Tag: News

Mactaggart: Changing Privacy Rights in Calif. Far From Over

By Terry Collins

California privacy advocate Alastair Mactaggart’s two goals recently leaped major hurdles, but he admits more obstacles still must be jumped to reach the next finish line.

Last month, his Californians for Consumer Privacy (CCP), obtained 931,000 signatures — eclipsing the 685,000 needed — to get his latest initiative, the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), on the November ballot.

The initiative would further strengthen the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which Mactaggart also began and is being enforced statewide.

Still, he believes the law isn’t tough enough.

If voters approve the latest initiative, CPRA would create a so-called California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA), which would be outside the purview of the California attorney general’s office.

But CPRA wouldn’t take effect until 2023 — and, similar to CCPA, the latter initiative would be applied to data collected in 2022.

Get all of that?

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DuckDuckGo Seeks to Assure Online Privacy in Times of Uncertainty

By Gregory Austin

Internet privacy company DuckDuckGo Inc. has invested in more than 2,000 billboards across the United States and in Europe to inform internet users of their privacy options.

People are becoming increasingly uncomfortable and creeped-out online, Kamyl Bazbaz, the company’s vice president of communications, told Digital Privacy News. They feel restricted to many untrustworthy companies that have overrun the internet.

“Nobody has to choose” between privacy and extensive online access, Bazbaz said. “Privacy online should be simple and accessible to everyone — period.”

The billboards, the cost of which Bazbaz declined to disclose, reflect this sentiment and come amid great unrest.

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Facebook’s German Court Loss Opens New Front Against Privacy Violations

By Robert Bateman

Germany’s top court last month confirmed a decision by the nation’s Federal Cartel Office restricting how Facebook combines personal information across its platforms — including WhatsApp and Instagram — and collects data using tracking technologies.

The case shows how competition law can be used to curb big tech’s data-harvesting operations, opening a second front against privacy violations — alongside the E.U.’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

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Essay: Howard University’s Ingrid Sturgis

‘See something. Say Something.’ Really, With Constant Surveillance?

By Ingrid Sturgis

The Digital Privacy News Essay is an occasional guest feature.

We’ve come to view the flip sides of surveillance, as some people await a contact-tracing app to help stem the spread of COVID-19, while others plead with photographers to delete their images taken at rallies for racial justice in the wake of George Floyd’s death in May by Minneapolis police.

The most cynical will say the protesters’ requests call for protection from the surveillance state we live in, with people fearing that facial-recognition software could help the government indict and forever track them based on images and data gleaned from rallies.

The more sanguine will counter that contact-tracing is simply a quid pro quo, part of opting into the convenience of goods and services in a surveillance society.

But who is right?

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‘ToSDR’ Ramps Up Efforts to End ‘Gotcha’ Privacy Policies, Terms

By Sue Treiman

A grassroots website is reigniting its campaign against the so-called “biggest lie on the internet” — the assumption that people actually read and agree to the “terms of service” and the privacy policies they accept.

The ToSDR site — “Terms of Service; Didn’t Read” — was conceived at a 2011 European open software conference to warn consumers that what they didn’t know (and didn’t read) could hurt them.

Grassroots activists wanted to educate consumers about the policy “traps” frequently hidden within provisions they tended to overlook.

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Brain-Computer Interface: Evolving Tech Begs Many Privacy Issues

By Rifki Aria Nugraha

Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technology could bring challenges to individual privacy, cybersecurity expert Pablo Ballarin Usieto told Digital Privacy News.

“If this data is not properly processed, the malicious can retrieve very valuable information about the person,” Usieto, co-founder of the Balusian cybersecurity firm in Spain, said of the technology.

It relies on devices that read a user’s brain activities, retrieving information from them.

The technology is premature, Usieto explained, and any mishandling could lead to abuse of confidential data regarding an individual’s health, personal preferences and emotions.

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Facebook ‘Blocklists’ Raise First Amendment Issues at Public Colleges

By Jason Collins

Public universities are using Facebook filters to censor and block student speech, raising critical First Amendment questions, experts tell Digital Privacy News.

The “blocklists” limit student comments on Facebook when accounts are accessed via university networks. The institutions’ filters flag certain words, automatically hiding the comments that contain them.

“State universities are preemptively censoring large swaths of protected speech and altering the public discourse with just a few clicks of the mouse — and Facebook gives them all the tools they need to do it,” Robert Shibley, director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), told Digital Privacy News.

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Sun, STEM, Security: Summer Camps Go Virtual and Deal with Privacy Issues

By Samantha Cleaver

Ellen Zavian’s 14-year-old son was interested in the University of Maryland engineering Seaperch camp, but instead of being on campus, it was moved online.

Campers use materials at home and work through experiments led through Zoom calls.

Zavian, a member of the Safe Tech Committee in Montgomery County, Md., outside Washington, read the fine print and saw that campers had the option to use cameras for recordings. She liked that.

For Zavian and her family, the ability to opt out of audio and video recording helped them think through how her son would attend camp securely.

She is one of many parents who find themselves preparing for online summer camp for the first time. On the other side, many camps are moving into the uncharted territory of online programming.

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Privacy Advocates Wary About Tech Giants’ Facial-Recognition Moves

By Robert Bateman

In the wake of worldwide protests over police brutality, three major technology giants have announced significant changes to their development and sale of facial-recognition technology — but privacy advocates told Digital Privacy News that the changes amounted to little more than public posturing.

The announcements began June 8, when IBM Corp. told Congress that it would stop offering general-purpose facial-recognition software, citing a desire to “help advance this nation’s pursuit of equity and justice.”

Two days later, Amazon followed, saying in a blog post that it was “implementing a one-year moratorium” on police use of its facial software. 

Then, in a June 12 interview with The Washington Post, Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith said the company would not offer facial-recognition software to U.S. police departments until federal regulation was in place.

But privacy campaigners were cautiously welcoming these changes. They told Digital Privacy News that the efforts did not go far enough, while others remained cynical about the companies’ motivations.

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Asia on the Front Lines of COVID Battle, But at What Privacy Cost?

By Charles McDermid

First of two parts.

Governments across Asia have recently deployed COVID-19 surveillance measures with the potential to reshape the world’s approach to public-health crises — and to forever alter the global debate over data privacy and protection. 

As the pandemic erupted, Asian nations moved quickly to monitor their citizens: from “digital fencing” in Hong Kong and Taiwan, to color-coded “health passports” in China and India, as well as data-collection platforms in Singapore and South Korea. 

But as the conversation shifted from emergency tactics to the eventual aftermath, many experts wondered which tools would be shut down or dismantled in the post-pandemic world, and how that uncharted process might actually work.

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