Daily Digest (5/11)

Zoom to Upgrade Privacy in Deal With NY Attorney General; 6 US Senators Call for FTC Probe of Children’s Data Practices in EdTech; Boston Mulls Banning Facial-Recognition Technology; Researcher Finds Open Israeli Contact-Tracing Database. Click “Continue Reading” below.

Zoom to Upgrade Privacy in Deal With NY Attorney General

Zoom Inc. agreed to increase its privacy and security measures in a deal announced last week with New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Under the accord, announced Thursday, Zoom will add separate programs for risk-assessment and data security, along with other changes that a Zoom spokesperson said were “completed as part of our 90-day security and privacy plan,” The Hill reports.

The company also will enhance the security of user information by expanding encryption protocols, and will enable default passwords for every meeting to control access.

The agreement comes a day after the New York Department of Education reinstated the use of teleconferencing platforms.

“Our lives have inexorably changed over the past two months, and while Zoom has provided an invaluable service, it unacceptably did so without critical security protections,” James said in a statement, the Hill reports.

“This agreement puts protections in place so that Zoom users have control over their privacy and security, and so that workplaces, schools, religious institutions, and consumers don’t have to worry while participating in a video call.”

A Zoom official told the Hill that the company was “pleased to have reached a resolution with the New York attorney general, which recognizes the substantial work that Zoom has completed as part of our 90-day security and privacy plan, including making a number of our pre-existing security features on by default and also introducing new security enhancements.”


6 US Senators Call for FTC Probe of Children’s Data Practices in EdTech

Six U.S. senators called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate children’s data practices within the educational technology and digital advertising industries.

Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., cited the agency’s authority under the FTC Act in their Friday letter.

The request comes as the FTC plans to review the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (COPPA) and as technology use rises during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Children are a uniquely vulnerable population that deserve heighten privacy protections,” the senators said. “The FTC should take extreme caution not to weaken, either purposefully or inadvertently, privacy protections under COPPA.

“To ensure that the COPPA rule review benefits young users, the FTC should use its statutory power to uncover critical information about evolving and widespread threats to children’s privacy that warrant further protections.”

Senator Markey, May 8, 2020 The Honorable Joseph Simons The Honorable Noah Phillips Chairman Commissioner Federal Trade Commission Federal

Boston Mulls Banning Facial-Recognition Technology

Boston lawmakers are considering whether to ban facial-recognition technology, as the city nears an update to its broad surveillance camera network.

Boston City Councilors Michelle Wu and Ricardo Arroyo the proposal to ban the technology last Wednesday, Government Technology reports.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts noted its investigation of local public records showed that Boston’s surveillance-camera network, operated by BriefCam since 2017, might be in for a major upgrade soon.

The city’s BriefCam contract is to expire on Thursday. The current surveillance system does not include facial surveillance features.

But if the city renews its contract and upgrades to the BriefCam’s company’s latest software, officials “will have instant access to a dangerous and unregulated surveillance tool,” the ACLU told Government Technology.

GovTech.com, Boston Mulls Facial Recognition Ban Ahead of Possible Updates

Researcher Finds Open Israeli Contact-Tracing Database

An Israeli contact-tracing database hosted by NSO Group Technologies was unsecured and accessible without a password.

Researchers discovered the open database, which was believed to contain “dummy data” for about six weeks, TechCrunch reports. The information included specific dates, times and the location of individuals.

The company has since pulled the database offline, claiming it was a test database and that its open access had nothing to do with a security lapse.

Tech Crunch, A passwordless server run by spyware maker NSO sparks contact-tracing privacy concerns 

US Judge Upholds Lawsuit Over Google’s Voice-Activated Assistant

A federal judge in California has upheld a class-action lawsuit alleging Google’s voice-activated assistant violates users’ privacy.

Filed by a group of consumers, the action claimed Google violated federal law by disclosing users’ conversations to third parties, Digital News Daily reports.

In response to Google’s request to dismiss, U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Jose said that, while users might have consented to Google collecting their data to improve its voice assistant, “that consent does not reasonably extend to disclosure of data.”

Freeman issued her decision Wednesday.

The battle began last summer, when a group of consumers alleged that Google recorded their conversations without consent, and disclosed snippets to third parties.

Media Post, Google Can’t Shake Privacy Lawsuit Over Voice-Activated Assistant

Frontier Airlines to Require Temperature Screenings Before Boarding

Frontier Airlines said Friday that it would become the first U.S. airline to administer temperature screenings to passengers before they board flights.

According to ABC News, Frontier Airlines will begin temperature screenings beginning June 1 for passengers and employees prior to boarding aircraft, making it the first major U.S. airline to announce plans to do so.

Those with 100.4 degree-temperature or higher, will be denied boarding, the airline said.

If a passenger doesn’t pass the second check, they will be denied boarding and can have their travel rebooked for a later date, ABC News reports.

Employees will be held to the same standard, Frontier said.

“The health and safety of everyone flying Frontier is paramount and temperature screenings add an additional layer of protection for everyone onboard,” Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle said in a news release.

The decision comes one day after the company received backlash from lawmakers and later rescinded its plan to charge passengers extra to guarantee the middle seat next to them would remain empty. 

Source: ABC News

— By DPN Staff