Recent Big Data matters for clients include:
Financial institutions engaged in analytics and data mining
We are advising a number of financial institutions on Big Data analytics and data mining based on the behavior of consumers, small businesses and corporations. We help global banks, large and small investment advisors, insurance companies, and many other clients identify and implement lawful ways to draw insights from the data that they collect themselves or that they obtain from data brokers and other third-party data sources. Challenges in this space include laws with respect to privacy and cybersecurity, consumer protection, and securities/insider trading (e.g., Rule 10b-5), as well as questions of contractual obligations, industry-adopted regimes (such as rules imposed by credit card companies), and potentially negative public-relations impacts.
We have advised automobile manufacturers and others in the auto ecosystem on a variety of privacy, security, contract, IP/data ownership, consumer protection and public-relations considerations with respect to data collected by modern cars. This includes potentially sensitive information, such as real-time location data and driving telemetry/behavioral data. In one such project, we provided guidance on how to improve an industry-wide self-regulatory regime developed to address these Big Data issues in a comprehensive way that was palatable to the industry, regulators and consumer advocates. Likewise, we have provided advice about services and devices that are integrated with automobiles that also collect information (GPS-integrated information systems, in-dash browsers, sound systems, monitoring devices supplied by insurance companies, etc.).
Online companies, data brokers and others grappling with antitrust issues
We are closely following and advising our clients on the recent interest of legislators and regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission, the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office, in the antitrust implications of companies holding large amounts of data. This issue is of increasing concern to data brokers and many of our clients in the online ecosystem, including social networks, mobile app developers, search engines and online advertising technology providers. We counsel these and other clients on a range of matters, such as evolving legislative proposals and developments, merger filings and regulatory approvals, and Big Data-related investigations by authorities for potential abuse of market power.
Electronics and equipment manufacturers navigating the Internet of Things
Mobile devices, televisions, home speakers, thermostats, wearables and even refrigerators are collecting significant amounts of data about consumers and how they behave—not just out in the world, but also in the privacy of their own homes. And much of this data is sensitive, such as health information, real-time location data, video programming watched, individual voiceprints and exercise habits. What can be collected, how it can be used and who it can be shared with is subject to multiple legal regimes, contractual obligations, public-relations concerns, data security considerations, and a wide variety of other factors. We counsel, and advocate for, electronics and equipment manufacturers and other Internet-of-Things clients on all of these issues. We also assist clients seeking patents and other IP protections for innovations related to the Internet of Things, including integrated circuits, computer chips, wearables, and a plethora of consumer devices and components of such devices.
Energy producers and utilities
We help a variety of energy producers and utilities address the challenges of Big Data and leverage it to their advantage. We have counseled such clients through serious data breaches and data security missteps, as well as the potential regulatory and public-relations fallout from such incidents. We also advise utilities about their mining of Big Data to detect electricity theft, including illegal connections, unbilled consumption and non-payment. We also are helping clients use Big Data to detect revenues lost from transmission and distribution inefficiencies. Our substantial experience with and understanding of the energy industry is essential to this work, given the unique legal issues that arise in this highly regulated space, including requirements and standards with respect to testing, reporting, recordkeeping, reliability and financial disclosures.
Technology companies entering into data-centric transactions and licensing agreements
Increasingly, agreements in the technology transactions and licensing space involve one or both parties receiving access to some large set of data, either from the other party or its end users. Such deals involve a range of privacy and data security issues, as well as the fundamentally important issue of what rights each party will have to exploit the data being collected. For example, we represent software company clients with machine learning/data analytics Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings encountering conflicts between their contractual obligations and their desire to use client-supplied data to improve the performance of their predictive models for the benefit of all of their customers generally. We also regularly draft data licensing agreements, public-facing website terms of service, and other service agreements for a range of companies whose business models are focused on collecting data and/or exploiting it.
Companies and government entities negotiating international trade deals
A number of recent trade negotiations (including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) have included important provisions on data localization, data transfer and data use. Indeed, Big Data issues have been key sticking points in such deals because the United States and various foreign countries have quite different views concerning data protection. We have helped different clients lobby and negotiate such Big Data issues in the context of trade agreements.
To learn more about WilmerHale's Big Data practice, email us at email@example.com.