Category: News

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?”

Continue reading “UK Police Targeting Black People With Fingerprint Scanners”

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.

Continue reading “Facebook CEO Touts Progress on Privacy, But Experts Raise Doubts”

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.

Continue reading “New Zealanders at Odds Over New Privacy Law Days Before Taking Effect”

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).

Continue reading “Rights Group Sues UK Privacy Regulator in Landmark Case”

‘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.”

Continue reading “‘Ask Before You App’”

EU Proposals Could Restrict Targeted Ads

By Robert Bateman

Politicians in the EU are calling for strict regulations on targeted advertising, including considering a phase-out that would bring a total ban.

The European Parliament, which comprises elected representatives from each EU country, last month called for targeted advertising to be “regulated more strictly in favor of less intrusive, contextualized forms of advertising.” 

Legislators envision new forms of online ads that “require less data and do not depend on previous user interaction with content,” according to an Oct. 20 news release. 

Continue reading “EU Proposals Could Restrict Targeted Ads”

Officials Urge Tech Firms to Help Them Access User Data

By Robert Bateman

Governments across the world are calling on technology firms to allow agencies access to private communications, claiming that end-to-end encryption that shuts out law enforcement presents a “severe risk to public safety.”

In a statement, signed Oct. 11, the governments of the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and Japan argued that software developers should “engage in consultation with governments and other stakeholders” to “embed the safety of the public in system design.”

But experts told Digital Privacy News that the proposals presented an unacceptable risk to individual privacy.

Continue reading “Officials Urge Tech Firms to Help Them Access User Data”

COVID-Stressed Homeowners Face Another Wrinkle With HOA Boards

By Joanne Cleaver

Privacy practices by homeowners’ associations (HOA) are one more headache for financially stressed Americans trying to avoid foreclosure. 

Petitioning a board for suspension of association fees is fraught with potential privacy pitfalls, lawyers and professional HOA managers told Digital Privacy News.

Laws that dictate condo board rules vary by state, but whether a board actually handles members’ financial information with discretion is another matter, they said.

HOA members should not expect sensitive financial information brought to boards in seeking fee relief to be kept confidential, said Brian Boger, an attorney in Columbia, S.C., who specializes in HOA disputes.

Continue reading “COVID-Stressed Homeowners Face Another Wrinkle With HOA Boards”

Toll Roads Going Electronic, Raising Privacy, Security Issues

Man-operated toll booths, though not this bullet-riddled one from the death of Sonny Corleone in 1972’s “The Godfather,” have given way to technologies that now raise privacy issues. Credit: Paramount Pictures.

By Rob Sabo

The death of fictional New York mobster Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather” is perhaps the most famous movie scene involving a toll booth in American cinematic history.

But this month, such settings will be relegated to history — as toll booths along the 420-mile New York State Thruway system go dark in favor of electronic tolling monitors.

Continue reading “Toll Roads Going Electronic, Raising Privacy, Security Issues”