Month: November 2020

Q&A: IAWRT’S Cecilia M. Maundu

‘The Internet is Gender-Blind. Let No One Tell You Otherwise’

By Maureen Nkatha

In an August report on internet experiences of women in Africa by, a Uganda-based civic technology organization, more than half of those interviewed reported suffering from anxiety because of negative online experiences.

Cecilia M. Maundu, a specialist in gender digital-security training, has been working to educate women and minority groups on the importance of cybersecurity training in Kenya.

Maundu, who holds a master’s in communication from the University of Nairobi, also is secretary general of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) in Nairobi.

She told Digital Privacy News that online gender-based violence is a global issue and governments worldwide should enforce laws to prosecute perpetrators.

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No More Hackers in Hoodies

Recruiting and Retaining Women to Cybersecurity Careers

By Samantha Cleaver

When Lasya Sreenivasan applied to high school in 2016 in Phoenix, Ariz., she was reticent to go into computer science.

Both parents worked in the field, and, said Sreenivasan, “I had this idea from what I saw in movies that computer scientists worked on their laptops all day, typing random things.”

Sreenivasan, 17, didn’t see how that job incorporated her interests in psychology, linguistics, and history.

But, after a two-week summer course, Sreenivasan was intrigued and decided to give computer science a try. She enrolled in the Center for Research Engineering Science and Technology (CREST) program at Paradise Valley High School.

Few girls enrolled in computer science, so when Sreenivasan saw another girl in her freshman class, they immediately became friends.

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Review: ‘Coded Bias’

Indie Film Unpacks Bias in Algorithms

By C.J. Thompson

“Coded Bias” is a new independent documentary about the omnipresence of artificial intelligence — and the myriad ways the biases of its creators are baked into its performance. 

The film centers on Massachusetts Institute of Technology doctoral candidate Joy Buolamwini, 31, whose key epiphany occurs when she uses computer-vision software for a project — and it fails to identify her dark-complexioned face.

It engages, however, when she dons a white face mask.

The “Coded Bias” poster features an image of that soulless, synthetic white mask with brown eyes staring from behind it — and the film’s implications are equally haunting. 

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UK Police Targeting Black People With Fingerprint Scanners

By Robert Bateman

Police forces across England and Wales have increased their use of mobile fingerprint scanning — and Black people are disproportionately targeted with this biometric technology, according to recent news reports analyzing police statistics.

But privacy advocates and civil rights groups told Digital Privacy News that the practice was damaging trust in the police and could hamper efforts to fight crime.

“Black communities are much more likely to be surveilled and treated as potential criminals, despite a lack of reasonable suspicion,” said Ella Jakubowska, policy officer for European Digital Rights (EDRi) in Brussels, which campaigns against biometric surveillance.

“Why would we even think about bringing in new biometric technology — which civil society groups have shown can pose an enormous threat to people’s rights and liberties — when we already have so much underlying bias and discrimination in how police forces engage with racialized and minoritized communities?”

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Facebook CEO Touts Progress on Privacy, But Experts Raise Doubts

By Jackson Chen

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently touted to Congress the company’s privacy efforts stemming from a record $5 billion Federal Trade Commission settlement last year, including “an industry-leading privacy program.”

“We have more than a thousand engineers working on the privacy program now,” Zuckerberg told the Senate Commerce Committee at an October hearing. “I think that settlement will be quite effective in ensuring that people’s data and privacy are protected.”

But experts told Digital Privacy News that the settlement did not address the root issue of Facebook’s privacy practices and instead raised more questions.

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New Zealanders at Odds Over New Privacy Law Days Before Taking Effect

By Melt Strydom

Days before a new privacy law takes effect in New Zealand, stark differences remained between advocates praising its stronger privacy protections and opponents badgering it as a “toothless tiger” because of its seemingly small fines compared with regulations in other countries.

“Even the best of laws, including the new European regulation, will have the same problem, but our law remains fit for purpose — as it is principles-based and is one-size-fits-all, covering all sectors,” Gehan Gunasekara, chairman of the New Zealand Privacy Foundation (NZPF), said of the New Zealand Privacy Act of 2020.

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Q&A: CDT’s Alexandra Reeve Givens

‘We Fight for an Open and Accessible Internet’

By Samantha Stone

Alexandra Reeve Givens was in grade school when the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) was founded.

CDT, based in Washington, is deeply rooted in digital technology’s original sin: exposing users to scrutiny by anyone with the means and the motive to probe.

By that standard, the organization is both young, at 26, and mature — having influenced public policy for a quarter of a century.

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Rights Group Sues UK Privacy Regulator in Landmark Case

By Robert Bateman

A digital-rights organization, the Open Rights Group (ORG), is taking the U.K.’s privacy regulator to court over allegations that it has failed to address illegal practices in the digital advertising technology — adtech — industry.

The claim, filed Oct. 21 with the U.K.’s Information Rights Tribunal, follows a complaint first filed with the regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), by ORG Executive Director Jim Killock in September 2018.

The complaint alleged that Google and other tech companies were using people’s personal data illegally, via a process called “real-time bidding” (RTB).

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‘No Absolute Freedom of the Press’

How China Is Disabling Hong Kong’s Free Press

By Patrick McShane

In these occasional reports, Digital Privacy News examines the fallout from China’s new “national security law” on Hong Kong.

Whenever a totalitarian regime endeavours to destroy a free press, various methods can be applied.

In the case of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its drive to disable and eliminate Hong Kong’s free press, the party has used a range of tried-and-true techniques.

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‘Ask Before You App’

School Districts Vetting Online Learning Apps More Because of Growing Privacy Concerns

By Samantha Cleaver

During her years in the classroom, Karen Mensing, technology integration facilitator with the Paradise Valley Unified School District in Phoenix, Ariz., used every cool new app she came across.

“I wanted to try the new apps,” Mensing told Digital Privacy News. “It was fun.”

And, for a long time, “We weren’t vetting apps,” she said. “It was, like, do what works for you.”

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