Month: August 2020

Q&A: Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Privacy and Encryption Make Us Safer

By Jeff Benson

Last of two parts.

Sen. Ron Wyden is well aware that Washington isn’t monolithic.

The legislator works in a capital city stacked with regulatory bodies and law-enforcement agencies with their own agendas.

In today’s Digital Privacy News interview, the senior senator from Oregon discusses pushing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to crack down on shady data brokers, the debate over creating encryption backdoors for the FBI — and why government agencies shouldn’t be able to buy personal data they’d otherwise need a warrant to get.

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Q&A: Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

‘There Really Is an Opportunity to Pass Meaningful Privacy Legislation’

By Jeff Benson

First of two parts.

Sen. Ron Wyden moved from the U.S. House of Representatives to the Senate in 1996 on the most analog of agendas: He was a big proponent of wood products, an industry that forested Oregon dominated.

Yet his move coincided with the advent of the digital age.

Before his House term ended, he crafted what became known as Section 230, which gave websites the power to moderate user-generated content while protecting them from libel laws applicable to newspapers.

The law helped turn internet companies into big business.

Now, Wyden is grappling with how to keep Big Tech from abusing citizens’ privacy.

Last year, he introduced the Mind Your Own Business Act, which would hold big-tech companies responsible for protecting users’ personal data — and impose criminal penalties for CEOs who lie to Congress or regulators about privacy.

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GOP Using ‘Smart Badges’ at Convention, Raising Privacy Flags

By Joanne Cleaver 

Tagged so they can be bagged.

Participants in the Republican National Convention next week will wear electronic “smart badges” that document their movements to speed contact-tracing should anyone subsequently develop COVID-19.

Some elements of the scaled-down convention will be held in Charlotte, N.C., Monday through Thursday. Attendees will be assigned badges that communicate with one another to document where the badge-wearers are, and who they move close to, within the confines of the location. 

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UK Court Spurns Police in First Legal Test of Face Recognition

By Robert Bateman

A landmark legal challenge to the use of facial-recognition technology has succeeded, with the U.K.’s Court of Appeal ruling this month that police in South Wales used automated facial recognition in violation of fundamental human rights.

Edward Bridges, a Cardiff resident supported by a human-rights group, Liberty, argued that the police had not adequately assessed how facial-recognition technology could violate individual “rights and freedoms” nor considered how the technology could be biased along racial and gender lines.

The Court of Appeal made its unanimous ruling Aug. 11. The South Wales Police has accepted the verdict and will not appeal to the Supreme Court.

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National ID Cards Pose Inherent Privacy Dangers in Hong Kong

By Patrick McShane

Fourth of a series.

In June, China imposed a sweeping new “national security law” on Hong Kong — threatening the personal privacy of nearly 7.6 million citizens and sending shivers throughout the global business community, including over 1,500 U.S. companies.

In these weekly reports, Digital Privacy News examines the ramifications of Beijing’s decision. Today’s report details how mandatory national ID cards can be abused to spy on Hong Kong citizens.

Not many Americans even think about being legally required to carry a national ID card at all times — but they’d probably be surprised at how many other nations have this requirement.

All the standard authoritarian regimes long have mandated national ID cards: Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait. But, so do several more “liberal” societies — Spain, Portugal, Greece and Luxembourg.

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