Daily Digest (5/6)

Pew Studies Track How Americans View Digital Privacy Amid Pandemic; 4 US Senators Question Slow Handling of FOIA Requests; GoDaddy Confirms Breach Affecting 19M Customers; Report: Ring’s New Smart Lights Don’t Pose Privacy Issues, But Data Must Be Shared. Click “Continue Reading” below.

Pew Studies Track How Americans View Digital Privacy Amid Pandemic

The Pew Research Center compared two studies over the past year to assess Americans’ views on privacy before and during COVID-19.

Pew highlighted 10 primary observations stemming from the polls of more than 4,000 people in June 2019 and April 2020.

The key revelation was 60% of respondents believe contact-tracing by cellphone will not curb the spread of coronavirus.

In addition, 52% say using phone data for tracking is acceptable, while more than 70% view more risks than benefits with data-collection by the government or companies.

Source (external link):
Pew Research Center, How Americans see digital privacy issues amid the COVID-19 outbreak

4 US Senators Question Slow Handling of FOIA Requests

Four members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, two Democrats and Republicans, questioned the Justice Department’s ability to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter Monday, Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, cited news reports of decreased capabilities of the agency to process the requests.

They also noted the FBI’s decision to stop accepting electronic queries altogether.

“Government transparency and accountability are even more important during a time of crisis,” the senators wrote to the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy.

“While many agencies have sought to be clear about their temporarily reduced capabilities, we are concerned that some, particularly the FBI, may have created unnecessary burdens on requesters in response to the COVID-19 national emergency declaration.

“We understand all agencies and departments are continuing to adapt to the current circumstances, but it is the (Justice) Department’s duty to ensure that FOIA administration is not simply cast aside as a temporary inconvenience,” the senators said.

Source (external link): 
Senate.gov, Press Release | US Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont

GoDaddy Confirms Breach Affecting 19M Customers

GoDaddy Inc., the world’s largest domain registrar, confirmed that a data breach discovered last month had affected the web-hosting account credentials of 19 million customers.

The breach occurred last Oct. 19 and was discovered on April 23, Bleeping Computer reported Monday, after GoDaddy’s security team discovered an altered file in the company’s hosting environment and suspicious activity on some of its servers.

“The investigation found that an unauthorized individual had access to your login information used to connect to SSH on your hosting account,” GoDaddy said in a letter to affected customers.

The company said it had not yet found evidence of the attackers adding or modifying files on the impacted accounts’ hosting.

GoDaddy officials also said that only the affected users’ hosting accounts were breached, while their main accounts were not accessible to the attackers.

“We have proactively reset your hosting account login information to help prevent any potential unauthorized access,” the letter said.

GoDaddy, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., also manages 77 million domains and hosts millions of websites around the world.

Sources (external links): 
GoDaddy, GoDaddy Customer Notification
Bleeping Computer, GoDaddy notifies users of breached hosting accounts

Report: Ring’s New Smart Lights Don’t Pose Privacy Issues, But Data Must Be Shared

Ring’s new smart lights don’t present unique privacy concerns, as they lack cameras and two-way talking capacity, CNET reports.

Customers should be aware, however, that they will be required to share data with the company, including their home’s location.

The outdoor lights feature built-in motion sensors, but they don’t include cameras, microphones or speakers. They instead generate a data point whenever something is sensed.

That information can be tracked in the Ring app to see when, specifically, your light noticed movement.

“A savvy observer might be able to pore through that data to make an educated guess about whether or not you’ll be home at a given time, but that’s only if they gained unauthorized access to your account,” CNET said in its evaluation. 

However, “Ring’s recent moves to require two-factor authentication and to notify users of new logins offer strong protection against that hypothetical.”

A company official said users could enter a randomized address if they wanted to keep their location private.

Source (external link): CNET, Ring’s cameras come with privacy concerns. What about the smart lights?

-DPN Staff