Greetings, fellow privacy professionals.
I hope you are safe and well.
I will start with Big Tech, and over the last month, we have seen a lot of activity. Earlier this week, Twitter was fined 450,000 euros for failing to document or properly notify the regulator within 72 hours of learning of a data breach disclosed in January 2019.
Similarly, Australia’s competition regulator on Monday accused Google of misleading consumers to get permission to use their personal data for targeted advertising, seeking a fine “in the millions” and aiming to establish a precedent. For those of you who are not yet familiar with the acronym “FAANG,” it refers to the biggest tech companies in the world — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google — all of whom, combined, would be storing and processing the bulk of the world’s consumer data. (Note that some refer to them as “FANGAM” with an “M” for Microsoft.)
These Big Tech companies can play a major role in helping everyone understand the importance of privacy and security in the digital age and how a shared responsibility model only works when it starts with Big Tech leading by example. Though, some privacy-related rumbles between Apple and Facebook are making headlines this week.
With relation to COVID-19, Big Tech companies are starting to achieve this with more collaboration between the competitors, as we see with Apple and Google in their collective effort to address contact tracing.
I started this year by sharing some insights into the privacy concerns at the very early stages of contact-tracing development. Much has changed in 11 months, and as we approach the end of the year, it is interesting to look back at the implementation of the COVID-19 contact-tracing apps and assess whether or not the adoption (or lack of) was largely due to security and privacy issues or if the adoption issues were more about usability.
Public trust has been a big topic this year, and with the rise of contact-tracing apps, it has drawn more debate around transparency and ethics. Lessons learned from different regions on their successes (and failures) will hopefully allow health authorities and organizations to improve on the next iterations of their applications and for Big Tech to continue to work together in 2021 and play crucial roles with new innovative ways to help drive further adoption in a trusted way — yet still securing personal privacy and security of data.
2020 has been a roller coaster, and I am sure many of these topics and new developments, including the threat of breaking up the Big Tech companies with the EU’s draft Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, will continue well into 2021. I look forward to keeping you abreast of these. Wishing you all a safe holiday season and best wishes for the coming new year in 2021.
Keep safe; keep secure.
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