Privacy Rights

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU to restrict spyware exports
EU to restrict spyware exports
Credit: unsplash.com / Rob Sarmiento

The European Union wants to introduce restrictions on the sale abroad of technologies used for espionage and surveillance. This is reported by "Politico" with reference to informed persons. In the future, facial recognition systems and hacking programs will require a license to be sold outside of the Union. Governments would also have to publish details of the exact nature of the licenses granted to individual companies.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
European Court of Justice prohibits bulk data retention
European Court of Justice prohibits bulk data retention
Credit: unsplash.com / ev

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has decided that a comprehensive and flat-rate storage of Internet and telephone connection data is not permissible. Exceptions are only possible when it is a matter of combating serious crime or the specific case of a threat to national security, the ECJ announced in a ruling on Tuesday.

Business • Consumer & Service
H&M fined €35.3 million in Germany for spying on employees
H&M fined €35.3 million in Germany for spying on employees
Credit: unsplash.com / Fernand De Canne

Hamburg’s data protection commissioner has stated that H&M in Nuremberg had collected private information about employees including family issues and religious beliefs. The data had been collected on a network drive and had been accessible for up to 50 managers. The incident got public when the data had been briefly visible for all people on the network.

H&M has been fined €35.3 million and the company stated that the practices uncovered in Nuremberg did not align with the guidelines of the company.

Health
Covid-19 database illegally used by Ontario police, civil rights groups finds

Police forces across Ontario engaged in broad, illegal searches of a now-defunct Covid-19 database, two civil rights groups alleged Wednesday, claiming the use of the portal violated individual privacy rights for months.

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.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria starts regular operation of facial recognition technology

After an approximately one-year trial period the facial recognition system of the Ministry of the Interior of Austria has went into regular operation.

According to the ministry the system has been used 581 times so far and 83 criminal suspects have been identified by the software.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Court rules NSA phone snooping illegal — after 7-year delay
Court rules NSA phone snooping illegal — after 7-year delay
Credit: unsplash.com / Lianhao Qu

The National Security Agency program that swept up details on billions of Americans' phone calls was illegal and possibly unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Technology • Internet & Web
TikTok announces new data centre in Ireland to store European user data
TikTok announces new data centre in Ireland to store European user data
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler – Logo via TikTok (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

TikTok announced Thursday it would invest €420million in establishing a data centre in Ireland. The company states all European user data will be stored in this new location when the data centre is operational in early 2022.

In a press release, the company states: "Protecting our community's privacy and data is and will continue to be our priority. Today's announcement is just the latest part of our ongoing work to enhance our global capability and efforts to protect our users and the TikTok community."

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.

Regional News • World
Public records: UK has sold surveillance technology to 17 repressive governments
Public records: UK has sold surveillance technology to 17 repressive governments
Credit: Jonathan McIntosh

The Independent reports that public records show exports of security technology from the United Kingdom to repressive regimes despite rules to prevent it. Security technology such as wiretaps, spyware and other telecommunications interception equipment shouldn't be exported to regimes that might use them for internal repression purposes.

Public records show that despite the rules exports worth £75 million have been approved to 17 countries including China, Saudia Arabia, the United Arba Emirates and Bahrain. All 17 states have been rated "not free" by the Non-Governmental Organisation Freedom House.

Regional News • Asia
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.

Regional News • Asia
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.

Regional News • Asia
President of the Philippines signs anti-terrorism bill
President Rodrigo Duterte addressing Filipino community in Brunei
President Rodrigo Duterte addressing Filipino community in Brunei Credit: KING RODRIGUEZ/Presidential Photo (Public Domain)

The president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has signed a new anti-terrorism law. The new law the Republic Act No. 11479 provides the government with more rights for surveillance and repeals the Human Security Act of 2007. Suspected terrorists can be detained and arrested without a warrant and without charges for up to 24 days.

Regional News • Americas • United States
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.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Facial-recognition technology banned by Boston City Council
Flat Recognition Facial Face Woman System
Flat Recognition Facial Face Woman System Credit: teguhjatipras

The City Council in Boston has, in a unanimous vote, banned the usage of facial-recognition technology by the police. Councilor Ricardo Arroyo has stated that "It puts Bostonians at risk for misidentification", which is the reason why the technology has not been in use previous to the ban. The second Councilor, Michelle Wu, who co-authored the order with Arroyo said that "Boston should not be using racially discriminatory technology" as a study by the MIT found that facial recognition technology has a racial bias against people with darker skin.

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.

Law
United States judge rules that FBI is not allowed to look at locked phone screen without warrant

In a ruling by judge John Coughenour at the district court of Seattle, the judge has decided that the FBI violated the 4th Amendment by powering the phone of the suspect on and taking a photograph of the lock screen. While powering the phone on and looking at the phone during the search is permitted, the judge ruled that taking a photograph and examining it later requires a warrant.

Regional News • Middle East
Israel extends cell phone surveillance by three weeks

In order to keep tracking carriers of the coronavirus, the subcommittee for the intelligence service of the Knesset has approved an extension of the smartphone surveillance program for another three weeks. The government originally advocated for an extension until June 16, but the committee only permitted one until May 26. The chair of the subcommittee, Gabi Ashkenazi, said that he sees it "as the right balance between not using this tool for the entire period and ensuring there is a legislative process".