U.S. Braces for TikTok Ban After President Signs Bill into Law

Congress rapidly passed and President Biden signed into law a bill intended to sideline the short-form video service TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance. The process played out over the course of a week — the result of the proposal being tied to a foreign aid package with support for Ukraine and Israel. The nation now readies for the aftermath of the new U.S. law, which gives ByteDance nine months to find a new, U.S.-approved owner. Absent that, the app will essentially be banned from app stores and ISPs, which will face fines for distributing or supporting the social platform. Continue reading U.S. Braces for TikTok Ban After President Signs Bill into Law

House Passes Bill That Could Remove TikTok from App Stores

The House of Representatives voted 352 to 65 today to pass a bill that could lead to a nationwide ban of popular video-sharing app TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance and currently used by 170 million Americans. The bill, introduced out of concern for national security, would prohibit TikTok from app stores in the U.S. unless it is spun off from ByteDance. It is not clear how the Senate will respond to the proposed legislation, which advanced unanimously by the House Energy and Commerce Committee (50-0), and President Biden indicated he would sign. Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry has called the measure an “act of bullying.” Continue reading House Passes Bill That Could Remove TikTok from App Stores

Plans for TikTok Containment Would Give Feds Broad Power

A draft agreement said to have been presented by the U.S. government to ByteDance that would let TikTok avoid a federal ban seeks “near unfettered access” to company data and “unprecedented control” over platform functions. The nearly 100-page document, reported on this week, seeks control federal officials don’t have over other media outlets — social or otherwise — raising domestic concerns about government overreach. The draft dates to summer 2022. It is not known whether it has been updated or if the secretive negotiations between ByteDance and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) have since continued. Continue reading Plans for TikTok Containment Would Give Feds Broad Power

Government Advances Online Safety Legislation for Children

The Senate has cleared two children’s online safety bills despite pushback from civil liberties groups that say the digital surveillance used to monitor behavior will result in an Internet less safe for kids. The Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) and the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA 2.0) are intended to address a mental health crisis experts blame in large part on social media, but critics say the bills could cause more harm than good by forcing social media firms to collect more user data as part of enforcement. The bills — which cleared the Senate Commerce Committee by unanimous vote — are also said to reduce access to encrypted services. Continue reading Government Advances Online Safety Legislation for Children

Montana’s TikTok Ban Tees Up First Amendment Legal Battle

Montana has become the first state to institute an outright ban on TikTok, barring it from operating in the region and prohibiting app stores from providing downloads there. The move is opposed not only by the Chinese-owned TikTok, but by free speech advocacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union. The ban is set to go into effect January 1, 2024, though legal challenges could delay that implementation. Observers say the inevitable lawsuits fighting the legislation could prove instructive as relates to proposed federal TikTok bans in development in Washington. Continue reading Montana’s TikTok Ban Tees Up First Amendment Legal Battle

Senate RESTRICT Act Cracks Down on Tik Tok, Foreign Tech

A bipartisan Senate bill to mitigate risks from adversarial nations is making its way around the hill. The Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act directs the Commerce Department to implement procedures that “identify, deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit and mitigate” foreign technology threats, as well as requiring Commerce to make available to intelligence agencies declassified information on the nature of the risk. The legislation is the most recent salvo by Congress in its attempt to repel invasive technologies by countries whose values clash with ours, exemplified by TikTok and China. Continue reading Senate RESTRICT Act Cracks Down on Tik Tok, Foreign Tech

France Sanctions Clearview AI €20M for Violating GDPR Rules

Clearview AI, the New York-based facial recognition firm that is targeting 100 billion facial images in its database by the close of 2022, has been fined €20 million ($19.7 million) by France’s data protection authority, the CNIL, for what the agency says is the illegal collection and processing of personal biometric data belonging to French citizens. The fine comes after the CNIL last year ordered Clearview to cease data collection and delete its existing database, instructions the company reportedly ignored. This is Clearview’s third breach of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) pertaining to France. Continue reading France Sanctions Clearview AI €20M for Violating GDPR Rules

Clearview to Limit Sales After Settling Illinois Privacy Lawsuit

Facial recognition software company Clearview AI has agreed to limit U.S. sales of its identity database to businesses and other private actors as part of a lawsuit settlement. The case, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups, was filed in state court in Illinois, where the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) is considered the nation’s strongest data privacy law. The lawsuit alleged that Clearview routinely scraped images of state residents from the Internet without obtaining their permission or making them aware of the practice. Continue reading Clearview to Limit Sales After Settling Illinois Privacy Lawsuit

AI Laws Becoming Decentralized with Cities First to Regulate

With the federal government still in the early phase of regulating artificial intelligence, cities and states are stepping in as they begin to actively deploy AI. While managing traffic patterns is straightforward, when it comes to policing and hiring practices, precautions must be taken to guard against algorithmic bias inherited from training data. The challenges are formidable. As with human reasoning, it is often difficult to trace the logic behind a machine’s decisions, making it challenging to identify a fix. Municipalities are evaluating different solutions, the goal being to prevent programmatic marginalization. Continue reading AI Laws Becoming Decentralized with Cities First to Regulate

Europe and U.S. Data-Sharing Pact to Replace Privacy Shield

The Supreme Court’s recent FBI v. Fazaga decision regarding surveillance has been interpreted by some as an obstacle to Biden administration efforts to secure an effective replacement for the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. Originally implemented in 2016, thousands of U.S. companies had been relying on the Privacy Shield to centralize customer data. In 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) nullified the framework after finding U.S. surveillance laws provide a loophole for unauthorized access to data belonging to EU citizens. Earlier today however, the U.S. and European Union agreed “in principle” to a revamped framework for data transfers. Continue reading Europe and U.S. Data-Sharing Pact to Replace Privacy Shield

Clearview Facial Recognition Adds Deblur and Mask Removal

Undeterred by lawsuits and demands to stop scraping social media, facial recognition firm Clearview AI is plowing ahead with efforts to expand its database and introduce new tools. Company co-founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That said Clearview has collected more than 10 billion images from social media and the Internet, while the company is adding new tools to help users, often law enforcement, obtain matches. Most recently, the company developed a deblur tool in addition to mask removal, which uses machine learning to recreate the covered part of a person’s face. However, use of such tools raises concerns that individuals could be wrongly identified or biases could result. Continue reading Clearview Facial Recognition Adds Deblur and Mask Removal

Pandemic Fosters Wider Adoption of QR Codes and Tracking

During the COVID-19 pandemic, QR codes that allow customers to order and pay for food and drinks caught on in restaurants and appear to be here for good. Retail chains including CVS and Foot Locker have also added them as have marketers. Because QR codes can store digital information and open an app or website that tracks peoples’ personal information, they’re ideal for vendors looking to create their own customer databases. Consumers will soon be served customized offers marketed within QR code payment systems. Continue reading Pandemic Fosters Wider Adoption of QR Codes and Tracking

Massachusetts Finds Compromise in Use of Facial Recognition

Oakland, Portland, San Francisco and Minneapolis have banned police use of facial recognition, mainly due to its inherent racial bias. Massachusetts is now the first U.S. state to legislate its use. The law, which goes into effect in July, has found a middle ground, both allowing law enforcement to use the facial recognition technology to catch criminals and building in protections intended to prevent false arrests. With the new law, police must get a judge’s permission to run a facial recognition search. Continue reading Massachusetts Finds Compromise in Use of Facial Recognition

States Propose Their Own Privacy and Data Protection Laws

Rather than wait for federal Internet privacy laws, a growing number of states are pursuing their own proposals. Virginia, Washington, New York, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Florida are moving ahead with data protection legislation, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive more users online for work, education and other daily activities. California passed its Consumer Privacy Act in 2018. But Internet privacy experts warn that companies will find it difficult to do business across state lines should this state-by-state model take hold. Continue reading States Propose Their Own Privacy and Data Protection Laws

FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Affirming the FCC’s authority over social media companies, chair Ajit Pai has launched an official effort to “clarify” how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act applies to them. “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech — but they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” he said. President Trump has often called for social media companies to be stripped of Section 230 protections. Continue reading FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media