Daily Digest (6/18)

Amid pressure, Zoom to Fully Encrypt All Calls, Free or Paid; Calif. Senate Proposes CCPA Amendment on Deidentification, Research Data; PwC Develops Facial-Recognition Tool to Monitor Employees Working From Home; NYC Council to Vote Thursday on Public Surveillance Bill; Click “Continue reading” below.

Amid pressure, Zoom to Fully Encrypt All Calls, Free or Paid

Under pressure from privacy and human-rights advocates, Zoom said Wednesday that it would make end-to-end encryption available to paying and free users of its video-conferencing service.

The company had said it would provide end-to-end encryption, called E2EE, to paying customers and a less-robust form, known as transit encryption, to nonpayers.

“To make this possible, Free/Basic users seeking access to E2EE will participate in a one-time process that will prompt the user for additional pieces of information, such as verifying a phone number via a text message,” Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said in a Wednesday post.

“Many leading companies perform similar steps on account creation to reduce the mass creation of abusive accounts.

“We are confident that by implementing risk-based authentication, in combination with our current mix of tools — including our ‘Report a User’ function — we can continue to prevent and fight abuse,” Yuan said.

Zoom had said the previous two-tiered offering would have allowed law enforcement to regulate illicit content coming from users who don’t have accounts and, hence, who are harder to track.

Paying users, by contrast, had more traceability and, therefore, were less likely to use the platform for illegal purposes.

But critics in privacy and human-rights circles said Zoom’s plans threatened to make privacy a premium feature rather than something available by default.

The critics called on Zoom to provide the same protections for all users.

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Calif. Senate Proposes CCPA Amendment on Deidentification, Research Data

The California Senate has proposed an amendment to the California Consumer Privacy Act.

The amended Assembly Bill 713 would institute new contractual obligations for any deidentified data that is used or sold and modifies the CCPA exemption on information used for research or public health purposes, according to Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Privacy & Information Security Law Blog.

“The revised exemption … will cover a broader scope of activities, such as secondary research involving health information or biological specimens,” the blog said.

The revised AB 713 has not passed through either House of the California Legislature.

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PwC Develops Facial-Recognition Tool to Monitor Employees Working From Home

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global accounting firm, has created a facial-recognition tool to help financial institutions track employees as they work from home.

According to Personnel Today, the software taps into employees’ webcams to capture face images and detects when workers are not in front of their screens during work hours.

PwC, based in London, said the technology aimed to help traders abide by regulations “in the least intrusive, pragmatic way,” though the tool would require employees to provide a written reason for absences, including bathroom breaks.

Critics attacked the use of the device, as people are required to work from home because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Subjecting workers to high levels of monitoring and surveillance should be avoided,” said Ed Houghton, head of research and thought leadership at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, also in London.

“Intrusive workplace surveillance damages trust, has a negative impact on morale and can create heightened stress and anxiety for workers.”

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NYC Council to Vote Thursday on Public Surveillance Bill

The New York City Council will vote Thursday on the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act.

The legislation would require the New York Police Department to disclose details of its surveillance tools and develop policies on how they are used.

Annual oversight of the NYPD’s deployment of surveillance by a civilian board also is included in the legislation.

Other police-reform bills to be voted on by legislators would make police chokeholds a criminal offense and would make it illegal for officers to hide badge numbers.  

“New Yorkers deserve to know the type of surveillance that the NYPD uses and its impacts on communities,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in an announcement of the impending vote.

“Thanks to the POST Act, the department will finally begin disclosing information that has long been kept from the public.”

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— By DPN Staff