Month: October 2020

Is China Exporting ‘Surveillance Creep’ Throughout the World? Experts Weigh In

By Charles McDermid

First of two parts.

Concern has intensified in recent weeks over the global expansion of China’s so-called techno-authoritarianism, with Western media and the U.S. government warning that Beijing already is exporting its surveillance tactics around the world.

Critics of China’s data-collection policies have plenty of ammunition, from the use of new technology to spy on Uighurs and other Muslim minorities to the ambitious plan to develop a genetic map of 700 million Chinese men and boys. 

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Q&A: South African Professor Uche Mbanaso

‘Privacy Means to Be “Left Alone,” But the Context Has Changed’

By Maureen Nkatha

South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) took effect in July, becoming one of the few African nations to have adopted effective data-protection legislation.

The act defines how personal information can be collected and shared by public and private-sector organizations. They now must report all data breaches to the country’s information regulator.

Uche Mbanaso, a visiting senior lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, told Digital Privacy News that one of the greatest challenges to implementing the law is the fluidity of privacy data, which many infrastructures were not yet designed to handle.

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VA Did Not Disclose Huge Data Breach for 7 Weeks

By Andy Arnold

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a data breach seven weeks after it occurred in July, affecting the personal information of 46,000 veterans and as many as 17,000 community-care providers that administer health services to veterans.

But while agency officials said the lag was necessary to follow federal government protocols and to inform the affected vets, experts told Digital Privacy News that the notification was quick work on the VA’s part.

Rebecca Herold, CEO of the Privacy Professor consultancy in Des Moines, Iowa, called the seven weeks “reasonable.”

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Femtech Apps Under Fire for Broad Sharing of Sensitive Data

By Mary Pieper

Women who use apps to track ovulation, menstrual cycles and pregnancy could be revealing intimate information about themselves not only to advertisers, but also to insurers and employers, privacy experts and lawmakers told Digital Privacy News.

“You have no idea” who has your data, said New York State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan. “This is a very in-depth invasion of your privacy if you stop to think about it.”

Allegations disclosed in recent news reports that the fertility app Premom was sharing user data without permission to Chinese advertising companies was just the latest instance of femtech apps coming under fire.

Last month, seven bipartisan U.S. senators wrote Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons, calling for an investigation of the allegations.

The report, in The Washington Post, was based on research by the nonprofit International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC).

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Stolen Data Not Fetching Much Cash on Dark Web, Reports Show

By Nora Macaluso

It’s common knowledge that the costs, in time and in money, associated with having one’s personal information stolen can be devastating.

Perhaps what’s surprising is how little that information brings when it’s sold: in many cases, next to nothing, according to companies that track prices on the dark web.

Researchers from the website Privacy Affairs searched the dark web to see what kinds of information was available and how much it costs, compiling the average prices into an index released in July.

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Is Privacy Losing in US-China Fight for Control Over Data?

By Charles McDermid

Influence on global data-security standards has emerged as yet another Big Power battleground, with the United States and China promoting rival campaigns that are heavy on geopolitical posturing — but light on details about laws, enforcement and effect. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in August unveiled the “Clean Network” program to safeguard “sensitive information from aggressive intrusions by malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party.”

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