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U.S. judge rules Google must face much of lawsuit over Voice Assistant

Google must face lawsuit over Assistant

A federal judge said Google must face much of a lawsuit accusing the company of illegally recording and disseminating private conversations of people who accidentally trigger its voice-activated Google Assistant on their smartphones.

U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman, in a Thursday night decision, let plaintiffs in the proposed class action pursue claims that Google and its parent company Alphabet violated California privacy laws, some claims that the companies violated federal privacy laws and some breach of contract claims.

The San Jose-based judge also dismissed the plaintiffs’ California consumer protection claims but said they could be refiled.

Google Assistant is designed to react when mobile device owners use “hot words” such as “Hey, Google” or “Okay Google,” similar to Apple’s assistant, Siri.

But the plaintiffs said Google had no right to use their conversations for targeted advertising when Google Assistant misperceived what they said as hot words, known as “false accepts.”

Seeking a dismissal, Google said the plaintiffs failed to show they were harmed or that it broke any contractual guarantees. “Google never promises that the Assistant will activate only when plaintiffs intend it to,” it said.

— Reuters

U.S. trade deficit increased in May

The U.S. trade deficit widened in May to $71.2 billion as a small increase in exports was offset by a bigger rise in imports.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that the deficit rose 3.1 percent from the revised April deficit of $69.1 billion. The U.S. trade deficit had hit a monthly record of about $75 billion in March.

In May, exports of U.S. goods and services rose 0.6 percent to $206 billion. But that was offset by a 1.3 percent gain in imports, which hit $277.3 billion.

Through the first five months of this year, the U.S. trade deficit totaled $353.1 billion, up a sizable 45.8 percent from the deficit during the same period last year when Americans’ appetite for imported goods was being held back by the coronavirus pandemic.

This year, the improving
U.S. economy has increased demand for imports while the rest of the world has been recovering more slowly, dampening demand for U.S. exports.

The deficit in goods totaled $89.2 billion in May, and this was offset by a smaller $17.9 billion surplus in services such as airline travel.

— Associated Press

Tesla on Friday posted record vehicle deliveries for the second quarter that were in line with Wall Street estimates as the electric-car maker coped with a shortage of chips and raw materials. Tesla delivered 201,250 vehicles in total during the second quarter. The numbers showed that strong deliveries of its Model 3 sedans and Model Y crossovers, its two lower-priced variants, offset a drop in deliveries of Model S and X variants.

Charles Schwab said it will take a $200 million charge in the second quarter related to a
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe of its robo-adviser platform. The compliance inquiry relates to past disclosures around the firm's Schwab Intelligent Portfolios product, according to a regulatory filing Friday. The company said it has been cooperating with the SEC, and its ultimate liability may differ from the amount it's earmarking now.

— From news services