HHS calls for feedback to improve HIPAA guidance on data sharing

(Dec 13, 2018) The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights has called for feedback on ways to improve guidance within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in regards to data sharing and privacy, HealthITSecurity reports. Industry stakeholders are asked to cite the HIPAA provisions they believe “present obstacles to these goals without meaningfully contributing to the privacy and security of protected health information and/or patients’ ability to exercise their ... Read More

Open letter to tech industry criticizes ad-targeting algorithms

(Dec 13, 2018) NBC News reports on how Washington Post Opinion Video Editor Gillian Brockell penned an open letter addressed to “Tech Companies” explaining the damaging emotional effects of ad targeting when companies fail to factor a person’s altered situation. The letter, which was posted to Twitter, explained how she was targeted with motherhood ads even after her online activity could have recognized her discovery that she would be delivering a stillborn. In her letter, Brockell wrote, “Please, Tech Compan... Read More

Companies selling more location data to third parties

(Dec 10, 2018) The New York Times reports on the growing number of apps that collect smartphone users’ location information in order to sell it to third parties. About 75 companies obtain precise location data from smartphone apps when users enact location services. Some of those companies claim to track up to 200 million users in the U.S. The organizations turn around and sell the location information to advertisers, retailers and hedge funds that want to gain insights into consumers’ behavior. The Times exam... Read More

Microloan industry raises privacy concerns in China

(Dec 6, 2018) As Chinese millennials find themselves stuck between a high cost of living and low access to credit cards, the microloan industry has seen a proliferation, Vice reports. A recent survey from Ant Financial found that 45 of the 170 million people born after 1990 in China have an Ant Check Later microloan account. As microloan services surge, so too has “naked loan services.” These transactions require the user to supply a nude photo as collateral so that if repayments are not met on time, the lend... Read More

Data privacy awareness begins to grow among Chinese consumers

(Dec 6, 2018) Driven by data breach coverage, Chinese consumer attention to data privacy has begun to grow, CNBC reports. “Recently in the past year or (so), because Facebook had this issue, the data privacy issue has also captured the Chinese consumers' attention and the government's attention,” World Economic Forum Head of Digital Trade Ziyang Fan said. He noted that comments made earlier this year, which alleged Chinese citizens do not prioritize data privacy, were met with popular backlash. A recent repor... Read More

GCHQ officials pitch idea to solve law enforcement encryption debate

(Dec 4, 2018) A pair of officials from the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters published a paper on a potential solution to the law enforcement encryption debate, The Washington Post reports. The officials propose service providers add “silent” users to conversations on encrypted messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Signal. “You end up with everything still being end-to-end encrypted, but there’s an extra ‘end’ on this particular communication,” the officials wrote. Johns Hopkins University Computer S... Read More

How Dragonfly defied normal procedure

(Nov 30, 2018) The Intercept reports on the secrecy surrounding Google’s Dragonfly project, which aimed to construct a search engine specially tailored for censoring material in China. A current Google employee familiar with the project said there was a need to prevent leaks within the company, adding, “Their biggest fear was that internal opposition would slow our operations.” While Google’s products and services must be reviewed by appropriate professionals to identify potential issues or problems in the fut... Read More

NLTA asks Supreme Court to weigh in on public servants' salary disclosures

(Nov 30, 2018) The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association wants the Supreme Court of Canada to determine whether the salaries of public servants within the province should be available to the public, CBC News reports. The province’s Court of Appeal overturned a lower court’s decision, ruling the names of public servants are required to be released with salary information under access-to-information laws. The case "directly affects thousands of public servants in Newfoundland and Labrador, and by estab... Read More

Masseuse app's data breach leaks customers accused of sexual misconduct

(Nov 29, 2018) The Telegraph reports the masseuse app Urban Massage has been impacted by a data breach after it accidentally left its customer database online. The compromised information included names, email addresses, and phone numbers and was hosted in a place where anyone had the ability to search, edit or delete any data. The information also included clients described as “dangerous” and who were under police investigation for sexual misconduct. The U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office has been notifie... Read More

How a national DNA database could help ensure privacy protections

(Nov 26, 2018) In a new paper, researchers suggest that the best way to protect genetic information could be to share it, Bloomberg Quint reports. James Hazel, a researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and lead author of the paper, said, “Currently, law enforcement already has potential access to millions of people’s data,” adding, “A universal system would be much easier to regulate.” Hazel believes that having a nationwide genetic database could afford better privacy protections. “This is a very p... Read More