European Parliament Recommends Ban of Facial Recognition

The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution that calls for banning law enforcement’s use of biometric surveillance, including facial recognition. The vote signals what Parliament is willing to adopt as part of the Artificial Intelligence Act being developed by the European Commission. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) advocate for a permanent ban on automated recognition of individuals in public spaces in addition to the use of private facial recognition databases such as those developed by companies including New York-based Clearview AI.  Continue reading European Parliament Recommends Ban of Facial Recognition

Facebook Whistleblower Fuels Interest in Tougher Tech Laws

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s Senate testimony Tuesday appears to have fueled congressional desire to pass new regulations on Big Tech. At a hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online,” the inquiry expanded well beyond teens’ mental health, ranging from obsequious algorithms to Chinese surveillance of Uyghur populations, COVID-19 vaccine disinformation and speech leading to January’s Capitol insurrection. Calling Facebook “morally bankrupt,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said “Big Tech is facing its Big Tobacco moment,” and urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify. Continue reading Facebook Whistleblower Fuels Interest in Tougher Tech Laws

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

China’s New Data Privacy Law Targets Big Tech Companies

China passed the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) for data privacy, to take effect November 1 of this year. The law is similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and includes a requirement for organizations and individuals to minimize data collection of Chinese citizen’s personal data and obtain prior consent. Unlike the GDPR, however, the Chinese law is not expected to limit state surveillance or access to such data, though it could apply to lower-level government agencies. Continue reading China’s New Data Privacy Law Targets Big Tech Companies

Media Consortium Reveals Extent of Pegasus Spyware Reach

A consortium of media outlets dubbed the Pegasus Project found that Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group licensed its military-grade spyware Pegasus to governments that used it to hack 37 smartphones of business executives, human rights activists and journalists. Two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khasghoggi were also reportedly targeted. Amnesty International and journalism non-profit Forbidden Stories shared a list of 50,000 phone numbers that dates to 2016 and included the 37 targets. New evidence also suggests that thousands of iPhones worldwide may have been compromised.  Continue reading Media Consortium Reveals Extent of Pegasus Spyware Reach

EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, is calling for greater global alignment on tech regulation, noting “we do not have a global competition enforcer, but we have global companies.” Vestager added she was “really encouraged” by the Biden administration’s efforts to take similar actions in the U.S. with the 72 actions listed in his recent executive order that focused on Big Tech’s collection of data, surveillance practices and acquisitions of startups. Continue reading EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

President Joe Biden signed an executive order with 72 proposals and actions for a “whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy.” Among them, President Biden encourages the FCC to restore net neutrality rules undone by former President Donald Trump, to “consider limiting early termination fees and prevent Internet service providers from making deals with landlords that limit tenant choices,” and to revive the President Barack Obama era Broadband Nutrition Label and its better price transparency. Continue reading Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

Biden Introduces Broader Review of Foreign-Controlled Apps

President Biden revoked former President Trump’s executive order banning social-networking services TikTok and WeChat — developed by Chinese companies ByteDance and Tencent Holdings, respectively — but didn’t let Chinese companies off the hook. Instead, he replaced the previous order with another that establishes a broader review of the potential security risks found in numerous foreign-controlled apps. Biden officials said the new order would create “clear intelligible criteria” to evaluate those risks. Trump’s executive order was immediately challenged in court, and Biden’s move, said analysts, is intended to withstand such a test. Continue reading Biden Introduces Broader Review of Foreign-Controlled Apps

EU Nations and UK Accuse Clearview AI of Privacy Violations

Clearview AI, the facial recognition tool based on a database of faces scraped from Facebook and elsewhere, is facing several legal complaints from privacy watchdogs in Austria, France, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom. The complaints, originally filed by privacy advocates, state that Clearview AI violates privacy protections established under the GDPR data privacy law and its UK equivalent. The New York City-based company claims to have helped thousands of U.S. law enforcement agencies arrest criminals and predators. Continue reading EU Nations and UK Accuse Clearview AI of Privacy Violations

Facebook Is Rebuffed in Bid to Block Irish High Court Ruling

Ireland’s High Court dismissed Facebook’s procedural efforts to block a draft decision of the country’s Data Protection Commission to suspend its data flow between the European Union and the United States. The European Union decision was intended to protect the privacy of European users, whose data was being sent to U.S. computer servers, and Facebook contended that the Data Protection Commission, which issued its preliminary decision in August, gave it too little time to respond. The court originally stayed the decision in September. Continue reading Facebook Is Rebuffed in Bid to Block Irish High Court Ruling

EU Legislation to Ban AI for Surveillance and Social Ranking

In upcoming legislation from the European Commission, the European Union plans to ban artificial intelligence used for mass surveillance or ranking social behavior, with the rules applying equally to “companies based in the EU or abroad.” The measure could be unveiled as early as next week. Under the law, EU member states would be required to create “assessment bodies” to test, certify and inspect AI systems. In Germany, Hamburg authorities are seeking to stop Facebook from collecting user data from WhatsApp. Continue reading EU Legislation to Ban AI for Surveillance and Social Ranking

Defeated Union Calls Foul on Amazon Win, Continues Efforts

Although workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama voted against unionizing with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), that union’s president Stuart Appelbaum said it planned to challenge the results, accusing Amazon of “illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign.” RWDSU director of communications Chelsea Connor specified that “alleged behavior” included placement of a USPS mailbox on the grounds of the warehouse, which some workers described as intimidating because they believed Amazon was monitoring voters. Continue reading Defeated Union Calls Foul on Amazon Win, Continues Efforts

Nasdaq, Intel Team on Homomorphic Encryption in the Cloud

Nasdaq and Intel have partnered to advance homomorphic encryption (HE), which allows AI and machine learning computations on data without having to decrypt it. Nasdaq will adopt HE to be used with Intel’s latest processors. Intel is also exploring the encryption technology with the Defense Department’s DARPA. Nasdaq’s exploration of HE in a business setting is aimed to lead to tools that can focus on preventing fraud and money laundering. Healthcare is another field that is expected to benefit from HE. Continue reading Nasdaq, Intel Team on Homomorphic Encryption in the Cloud

China Is First Country to Debut a National Digital Currency

China has begun issuing a digital currency from by its central bank, a move that will give that country’s government new ways to monitor its economy and people. The digital yuan will be aimed at international uses and not linked to the global financial system. At the People’s Bank of China, director of the Digital Currency Research Institute Mu Changchun noted that, “in order to protect our currency sovereignty and legal currency status, we have to plan ahead.” China is the first to issue a national digital currency. Continue reading China Is First Country to Debut a National Digital Currency

New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

University of Toronto’s cybersecurity group The Citizen Lab just released a report with the finding that TikTok’s underlying code does not pose a threat to U.S. national security. Former president Donald Trump and leaders in other countries accused ByteDance’s TikTok of spying for China but The Citizen Lab, which reports on censorship and surveillance by Chinese social media apps, found no evidence of “overtly malicious behavior.” However, they added that there could be undiscovered security issues. Continue reading New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk