Oral arguments heard in case against voter fraud commission

(Nov 22, 2017) An appeals court heard oral arguments for a lawsuit that contends President Donald Trump's so-called voter fraud commission violates federal law by not conducting a privacy impact assessment on its collection of voter data, Politico reports. The three-judge panel was reportedly skeptical of arguments made by Electronic Privacy Information Center Executive Director Marc Rotenberg, who said, "This data, voter data is the most sensitive data in our form of government and we know on the record that ... Read More

Former employee questions Facebook privacy priorities; company responds

(Nov 21, 2017) In a column for The New York Times, Sandy Parakilas, a former platform team operations manager at Facebook, questions whether the social network can regulate itself. "I led Facebook's efforts to fix privacy problems on its developer platform in advance of its 2012 initial public offering," Parakilas writes. "What I saw from the inside was a company that prioritized data collection from users over protecting them from abuse." Parakilas also contends that the more data it has on users, "the more v... Read More

Lack of transparency in AI decision-making a growing concern

(Nov 21, 2017) In an in-depth article for The New York Times Magazine, Cliff Kuang explores the limited transparency offered on decisions made through artificial intelligence systems and how this lack of accountability is a growing concern in AI research. “It’s a more profound version of what’s often called the 'black box' problem — the inability to discern exactly what machines are doing when they’re teaching themselves novel skills,” Kuang writes. With the EU General Data Protection Regulation set to take fo... Read More

Online retailers use 'session replay' to track customer behavior

(Nov 16, 2017) Princeton researchers have released a study that examines online retailers' use of "session replay" software to track the ways customers interact with their websites, Wired reports. The software monitors how customers use company websites, measuring everything from the amount of time people spend on a given page, to recording what an individual puts in a text box before hitting submit, then rewatch it to observe patterns. The researchers said the amount of information collected “far exceeds user... Read More

CTIA urges FCC to prevent state broadband regulation

(Nov 16, 2017) As states move to enact privacy and net neutrality rules to govern internet service providers ahead of the Federal Communications Commission's proposed dismantling of net neutrality rules, mobile industry lobby group CTIA has joined Comcast and Verizon in pushing the agency to preempt state and local laws on such matters, Ars Technica reports. In their filing, CTIA claims state laws involving net neutrality or privacy would “undercut” broadband deployment and harm consumers, but did not specify ... Read More

FPF report highlights companies' challenges when sharing data with academics

(Nov 15, 2017) The Future of Privacy Forum has released a new report detailing the challenges the corporate sector faces when making data available for academic research. Companies may not share data for a variety of reasons, including failing to realize the value of their data for research purposes, or having no obligation to share it at all. Privacy concerns are also a major hurdle the corporate sector faces when sharing information. “Companies face a variety of commercial, legal, ethical, and reputational r... Read More

Op-Ed: Companies should be taxed for using personal data

(Nov 15, 2017) In an Op-Ed for The New York Times, Saadia Madsbjerg explains why she thinks companies should be taxed for using personal data. With the value of data rising, companies should not be the only beneficiaries of the valuable resource. A small data tax could be used to make the internet a better tool for users. “Our data is ours, but it also is not ours. We trade it away for so much of our experience on the internet,” she writes. “Money from a data tax could begin to counter this trade imbalance. Th... Read More

FCC vote could allow TVs to collect viewing habits for targeted ads

(Nov 15, 2017) The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote Thursday on rules that would allow TV stations to start using user-tracking technology on a voluntary basis, The Washington Post reports. Next Gen TV allows broadcasters to collect data about users' viewing habits and develop tailored targeted advertising, similar to current practices with internet media companies such as Google and Facebook. In a statement, the FCC said Thursday’s vote would, "approv[e] a technical standard for one-way t... Read More

Proliferation of Chinese-made CCTV cameras in US triggers surveillance concerns

(Nov 13, 2017) The Wall Street Journal reports on the proliferation of CCTV cameras installed throughout the U.S., many of which are made by a company partly owned by the Chinese government. Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology has been used by the Memphis police, the U.S. Army, French airports, as well as ports in Ireland, Brazil and Iran. The company's startling rise, along with a security lapse flagged by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, have raised concerns the devices could be used for surveilla... Read More

Will ePrivacy reg abolish surveillance-driven advertising?

(Nov 9, 2017) The EU General Data Protection Regulation has been a front-and-center issue for privacy pros and businesses for some time now, but major regulatory issues appear to be just getting started. That was made clear Thursday at the IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress by German MEP Birgit Sippel during her first public speech as the European Parliament's Special Rapporteur for the proposed ePrivacy Regulation. With former MEP and Special Rapporter Marju Lauristin winning an election for her local coun... Read More