Category: Q&A

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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Q&A: University of Chicago’s Ben Zhao and Heather Zheng

‘Fawkes’ Tool Protects Against Unregulated Facial Software

Examples of original photos and versions that have been “cloaked” by the Fawkes tool created by a team at the University of Chicago. Team co-leaders Heather Zheng and Ben Zhao are pictured on the bottom row. Credit: SAND Lab, University of Chicago.

By Rachel Looker

With the abundance of surveillance cameras in stores, at traffic lights and in most people’s pockets, the possibility of your face being captured for unsavory purposes has become more prevalent than ever before.

To protect individual privacy, University of Chicago professors Ben Zhao and Heather Zheng led a team to create the “Fawkes” algorithmic and software tool.

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Q&A: CDT’s William Adler

Even a Small Breach in Election Security Can Sow Distrust

By Mary Pieper

William T. Adler, senior technologist in elections and security at the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, recently participated in a news briefing on election security.

With record early voting leading into Tuesday’s election, Adler and his colleagues explained what election officials were doing to prevent security breaches. They also discussed online misinformation and voting suppression.

In a follow-up interview, Adler told Digital Privacy News that, while election officials had made numerous security improvements, vulnerabilities still existed.

An attack on just one voting machine could create widespread doubts about overall election security, he said.

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Q&A: Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

Americans Deserve ‘Full Accounting’ From Big Tech CEOs on Their Practices

By Jeff Benson

Nearly two weeks ago, The New York Post published what it deemed a bombshell story allegedly linking Hunter Biden to a Ukrainian-influence campaign on his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden.

Many social media users didn’t hear about it until later.

Twitter blocked the article for purportedly breaching its privacy policies, while Facebook slowed down dissemination so the report could be fact-checked.

The incident put further strain on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives online publishers broad discretion to moderate content submitted by users.

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Q&A: San Diego State’s Daniel Eaton

‘Work From Home Is Still Work and Subject to Work Rules’

By Victor Bradley

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in May, Gallup found that 52% of employed U.S. adults worked from home full-time, versus fewer than 6% as recently as 2017.

As such, employers increasingly have turned to technology to monitor and analyze employee behavior. These include AI-capable systems, which they claim to use big data-based insights to identify — even predict — problematic employee behaviors.

But Daniel E. Eaton, a lecturer in employment law and business ethics at San Diego State University’s Fowler College of Business, told Digital Privacy News that federal privacy rights for workers were limited in general, leaving this new frontier essentially unregulated.

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Q&A: South African Professor Uche Mbanaso

‘Privacy Means to Be “Left Alone,” But the Context Has Changed’

By Maureen Nkatha

South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) took effect in July, becoming one of the few African nations to have adopted effective data-protection legislation.

The act defines how personal information can be collected and shared by public and private-sector organizations. They now must report all data breaches to the country’s information regulator.

Uche Mbanaso, a visiting senior lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, told Digital Privacy News that one of the greatest challenges to implementing the law is the fluidity of privacy data, which many infrastructures were not yet designed to handle.

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Q&A: Sen. Bill Cassidy, R- La.

Privacy Proposal Would Protect Consumers, COVID Health Data 

By Rachel Looker 

For Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., promoting public health while protecting consumer privacy goes hand in hand during a public-health crisis like COVID-19. 

He recently introduced the Exposure Notification Privacy Act to limit data-collection and usage while requiring the involvement from public-health officials in deploying contact-tracing apps and other exposure-notification systems.

The legislation would give consumers control over their health data by highlighting voluntary participation, user consent and the right to delete data on exposure-notification systems.

Cassidy introduced the bipartisan legislation in June with two Democrats, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Wash., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minn.

He told Digital Privacy News that Congress was overdue in examining at how personal health information was being marketed for commercial purposes, unbeknownst to users.  

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Q&A: Blogger Cory Doctorow

‘Companies Have Your Back When Having Your Back Is Good for Them’

By Jeff Benson

Last of three parts.

Cory Doctorow’s latest book, “How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism,” has much to say about how using antitrust law can lead to better privacy.

But it has less to say about what consumers can do avoid online surveillance. 

In this final installment of a three-part interview, Doctorow told Digital Privacy News that the internet became centralized through mergers, that personal data leaks were unavoidable and that consumers should be battling for stronger penalties for companies that break the law.

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Q&A: Technologist Cory Doctorow

‘We Can Pass Laws That Make Being Anti-Privacy Unprofitable’

By Jeff Benson

Second of three parts.

Technologist and author Cory Doctorow doesn’t buy the argument that we can’t regulate Big Tech because they’ll move overseas.

In today’s Digital Privacy News interview, the second of three parts, he said that U.S. laws allowed monopolies to expand across the globe, that changing those rules were “politically difficult” and that companies only cared about privacy if they could profit from it.

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Q&A: British Author Cory Doctorow

Breaking Up Monopolies Unleashes Innovation, Competition

By Jeff Benson

First of three parts.

Cory Doctorow is one of the world’s most prolific tech and science fiction writers.

In between releasing his second graphic novel, “Poesy the Monster Slayer,” in July and a sequel to “Little Brother” (due out in October), Doctorow managed to fit in a 27,000-word treatise on breaking up tech monopolies.

Published on OneZero late last month (and available for free to read), “How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism” argues that the government needs to step up its antitrust efforts or else Facebook, Google and their ilk will invade people’s privacy with impunity.

In the first of a three-part interview, Doctorow told Digital Privacy News that breaking up monopolies helped tech grow, that Facebook won’t stop hoarding data on its own — and provided questions that really should be asked about Big Tech.

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