Congress is formalizing its privacy concerns over Google Glass — Google’s not-yet-released technology which enable users to access apps through heads-up eyepiece that responds to voice and gesture commands.
In a recent letter to Google CEO Larry Page, the House Bipartisan Privacy Caucus requested answers to the increasing list of privacy questions over Google’s technology. Specifically, Congressman Joe Barton, wants to know if non-users can opt-out of being identified through Glass. For example, if facial recognition technology is used on Glass, users could potentially access names birthdates, even salaries of unsuspecting strangers. Moreover, Glass users could record video and audio of virtually anyone without consent; a crime in many states. Additionally, Barton wants to know what happens to stored or accessible data when a user sells or disposes of their device.
Congress has reason to be dubious as Google recently settled with 38 states on charges that it was surreptitiously collecting user data from free wireless hotspots.
In sum, Congress has not broken Glass yet. But the Caucuses action elevates privacy concerns over Glass from intriguing media commentary to a legislative inquiry. Knowing what we know of the speed of legislation, Google’s new tech could be grounded — for a while. Page has been given a June 14th deadline to respond to the Caucuses questions.
Question: Can a director or corporate officer be held personally liable for their business decisions?
Answer: Under the business judgement rule, courts will not find corporate directors or officers liable for decisions made genuinely in the best interest of the business, even if the decision has negative consequences. In other words, the court is saying — as a matter of practicality — it is not in the position to interfere with business judgement. However, as is often the case, there are exceptions to the rule. A director or officer may be found liable if the plaintiff prevails in alleging a conflict of interest, fraud or illegality in the business decision.
Question: Can a minority shareholder prevail in a suit against a majority shareholder where the majority uses her vote for personal benefit at the expense of the minority?
Answer: Yes. Unfortunately for the majority shareholder the law applies the same fiduciary duty to her as it does to a director. That is, she must prove she has acted in good faith and fairness to the minority shareholders when she receives personal benefit from a transaction. Further, she has breached her duty if her vote benefits an outside interest at the expense of the shareholders as a whole.