Daily Digest (7/15)

US Customs Going National With License-Plate Reading Program; UK Bans Chinese-based Huawei From 5G Network; US House Members Renew Calls for Privacy Bill After COVID Pause; Digital Payments in India Soar Over Pandemic Fears; Click “Continue reading” below.

US Customs Going National With License-Plate Reading Program

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) will begin incorporating third-party license-plate reader data collected from local governments, law enforcement and the private sector and maintained by a commercial vendor.

A privacy-impact assessment published July 7 outlines the agency’s plan to incorporate datasets maintained by third-party vendors as part of its investigations, Nextgov.com reports.

The latest update is the first since December 2017, when CBP authorized the use of license-plate readers for collecting data.

“To meet its vast mission requirements, CBP relies on a variety of law-enforcement tools and techniques for law enforcement and border security,” the assessment stated.

“One such tool is license-plate reader (LPR) technology, which consists of high-speed cameras and related equipment mounted on vehicles or in fixed locations that automatically and without direct human control locate, focus on and photograph license plates and vehicles that come into range of the device.”

Each data collection — “read” — gathers a vehicle’s plate number; an image of the vehicle, including make and model; where it is registered; the location and owner of the camera, and any related location information — including GPS coordinates.

 “LPR technology may also capture — within the image — the environment surrounding a vehicle, which may include drivers and passengers,” the impact assessment noted.

Under the new system, CBP agents and officers can enter a plate number, the make or model of a vehicle or the location of the license-plate reader and receive “any responsive records” from the database, “with a primary focus on reads occurring within the last 30 days,” according to the document.

To limit the potential for internal abuses, “access to this sensitive information is strictly limited and auditable,” the assessment stated.

“CBP has limited access to the commercial LPR information through a newly created role within ATS that requires a multilevel approval process.”

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UK Bans Chinese-based Huawei From 5G Network 

The U.K. government said it would remove and ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from the its 5G network.

Ministers have agreed to bar telecom firms from purchasing any new 5G Huawei equipment at the start of next year, The Evening Standard reports.

The government also will remove all Huawei equipment from 5G networks by 2027.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden admitted that the ban would delay the network’s roll-out by a “further year” and would add up to “half a billion pounds” to costs.

But he told legislators that the U.K. could no longer be confident in guaranteeing the security of future Huawei 5G equipment.

The Chinese tech firm hit back by accusing the U.K. government of making a “politicized” decision about U.S. trade policy and not security. The announcement is also expected to increase tensions with Beijing.

“The best way to secure our networks is for operators to stop using new affected Huawei equipment to build the U.K.’s future 5G networks,” Dowden said.

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US House Members Renew Calls for Privacy Bill After COVID Pause

The leaders of a U.S. House subcommittee responsible for drafting federal privacy legislation have agreed to resume working together to pass a national standard, while the panel’s top Republican called for clarity on liability protections.

“Although the pandemic broke the rhythm of our talks,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., “it has made the need for a strong national privacy standard more urgent.”

“Data privacy is the most fundamental consumer protection we could advance, and we should right now be working together,” said McMorris Rodgers during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee on July 9.

Her comments were reported by MeriTalk.com.

Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., agreed with McMorris Rodgers, the subcommittee’s ranking member.

“Absolutely we need to work together,” she said. “It is definitely my intention to continue to meet with you to talk about the short-term privacy issues during the pandemic and privacy issues in the longer term. I thank you for raising that.”

But the chairman of the full committee, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., did not address privacy legislation during his opening statement at the hearing, MeriTalk reports.

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Digital Payments in India Soar Over Pandemic Fears

Most Indians report making more mobile payments since outbreak and 78% say they will increase use in next six months.

The coronavirus outbreak may finally accomplish what India’s shock demonetization four years ago failed to achieve, Bloomberg News reports.

Use of digital payments in India is soaring for everything from groceries to electricity bills to cab fares.

The value of transactions on the Unified Payments Interface, a platform created by India’s largest banks in 2016, reached an all-time high last month — as people feared to handle banknotes amid the pandemic, Bloomberg reports.

Electronic fund transfers from banks, which had dropped in April as economic activity slowed nearly to a halt, also have rebounded.

“People who have never paid a bill online are paying online, people who have never bought groceries online are buying online,” Nityanand Sharma, CEO of Get Simpl Technologies Pvt. Ltd., told Bloomberg.

The company allows people to order groceries and food online and pay every two weeks.

“What would have taken five years has happened in the last three months.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has long sought to push digital payments for India, where three in four consumer transactions are handled in cash.

In November 2016, Modi suddenly invalidated most of the country’s high-value currency notes — a move to curb corruption that would also, he later noted, help encourage a move toward digital commerce.

The Reserve Bank of India last year said it sought to increase digital transactions to about 15% of gross domestic product by next year, from nearly 10% at the time.

The government is aiming for a billion digital transactions per day, as the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market empowers consumers to transact at the click of a button, Bloomberg reports.

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— By DPN Staff