Comparison of Biometric Data Use, Storage in 50 Countries

The use of biometrics — and the resulting data — are growing exponentially. Pro-consumer website Comparitech analyzed 50 different countries to create a more detailed picture of where and why biometrics are collected and how the data is being stored. Although the U.S. is one of the countries whose biometric collection is “extensive and invasive,” in related news, the Department of Homeland Security mothballed a plan to require facial recognition screening for every person before leaving or entering the country. Continue reading Comparison of Biometric Data Use, Storage in 50 Countries

Democrats Introduce New Online Privacy Rights Legislation

The Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA) is a stalled bipartisan effort to protect consumers’ rights to privacy and prevent companies from hiding what they are doing with user data. To reinvigorate the debate, a group of Democrats, led by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), top Democrat in the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced their version of the federal privacy law. “[Privacy rights] should be like your Miranda rights — clear as a bell as to what they are and what constitutes a violation,” she said. Continue reading Democrats Introduce New Online Privacy Rights Legislation

Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

An investigation reveals that Facebook has been secretly paying users ages 13 to 35 since 2016 to install an iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app that gives the company access to all of their smartphone and Internet activity. The Research app is similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and may also be a violation of Apple policy. Legislators on both sides of the aisle were infuriated at the news, decrying the surveillance technology. Facebook’s earlier Onavo app was also criticized as spyware.

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Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

Twenty-two children’s and consumer groups asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s marketing of children’s apps in its Play store. Google has stated that its “Family” section of the Play store is where parents can find age-appropriate apps, but the groups state that some apps may violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevents children’s apps/sites from collecting phone numbers, locations, photographs, and other data from children under 13 without verifiable parental consent. Continue reading Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

Senate Votes to Block the Repeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

The Senate voted 52-47 yesterday to block the Trump administration’s repeal of net neutrality rules. Three Republicans and all members of the Democratic caucus voted in favor of the resolution; however, a tougher battle is expected in the House, where Republicans have a 236-193 majority. The effort to repeal Obama-era rules last year was led by FCC chair Ajit Pai. The net neutrality rules are designed to guarantee unobstructed access to the Internet by preventing broadband providers from blocking access or throttling speeds based on fees. Opponents claim the rules stifle competition and innovation.  Continue reading Senate Votes to Block the Repeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

Lawmakers Speak Out Against FCC’s Plans for Net Neutrality

The current Republican-majority FCC intends to end net neutrality rules, as spelled out in 2015’s Open Internet Order. Now, 10 members of Congress are fighting back with an official comment describing their position. Among the signers are Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), ranking members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. At the same time, 15 Senate Democrats, led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) have asked FCC chair Ajit Pai for more time for comments, given the record volume of public interest. Continue reading Lawmakers Speak Out Against FCC’s Plans for Net Neutrality

FCC May Consider New Standard to Open Up Control of STBs

The Federal Communications Commission is deliberating whether cable and satellite TV companies should have exclusive control of the set-top box, an idea applauded by Google and TiVo and vigorously opposed by the cable/satellite TV industry. Increased competition would lower costs and drive improvements in functionality, say Google and TiVo. Among the supporters of this idea is the COMPTEL trade group, whose membership includes Amazon and Netflix. The cable industry, already suffering losses to cord cutting, strenuously opposes the move. Continue reading FCC May Consider New Standard to Open Up Control of STBs