Category: News

Public PPP Loan Data Strips Anonymity From Private Firms

By Joanne Cleaver

Fuse Financial Partners received a $150,000 potentially forgivable loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), created by Congress as part of the federal CARES Act.

And the whole world knows about it.

David Worrell, the firm’s managing partner, used the money as Congress intended: to continuing paying his 10 employees.

Continue reading “Public PPP Loan Data Strips Anonymity From Private Firms”

UK Pays AI Firm to Trawl Voters’ Twitter Data

By Robert Bateman

The U.K. government paid the artificial intelligence firm Faculty $524,000 to trawl and analyze the Twitter activity of the nation’s voters, according to an investigation by the campaign group Big Brother Watch.

The probe, disclosed by The Guardian on Aug. 10, revealed that Faculty was contracted to provide “topic analysis of social media” and gauge public response to the government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

Continue reading “UK Pays AI Firm to Trawl Voters’ Twitter Data”

GOP Using ‘Smart Badges’ at Convention, Raising Privacy Flags

By Joanne Cleaver 

Tagged so they can be bagged.

Participants in the Republican National Convention next week will wear electronic “smart badges” that document their movements to speed contact-tracing should anyone subsequently develop COVID-19.

Some elements of the scaled-down convention will be held in Charlotte, N.C., Monday through Thursday. Attendees will be assigned badges that communicate with one another to document where the badge-wearers are, and who they move close to, within the confines of the location. 

Continue reading “GOP Using ‘Smart Badges’ at Convention, Raising Privacy Flags”

UK Court Spurns Police in First Legal Test of Face Recognition

By Robert Bateman

A landmark legal challenge to the use of facial-recognition technology has succeeded, with the U.K.’s Court of Appeal ruling this month that police in South Wales used automated facial recognition in violation of fundamental human rights.

Edward Bridges, a Cardiff resident supported by a human-rights group, Liberty, argued that the police had not adequately assessed how facial-recognition technology could violate individual “rights and freedoms” nor considered how the technology could be biased along racial and gender lines.

The Court of Appeal made its unanimous ruling Aug. 11. The South Wales Police has accepted the verdict and will not appeal to the Supreme Court.

Continue reading “UK Court Spurns Police in First Legal Test of Face Recognition”

Bill to Ban ‘Fake News’ in Brazil Under Bitter Attack Across Globe

By Sakshi Udavant

Brazilian senators have passed a bill that bars what the government considers “fake news” — and privacy advocates worldwide have bitterly attacked the legislation as threatening freedom of expression and the right to privacy.

“This measure will target every viral sharing as suspect and will potentially endanger users that forward content for different reasons,” Thiago Oliva and Nathalie Fragoso, heads of research at InternetLab, an independent research center in Brazil, told Digital Privacy News in a joint statement.

“The risk is also present that social movements and activists end up being targeted if a court requests the data associated with their messages,” they continued. “The bill does not limit data requests to cases of evident intention to fraud or disinform.

“The current drafting could be interpreted in ways that require the messaging apps to retain data from all conversations, given that any message can become viral after being sent and forwarded,” they said.

Continue reading “Bill to Ban ‘Fake News’ in Brazil Under Bitter Attack Across Globe”

EEOC Says ADA Bars Employee Antibody Testing, For Now

By Myrle Croasdale

Employers can check employees’ temperatures, and they can require a COVID-19 virus test. Both as a condition for returning to work.

But what they can’t do, at least for now, is ask them to submit to a COVID antibody test.

In June, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) determined that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an antibody test was a medical examination and that employees with these antibodies did not present a direct threat to others at work.

“The ADA at this time does not allow employers to require antibody testing before allowing employees to re-enter the workplace,” the EEOC announcement said.

The ADA governs disability-related inquiries and medical exams and prohibits employers from excluding employees with a disability from the workplace for health and safety reasons unless the employee’s health poses a direct threat to others.

“An antibody test at this time does not meet the ADA’s ‘job-related and consistent with business necessity’ standard for medical examinations,” the commission stated.

The key here, some experts told Digital Privacy News, is the “direct threat” issue.

Continue reading “EEOC Says ADA Bars Employee Antibody Testing, For Now”

Leaked Data Fears Rise With Used Police Body Cameras and Phones

By Jason Collins

This is the age of the camera phone, where everything is recorded. But with this change in social etiquette, a new issue of digital privacy arrives.

If someone takes a video of you, for instance, do they own that footage? Also, if someone buys a used camera — and photos still are on it — who owns that digital information? 

Police use body cameras regularly, capturing routine events and nearby people who may have not given consent. Their faces simply are included because of proximity.

But what happens when officers lose a camera — or one is misplaced or not properly decommissioned before it is sold? 

This summer, a Twitter user, @d0tslash, purchased an older Axon body camera that had been used by the military police at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. When he opened it, he discovered a microSD card and could access all the footage — video and audio.

Continue reading “Leaked Data Fears Rise With Used Police Body Cameras and Phones”

NY Tenants Fight Off Smart-Home Tech, But Laws Lag Behind

“We never asked for it,” Fabian Rogers says of face technology in the Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment complex where he lives.

By Mary Pieper

In the fall of 2018, Fabian Rogers and his fellow tenants in the Atlantic Plaza Towers apartment complex in Brooklyn learned their landlord wanted to install a facial-recognition system for the locks in the building.

“We never asked for it,” Rogers told Digital Privacy News.

Rogers, 25, a community advocate who has lived at Atlantic Plaza since he was 10, said the tenants already felt like they were being constantly watched.

The Nelson Management Group, which owned and operated the complex since 2007, had installed surveillance cameras “in almost every nook and cranny of the building,” he said.

But the latest proposed security measure, in particular, raised alarms. Tenants had all kinds of questions about the facial-recognition technology, Rogers said.

Continue reading “NY Tenants Fight Off Smart-Home Tech, But Laws Lag Behind”

Rating Big Tech CEOs’ Answers to Congress on Digital Privacy

By Jeff Benson

Four of the most successful businessmen in history — Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai — testified last month before Congress about potentially anticompetitive practices.

Their July 29 session before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law came as part of the panel’s yearlong investigation of whether these technology giants were in fact monopolies using their market size to steal from, subsume or eliminate competitors. 

Continue reading “Rating Big Tech CEOs’ Answers to Congress on Digital Privacy”

Cannabis Sales Rising — and so Are Questions About Privacy, Security

By Rob Sabo

Retail marijuana is big business, with retail pot sales expecting to approach $30 billion by 2023.

By comparison, the entire U.S. market for organic fruits and vegetables was $5.8 billion last year.

Cannabis has been decriminalized in 27 U.S. states — and adult-use recreational marijuana is available for purchase in 12 of them.

Both recreational cannabis users and medical marijuana customers must provide a government-issued identification card to prove they are at least 21 or have a prescription to access dispensaries.

Continue reading “Cannabis Sales Rising — and so Are Questions About Privacy, Security”