Technology Chief Executives Lobby for Federal Privacy Law

Congress just received an open letter on behalf of the Business Roundtable, an association comprised of the chief executives of the U.S.’s biggest companies. Signed by 51 tech company executives, the letter asks legislators to create a federal law on data privacy, thus avoiding the patchwork-quilt of state laws now being passed. Amazon, AT&T, Dell, IBM, Qualcomm, SAP, Salesforce, Visa, Mastercard, JPMorgan Chase, State Farm and Walmart are just some of the companies whose chief executives signed the letter. Continue reading Technology Chief Executives Lobby for Federal Privacy Law

Companies Prep for Brunt of California Consumer Privacy Act

Beginning January 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will allow that state’s residents to find out exactly what personal data companies hold about them — and ask them to delete such information. Consumers will also have the option of opting out of allowing their personal information to be sold. The legislation — which was designed to make Amazon, Facebook, Google and others more transparent — will impact a wide range of companies, large and small, including airlines, banks, retailers and restaurants. Continue reading Companies Prep for Brunt of California Consumer Privacy Act

Google Shutters Mobile Data Service For Wireless Carriers

Google shut down its free Mobile Network Insights service, which provided Android phone data to wireless carriers, to avert regulatory scrutiny. The service, launched in March 2017 and shuttered this April, mapped carrier signal strengths and connection speeds area-by-area, helping carriers to determine where their coverage needed to be increased or strengthened. The anonymous data was retrieved from devices using Google’s Android operating system, which accounts for about 75 percent of the world’s smartphones. Continue reading Google Shutters Mobile Data Service For Wireless Carriers

Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Under pressure from legislators and others, Facebook has taken steps to protect itself. According to sources, the company ceased talks to buy video-focused social network Houseparty to forestall increased antitrust concerns. In response to calls to break up Facebook, the company took internal measures to make that more difficult to do by reorganizing its departments and rebranding Instagram and WhatsApp. Elsewhere, the European Union is expected to issue decisions by the end of the year related to privacy issues involving Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Google Stops Human Review of Assistant Voice Clips in EU

Google is pausing Google Assistant voice transcriptions in the European Union for at least three months. In mid-July, it admitted that about 1,000 private communications were made available to human contractors evaluating Assistant’s speech recognition accuracy, revealing personal and private information. A Google spokesperson reported that the company ceased voice transcription involving human moderators after learning of additional leaks in the Netherlands. Amazon will allow Alexa users to opt out of the human review of recordings and Apple has halted its program allowing human contractors to listen in on Siri recordings. Continue reading Google Stops Human Review of Assistant Voice Clips in EU

Apple Ends Practice of Humans Monitoring Siri Recordings

Apple will no longer allow human contractors to listen in on users’ Siri recordings to “grade” them, and will not resume the program until it has completed a “thorough review.” The company also stated that, as part of a future update, users will be able to opt out of the quality assurance program. Apple told users that Siri data might be used to improve their experience, but not that humans would be listening to it. Most of the compromised confidential information was recorded via an accidental trigger of Siri. Continue reading Apple Ends Practice of Humans Monitoring Siri Recordings

Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook about $5 billion for privacy violations, but the sum is considered a slap on the wrist since it neither hurt the company’s bottom line nor limited its ability to collect data. But, since 2016, 43+ countries have passed or introduced laws regulating social media and the spread of fake news, and U.S., European and Canadian regulators have initiated investigations and proposed regulations that will likely be much more draconian. Congress is considering a federal privacy law. Continue reading Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

Spotify Allows Music Labels to Access Data About its Users

Music streaming service Spotify allows users to “pre-save” an upcoming release to their accounts. But users don’t realize that, by doing so, they are also agreeing to let Spotify release more personal data than is typical to the upcoming release’s label. Those labels can access information to track a user’s listening behavior, change the musicians they follow and possibly even control their music streaming remotely. In an era in which data privacy is receiving more consumer attention, Spotify’s practice is likely to become an issue. Continue reading Spotify Allows Music Labels to Access Data About its Users

Microsoft Urges U.S. to Adopt Laws Similar to EU’s GDPR

Microsoft corporate vice president/deputy general counsel Julie Brill believes that the federal government is essential in guaranteeing “a strong right to privacy” in the United States. She noted that California and Illinois have enacted serious data protection laws, but that the U.S. needs federal regulation. She came to that conclusion after observing that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enacted almost one year ago, has been “very effective” in transforming how companies manage personal data. Continue reading Microsoft Urges U.S. to Adopt Laws Similar to EU’s GDPR

Apple’s Tim Cook Makes Case For U.S. Regulation of Tech

At the TIME 100 Summit in New York, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said that technology needs to be regulated to protect privacy, noting that, “we have to admit that what we’re doing isn’t working.” He suggested to U.S. regulators that Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was passed in 2018, is “a step in the right direction,” and added that Europe should continue to evolve the GDPR. Having taken the helm of Apple from founder Steve Jobs in 2011, Cook has become a prominent Silicon Valley leader. Continue reading Apple’s Tim Cook Makes Case For U.S. Regulation of Tech

Facebook to Launch a Dedicated News Tab With Publishers

Facebook wants to team with the news industry to create a tab in its app devoted to publishers’ content. In a conversation with Axel Springer SE chief executive Mathias Döpfner, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg explained the plan is in its early stages, and that he doesn’t want to build it without input from publishers. He compared the proposed news tab to the Watch tab that aggregates video from publishers, some of which do so exclusively for the platform. He also suggested that Facebook would pay publishers to ensure high-quality content. Continue reading Facebook to Launch a Dedicated News Tab With Publishers

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

Huawei Sues U.S. Over Law Banning Sale of Its 5G Products

Huawei Technologies challenged the constitutionality of the National Defense Authorization Act’s provision that restricts federal agencies from buying any product from the Chinese telecom, its rival ZTE or third parties, such as contractors. One of Huawei’s chairmen, Guo Ping, stated that, in passing this law, “Congress acted unconstitutionally as judge, jury and executioner.” Huawei also opened a Cyber Security Transparency center in Brussels to allay suspicions that it is involved in espionage for China. Continue reading Huawei Sues U.S. Over Law Banning Sale of Its 5G Products

Facebook Pushed for Global Support Against Privacy Laws

Leaked internal Facebook documents reportedly suggest that the company initiated secretive worldwide lobbying efforts to gain influence from hundreds of regulators and legislators across nations including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Malaysia, all 28 member states of the European Union, the United States and United Kingdom. Reports indicate the social giant promised investments and incentives to politicians in hopes of getting their support for Facebook’s opposition to data privacy legislation. Continue reading Facebook Pushed for Global Support Against Privacy Laws

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

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