“Civil litigation could also seek to obtain it for such things as relatively mundane as divorce actions. Who’s calling who with your spouse … So if the data is kept only by the companies then I think the privacy considerations certainly warrants scrutiny.”
- Patrick Kelley, Acting GC of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Is the real problem of the NSA spy scandal that the government agency isn’t able to hold onto enough information? The agency seems to believe so. Speaking on a Senate bill sponsored by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), acting FBI general counsel Patrick Kelley said that Americans’ private information would actually be less secure being held by communication companies rather than by the government. He also added that if the information were to be held with private companies, then theoretically the information could be sold to “other levels of law enforcement from local, state and federal who want it for whatever law enforcement purposes they’re authorized to obtain it.”
The Police “Like” This
“These requests run the gamut – from things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child, to a federal marshal tracking a fugitive, to a police department investigating an assault, to a national security official investigating a terrorist threat.”
- Ted Ullyot, GC of Facebook
But what about the other side of the coin, when the government asks private companies for information on certain individuals? Public opinion has centered on the government’s search for terrorists, but according to Facebook GC Ted Ullyot, all sorts of government agencies can request users’ private data. According to Fox News, Facebook said it had received thousands of requests from the government in the second half of 2012. The company is reportedly petitioning the U.S. government to be able to reveal more information about the government requests it receives.
“We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links. We do not provide any government, including the U.S. government, with access to our systems. We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform.”
- David Drummond, Google chief legal officer
Facebook isn’t the only technology company to speak out about the government’s information gathering. While Google is winning notable legal battles in regards to accessing private data for advertising purposes, the company also believes the government has gone too far. When confronted with evidence that the U.S. government had been accessing Google’s overseas data links, David Drummond expressed outrage to The New York Times. The Times says that the NSA claims it was focused on foreign intelligence rather than domestic and denied it was collecting abroad to “get around” legal limits imposed by domestic surveillance laws.
“Today we reached closure on complex legal matters spanning almost a decade. This resolution allows us to move forward and continue to focus on delivering innovative solutions that improve and enhance the health and well-being of patients around the world.”
- Michael Ullman, GC of Johnson & Johnson
Considering the large slate of products under the Johnson & Johnson umbrella, from Band-Aids to Tylenol medicines to Acuvue contact lenses, GC Michael Ullman has needed to be a jack-of-all-trades. But the one product that has likely stuck in his mind more than any other was Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug that J&J originally claimed had a number of uses, including treating elderly patients with dementia. Of course, the Food and Drug Administration had never approved those uses, leading to a decade of litigation over allegations of health fraud. On Nov. 4, J&J paid more than $2.2 billion to settle the case. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that J&J “recklessly put at risk the health of some of the most vulnerable members of our society — including young children, the elderly, and the disabled.”
“He was good about understanding that the roadshow was a marketing event but that the IPO document was a legal liability.”
- Karyn Smith, former Zynga GC
Twitter’s IPO is expected to make original shareholders money hand over fist, but the company would not have gotten to this point without a lot of business and marketing help. The Wall Street Journal published a look at one of those minds behind Twitter’s explosion, chief financial officer Mike Gupta, on Nov. 6. Gupta has been through the IPO ring before. He served as treasurer of games company Zynga ahead of its IPO in 2011, tasked with courting investors to the company. As both Smith and new Twitter GC Vijaya Gadde know, initial public offerings can be tough legally and require a strong team effort to push through.
“We see this acquisition enabling us to innovate faster, bringing hardware and software together to ensure a better experience for customers, improve economics in the market, grow market share and be a more profitable player in the mobile space.”
- Brad Smith, GC of Microsoft
When Microsoft purchased mobile phone maker Nokia in September 2013, most analysts viewed the purchase as an attempt by the U.S. technology giant to challenge Apple and Samsung in the mobile sphere. In an exclusive interview from the October edition of InsideCounsel magazine, Microsoft GC Brad Smith does nothing to argue against that assumption, saying that Nokia is a crucial part of the company’s strategy moving forward. Smith also said that the acquisition is a horizontal play, saying, “It gives us the chance to add a business that is complementary to our own, transitioning us from a pure software company to a devices and services company.”