Data Privacy

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook states that withdrawal from EU is possible if data sharing with US servers will not be allowed
Facebook states that withdrawal from EU is possible if data sharing with US servers will not be allowed
Credit: unsplash.com / Thought Catalog

Following an announcement of Facebook Ireland's head of data protection Yvonne Cunnane, it is not clear how the company "could continue to provide the Facebook and Instagram services in the EU" following a preliminary order to stop the data transfer of European customers to servers based in the United States.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) had voiced concerns over possible surveillance of the data by the United States government.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook states Apple’s new iOS update will disrupt online advertising
Facebook states Apple’s new iOS update will disrupt online advertising
Credit: Greg Bulla

Facebook wrote, in a blog post towards its developer community, the changes being implemented in iOS 14 that the company "ability to deliver targeted ads on iOS 14 will be limited.".

According to Facebook, the update will probably mean that app developers will receive less advertising revenue due to the fact "some iOS 14 users may not see any ads from Audience Network, while others may still see ads from us, but they'll be less relevant."

The beta version of iOS 14 was released earlier this week, implementing a set of anti-tracking measures that limit the ability of advertisers to track a particular user and deliver highly tailored advertising.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook faces lawsuit over illegal harvesting of biometric information from Instagram users
Facebook faces lawsuit over illegal harvesting of biometric information from Instagram users
Credit: Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum

In a new lawsuit, filed Monday in Redwood City, Facebook is accused of collecting, storing and profiting from biometric data of more than 100 million Instagram users, without explicitly asking for their consent.

According to the suit, Facebook started informing Instagram users about their biometric data being collected only at the beginning of 2020, which allegedly violated an Illinois privacy law.

Last month, the social media company offered to pay $650 million to settle a different lawsuit in which it was accused of illegally collecting biometric data through a photo-tagging tool provided to Facebook users.

Technology • Internet & Web
TikTok tracked Android users’ device identifiers until late last year
TikTok tracked Android users’ device identifiers until late last year
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday TikTok’s Android app collected its users’ MAC addresses for 18 months in violation of the platform rules. The MAC address serves as a unique identifier for each user’s device.

Since 2015, both the App Store and the Google Play Store had banned the collection of MAC addresses as a matter of policy, but the video app used a loophole. According to the Journal, nearly 350 apps on the Google Play Store used a similar loophole, generally for ad-targeting purposes.

Politics • American • US
US Senate committee approves TikTok ban bill
US Senate committee approves TikTok ban bill
Credit: Solen Feyissa

The "No TikTok on Government Devices Act" bill by Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was unanimously approved bu the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday. The bill states U.S. federal employees would be barred from using Chinese-owned mobile video app TikTok on government-issued devices.

The bill now moves to the Senate floor.

Law
GEDmatch confirms breach that allowed police to access users' DNA information
GEDmatch site
GEDmatch site

GEDmatch, a DNA analysis site, confirmed Wednesday that a permission change caused a breach that allowed law enforcement agents to search user's DNA information.

The site has an option that allows users to select if their DNA is to be included in police searches, but users reported on Sunday those settings had changed without their permission.

The company send an email to its users, stating: "We became aware of the situation a short time later and immediately took the site down. As a result of the breach, all user permissions were reset, making all profiles visible to all users,"

"This was the case for approximately 3 hours. During this time, users who did not opt-in for law enforcement matching were also available for law enforcement matching, and conversely, all law enforcement profiles were made visible to GEDmatch users."

Technology • Internet & Web
South Korea fines TikTok for mishandling children's data
South Korea fines TikTok for mishandling children's data
Credit: unsplash.com / Solen Feyissa

The social network platform TikTok has been fined around $154.000 for mishandling data of children in South Korea. According to the Korea Communications Commission that issued the fine, the data of children under 14 years old has been collected without the required consent of their legal guardians.

In addition to the collection, the data had been transferred overseas without the permission or disclosure to the users.

Politics • European • European Union
European Court of Justice declares "Privacy Shield" regulation for unlawful
European Court of Justice declares "Privacy Shield" regulation for unlawful
Credit: Christian Alexander Tietgen / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

The European Court of Justice follows the argumentation of a lawsuit made by the Austrian lawyer and activist Max Schrems and declares the "Privacy Shield" unlawful. The pact has until now regulated how companies can share data of European citizens with companies in the United States.

Other regulations based on so-called standard contractual clauses are not affected by the decision. Still, data transfer needs to be suspended if it seems given that the contractual agreements can't or won't be fulfilled in the data receiving country.

Technology • Internet & Web
Wells Fargo tells workers to delete TikTok, citing privacy concerns
TikTok logo
TikTok logo Credit: TikTok

Wells Fargo, United States fourth-largest bank, has instructed employees who installed TikTok on company devices to remove the app over privacy concerns.

“We have identified a small number of Wells Fargo employees with corporate-owned devices who had installed the TikTok application on their device,” Wells Fargo said in a statement to NBC News. “Due to concerns about TikTok’s privacy and security controls and practices, and because corporate-owned devices should be used for company business only, we have directed those employees to remove the app from their devices.”

Technology • Internet & Web
UK and Australian to investigate facial recognition company Clearview AI
Clearview AI’s founder Hoan Ton-That
Clearview AI’s founder Hoan Ton-That Credit: CNN (YouTube Reproduction)

The UK Information Commissioner's Office and Office of the Australian Information Commissioner said on Thursday they have opened a joint investigation into the personal information handling practices of facial recognition technology company Clearview AI.

The investigation will focus on the company’s use of “scraped” data and biometrics of individuals, that contained 3 billion photos.

Clearview is also under investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Politics • American • US
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo states that the United States are considering to ban TikTok
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo states that the United States are considering to ban TikTok
Credit: unsplash.com / Kon Karampelas

During an interview at Fox News, Laura Ingraham asked the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo if the Trump Administration is considering to ban Chinese social media apps such as TikTok. Pompeo stated that "With respect to Chinese apps on people's cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too, Laura" and that he doesn't "want to get out in front of the President, but it's something we're looking at". He also stated security concerns with TikTok and suggested that people should only install the app on their phones if they want their "private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party".

Politics • Asian
Facebook and WhatsApp are suspending data requests for Hong Kong users
Facebook and WhatsApp are suspending data requests for Hong Kong users
Credit: unsplash.com / Kon Karampelas

Following the enactment of a new security law in Hong Kong, Facebook and its messaging service WhatsApp are suspending government requests for user data in Hong Kong.

A spokesperson from WhatsApp said that they are pausing such requests pending further assessment of the impact of the national security law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts.

Politics • Asian
Messenger app Telegram will temporarily suspend fulfilling data requests from Hong Kong courts
Messenger app Telegram will temporarily suspend fulfilling data requests from Hong Kong courts
Credit: unsplash.com / Christian Wiediger

According to Hong Kong Free Press the messenger app Telegram has decided to temporarily not fulfill data requests of its users made by Hong Kong courts. The head of marketing for telegram, Mike Ravdonikas, has stated that "Telegram does not intend to process any data requests related to its Hong Kong users until an international consensus is reached in relation to the ongoing political changes in the city". The decision follows the enactment of the new national security law in Hong Kong.

Politics • American • US
United States Senate discusses bill to regulate encryption
United States Senate discusses bill to regulate encryption
Credit: Santeri Viinamäki (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The "Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act", introduced by senators Graham, Blackburn, and Cotton would force manufacturers of devices and systems with encryption to be able to decrypt data upon request of public authorities or court orders.

The law is tied to other regulations regarding surveillance and national security including Section 215 of the Patriot Act. For technology companies, the only reason to not unencrypt data would require proof that it is "technically impossible" and then they could be forced by the government to redesign their systems.

Technology • Internet & Web
New Google data retention police will delete users' location, web history after 18 months
New Google data retention police will delete users' location, web history after 18 months
Credit: Cesar Solorzano (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Google is switching to an auto-delete setup as its default for web browsing and app history. The company will automatically delete some web and location history after 18 months for new users, and make it easier for existing customers to change their settings.

Previously users had ways to limit data collection and delete history — location history, search, voice, and YouTube activity data — but it was an opt-out experience.

In a blog post, Sundar Pichai CEO of Google stated: "Today, we are announcing privacy improvements to help do that, including changes to our data retention practices across our core products to keep less data by default."

Law
Austria: Trial against former police office for alleged illegal data harvesting
Austria: Trial against former police office for alleged illegal data harvesting
Credit: Plani (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

An Austrian court is currently investigating a potential data scandal. The background is the lawsuit against a former police officer who is said to have carried out more than 90 inquiries from the police network for no official reason.

In court, he defended himself that he only checked security company employees. The judgment is still pending.

Technology • Internet & Web
Messenger app Telegram announces that it will develop anti-censorship tools for Iran and China
Messenger app Telegram announces that it will develop anti-censorship tools for Iran and China
Credit: unsplash.com / Christian Wiediger

The co-founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, has announced that the company will direct "anti-censorship resources into other places where Telegram is still banned by governments — places like Iran and China". In the past Telegram has already developed and provided users with tools to circumvent the Telegram ban in Russia.

Technology • Internet & Web
French court denies appeal by Google against $57m GDPR fine
French court denies appeal by Google against $57m GDPR fine
Credit: unsplash.com/@pawel_czerwinski

Google had been fined for $57m by French regulators in January 2019 because the tech company didn't provide "sufficiently clear" information regarding the consent to use private data for targeted advertisements. The highest French court for administrative law has now denied the appeal against the fine and affirmed the jurisdiction of the regulators.

Technology • Internet & Web
Amazon puts one year halt on usage of its facial recognition software for police over alleged racial bias
Logo Amazon
Logo Amazon Credit: Amazon

Amazon has announced that it will put a one year halt on the usage of its facial recognition software for the police. The move comes after Amazon's technology had faced criticism because it misidentified people of color and protests against racism have broken out over the country. In its announcement blog Amazon says that other organizations could still use the software "to help rescue human trafficking victims and reunite missing children with their families" and calls for government regulation regarding "the ethical use of facial recognition technology".

Technology • Internet & Web
IBM announces that it will stop working on facial recognition technology

The IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has announced in a letter to the US Congress that IBM will no longer offer software for general-purpose facial recognition and analysis. In addition to not selling the software, IBM will stop developing or researching such technology. In the letter, Krishna stated that "IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency"