UK Police Targeting Black People With Fingerprint Scanners

By Robert Bateman

Police forces across England and Wales have increased their use of mobile fingerprint scanning — and Black people are disproportionately targeted with this biometric technology, according to recent news reports analyzing police statistics.

But privacy advocates and civil rights groups told Digital Privacy News that the practice was damaging trust in the police and could hamper efforts to fight crime.

“Black communities are much more likely to be surveilled and treated as potential criminals, despite a lack of reasonable suspicion,” said Ella Jakubowska, policy officer for European Digital Rights (EDRi) in Brussels, which campaigns against biometric surveillance.

“Why would we even think about bringing in new biometric technology — which civil society groups have shown can pose an enormous threat to people’s rights and liberties — when we already have so much underlying bias and discrimination in how police forces engage with racialized and minoritized communities?”

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Review: ‘Coded Bias’

Indie Film Unpacks Bias in Algorithms

By C.J. Thompson

“Coded Bias” is a new independent documentary about the omnipresence of artificial intelligence — and the myriad ways the biases of its creators are baked into its performance. 

The film centers on Massachusetts Institute of Technology doctoral candidate Joy Buolamwini, 31, whose key epiphany occurs when she uses computer-vision software for a project — and it fails to identify her dark-complexioned face.

It engages, however, when she dons a white face mask.

The “Coded Bias” poster features an image of that soulless, synthetic white mask with brown eyes staring from behind it — and the film’s implications are equally haunting. 

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Facebook CEO Touts Progress on Privacy, But Experts Raise Doubts

By Jackson Chen

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently touted to Congress the company’s privacy efforts stemming from a record $5 billion Federal Trade Commission settlement last year, including “an industry-leading privacy program.”

“We have more than a thousand engineers working on the privacy program now,” Zuckerberg told the Senate Commerce Committee at an October hearing. “I think that settlement will be quite effective in ensuring that people’s data and privacy are protected.”

But experts told Digital Privacy News that the settlement did not address the root issue of Facebook’s privacy practices and instead raised more questions.

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New Zealanders at Odds Over New Privacy Law Days Before Taking Effect

By Melt Strydom

Days before a new privacy law takes effect in New Zealand, stark differences remained between advocates praising its stronger privacy protections and opponents badgering it as a “toothless tiger” because of its seemingly small fines compared with regulations in other countries.

“Even the best of laws, including the new European regulation, will have the same problem, but our law remains fit for purpose — as it is principles-based and is one-size-fits-all, covering all sectors,” Gehan Gunasekara, chairman of the New Zealand Privacy Foundation (NZPF), said of the New Zealand Privacy Act of 2020.

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Q&A: CDT’s Alexandra Reeve Givens

‘We Fight for an Open and Accessible Internet’

By Samantha Stone

Alexandra Reeve Givens was in grade school when the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) was founded.

CDT, based in Washington, is deeply rooted in digital technology’s original sin: exposing users to scrutiny by anyone with the means and the motive to probe.

By that standard, the organization is both young, at 26, and mature — having influenced public policy for a quarter of a century.

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