March 2021

Self-isolation, stay-at-home orders, and lockdowns have changed the way we live during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many of us work remotely, limit face-to-face interactions, and stay indoors, we are reaching for our smartphones more and increasing our mobile app use. Mobile app usage increased by 40% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020, hitting an all-time high of over 200 billion hours of app usage in April. The average user is spending 4 hours and 20 minutes per day on their smartphones, frequently on social media.

Apps for games, entertainment, photo and video sharing, business, health and fitness, shopping, digital payments, and medical based apps all saw app usage growth since the pandemic started. As our app usage increases, so does our information sharing. We share our game scores on one social media platform. We share photos and videos on another social media platform . We even share the distance we ran or biked, and how many calories we burned. But we don’t share things such as banking information, passwords, and our medical information, or do we? As we increase our app use we need to think about the risks to privacy.

On March 4, 2021, a federal trial court in New York issued a preliminary injunction that halted a bridal gown designer and social media influencer from using her social media accounts without her former employer’s permission. JLM Couture, Inc. v. Gutman, No. 20 CV 10575-LTS-SLC (S.D.N.Y. March 4, 2021) (2021 WL 827749).

Across the world, as digital companies’ advertising revenues climb, traditional news organizations’ revenues fall. As a result, many traditional news organizations, like broadcasters and newspapers, are going out of business. The public’s appetite for journalism, however, has not waned. If anything, the public needs reliable news sources more than ever in this era of “fake news” and internet-borne misinformation. Often it is the very digital platforms that share news organizations’ content that are perceived as putting news organizations out of business.

Governments around the world are contemplating various policies and legislation to save struggling traditional news organizations. Many of these solutions contemplate tying the fortunes of ailing news organizations to those of thriving digital platforms like social media companies. For example, Australia has been in long-standing disputes with large tech companies about its proposed law that would require big tech companies to pay news organizations for use of their content.

Recently, the first proposed legislation to tackle this problem in Canada was tabled in the Senate in the form of a private members bill, Bill S-225.