Daily Digest (10/2)

Senate Panel Approves Subpoenas for CEOs of Facebook, Google, Twitter; Groups Allege Ontario Police Illegally Used COVID-19 Database; Russian National Sentenced to Over 7 Years for Hacking US Tech Firms; German Privacy Watchdog Fines H&M $41M for Spying on Workers. Click “Continue reading” below.

Senate Panel Approves Subpoenas for CEOs of Facebook, Google, Twitter

The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously voted Thursday to approve subpoenas for the CEOs of Twitter, Google and Facebook for a hearing on legal immunity for tech companies.

The hearing would discuss reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which offers tech companies protection from liability over content posted by users, Reuters reports.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., asked executives to voluntarily appear Thursday, though it was prepared to issue subpoenas last week.

“After extending an invite to these executives, I regret that they have again declined to participate and answer questions about issues that are so visible and urgent to the American people,” Wicker told Reuters.

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Groups Allege Ontario Police Illegally Used COVID-19 Database

Two civil rights groups have alleged that police in Ontario engaged illegal searches of a now-defunct COVID-19 database.

In separate reports, The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) said that authorities used the database to look at COVID-19 test results for wide geographic areas, the CBC reports.

They also allegedly pulled up personal information on occasion that was unrelated to active police calls, the groups said.

“People weren’t told that when they went for COVID tests that this information was being shared with police — and they certainly weren’t asked for their consent,” Abby Deshman, CCLA’s criminal justice program director, told CBC.

“That should be a decision every person makes about what they want to do with their own personal medical information.”

In April, the Ontario government passed an emergency order, allowing police to obtain the names, addresses and birth dates of residents who had tested positive for COVID.

Police access to the database ended Aug. 17 after human-rights organizations filed a legal challenge.

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Russian National Sentenced to Over 7 Years for Hacking US Tech Firms

A Russian national was sentenced to 88 months in prison for hacking LinkedIn, Dropbox and the social-media platform formerly known as Formspring.

Yevgeniy Nikulin was sentenced Thursday after a six-day trial, in which a jury found him guilty, the U.S. Justice Department reports.

The jury found that Nikulin hacked into the companies’ computers, damaging the machines by installing malware, according to Dark Reading.

The jury also found that Nikulin conspired with others to sell the stolen customer data.

Nikulin also was convicted of hacking into the machines of WordPress’ parent company, Automatic, but no evidence was presented to show that he had stolen any customer credentials, Dark Reading reports.

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German Privacy Watchdog Fines H&M $41M for Spying on Workers

H&M was fined $41 million after a German privacy watchdog found that the retailer spied on some of its employees in Germany.

The Hamburg data-protection commissioner, Johannes Caspar, said Thursday that the Swedish company collected private information about workers at a customer-service center in Nuremberg, “ranging from rather harmless details to family issues and religious beliefs,” The Associated Press reports.

The watchdog also found that the personal information was recorded on a network drive that could be accessed by as many as 50 managers.

The data was “used, among other things, to obtain a detailed profile of employees for measures and decisions regarding their employment,” the watchdog said in a statement.

“The combination of collecting details about their private lives and the recording of their activities led to a particularly intensive encroachment on employees’ civil rights,” Caspar told AP.

H&M accepted responsibility for the spying, saying in a statement that the practices in Nuremberg did not reflect company principles.

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— By DPN Staff