Daily Digest (6/1)

Customs and Border Protection Flies Predator Drone Over Minneapolis; Sen. Ron Wyden: Americans Must Get Congress to Act on Privacy; ACLU Sues Clearview AI, Calling It a ‘Nightmare Scenario’ for Privacy; 4 Senators Call for TikTok Privacy Probe. Click “Continue reading” below.

Customs and Border Protection Flies Predator Drone Over Minneapolis

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) flew a Predator drone, military technology used for surveilling and killing terrorists abroad, over Minneapolis last week as protesters continued to demonstrate against police brutality.

The drone flown over Minneapolis was an unarmed version of the aircraft, according to publicly available flight data cited by Vice.com’s Motherboard site.

The drone was first spotted Friday on a flight tracking tool by members of the ADB-S Exchange, a community of flight watchers who use open-source flight data to monitor the nation’s skies.

Presumably, the drone was surveilling protests in the city, though CBP did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the drone’s presence.

“CBP Predator Drone CPB104 circling over Minneapolis at 20K feet,” Jason Paladino, an investigative reporter at The Project on Government Oversight tweeted Friday. “Took off from Grand Forks Air Force Base.”

Minneapolis has faced huge protests after a white city police officer killed George Floyd, an unarmed black man, on Monday.

The officer and three others involved in the incident were fired. Derek Chauvin, 44, the officer who had knelt on Floyd’s neck was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a small grocery store.

Motherboard said it verified the flight path of CPB104 with flight data from ADB-S Exchange, a repository of unfiltered flight data.

The drone took off from the Air Force Base before making several hexagonal-shaped flyovers around Minneapolis, according to the data.

The drone, described as a Predator in a 2007 Popular Mechanics article, was flying above Minneapolis late Friday, according to Motherboard.

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Sen. Ron Wyden: Americans Must Get Congress to Act on Privacy

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called on Congress to get serious about privacy, saying that “it’s time to level the playing field between consumers and the corporations.”

In an op-ed for TechDirt, Wyden alluded to the draft federal privacy bill he introduced in October.

He explained that transparency, consumers’ data control and appropriate punishment were all keys to the legislation.

“There is no good reason that Americans should have to compromise on privacy to benefit from the digital age,” Wyden wrote. “Consumers want smart devices, but we also want companies and the government to mind their own business when it comes to our personal information.”

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ACLU Sues Clearview AI, Calling It a ‘Nightmare Scenario’ for Privacy

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Illinois sued Clearview AI, seeking to end the company’s “unlawful, privacy-destroying surveillance activities.”

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in an Illinois state court, accuses Clearview of violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

Clearview’s technology has captured more than three billion faceprints from images available online, all without the knowledge — much less the consent — of those pictured, the ACLU said.

“Clearview has violated the rights of all Illinoisans, but the harms from this technology are not shared equally across our state,” said Linda Xóchitl Tortolero, president and CEO of Mujeres Latinas en Acción, a non-profit organization that is party to the lawsuit.

“For many Latinas and survivors, this technology isn’t just unnerving, it’s dangerous, even life-threatening,” she said. “It gives free rein to stalkers and abusive ex-partners, predatory companies and ICE agents to track and target us.

“This company has no business exploiting Illinoisans’ sensitive biometric information without our knowledge and consent,” Tortolero said.

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4 Senators Call for TikTok Privacy Probe

Four U.S. senators, including a China hawk, have urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate allegations that the popular video app TikTok violated a consent decree protecting children’s privacy.

In their Friday letter, the lawmakers noted a report by the Center for Digital Democracy, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and others saying that Chinese-owned TikTok had failed to take down videos made by children under age 13 as it agreed under a 2019 consent agreement with the FTC, Reuters reports.

TikTok also failed to provide parents with “direct notice” of data practices before collecting information on children and did not put a link to its privacy policy on its home page, as required under the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

“Faced with compelling evidence that this wildly popular social media platform is blatantly flouting binding U.S. privacy rules, the FTC should move swiftly to launch an investigation and forcefully hold violators accountable,” said the letter, signed by Democratic Sens. Ed Markey, Mass., an author of COPPA, and Richard Blumenthal, Conn.

It was also signed by Republican Sens. Josh Hawley, Mo., a critic of social media and China, and Marsha Blackburn, Tenn.

A TikTok spokeswoman told Reuters that the company “takes the issue of safety seriously for all our users, and we continue to further strengthen our safeguards and introduce new measures to protect young people on the app.”

Fourteen Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have also urged the FTC in a letter to investigate TikTok.

Two Republicans on the same panel also wrote directly to TikTok to press for information about its collection of children’s data and its ties to the Chinese government.

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— By DPN Staff