Daily Digest (6/25)

Republican Senators Seek to End ‘Warrant-Proof’ Encryption; Indiana Supreme Court: Woman Did Not Have to Unlock Smartphone for Police; Norway Pulls COVID App After Warning From Privacy Watchdog; Amazon Begins Counterfeit Crimes Unit. Click “Continue reading” below.

Republican Senators Seek to End ‘Warrant-Proof’ Encryption

Three Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have introduced legislation to require technology companies to help law enforcement access encrypted data if required by a court.

The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act would end “warrant-proof” encryption under legislation introduced by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, S.C., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; and member Sens. Tom Cotton, Ark., and Marsha Blackburn, Tenn.

The U.S. Justice Department has argued that “warrant-proof” encryption prevents investigators from obtaining necessary evidence on suspects’ cellular devices.

Attorney General William Barr said the legislation balanced consumers’ privacy with public safety.

“Terrorists and criminals routinely use technology, whether smartphones, apps, or other means, to coordinate and communicate their daily activities,” Graham said in a Tuesday statement announcing the bill.

“In recent history, we have experienced numerous terrorism cases and serious criminal activity where vital information could not be accessed, even after a court order was issued.

“Unfortunately, tech companies have refused to honor these court orders and assist law enforcement in their investigations,” he said.

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Indiana Supreme Court: Woman Did Not Have to Unlock Smartphone for Police

An Indiana woman held in contempt for refusing to unlock her smartphone for police during a criminal investigation is protected by the U.S. Constitution, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The court reversed the contempt order against Katelin Seo, finding that forcing her to unlock the iPhone would have violated her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, IndyStar.com reports.

“By unlocking her smartphone, Seo would provide law enforcement with information it does not already know, which the state could then use in its prosecution against her,” the court said.

“The Fifth Amendment’s protection from compelled self-incrimination prohibits this result.”

The case underscored the broader issues of privacy and technology, said Beth Cate, an Indiana University law expert on constitutional law and data governance.

“It’s an issue where technology really has, very forcefully, presented this difficult social issue,” Cate said. “You don’t want to give the police unlimited ability to search your life just by being able to get into your cellphone.

“There’s got to be some limits. And there usually are.”

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said his office disagreed with some aspects of the court’s decision and was reviewing it to determine “how it will impact future criminal investigations involving electronic devices.”

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Norway Pulls COVID App After Warning From Privacy Watchdog

Norway has suspended one of the first contact-tracing apps in Europe after the country’s data-protection authority raised concerns that the software posed a major privacy threat.

The device, called “Smittestopp,” which was found to threaten user privacy, including continuously uploading people’s location, was pulled last week after a warning from the country’s Data Protection Agency (DPA), TechCrunch reports.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) said Monday that it would stop uploading data from the app. The DPA last week asked that use of the app to be suspended to make changes. The agency added that it disagreed with the watchdog’s assessment but would delete user data “as soon as possible.”

The app had been downloaded 1.6 million times, as of June 3, and had nearly 600,000 active users, according to the FHI, representing just over 10% of Norway’s population — or around 14% of the population 16 and older.

“We do not agree with the Data Protection Agency’s assessment, but now we have to delete all data and pause work as a result of the notification,” said FHI Director Camilla Stoltenberg.

“With this, we weaken an important part of our preparedness for increased spread of infection, because we lose time in developing and testing the app.

“At the same time, we have a reduced ability to fight the spread of infection that is ongoing,” she said.

FHI’s decision came just hours before Amnesty International published its analysis and after the organization shared its findings with Norwegian authorities and the DPA earlier this month.

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Amazon Begins Counterfeit Crimes Unit

Amazon Inc. said Thursday that it was beginning a Counterfeit Crimes Unit, seeking to bring those trying to “list counterfeit products in its store to justice.”

The global team will consist of former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators and data analysts, Amazon said in a blog post. It will support “the company’s substantial efforts already underway to protect its store from counterfeits,” the company said.

Amazon said it invested more than $500 million last year and had more than 8,000 employees fighting fraud and abuse, including counterfeiting.

Amazon’s efforts have blocked more than 2.5 million “suspected bad-actor accounts before they were able to make a single product available for sale and blocked over 6 billion suspected bad listings in 2019.”

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— By DPN Staff