Category: Q&A

Q&A: Lorrie Cranor of Carnegie Mellon University

‘Most People Value Their Privacy a Lot’

By C.J. Thompson 

Lorrie Cranor is a longtime champion of privacy and security issues.

A professor of computer science, engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, she also serves as director of the university’s CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory and is co-director of the MSIT privacy engineering masters’ program.

For more than two decades, Cranor’s research has illuminated usable — consumer-friendly — privacy and security technologies and methodologies.

Cranor, whose doctorate is from Washington University in St. Louis, served as chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission in 2016.

She and CyLab researchers recently designed the blue “opt-out” icon now used on many websites to alert consumers how to decline the sale of their data. It resulted from amendments to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in March.

Continue reading “Q&A: Lorrie Cranor of Carnegie Mellon University”

Q&A: HIBP’s Troy Hunt

Huge Facebook Leak Brings the ‘Ability to Send More Targeted Phishing Emails’

By Rachel Looker 

Facebook made headlines this month after news that a data leak exposed the personal information of more than 533 million users.  

First reported April 3 by Business Insider, the leak included cellphone numbers, names, locations, birthdates and some email addresses for users in over 100 countries.  

But Facebook said hackers obtained the data before September 2019 by “scraping” it from the platform through misuse of its contact importer tool. 

“This feature was designed to help people easily find their friends to connect with on our services using their contact lists,” Facebook said in an April 6 blog post.

The platform said the contact importer had been updated to prevent software from imitating the app and uploading large sets of phone numbers to see if any matched a Facebook user.  

Continue reading “Q&A: HIBP’s Troy Hunt”

Q&A: Colin J. Bennett, University of Victoria

‘Just Because People Say Data Analytics Win Elections Doesn’t Mean It’s True’

By Vaughn Cockayne

Colin J. Bennett is a professor of political science at the University of Victoria in Canada. He is a fellow of the university’s Surveillance Studies Centre.

His research focuses on the use of surveillance policy at the domestic and international levels. His most recent research has been into the use of data analytics during elections and how it has affected worldwide democracies.

His books include “The Governance of Privacy” (2006) and “The Privacy Advocates: Resisting the Spread of Surveillance” (2008).

Bennett, who holds a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told Digital Privacy News that exporting “data-driven” political campaign strategies to other countries is a threat that should be resisted.

Continue reading “Q&A: Colin J. Bennett, University of Victoria”

Q&A: Author Edwin Black

IBM’s Third Reich Ties Presage Today’s Big Tech Ambitions

By Samantha Stone

Edwin Black wrote two decades ago about a stalwart American business and its underreported role in Nazi atrocities.

His book, “IBM and the Holocaust,” was a success by any measure. It had a respectable stint as a New York Times best-seller. It was lavishly praised by other journalists. It won awards and was published in multiple languages.

Black maintains IBM has never challenged the substance of his book. For its 20th anniversary, Black has been making the podcast-interview rounds defending his work and underscoring how IBM’s activities presage today’s Big Data.

“What most people can derive from my book at this particular point in time is that history repeats itself,” he said in a February podcast on the U.K.’s Revelation TV.

Continue reading “Q&A: Author Edwin Black”

Q&A: Writer Kai Strittmatter

‘There Was a Time When We Wanted to Change China. That Illusion Is Long Gone’

By Charles McDermid

Last of three parts.

China is an increasingly aggressive global actor when democracy is at its weakest point in decades, writes German journalist Kai Strittmatter.

The result is a “global competition of systems” not seen since the end of the Cold War. 

Strittmatter, 55, author of “We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State” (2019), says China is openly advertising the superiority of its system over Western democracies, all while trying to reshape global organizations and infiltrating the West’s think tanks, companies, media and schools. 

In the last of a three-part interview, Strittmatter told Digital Privacy News that the time had come to stop being naïve about the nature and intentions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Continue reading “Q&A: Writer Kai Strittmatter”

Q&A: Journalist Kai Strittmatter

‘You Don’t Need a Policeman. You Have Become the Policeman’

By Charles McDermid

Second of three parts.

Kai Strittmatter speaks Mandarin, studied in Xian and Taipei during the ’80s — and, for more than 20 years, was Beijing correspondent for the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

His 2019 book — “We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State” — probably won’t make him welcome in the Middle Kingdom anytime soon. 

He writes that Western assumptions that technology would force China to accept openness and democracy were dead wrong. Instead, these new tools are bringing the return of a totalitarianism that’s never been more “total.” 

In the second of three interviews, Strittmater, 55, told Digital Privacy News that today’s China was way beyond anything George Orwell ever could have imagined.

Continue reading “Q&A: Journalist Kai Strittmatter”

Q&A: Author Kai Strittmatter

‘China Was Always a Surveillance State’

By Charles McDermid

First of three parts.

Investigative reporter Kai Strittmatter has a clear-sighted view of modern China and a grim analysis of the global ambitions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Be warned: It’s alarming stuff. 

A techno-dystopian dictatorship is laid bare in his 2019 book, “We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State,” which was drawn from Strittmatter’s 30 years of studying China, including more than 20 years as a correspondent in Beijing for the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.   

Strittmatter, 55, documents how AI surveillance startups were heavily financed by the state in exchange for loyalty to the CCP — all part of Beijing’s rush to become the world’s economic leader at any cost. 

Continue reading “Q&A: Author Kai Strittmatter”

Q&A: Nigerian Privacy Advocate Ridwan Oloyede

‘Privacy Is a Human Right and Should Be Considered as One’

By Maureen Nkatha

Ridwan Oloyede is cofounder of Tech-Hive Advisory, a consulting firm in Nigeria. He advocates for enforcement of data-privacy laws in Africa.

The European Union’s data-protection law, which took effect in May 2018, is forcing many nations to review their privacy laws — but Oloyede said this was proving difficult for most African countries.

Nigeria, for instance, adopted its first data-protection law in early 2019, but enforcing it has been challenging, he said, because of lack of government funding and little clarity on what constitutes a data breach.

Continue reading “Q&A: Nigerian Privacy Advocate Ridwan Oloyede”

Q&A: Tech Podcaster Kate Kaye

Privacy Has ‘Risen to This Crescendo Moment’

By Vaughn Cockayne

Kate Kaye is a journalist in Portland, Ore., who has covered technology, data and privacy for more than two decades.

She recently started a podcast for Smart Cities Dive called “City Surveillance,” which has her traveling across the country interviewing surveillance experts and regular citizens about “smart cities.”

Kaye told Digital Privacy News that her journeys had opened her eyes to the dangers of the surveillance apparatus in the U.S. and that she hoped her podcasts would do the same for others.

Continue reading “Q&A: Tech Podcaster Kate Kaye”

Q&A: Harvard’s Latanya Sweeney

Technology Has Become the New Policymaker’

By Gaspard Le Dem

Last of three parts.

Latanya Sweeney believes the myth that people need to choose between privacy and the benefits of new technology must be dispelled.

In the last of three interviews, Sweeney, who holds a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told Digital Privacy News that the public still cared about privacy, but that tech companies were deciding the rules we lived by.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Continue reading “Q&A: Harvard’s Latanya Sweeney”

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.

Continue reading “Q&A: Harvard’s Latanya Sweeney”

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.

Continue reading “Q&A: Latanya Sweeney, Harvard University”

Q&A: Author April Falcon Doss

‘You Shouldn’t Have to Be a Privacy Expert’ to Understand Data Rights

By Rachel Looker   

Author April Falcon Doss has spent decades in the data-privacy and cybersecurity sphere.   

Currently a partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr in Washington, Doss chairs the law firm’s cybersecurity and privacy practice and co-chairs its congressional investigations practice.  

She also spent more than a decade at the U.S. National Security Agency, as associate general counsel for intelligence law. Doss also served as the senior minority counsel for the Russia investigation for the Senate Intelligence Committee.  

A graduate of Yale University and the University of California at Berkeley, Doss is the author of “Cyber Privacy: Who Has Your Data and Why You Should Care,” released in November.  

Continue reading “Q&A: Author April Falcon Doss”

Q&A: Author Janna Malamud Smith

‘People Are Giving Up a Lot of Autonomy’

By Samantha Stone  

Last of two parts. 

In 1997, psychotherapist Janna Malamud Smith published “Private Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life.” 

She used examples from history and literature to explore the concept of privacy and to describe why we need it. 

There’s also a dose of insight from Smith the therapist, who notes how the drive to heal can push private matters voluntarily into the public sphere. 

In the last of a two-part interview, Smith, 69, told Digital Privacy News how relinquishing privacy could invite harm.

Continue reading “Q&A: Author Janna Malamud Smith”

Q&A: Author Janna Malamud Smith

Without Privacy, ‘You Don’t Have the Space to Make the Choices You Want to Make’ 

By Samantha Stone  

First of two parts. 

Long before smartphones, Facebook or airport security agents peering inside duffel bags, Janna Malamud Smith wrote about privacy as necessary to human well-being. 

But what does privacy look like — and how much is enough?  

Smith’s book, “Private Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life,” was first published in 1997. 

It explores privacy from the perspective of a psychotherapist — and, not incidentally, the daughter of a high-profile literary figure. 

Continue reading “Q&A: Author Janna Malamud Smith”

Q&A: Ames Grawert, Brennan Center for Justice

We Must Be ‘Serious About Giving People a Second Chance’

By Mary Pieper

Ames Grawert is senior counsel and the John L. Neu justice counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School.

He is a coauthor of a recent study, “Conviction, Imprisonment and Lost Earnings: How Involvement with the Criminal Justice System Deepens Inequality.” 

The study describes how criminal convictions negatively affect an individual’s finances for a lifetime because of the stigma that prevents them from finding quality jobs.

Grawert told Digital Privacy News that those who have been convicted in the past must have the opportunity to make a new start.

Continue reading “Q&A: Ames Grawert, Brennan Center for Justice”

Q&A: Blogger Bruce Schneier

‘There Is No Appetite to Curtail Surveillance Capitalism’

By Jackson Chen

Last of two parts.

Bruce Schneier has penned an extensive collection of his musings on topics ranging from cryptography to encryption to digital-security issues to mass surveillance.

In “Data and Goliath” (2015) Schneier offered an extensive look at how governments and companies conduct mass surveillance and how it affects peoples’ daily lives.

In the last of a two-part interview, Schneier, 58, told Digital Privacy News that tech monopolies must be broken up to give customers better choices.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Continue reading “Q&A: Blogger Bruce Schneier”

Q&A: Author Bruce Schneier

‘We Need to Think of Privacy as a Right and Not as Property’

By Jackson Chen

First of two parts.

Privacy is an essential part of how people act freely, according to Bruce Schneier, a security technologist who works with Harvard University, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Tor Project and others.

Schneier, 58, has been writing about security issues since 2004 — and, despite the rapid technological leaps since then, he remains current on crucial privacy issues.

In the years since, private companies have grown accustomed to gathering consumer data, while governments are finally starting to look at privacy regulation.

In the first of a two-part interview, Schneier told Digital Privacy News that one key principle must be understood by these organizations: Privacy is not property but a human right. 

Continue reading “Q&A: Author Bruce Schneier”

Q&A: Zimbabwe’s Kuda Hove

‘There Are No Safeguards to People’s Right to Privacy’

By Maureen Nkatha

With no active law on how private data that is collected should be stored or handled, human-rights activists and privacy experts in Zimbabwe are questioning just how ready the country is for facial-recognition technology. 

The country’s Freedom of Information Act was enforced starting last July, providing citizens and media the right to access information. However, the law does not clearly outline how data collection is handled.

Kuda Hove, a policy officer at Privacy International, told Digital Privacy News that surveillance in Zimbabwe went beyond investigating crimes and was now used as a political tool against those speaking against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling party.

Hove, who holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of South Africa, also led the Information and Communication Technology (ICT)’s policy and legal work at the Zimbabwean chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa.

Continue reading “Q&A: Zimbabwe’s Kuda Hove”

Q&A: Kian Vesteinsson of Freedom House Research Group

COVID Is ‘Laying the Foundation for the Future Surveillance State’

By Patrick W. Dunne

Kian Vesteinsson is a research analyst for technology and democracy at Freedom House, a research institute in Washington.

He also greatly contributes to the annual “Freedom on the Net” report produced by the nonprofit, which was established in 1941.

The report, released in October, analyzes how countries worldwide handle internet freedom.

“The public-health crisis has created an opening for the digitization, collection and analysis of people’s most intimate data without adequate protections against abuses,” reads an excerpt from the 2020 report.

Continue reading “Q&A: Kian Vesteinsson of Freedom House Research Group”