Daily Digest (5/20)

ACLU Warns Against COVID Screening Tools; ADT Camera Systems Allowed for Surreptitious Home Spying, Lawsuit Says; Equifax to Pay $30.5M in Settlement With Banks Over 2017 Breach; States Accused of Fudging or Bungling COVID-19 Testing Data; The New York Times to End Third-Party Advertising Data. Click “Continue reading” below.

ACLU Warns Against COVID Screening Tools

The American Civil Liberties Union warned governments Tuesday against using such devices as fever-scanning cameras and infrared temperature-sensing guns to screen people for possible coronavirus symptoms, saying the tools often were ineffective, intrusive and inaccurate.

“There’s a lot of reason to doubt that temperature checks will help stop the spread of COVID-19, and they should not be deployed unless public-health experts say conclusively that they will help,” said Jay Stanley, ACLU senior policy analyst.

“What we don’t want is a world where inaccurate tests disrupt people’s lives — especially those most vulnerable to such disruptions — waste time and other resources that could be better used in fighting the pandemic and invade our privacy.”

Stanley continued in his report: “Many new products and approaches for combatting the coronavirus pandemic are being proposed.

“We need to skeptically scrutinize all such products and proposals, especially where they have implications for our privacy or other civil liberties.

“Temperature checks do have such implications, so they should be adopted only where their accuracy, and thus their benefits against COVID-19, are reasonably high,” Stanley said, “and where they are not likely to outlast the disease.”

Source (external link): ACLU White Paper – Temperature Screening and Civil Liberties During Epidemic

ADT Camera Systems Allowed for Surreptitious Home Spying, Lawsuit Says

ADT Inc., the home security company, was sued in a class action in federal district court in Florida, alleging that clients were harmed from being spied upon though the company’s camera systems for seven years.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Fort Lauderdale, alleged that an ADT technician who had installed indoor security cameras at customers’ households used the device’s remote-access capabilities to spy on them, according to reports.

The two complaints in the case represent hundreds of plaintiffs. They include customers who signed contracts with the Boca Raton-based ADT for security cameras, along with members of households who were present during the times the cameras were accessed, though they were not contract signatories.

Sources (external links):

Equifax to Pay $30.5M in Settlement With Banks Over 2017 Breach

Equifax has agreed to pay $30.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit with financial institutions over the credit-reporting firm’s 2017 data breach that affected as many as 147 million people in the U.S.

The proposed settlement, according to Reuters, would require Equifax to create a $5.5 million fund for affected institutions, while the remaining $25 million would be dedicated to improving the company’s data-security tools and practices over the next two years.

Settlement terms were outlined by lawyers representing the banks and credit unions in a filing in a Georgia federal court on Friday.

Source (external link): Equifax agrees to settle financial institutions’ claims over 2017 data breach

States Accused of Fudging or Bungling COVID-19 Testing Data

Public-health officials in some states are accused of bungling coronavirus infection statistics or even using some sleight of hand to deliberately make things look better than they are, The Associated Press reports.

In Virginia, Texas and Vermont, for example, officials said they have been combining the results of viral tests, which show an active infection, with antibody tests, which show a past infection.

Experts say the approach can make for impressive-looking testing totals but does not give a true picture of how the virus is spreading.

In Florida, the data scientist who developed the state’s coronavirus dashboard, Rebekah Jones, said this week that she was fired for refusing to manipulate data “to drum up support for the plan to reopen.”

Calls to health officials for comment were not immediately returned Tuesday, the AP reports.

The U.S. has recorded 1.5 million confirmed COVID-19 infections and more than 90,000 deaths.

Source (external link): States accused of fudging or bungling COVID-19 testing data

The New York Times to End Third-Party Advertising Data

The New York Times said that it would no longer use third-party data to target ads beginning this summer, Axios reported, and that it was building out a proprietary first-party data platform.

Third-party data, which is collected from consumers on other websites, is being phased out of the ad ecosystem generally because it’s not considered privacy-friendly, according to Axios.

The change has forced several large publications to rely on their own first-party data, or information they collect directly from users.

Beginning in July, the Times will begin offering clients 45 new proprietary first-party audience segments to target ads.

By the second half of the year, the Times plans to introduce at least 30 more interest segments.

“This can only work because we have 6 million subscribers and millions more registered users that we can identify and because we have a breadth of content,” Allison Murphy, a senior vice president, told Axios.

Source (external link): New York Times phasing out all 3rd-party advertising data

— By DPN Staff