Facebook Commits to Banning Discriminatory Targeted Ads

Facebook will stop allowing marketers to target advertisements based on housing, jobs or credit to people of a specific race, gender or age group. Federal law bans discrimination in these three areas, and Facebook’s changes would put the company in compliance. The move is also part of a settlement of several lawsuits opposing the practice. The American Civil Liberties Union, National Fair Housing Alliance and Communications Workers of America are among those that have sued Facebook over biased targeted advertising. Continue reading Facebook Commits to Banning Discriminatory Targeted Ads

GAO Report Suggests GDPR-Like Internet Data Privacy Law

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an auditing agency, issued an independent report that encouraged Congress to develop an Internet data privacy legislation similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The House Energy and Commerce Committee requested this GAO report two years ago; a February 26 hearing will discuss the report’s findings and the possibility of drafting such legislation. Prospects for such a law now is weaker due to partisan divides over federal regulation. Continue reading GAO Report Suggests GDPR-Like Internet Data Privacy Law

Microsoft Advocates For Washington State AI Regulation Bill

Washington State has introduced a bill to regulate facial recognition software, and tech giant Microsoft is advocating for its passage, while e-commerce leader Amazon remains undecided. Amazon asked state senator Reuven Carlyle, who sponsored the bill, for clarification as well as a change to the requirement that AI software developers claiming the ability to identify faces must allow third parties to test it. Carlyle explained he would examine all submitted requests and introduce a revised version of the bill. Continue reading Microsoft Advocates For Washington State AI Regulation Bill

Google’s AI White Paper Calls for Self-Regulation, Not Laws

After Google co-founder Sergey Brin wrote shareholders about the potential downsides of AI in April, chief executive Sundar Pichai released “guiding principles” for the company’s AI projects in June. This came after employee protests succeeded in getting Google to drop a Pentagon contract to interpret drone footage. Now, Google has released a 30-page white paper that stresses the benefits of artificial intelligence, arguing that its downsides can be avoided without more regulation “in the vast majority of instances.” Continue reading Google’s AI White Paper Calls for Self-Regulation, Not Laws

New California Privacy Bill Leads to Concern Across Industries

Since California passed the consumer privacy bill known as AB 375, numerous tech companies, trade associations and lobbyists have been pushing for changes before it goes into effect in January 2020. The strict law was passed quickly to fend off an initiative from Californians for Consumer Privacy, which wanted to put the issue on the ballot. Now, with a few days left in the legislative session, lawmakers in California may vote on a replacement bill, SB-1121, that could substantially change the intent of the original law. Continue reading New California Privacy Bill Leads to Concern Across Industries

Amazon Makes the Case That Rekognition Is a Force for Good

In June, in a letter to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, almost 19 groups of Amazon shareholders expressed concern about the company’s cloud-based facial recognition system Rekognition being provided to law enforcement in Orlando, Florida and the Washington County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office. They joined forces with Amazon employees, the ACLU, academics and more than 70 other groups to protest the decision. After the ACLU showed how Rekognition can err in IDing people, three Democratic lawmakers joined the chorus. Continue reading Amazon Makes the Case That Rekognition Is a Force for Good

Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

Microsoft is calling for regulation of facial recognition technology, with president Bradford Smith writing a blog post detailing its potential misuse, and comparing it to medicine and cars, both of which are highly regulated. He urged Congress to act, saying that, “government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology,” and that, “a world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards.” Continue reading Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

ACLU Has Concerns Regarding AWS Facial Recognition Tool

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), leading more than 24 other civil rights organizations, has asked Amazon to stop selling Rekognition, its facial/object recognition system, to law enforcement. Amazon introduced this online service in late 2016, offering Rekognition at a low cost through Amazon Web Services. Pitching it to law enforcement with the idea it could be used to assist in criminal investigations, Amazon signed on the Orlando Police Department in Florida and Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon. Continue reading ACLU Has Concerns Regarding AWS Facial Recognition Tool

New Legislation Increases Government Access to Online Data

Congress quietly passed controversial legislation last week that was folded into the massive $1.3 trillion spending deal signed by President Trump. The CLOUD Act (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act) enables U.S. investigators to access information stored on overseas cloud servers. New legislation could bring an end to the ongoing battle between law enforcement and major tech players. However, a number of civil liberty and privacy rights groups believe the law could also make it easier for other governments to spy on dissidents and collect data on U.S. citizens. Continue reading New Legislation Increases Government Access to Online Data

Facebook Data Policy Update Will Curb Surveillance of Users

Under pressure from the ACLU and other advocacy groups, Facebook announced it would not allow law enforcement and third party vendors to use its data for surveillance purposes. Facebook did not define surveillance in the update to its data policy, but police have reportedly been using the social network to track protesters and activists. In October, the ACLU published documents from startup Geofeedia that detailed how the location-based, social media analytics platform tracked protestors in Baltimore, Maryland and Ferguson, Missouri. Continue reading Facebook Data Policy Update Will Curb Surveillance of Users

Social Campaign to Delete the Uber App Works in Lyft’s Favor

A viral campaign over the weekend to #DeleteUber took place in response to Uber’s actions or perceived actions surrounding President Trump’s immigration ban. Although Uber vowed to compensate drivers stranded overseas and set up a $3 million legal fund for those drivers, users weren’t appeased and the Internet was abuzz with thousands of photos of people deleting the Uber app from their phones. As a result, on January 29 Lyft had more downloads than Uber on iOS for the first time ever, according to App Annie. Continue reading Social Campaign to Delete the Uber App Works in Lyft’s Favor

Tech, Media Firms Join Microsoft’s Suit Against Secrecy Laws

On Friday, Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department, saying that part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 is unconstitutional. The provision in question prevents Microsoft from letting customers know when their communications have been turned over to law enforcement, which Microsoft says violates the First and Fourth Amendments. Approximately 80 different companies — including Amazon, Google, Snapchat, and Salesforce — have signed briefs in support of Microsoft. Continue reading Tech, Media Firms Join Microsoft’s Suit Against Secrecy Laws

FBI Tries to Unlock More iPhones, Debate Continues in Europe

Since the FBI broke the encryption of the iPhone 5C belonging to terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook, most likely with the help of the Israeli office of the Japanese mobile phone security firm Cellebrite Mobile Synchronization, it has been testing the method on other iPhone versions. It will not, however, disclose the phone’s flaw or the information found on Farook’s phone. European cases regarding locked phones are heating up, with France and England considering fines for companies that don’t help crack their phones’ encryption. Continue reading FBI Tries to Unlock More iPhones, Debate Continues in Europe

Government Says iPhone Unlocked, Apple No Longer Needed

The Justice Department revealed it has learned a way to unlock Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone without help from Apple. Farook was a gunman in the San Bernardino shooting that killed 14 people. The announcement stalls the legal standoff between the federal government and Apple; the Justice Department will withdraw its efforts to enlist the tech company’s help in the investigation. While the news suspends the privacy vs. security debate, at least temporarily, law enforcement’s ability to open the device without Apple’s assistance raises new concerns. Continue reading Government Says iPhone Unlocked, Apple No Longer Needed

Apple, WhatsApp Cases Focus on Law Enforcement vs. Privacy

Although President Obama finally stated that he sides with the Justice Department in the ongoing battles between law enforcement and Apple over encryption of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, U.S. citizens aren’t so sure. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey revealed that 47 percent of Americans believe Apple shouldn’t cooperate with law enforcement. The government is not just facing a difficult battle with Apple but another, even more crucial one with Facebook’s WhatsApp popular messaging application. Continue reading Apple, WhatsApp Cases Focus on Law Enforcement vs. Privacy

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