Daily Digest (4/30)

Amazon Reportedly in $10B Thermal-Camera Deal With Blacklisted Chinese Firm; FTC Approves Amendments to 2012 Facebook Privacy Order; US Intel Agencies Say Zoom at Risk for Foreign Surveillance; EPIC: Supreme Court Won’t Review Ruling on 2020 Census Data Collection. Click “Continue reading” below.

Amazon Reportedly in $10B Thermal-Camera Deal With Blacklisted Chinese Firm

Amazon.com Inc. has bought cameras to take temperatures of workers during the coronavirus pandemic from a firm blacklisted by the U.S. because of allegations it helped China detain and monitor Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Citing “three people familiar with the matter,” Reuters said Beijing’s Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co. Ltd. shipped 1,500 cameras to Amazon this month in a deal valued at close to $10 million.

At least 500 systems from Dahua are for Amazon’s use in the U.S., another person said.

The deal, which has not been made public, is legal because trade laws bar U.S. government-contract awards and exports to blacklisted firms — but not those of private-sector companies.

However, the United States “considers that transactions of any nature with listed entities carry a ‘red flag’ and recommends that U.S. companies proceed with caution,” the website for the Bureau of Industry and Security in China says.

Dahua has disputed the designation, and Beijing has denied mistreating the minority groups.

Amazon declined to confirm the purchase, Reuters reports, but said that its hardware complied with national, state and local laws — and that its temperature checks were to “support the health and safety of our employees, who continue to provide a critical service in our communities.”

Source (external link):
Reuters, Exclusive: Amazon turns to Chinese firm on U.S. blacklist to meet thermal camera needs 

FTC Approves Amendments to 2012 Facebook Privacy Order

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has formally approved amendments to its 2012 privacy order with Facebook.

The amendments incorporate provisions included the agency’s $5 billion settlement with the social media platform regarding allegations that Facebook violated the 2012 FTC privacy order by deceiving users about their ability to control the privacy of their personal information, the agency said in a Tuesday statement.

The FTC could not amend the 2012 order until the settlement was approved by a federal district court judge.

The order required Facebook to restructure its approach to privacy from the corporate board-level down and establish new mechanisms to ensure that Facebook executives were accountable for the decisions they make regarding privacy, which are “subject to meaningful oversight.”

Source (external link):
FTC.gov, FTC Gives Final Approval to Modify FTC’s 2012 Privacy Order with Facebook with Provisions from 2019 Settlement 

US Intel Agencies Say Zoom at Risk for Foreign Surveillance

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Mission and Counterintelligence Mission operations released a joint report indicating Zoom could come under surveillance by China and other foreign governments.

The report says hackers “identify new or use existing vulnerabilities in Zoom to compromise user devices” while noting that actors “capitalize on delays and develop exploits based on the vulnerability and available patches,” ABC News reports.

The agencies urged organizations to carefully consider any risks should they continue working with the system.

However, Zoom attacked the report as being “heavily misinformed” and for including “blatant inaccuracies about Zoom’s operations.”

The company’s beleaguered videoconferencing platform is under widespread attack on many fronts for privacy and security issues.

“We are disappointed the authors did not engage with Zoom to verify the accuracy of these claims and understand the real facts about Zoom,” a spokesman told ABC.

ABC News, Intel report warns Zoom could be vulnerable to foreign surveillance 

EPIC: Supreme Court Won’t Review Ruling on 2020 Census Data Collection

The Electronic Privacy Information Center said the Supreme Court would not review a “deeply flawed” decision in its lawsuit to stop the collection of citizenship data in the 2020 census.

In a Monday statement, EPIC cited the federal government’s failure to complete required privacy-impact assessments under the E-Government Act.

The law requires federal agencies to make privacy-impact assessments “publicly available” before undertaking a new collection of personal data.

However, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit had ruled the law did not “vest a general right of information in the public” that would allow EPIC to obtain information about the government’s data-collection practices. 

Source (external link):
EPIC, EPIC – Supreme Court Won’t Review Deeply Flawed Ruling in EPIC v. Commerce 

— By DPN Staff