Category: Special Reports

‘No Absolute Freedom of the Press’

How China Is Disabling Hong Kong’s Free Press

By Patrick McShane

In these occasional reports, Digital Privacy News examines the fallout from China’s new “national security law” on Hong Kong.

Whenever a totalitarian regime endeavours to destroy a free press, various methods can be applied.

In the case of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its drive to disable and eliminate Hong Kong’s free press, the party has used a range of tried-and-true techniques.

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Using Subpoenas in COVID Raise Privacy, Overpolicing Questions

By Tammy Joyner

Last of two parts.

The seven-month-old COVID-19 pandemic has raised a thorny ethical issue: When is it necessary to override a person’s privacy? And is policing obstinate behavior during a pandemic ethical?

“There’s very much this tension between individual privacy and protecting the public,” Kelly Hills, a bioethicist and co-principal of the Rogue Bioethics consultancy in Lowell, Mass., told Digital Privacy News. “We’re still working out what it means to do public-health ethics.”

Americans total 4% of the world’s population but account for nearly one in four of the world’s coronavirus cases — and a little more than one in five of the deaths globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

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NY Suburb Turns to Subpoenas to Stop Parties During Pandemic

By Tammy Joyner

First of two parts.

Tracking a killer is exhaustive work, especially when witnesses won’t cooperate.

Partygoers in the tony New York suburb of Rockland County recently found that out the hard way.

After being stonewalled, Rockland public-health officials in July served a group of obstinate revelers with subpoenas that carried a $2,000-a-day fine.

Rockland County contact-tracers, or disease detectives, had learned that some residents had contracted COVID-19 after attending a party of as many as 100 20-somethings in mid-June.

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What Happened? Capital One Breach

Tipster’s Email Begins Saga That Ultimately Brings $80M Fine

By Najmeh Tima

“What Happened?” is an occasional feature by Digital Privacy News that looks back on some of the tech industry’s biggest data breaches last year.

Capital One Bank last month agreed to pay an $80 million fine over a data breach last year that affected more than 100 million credit-card applications — and about 106 million people worldwide.

The Aug. 6 announcement by the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency nearly closes a grueling saga that began with a tipster’s email on July 17, 2019, that a hacker had stolen troves of customer data through an “improperly configured firewall” — eventually costing Capital One as much as $150 million.

The alleged hacker, Paige Adele Thompson, 33, of Seattle, has been charged with sharing files with online platforms that she had claimed to possess.

One file she allegedly shared was associated with Capital One.

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Districts Implement Lessons from Spring Emergency Online Learning

By Samantha Cleaver

Last of a series.

School districts across the country spent the summer hedging bets on how the 2020-21 year would begin amid COVID-19.

Now, as students fill backpacks to return to school in-person or online, Digital Privacy News is examining how this year will impact students’ and teachers’ privacy.

“We are behind the eight-ball,” said Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute. “These are conversations we should have been facilitating in May and June.”

Today’s Digital Privacy News report examines what school districts have learned from the spring online learning season brought on by COVID.

When Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia had to shift to emergency learning in the spring, Vincent Scheivert, assistant superintendent for digital innovation, found that the available applications often weren’t ready — particularly when it came to privacy.

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Recording, Sharing Lessons Spur Debate on How to Record Right

By Samantha Cleaver

Second of a series.

School districts across the country have spent the summer hedging bets on how the 2020-21 year would begin amid COVID-19.

Now, as students fill backpacks to return to school in-person or online, Digital Privacy News is examining how this year will impact students’ and teachers’ privacy.

“We are behind the eight-ball,” said Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute. “These are conversations we should have been facilitating in May and June.”

Today’s report discusses the privacy dilemmas involved in recording and sharing student lessons.

Monica Herman (name has been changed) teaches fourth grade in New Jersey. She is teaching completely online this fall.

In previous years, Herman used Screencastify to record lessons of her voice alongside a text or slide deck. Then, she posted the videos in Google Classroom to share with students.

However, thinking toward this year, Herman questioned the privacy implications of streaming live lessons from her classroom.

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Unenforceable Urban Legend?

Teacher Waivers for COVID Raise Privacy Fears as Schools Re-Open for New Year

By Samantha Cleaver

First of a series.

School districts across the country have spent the summer hedging bets on how the 2020-21 year would begin amid COVID-19.

Now, as students fill backpacks to return to school in-person or online, Digital Privacy News is examining how this school year will impact students’ and teachers’ privacy.

“We are behind the eight-ball,” said Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute. “These are conversations we should have been facilitating in May and June.”

In this three-day series, Digital Privacy News examines issues that have emerged at the start of this school year.

Today’s report addresses liability waivers that teachers are being asked to sign to protect districts should they or their students contract COVID.

As schools start to re-open and teachers return, school boards, districts, even Congress are thinking about liability.

Continue reading “Unenforceable Urban Legend?”

Distrust From Beijing Law Extends to Free COVID Testing Program

Protesters mark up advertising signs in Hong Kong.

By Patrick McShane

Last of a series.

China imposed a sweeping “national security law” on Hong Kong in June — threatening the personal privacy of nearly 7.6 million citizens and sending shivers throughout the global business community, including over 1,500 U.S. companies.

Digital Privacy News has been examining the ramifications of Beijing’s decision. Today’s report discusses how Hong Kong residents remain wary of Beijing’s plan for free mass COVID-19 testing.

Free COVID-19 test?  No, thanks.

Mistrust in the Hong Kong government among citizens now is so strong that even the offer of a free COVID-19 test is getting precious few takers.

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National ID Cards Pose Inherent Privacy Dangers in Hong Kong

By Patrick McShane

Fourth of a series.

In June, China imposed a sweeping new “national security law” on Hong Kong — threatening the personal privacy of nearly 7.6 million citizens and sending shivers throughout the global business community, including over 1,500 U.S. companies.

In these weekly reports, Digital Privacy News examines the ramifications of Beijing’s decision. Today’s report details how mandatory national ID cards can be abused to spy on Hong Kong citizens.

Not many Americans even think about being legally required to carry a national ID card at all times — but they’d probably be surprised at how many other nations have this requirement.

All the standard authoritarian regimes long have mandated national ID cards: Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait. But, so do several more “liberal” societies — Spain, Portugal, Greece and Luxembourg.

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China Law Makes ‘White Terror’ a New Reality in Hong Kong

By Patrick McShane

Third of a series.

In June, China imposed a sweeping new “national security law” on Hong Kong — threatening the personal privacy of nearly 7.6 million citizens and sending shivers throughout the global business community, including over 1,500 U.S. companies.

In these weekly reports, Digital Privacy News examines the ramifications of Beijing’s action. Today’s report discusses how the new law affects the daily lives of Hong Kong residents.

Life has drastically changed for Hong Kong’s nearly 7.6 million people, including its 90,000 American citizens, in the six weeks since Beijing imposed its sweeping “national security law.”

The law has snatched away the privacy in virtually every aspect of citizens’ lives, from education and entertainment to career advancement — even physical safety.

As a result, a growing “white terror” of political persecution has descended on the city.

Until recently, Hong Kong possessed what The Economist magazine in London called “a flawed democracy.”

But now, with the implementation of the security law, many feel that the city has become a police state.

“Overnight”, Lee Cheuk-yan, a Shanghai-born, former Hong Kong city legislator told reporters last month, “Hong Kong has gone from rule of law to rule by fear.”

In societies that are not fully free, political pressures can be implanted into a population with such subtility that early on, it’s almost impossible to perceive.

But it soon becomes as fearsome as sighting a shark fin during an ocean swim.

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