Month: March 2021

Zelle, Venmo Services Convenient But Raise Many Privacy Issues

By Linda Childers

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, cash payments and checks were becoming a distant memory.

This past year, many small businesses and individuals have continued to embrace such cashless payment solutions as Venmo and Zelle, allowing consumers to make payments by transferring funds electronically.

While Venmo, a financial platform owned by Paypal, lets consumers send and accept payments directly to friends and small businesses, Zelle gives the option to send money directly from one bank account to another. 

“These types of payment systems don’t offer the same protection as your credit cards,” Scott Augenbaum, a retired FBI agent in Nashville, Tenn., told Digital Privacy News.

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Q&A: Harvard’s Latanya Sweeney

‘Privacy Protections Are Not Working’

By Gaspard Le Dem 

Second of three parts. 

When Latanya Sweeney co-published her now-famous research paper on “k-anonymity” in 1998, the concept of data privacy was still in its infancy.

In the second of three interviews, Sweeney, an MIT Ph.D., told Digital Privacy News that federal HIPAA laws had fallen short despite overwhelming evidence that they were not working.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

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Facebook Sued in UK Class Action Over ‘Data Harvesting’ App

By Robert Bateman

Facebook faces a class-action lawsuit in the U.K. over allegations that it allowed a third-party app to “harvest personal information” from its users without consent.

The app, “This Is Your Digital Life,” collected the personal information of as many as 87 million Facebook users worldwide between November 2013 and May 2015, according to Facebook’s estimates.

The breach affected not only users of the app, but also their Facebook friends, whose data was shared with the controversial political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

A 2018 investigation by The New York Times and the Guardian revealed that Cambridge Analytica used data to provide ad-targeting services for Republican Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

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Q&A: Latanya Sweeney, Harvard University

‘Privacy Has Often Been Polarized’

By Gaspard Le Dem 

First of three parts. 

In the world of digital privacy, few have made as profound an impact as Latanya Sweeney.

A Harvard University professor and the director of the university’s Data Privacy Lab, Sweeney was a doctoral student when she co-published a groundbreaking paper on “k-anonymity” in 1998.

The study sent shock waves through the computer science and medical communities, leading to an overhaul of federal HIPAA standards. 

But Sweeney didn’t stop there. After becoming the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001, she founded the Data Privacy Lab at Carnegie Mellon, leading dozens of experiments that reshaped privacy policy.

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