Expert Witness Trends: Privacy Experts Will Soon Be in Demand

    Now, more than ever, people are reliant on the internet to communicate with each other and retain some level of normalcy in an uncertain time. From remote work to virtual doctor’s visits, there’s seemingly no facet of our lives that has yet to be digitized. As so much of our personal information is now online, it’s crucial to stay informed on cyber security. Within this past year, numerous lawsuits have been filed against companies for their handling of customers’ confidential information and personal data. As remote communications show no sign of ceasing, privacy protection will only become a more urgent concern.

    Privacy professionals, such as those who specialize in the management and protection of electronic data, will soon be in high demand. Especially in relation to the various pending lawsuits alleging data breaches, a privacy expert will play a necessary role in every case. As such, now is the time for experts in these specialties to participate in what will surely become a historic and unprecedented surge in legal demand.

    Recent Privacy Violation Lawsuits

    A flurry of litigation has emerged in relation to data privacy concerns. From video conferencing to AI-powered facial recognition software, many disputes over acceptable data security practices will soon be heard by courts across the country. As such, experts in these technology-driven fields will also be needed to weigh in.

    Zoom Video

    Arguably, no other videoconferencing platform has experienced such a sudden rise in popularity as Zoom Video has since the start of the pandemic. Zoom’s platform has provided millions of customers with the capabilities for virtual meetings and calls via personal devices. But its increase in usage has also resulted in a surge in litigation. Zoom is facing at least four class actions for violations of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). In Cullen v. Zoom Video Communications, Inc., 20-CV-2155, the California plaintiffs allege that Zoom had failed to properly provide notice of their right to opt-out of data sales to third parties, thus violating the CCPA. In Taylor v. Zoom Communications, Inc., 20-CV-2170 and Hurvitz, et al. v. Zoom Video Communications, Inc., Facebook, and LinkedIn Corporation, 2:20-cv-03400, the plaintiffs further allege that, although Zoom promises “end-to-end encryption for all meetings,” the company routinely shared user data with third parties, such as Facebook and LinkedIn— they’re also defendants named in the suit.

    TikTok

    Another app that has recently reached new heights in both popularity and lawsuit filings is TikTok. Currently, ten class actions are pending against the video-sharing app, actions that were recently consolidated into an MDL case pending before the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiffs in each action allege that TikTok collected user data, such as their locations, phone contacts, and even their facial features, and shared the data with its parent company, ByteDance, located in China. The plaintiffs further allege that TikTok violated Illinois biometric information privacy laws by sending user data to another country. The Biometric Information Privacy Act grants plaintiffs a private right of action if their data is used inappropriately.

    Clearview AI

    Clearview AI, a facial recognition software company, is facing similar lawsuits for its use of individuals’ biometric data. Originally marketed to law enforcement and security agencies, Clearview AI has compiled a massive database of photographs that the company obtained from social media websites. However, Clearview AI’s customer base has expanded beyond law enforcement and is now providing its data to retailers, universities, and other companies. Lawsuits filed against Clearview AI in California, Illinois, and New York all allege variations of privacy violations in its use of plaintiffs’ data without consent.

    Macy’s Customer Security

    Macy’s is facing legal action for its use of Clearview AI to identify shoppers in its Chicago stores. Allegedly, Macy’s collected facial images of its customers and sent the images to Clearview. In turn, Clearview provided the retailer with any information it had compiled on the customers from its databases. The plaintiffs claim that Macy’s use of facial images for facial recognition purposes in this context is a violation of the Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires companies to obtain informed consent from its customers prior to collecting any biometric data.

    How Experts Can Help

    Privacy experts will be an invaluable resource as these lawsuits develop—both in a consultancy and trial witness capacity. First and foremost, these cases will require experts trained in evaluating a company’s privacy policies and its compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. In the context of lawsuits alleging violations of state and/or federal laws, a privacy expert will be needed to determine whether or not the defendants complied with these requirements.

    As most data breach lawsuits contain allegations of negligence, a privacy expert will also be critical in establishing the requisite standard of care in terms of data privacy and management—and what constitutes a breach of these requirements. Many privacy professionals specialize in creating privacy management programs for companies. This type of program may include periodic assessments of data protection and retention and destruction policies. An expert may also support the argument that by failing to implement such a program, a company breached its standard of care to protect customers’ private data.

    Experts in data collection and management will also be key for establishing the necessary practices specific to different fields, such as medical, financial, and telecommunications industries. As each field carries different risks and concerns when it comes to privacy measures, data experts with particular industry subspecialties will be especially useful to these cases.

    At Expert Institute, attorneys are custom matched with highly qualified privacy experts who can support the specific needs of the case. If you’re a professional in the privacy and data protection fields, the demand for your services is reaching an all-time high amidst surging data concerns. By submitting your expert information to the Expert Institute, you can ensure that every case you’re asked to review is fully vetted for merit and is uniquely suited to your area of expertise. Working as a legal consultant also presents the opportunity to lend your expertise to what is sure to be precedent-setting litigation. As more and more privacy cases arise, privacy professionals will undoubtedly see their stock rise in the upcoming year.