Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Thurs 8/3 - State AI Regulation, Congressional Maps Decide 2024, Tesla Class Action Range Lawsuit, SocGen Reaches a Settlement

Thurs 8/3 - State AI Regulation, Congressional Maps Decide 2024, Tesla Class Action Range Lawsuit, SocGen Reaches a Settlement

We have states targeting AI for regulation, new congressional maps may decide 2024, lawsuits for Tesla regarding range and SocGen reaches a settlement.

On this day in legal history, we have a dark one. On August 3, 1934, the German Parliament combined the offices of President and Chancellor, raising Adolf Hitler as the supreme leader of Germany.  

President Paul von Hindenburg, a key figure in German politics, died at the age of 87 on August 2, 1934, marking a dark turning point in German history. Hindenburg had been a decorated military officer and served as the President of the Weimar Republic, providing a stabilizing force during a turbulent period. Shortly after his death, Adolf Hitler, who was already serving as Chancellor, announced a significant change in the German government's structure. Hitler declared that the offices of the chancellor and the president were to be combined into one position, creating the role of the Führer and chancellor. This move effectively consolidated his power and eliminated the need for a separate presidential office, with Hitler announcing that he would occupy this new role.

The death of Hindenburg and the ascendency of Hitler marked the end of the Weimar Republic and the beginning of the Nazi era in Germany. Hitler's consolidation of power allowed him to implement his radical ideologies and policies without significant opposition, leading to increased persecution of minority groups, aggressive military expansion, and ultimately, the outbreak of World War II. The transformation of the German government following Hindenburg's death played a crucial role in shaping the course of 20th-century history. Historians often view Hindenburg's death as the final barrier removed that allowed Hitler to fully implement his totalitarian regime, symbolizing the erosion of democratic principles in Germany.

Thus, on this day in 1934, the German people were coming to terms with the death of President Hindenburg and the announcement of Adolf Hitler's new role as Führer and chancellor – and the world, had it known, would be bracing for what was to come. The merging of the chancellor and president's roles marked a pivotal moment in German history, setting the stage for the rise of the Nazi regime and the subsequent events that would shape the world in the years to come. The legacy of these events continues to resonate, providing a stark reminder of the fragility of democratic governance and the potential consequences of unchecked power.

In 2023, U.S. states have actively targeted AI with various regulatory measures, reflecting both the potential and concerns of the technology. North Dakota banned legal personhood for AI and approved legislation to examine its impact on areas like education and elections. More than a dozen AI-related measures have passed across the U.S., with states like California attempting to confront digital bias and privacy, though some proposals have stalled due to opposition and cost concerns. Six states and Puerto Rico have approved measures to study AI, while others are embracing it for specific purposes like road maintenance. Concerns about potential threats have led to proposals to limit AI's use in various fields, with lawmakers emphasizing the need for good policies to control the technology. AI experts are urging a balanced view, recognizing AI as a useful but potentially dangerous tool, and calling for thoughtful understanding of both its risks and promises. The rapid advancement of AI presents challenges in regulation, but with proper human guidance, it could be a valuable asset, though the industry's desire to accelerate development may make it difficult for regulations to keep pace.

US States Target AI With a Medley of Regulatory Measures

Brewing battles over redistricting in states from New York to Utah may lead to new congressional maps for at least half a dozen states before the 2024 U.S. election, potentially affecting control of the closely divided House of Representatives. The 2022 election, in which Republicans captured a slim majority in the House, took place under maps based on the 2020 Census, but legal challenges and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling have cast doubt on many of those district lines. In states like Alabama, legal challenges have focused on the representation of Black voters, with further legal proceedings scheduled. Republicans have gained ground at state Supreme Courts in North Carolina and Ohio, leading to reversals of previous rulings against gerrymandering, while Democrats have made gains at state Supreme Courts in New York and Wisconsin.

Other battles include arguments in Utah over the state's Republican-drawn congressional map, and a challenge in New Mexico against a Democratic-drawn map. These cases further illustrate the nationwide struggle over redistricting and its potential impact on future elections. 

Redistricting battles could determine control of US House in 2024 | Reuters

Three Tesla owners in California have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the automaker, accusing the company of falsely advertising the estimated driving ranges of its electric vehicles (EVs). The lawsuit cites a recent Reuters article that reported Tesla had created a "Diversion Team" in Nevada to cancel range-related appointments after being overwhelmed with owner complaints. According to a source, about a decade ago, Tesla decided to write algorithms for its in-dash range meter that would show drivers optimistic projections for the distance the car could travel on a full battery, a directive that reportedly came from CEO Elon Musk. The lawsuit alleges that Tesla breached vehicle warranties and engaged in fraud and unfair competition, stating that the company has a duty to deliver a product that performs as advertised. The three plaintiffs in the lawsuit have cited instances when their Teslas did not achieve close to their advertised ranges, and they claim to have complained to the company without success. One of the plaintiffs, a Model Y owner, stated in the lawsuit that he lost approximately 182 miles of range despite only driving 92 miles, illustrating the discrepancy between actual and advertised range. The complaint seeks class-action status to represent all persons in California who purchased specific Tesla models and is seeking unspecified damages. This lawsuit adds to Tesla's legal challenges, as the company also faces lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny over its Autopilot and "Full Self-Driving" technology, as well as a proposed consumer class action related to privacy violations. Neither Tesla nor Musk responded to detailed questions from Reuters regarding the range claims, and they did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the lawsuit.

Tesla faces California class action on its EV range claims | Reuters

Societe Generale, France's third-largest listed bank, has reached a settlement with U.S. securities regulators including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) amid an investigation over the bank's handling of digital communications. The probe began in 2021 by the SEC, examining how Wall Street banks tracked employees' digital communications, including email and apps such as WhatsApp, with the CFTC later joining the examination. Details of the settlement have not been disclosed, and as of the report date, both settlements were awaiting formal regulatory approval. The announcement follows a statement by BNP Paribas last week that it was also set to resolve the same U.S. probe.

Probes into financial institutions' compliance with regulatory requirements, including the handling and tracking of digital communications, are not uncommon. Regulatory bodies like the SEC and CFTC frequently examine banks and other financial entities to ensure they are adhering to laws and regulations concerning transparency, record-keeping, and anti-fraud measures. The growth of digital communication platforms, such as email and messaging apps, has led to increased scrutiny in this area. Ensuring that financial institutions have appropriate oversight and control over these communications is essential for preventing misconduct and maintaining the integrity of the financial markets. Therefore, regulators may periodically launch investigations to assess compliance with these rules, making such probes a relatively standard aspect of regulatory oversight in the financial sector.

SocGen reaches settlement with U.S. regulators over messaging probe | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at