Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Legal News for 3/20 - TikTok Sale Complicated, TX Deportation Law Blocked Again, Meta Privacy Battle in Nevada, Trump Wants Absolute Immunity and Google Fined in France

Legal News for 3/20 - TikTok Sale Complicated, TX Deportation Law Blocked Again, Meta Privacy Battle in Nevada, Trump Wants Absolute Immunity and Google Fined in France

TikTok's complex forced sale due to ByteDance's IP portfolio, TX blocked deportation law, Meta's privacy battle in Nevada, Trump's plea for 'absolute immunity', and Google's fine over AI copyright.
Dutch East India Company, pencil sketch

This Day in Legal History: Dutch East India Company Established

On this day in legal history, March 20, 1602, marks the establishment of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), a pivotal moment that reshaped global trade and legal concepts surrounding corporate governance. Authorized by the States-General of the Netherlands, the VOC was granted an exclusive 21-year monopoly over Dutch trade operations in Asia. This groundbreaking move not only positioned the Netherlands as a dominant force in the global spice trade but also laid the foundational principles of modern corporate finance and capital markets.

The VOC's charter signified the world's first issuance of stock, making it the earliest company to be financed by shareholders. This innovation introduced the concept of risk-sharing among investors, a pivotal development that underpins today's stock markets. Furthermore, the VOC's structure demonstrated early examples of corporate governance, with its dual system of governance balancing executive and supervisory roles, a precursor to contemporary corporate boards.

As the world's first multinational corporation, the VOC wielded immense power and influence, establishing trading posts and colonies across Asia. Its legal framework allowed for unprecedented scale in operations, setting a template for future companies to operate across national borders. However, the VOC's activities also underscored the darker aspects of early corporate power, including exploitation and colonial aggression.

The VOC's legacy is multifaceted, symbolizing both the innovative spirit of early global commerce and the ethical complexities of corporate dominance. Its establishment on March 20, 1602, serves as a reminder of the lasting impact that legal and corporate innovations can have on the world stage, influencing the course of economic history and the evolution of corporate law.

The potential forced sale of TikTok by ByteDance Ltd. is complicated by the latter's extensive intellectual property (IP) portfolio, including over 900 U.S. patents since 2020 on innovations like AI music creation and video recommendation algorithms. This vast trove of patents, crucial for cash flow and business protection, could significantly affect the deal's structure, as buyers generally aim to secure IP rights. The U.S. House has passed a bill mandating TikTok's sale to operate in the U.S., setting a challenging six-month deadline for ByteDance, reminiscent of the expedited sale of Grindr by its Chinese owners under similar pressures. The divestiture's complexity is heightened by ByteDance's global patent array and the strategic importance of IP rights, which might be sold or licensed in various forms to comply with the legislation. Yet, the sale or licensing of these patents, particularly those underpinning TikTok's algorithm, raises concerns over control and national security, reflecting the intricate dynamics at play between U.S.-China relations, investor interests, and technological sovereignty.

TikTok Forced Sale Bid Embroils ByteDance’s Vast Patent Trove

A federal appeals court has halted a Texas law permitting the arrest and deportation of individuals entering the U.S. illegally, following the Supreme Court's directive to expedite resolution of the case. This decision adds to the confusion at the border, especially during the brief period the law was active, due to limited details from Texas officials on its implementation. The measure, SB4, has faced criticism from immigrant rights organizations and Mexican officials, underscoring tensions between state and federal authorities over immigration enforcement. The Biden administration contends that SB4 unlawfully encroaches on federal jurisdiction over immigration policies, arguing against Texas's claim of constitutional authority to defend against what it considers an invasion. This legal battle represents a significant clash over state versus federal powers in managing immigration, amidst ongoing debates on the rights of states to enact their own immigration policies. The situation remains fluid as courts continue to evaluate the legality and implications of SB4, with the international community, particularly Mexico, vocalizing opposition to the Supreme Court's initial refusal to intervene.

Texas Deportation Law Blocked Again in Volley of Court Rulings

Nevada's legal battle with Meta Platforms Inc. over its decision to implement end-to-end encryption in Messenger for young users has ignited a significant privacy fight, with the state court reviewing a motion to block this encryption. Critics argue that such a move could undermine privacy and security for all users, emphasizing encryption's role in protecting against surveillance and data theft. Nevada contends that encryption enables illicit targeting of children within the state, alleging Meta's violation of consumer protection laws. Meta counters by highlighting the longstanding availability of encryption on Messenger and disputes Nevada's jurisdiction and the applicability of state law, citing First Amendment rights and federal protections under Section 230.

This confrontation echoes broader national and international debates over the balance between privacy, security, and law enforcement's ability to combat crime, particularly child exploitation. Advocacy groups supporting Nevada argue that removing encryption could prevent child sexual abuse, while privacy organizations warn that weakening encryption poses broad security risks. The case could have profound implications not only for children's online safety but also for the privacy rights of adults worldwide, potentially influencing future policy and legal standards regarding encryption technology.

Moreover, Nevada's action is part of a wider scrutiny of social media platforms' impact on children's mental health and safety, reflecting growing legal and public policy challenges facing tech companies. A victory for Nevada could set a precedent for other states to challenge tech companies on encryption and other privacy-enhancing technologies, forcing these companies to navigate complex legal risks or compromise on user security.

Meta Encryption Privacy Fight Begins in Nevada State Court

Donald Trump has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to grant former presidents "absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts," including efforts to overturn election results. This request follows the rejection of Trump's immunity claim by lower courts in the criminal case led by Special Counsel Jack Smith, relating to Trump's actions surrounding his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden. Trump's legal team argues that such immunity is essential for the presidency's independence and to protect future presidents from political prosecutions. The Supreme Court's decision to hear arguments on this matter has temporarily postponed Trump's trial, amid his claims of political motivation behind the charges and his ongoing presidential campaign against Biden. The case highlights the significant legal and constitutional questions surrounding presidential immunity and accountability, especially given the allegations of Trump's attempts to subvert the electoral process.

Trump urges US Supreme Court to endorse 'absolute immunity' for ex-presidents | Reuters

France's competition authority fined Google 250 million euros for violating EU intellectual property regulations in its dealings with media publishers, particularly relating to the use of publishers' content by Google's AI chatbot, Bard, now known as Gemini. Google has agreed not to contest the findings and has proposed remedies to address the identified issues, stating its desire to focus on developing sustainable methods for connecting users with quality content. Despite accepting the settlement, Google criticized the fine as disproportionate and expressed concerns about the unpredictable regulatory environment. This fine stems from a copyright dispute initiated by major French news organizations, including AFP, which seemed to have been previously settled in 2022 with Google dropping its appeal against an initial 500 million euro penalty. However, the competition watchdog found Google in breach of several commitments made during the settlement, particularly in its negotiations with publishers and the transparency of information related to its AI service. This case highlights the ongoing challenges in the digital content ecosystem, where publishers and news agencies seek fair compensation for their content used by AI technologies, amidst broader industry concerns over data scraping by AI services without consent or appropriate remuneration.

French competition watchdog hits Google with 250 million euro fine | 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