Daily Digest (12/17)

Facebook Takes Out Full-Page Ads Attacking Apple; Facebook to Move UK Users to US Terms, Skirting European Laws; EU to Update Cybersecurity Rules; TikTok Sent Job Applicants’ Data to China; Texas and 9 Other States Sue Google for Antitrust Violations.

Facebook Takes Out Full-Page Ads Attacking New Apple Policy

Facebook took out full-page ads Wednesday in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post attacking Apple’s new privacy feature that would allow users to opt out of letting apps track their activity for advertising purposes.

The ads carried the headline “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere” and homed in on upcoming changes to Apple’s iOS 14 operating system that would curb the ability of companies like Facebook to gather data about users, Bloomberg News reports. 

Facebook told investors that Apple’s changes, scheduled to go live early next year, would bring significant headwinds because most of its advertisers were small businesses. 

Apple pushed back, however, accusing Facebook last month of showing a “disregard for user privacy.” 

“Apple is behaving anti-competitively by using their control of the App Store to benefit their bottom line at the expense of creators and small businesses,” said Dan Levy, head of Facebook’s small business program. 

Facebook was sued earlier this month by state and federal regulators for alleged anticompetitive behavior. 

Sources (all links external): 

Facebook to Move UK Users to US Terms, Skirting European Laws  

Facebook confirmed plans to move its users in the U.K. into user agreements with its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., moving them out of reach of Europe’s privacy laws, Reuters reports.  

“Like other companies, Facebook has had to make changes to respond to Brexit and will be transferring legal responsibilities and obligations for UK users from Facebook Ireland to Facebook Inc.,” the company’s U.K. operation said in a statement.

“There will be no change to the privacy controls or the services Facebook offers to people in the U.K.”

Privacy advocates argued that the move would lead to an even looser data-privacy regime, Reuters reports. Some said they also feared that U.K. Facebook users could more easily be monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies or be subjected to data requests from law enforcement. 

“The bigger the company, the more personal data they hold, the more they are likely to be subject to surveillance duties or requirements to hand over data to the U.S. government,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the U.K.-based nonprofit Open Rights Group.

U.K. information industry regulators said they had been in touch with Facebook along with companies keeping European headquarters as Brexit nears, Reuters reports. 

“We are aware of Facebook’s plans and will continue to engage with the company in the new year,” said a spokesperson at the Information Commissioner’s Office. 

EU to Update Cybersecurity Rules After COVID Vaccine Hack

The European Union revealed Wednesday plans to update its cybersecurity rules, days after data on a new coronavirus vaccine was unlawfully accessed in a cyberattack on the European Medicines Agency. 

The EU recorded about 450 cyberincidents involving European infrastructure last year, especially in the financial and energy sectors, The Associated Press reports. 

The European Commission’s new proposals aim to bring the current Network Information System regulations from 2008 up to date and allow the EU to impose hefty fines on operators who break the rules.  

“The time of innocence is over,” Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas told reporters. “We know that we are a target.

“We need to modernize, reinforce and adapt.” 

The new strategy would focus on protecting essential infrastructure like electricity grids, heating systems, gas and hydrogen plants — as well as air, rail, water and road links. Financial markets and health infrastructure also would be a priority.  

Once agreed, the 27 nations would have 18 months to adopt and start applying the rules, AP reports.  

TikTok Sent Job Applicants’ Data to China

TikTok routed the personal data of job applicants through servers in China, and only disclosed it to candidates in certain countries, Business Insider reports.  

The personal information TikTok collected from applicants included medical data, sex and race data, marital status, geolocation data and data from many other categories. 

TikTok offered job applicants different privacy-policy documents, depending on where they were based — and not all of the policies disclosed that information went to China. 

“It’s the classic example of being switched to a jurisdiction in the middle of a workflow without it being made crystal clear,” said Alan Woodward, a cybersecurity professor at the University of Surrey.  

“TikTok has been so clear about the data for those outside China being held on servers in Singapore, yet they seem less obvious about the careers case.” 

After being approached by Business Insider, TikTok said it would no longer store job-applicant data in China. 

Business Insider: TikTok has been quietly sending job applicants’ personal data to China   

Texas and 9 Other States Sue Google for Antitrust Violations 

Texas, backed by nine other states, filed a lawsuit against Google on Wednesday, accusing it of breaking antitrust law in how it runs its online advertising business. 

The Texas lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Texas, is the fourth in a series of federal and state lawsuits aimed at reining in Big Tech platforms that have grown significantly in the past two decades, Reuters reports.  

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had joined the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit against the company in October, which also included 11 other states.

“Google repeatedly used its monopolistic power to control pricing (and) engage in market collusions to rig auctions in a tremendous violation of justice,” Paxton said in a Facebook video. 

The nine states in the Texas action are Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah and Idaho.

— By DPN Staff