marketing materials of Tesla’s Autopilot 2 feature drastically overstated what the software was actually capable of-both as initially delivered and by missing self-imposed deadlines to provide improved functionality-instead giving buyers a product so incomplete as to be dangerous to use.  If true, this is a classic case of consumer fraud.  However, as you might imagine, Tesla has a very different description of the situation.

First and foremost, Tesla says that the lawsuit misrepresents many of the facts as to both their advertising and the functionality of Autopilot 2.  In fact, they say that many of the features that are said to be unavailable in the lawsuit actually are available and that the features that the plaintiff’s thought would be there were clearly labeled as upcoming in marketing materials

With such diametrically opposed versions of the facts, it’s hard to say exactly what the chances are of a lawsuit like this.  As you might imagine, both side’s versions of the facts are likely to hand them a swift victory.  Should the plaintiffs win, their lawsuit asks for Tesla to purchase back their cars and provide unspecified amounts of damages-likely an amount determined by the individual consumer fraud statutes-for their advertising practices.  We’ll have to see how the facts shake out before making a prediction one way or another.  Tesla’s website does indeed have descriptions of many elements of Autopilot 2 as upcoming.  However, the question is what these particular clients were told and the particular marketing materials they were provided.  What’s more, while Tesla did miss a number of deadlines for improving Autopilot 2 to bring the product into parity with other self-driving vehicles, their marketing materials do seem to say that they cannot always hold to deadlines due to the extensive work and regulatory approval required for self-driving cars.  However, it’s still too early to say exactly who is going to come out on top here.

The Law on Driverless Cars

Part of the problem with lawsuits surrounding autonomous vehicles is that the law is still trying to catch up to technology somewhat.  That being said, there has been a boom in laws regulating self-driving cars.  Not so long ago, Michigan passed some of the most comprehensive-although quite lenient-laws on the issue seen to date.

This is far from the only set of laws regulating self-driving cars.  California, Arizona, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada, Utah, North Dakota, Louisiana, Tennessee, Florida, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., and Virginia all have laws or executive orders in place regulating the use of autonomous vehicles to some extent.  In September of 2016, even the federal government–through the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration–released an updated set of suggestions providing guidance for states in making laws.

Tesla, and other manufacturers of self-driving cars, are entering a market ahead of its time; but the laws are catching up.  More and more legislation is being introduced to figure out how to handle these kind of vehicles.  However, as this lawsuit suggests, we need to make sure that the technology is there and up to snuff before it reaches the public.  As it stands, both sides are so far apart that it’s hard to take much in the way of facts away from the pleadings and their response.  At a minimum, we can see that it is a technology in progress and-like any technology in process-we have to be careful how we implement it to ensure the safety of the public.

Trump Repeals Internet Privacy

For someone who ran for President on a platform promising to “Make America Great Again,” he sure has done a lot of things to make Americans feel like we’ve moved backward, not forward. Since January 20th, President Trump has turned away refugees, encouraged the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and acted personally and professionally sexist toward women. His new bill that he quietly signed into law repeals internet privacy rules passed last year by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) under the Obama administration. It seems like another huge step backward.

TrumpWhat Did the Internet Privacy Law Do?

Adopted on October 27, 2016 and issued on November 2, 2016, the FCC established a rule that protected the privacy of customers of broadband and other telecommunication services. It also gave broadband customers more choices, transparency, and security over their personal data. The rule empowered users to decide how data was used and shared by broadband providers. In other words, it forced internet service providers (Comcast, Xfinity, AT&T, and Verizon, to name a few) to ask consumers before it collected certain personal information.

Why Is the Privacy Rule Important?

The rule has not gone into effect yet, and it won’t go into effect now that Trump has repealed it. However, the law was intended to require more transparency by internet service providers. Companies use data to target advertising. This is known as data mining, sometimes known as data or knowledge discovery. It is the process of analyzing data and summarizing it into useful information. The information is then sold from the internet service providers to specific companies that target their advertising to the consumer based on their data.

That was complicated, so let me give you an example. I’m a new mom and my internet service provider can ascertain this information through my search habits. Let’s say they sell that information to Babies R’ Us, Carter’s, and other baby stores, who then sends me coupons for various deals on car seats, baby toys, and diapers. My internet service provider just profited off of invading my privacy.

Why We Haven’t Heard about the Law

Trump has been acting like a bull in a china shop, signing controversial executive orders with big hoopla and making unfounded allegations about his predecessor President Obama. Why, then, have we heard very little about his decision to repeal the internet privacy law, especially when it has such a huge effect on the American people?

It seems that the Trump administration tries to sneak anything controversial or unpopular quietly into law. That way, there’s less backlash.

Should We Be Worried about Net Neutrality?

In 2014, the FCC released a plan that would have allowed internet service providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to charge more depending on what the consumer uses. For instance, instead of providing things like Facebook and Youtube for free so long as you have internet access, big companies want to sell package deals that allow one access to Facebook and Youtube only if they use their company and buy a particular package. The proposal was met with so much resistance that it was shelved.

Net neutrality is the principle that treats all websites and services the same. Specifically, it prevents certain internet service providers from charging more for specific content. It prevents companies like Comcast from charging users for a package subscription to Netflix and Hulu.

People are concerned that Trump’s repeal is just one step away from the end of net neutrality, and they should be concerned. Trump is a well-known businessman. His failed Trumpcare attempted to create huge tax breaks for the super wealthy. He’s appointed cabinet members who primarily favor big business. It should come as no surprise that this President may attack net neutrality when he has consistently shown preferential treatment toward big business at the expense of “the little people.”