We all use technology to manage our lives every single day. From our smartphones to GPS to email…it is fully ingrained into the way we do business, socialize, and learn new things. Innovation in the technology sphere moves fast, and new automation and tech systems are cropping up faster than they ever have before. As people find ways to integrate new technologies into their everyday lives, legal issues arise. New laws and legal processes always follow emergent technology, which is why you should check the technology sphere if you are trying to spot emerging legal practice areas.
Legal cases surrounding new technology regularly make the news. For example, the Supreme Court of Indiana recently ruled that the police cannot force a suspect to unlock their smartphone to check content, citing that it could violate someone’s 5th amendment right, protecting them from self-incrimination. As an attorney, it is important to stay on top of new technology, how people use it, and how it may become problematic from a legal standpoint.
Here are several areas of technology that we believe will soon lead to new practice areas:
- IoT Device Concerns: Many of us have technology in our homes that are either voice-activated (like an Amazon Echo) or motion-activated (like a Ring doorbell). Theoretically, cases may come to rely on the “testimony” of these machines that collect recordings without people’s knowledge or consent. This could easily get into a sticky legal area, which is why practices should start preparing for this inevitable situation now.
- Discrimination via Artificial Intelligence: Hiring practices are not what they used to be. Giant companies like Amazon are relying on automation to assist with recruiting and hiring. Unfortunately, these systems are not colorblind, and research has shown that they mistreat women and people of color. It is not unreasonable to think that someone may soon file a discrimination case against artificial intelligence.
- Pervasiveness of Recording: California is a two-party consent state, which means that if a private or confidential conversation is going to take place, all parties involved must be aware and consent to the recording. This law was put into place to address wire-tapping but seems woefully inadequate now that everyone has a sophisticated recording device in their pocket. The pervasiveness of social media means that nearly anyone and everyone can be recording at any time, which will undoubtedly lead to some tricky legal situations.
In order to be prepared for the inevitability of legal cases surrounding new and emerging technology, your firm needs to stay on the cutting edge. Watch the news, think of everything through a legal lens, and prepare yourself to be dealing with unprecedented issues. The faster your practice can adapt to new types of cases, the more market share you will capture in these areas. The best way to beat the competition is to stay ahead of them. The research and analysis you do today will contribute to your firm’s success tomorrow. Don’t delay.