Daily Digest (8/17)

Google Won’t Respond Directly to Data Requests from Hong Kong Authorities; ACLU Sues Boston Police for Information on Use of Surveillance and Force; French Privacy Authority Opens Probe Into TikTok; Android Leverages World’s Largest Earthquake-Detection Network; Android Leverages World’s Largest Earthquake-Detection Network. Click “Continue reading” below.

Google Won’t Respond Directly to Data Requests from Hong Kong Authorities

Google will no longer respond to data requests from Hong Kong authorities in the wake of Beijing’s new national security law.

Google notified Hong Kong authorities that officials would need to pursue data requests through a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the U.S., a process that routes requests through the Justice Department, The Washington Post reported Friday.

China suspended Hong Kong’s legal assistance treaty with countries including Britain, Canada and Australia in response to the suspension of extradition treaties with Hong Kong, according to the Post, but the agreement with the United States remained.

As a result of the human-rights implications under the new national security law, Google, as well as Facebook and Twitter have stopped reviewing data requests from Hong Kong authorities.

Since the security law took effect in June, Google has “not produced data in response to new requests from Hong Kong authorities,” spokesman Aaron Stein told the Post in a statement.

Hong Kong authorities said that they would “continue to request information or cooperation” from organizations and would do so under the law and privacy guidelines. 

Google, while blocked by mainland China, is accessible in Hong Kong, but the company’s refusal to review data requests shows an acknowledgement of the reach of the new Chinese law. 


ACLU Sues Boston Police for Information on Use of Surveillance and Force

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts sued the Boston Police Department (BPD) over the department’s use of force against, and surveillance of, citizens in Massachusetts.  

The ACLU announced Wednesday that it had moved against the city and BPD after filing nine public-record requests over 17 months and receiving no acknowledgement, NBC Boston reports. 

“The public has the right to know what the police are doing in their name and with their tax dollars,” Matthew Segal, ACLU of Massachusetts’ legal director, told NBC Boston.

“Indeed, this information has taken on new urgency in the wake of nationwide protests of police violence and statewide conversations about police reform,” he said.

According to the lawsuit, the ACLU accused the city and police of violating Massachusetts Public Records Law, which requires municipalities to produce documents within 10 business days of a request. 

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French Privacy Authority Opens Probe Into TikTok

The French privacy watchdog, Commission Nationale de L’informatique et des libertés, began an investigation last week into TikTok, the video-sharing app owned by a Chinese company after receiving a complaint.

TikTok, owned by ByteDance, is also being investigated by U.S, European Union and Dutch authorities, Al-Jazeera reports. 

“A complaint about TikTok was received in May,” the French agency, also known as the National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL), said last Tuesday, confirming a Bloomberg report. “This complaint is now under investigation.”

The nature of the complaint or identity of those filing the document was not disclosed.

But a TikTok representative told Al-Jazeera that the company was “aware of the investigation by the CNIL and are fully cooperating with them.”

U.S. officials have argued that TikTok poses a national security risk — and the White House has given ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a sale of TikTok’s U.S operations to Microsoft, according to the report.

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Android Leverages World’s Largest Earthquake-Detection Network

Google launched the “Android Earthquake Alerts System” last week in California, which allows Android phones to sense Earthquakes around the world.

Google worked with California and the U.S Geological Survey to build the earthquake-alert system into all Android phones that run commonplace mobile operating systems, The Associated Press reports. 

Android users who have their location services enabled will receive a “full-screen” earthquake warning instructing the user to seek cover. 

The alert system, introduced Tuesday, is powered by California’s ShakeAlert system. It combines smartphone information, now including Android phones, with more than 700 seismometers, Ars Technica reports. 

The feature will be distributed through Google Play Services — and Android users will not need to download ShakeAlert to receive the alerts, AP reports. 

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— By DPN Staff