Daily Digest (6/22)

Russia Lifts Ban on Telegram App; New York City Council Passes Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act; Britain Abandons Contact-Tracing App for Google-Apple Framework. Click “Continue reading” below.

Russia Lifts Ban on Telegram App

Russia is rescinding its two-year ban on the popular messaging app Telegram.

In 2018, a Russian court ruled that Telegram must be banned in the country due in part to the company’s refusal to share encryption keys with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). Turning over encryption keys would grant the government access to user data.

Russian officials largely have been unable to make the ban effective because users have found ways to thwart it.

Telegram has long been challenging Russian laws that give authorities the ability to decrypt messages. However, the app also has a history of being used by terrorist organizations.

The FSB has stated that the ban is being lifted because the company has shown that it is committed to helping with counterterrorism efforts.

In the two years since the ban was put in place, the number of active users on Telegram has doubled.

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New York City Council Passes Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act

New York City Council voted last week 44-6 in support of the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act.

The POST Act requires the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to disclose and report on its use of surveillance technology. The act also establishes oversight to monitor the use of the technologies.

The NYPD also is required to have a surveillance policy that includes descriptions of the technologies used as well as how they are to be deployed. The Office of the NYPD Inspector General will audit the policy each year.

“The POST Act is a crucial check on NYPD surveillance on New Yorkers of color and Muslim communities,” STOP founder Albert Fox Cahn said last week. “For far too long, the NYPD has used federal and private grants to spy on us.”

As reported by CNBC, New York City is the 14th city to adopt a law governing the transparency of police surveillance.

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Britain Abandons Contact-Tracing App for Google-Apple Framework

In an abrupt shift, Britain will join other countries and build a contact-tracing app using software from Google and Apple.

This turnaround comes after months of attempts to develop its own contact-tracing app.

Britain’s desire to stay away from the software was because of the tech giants’ data-collection and analysis restrictions. British public health officials argued that access to the data was an integral part of tracking COVID-19.

The development of this app was central to a debate over privacy and the amount of data permissible for authorities to collect and maintain.

Despite its efforts, however, the British government has been unable to build an effective app without help from Silicon Valley.

“Through ongoing international collaboration, we hope to learn, improve and find a solution which will strengthen our global response to this virus.” Matt Hancock, Britain’s health secretary, said in a statement.

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By DPN Staff