Please see below selected recent privacy-related change.
- Italy outlawed the use of facial recognition and smart glasses in public spaces. However, the new law saw local authorities given leeway to make an exception if the technologies are being used to help fight crime.
- As smart devices continue to look better, do more and cost less, consumers will have to decide whether the associated privacy trade-offs are worth it. Our evolved privacy psychology is no longer up to the job of intuitively guiding such decisions. As consumers, then, we need to be mindful of our shortcomings in this regard, demanding more privacy protection from companies and a little more circumspection from ourselves, warned Psyche.
- The Pegasus Project, a consortium of journalists and news outlets spanning 10 countries, discovered that, without even clicking a link, someone can gain access to an individual's messages, photos, and calls and even control their phone’s microphone and camera.
- China passed an extremely strict data privacy law. Enforcement of new rules to protect users will reportedly be aimed at curbing intrusive behavior by private technology giants, but not so much the government. Technology experts in China will be required to report any "zero-day vulnerabilities" in the phone operating systems they find to the government within two days. The program reportedly raises concerns about the government’s intentions.
- Berlin-based artist Adam Harvey’s work Hyperface aims to dupe recognition algorithms. The project attempts to thwart facial recognition by overloading algorithms with the very things they are searching for. By oversaturating a recognition system’s field of view with faces, Hyperface diverts the gaze of the algorithms, ultimately causing the target individual’s face to get lost in the crowd
- Facial recognition technology presents a potentially serious threat to privacy and could be used to track and surveil subjects without their knowledge, and could capture data that may be sold to third parties for any purpose. Regulations lag behind widespread applications of the technology, and COVID provided a motive for its increased implementation. Future Today Institute warned that even if someone were able to evade detection via facial recognition, there are countless other biometric giveaways that can divulge their identity to a range of surveillance technologies. “Voiceprints,” body heat signatures, and even one’s gait can be uniquely linked to an individual, and then used to identify them even if their face is completely obscured.
- Privacy campaigners warned that the US National Security Agency wants to spy on household use of the internet. The NSA said the threat from hackers means they need greater surveillance powers.
- Companies face growing risks in addressing information governance and privacy - two concerns that are converging in today’s digital era. It has been challenging for organisations to protect their critical digital assets and comply with increasingly complex privacy regulatory requirements. These issues have been exacerbated during the pandemic as more social and business activities are conducted online and personal data is being tracked to monitor the spread of the virus, warned EY.
- Quartz warned that we've reached the point where Facebook, Google, and an army of third-party data brokers possess more information on human behavior than any government in history. Our smartphones betray our location. Surveillance companies create uncannily accurate facial-recognition databases from the photos we post to social media. It’s therefore no surprise that governments are now turning to such tools in the interest of public health. Around the world, authorities have released or plan to roll out contact-tracing apps. The idea is that if someone becomes infected with Covid-19, anyone who that person may have exposed can be alerted or found. As regions lift their stay-at-home orders, contact tracing will let authorities better track Covid-19’s spread. It will also give governments and companies a treasure trove of information on our health and movements—and create a precedent to request more later. The danger may be when the public becomes used to it.
- The clash of privacy rights and how you deal with a pandemic where every interaction is a question of public policy is increasingly thorny. AIrport are temperature-monitoring of arrivals. This video shows a real product rolled out in Shenzen: a helmet with a heads-up display and infra-red readers that can - apparently - take 200 people’s temperature a minute and spot anyone with a fever.
- As governments around the world scrambled to manage the coronavirus outbreak, the location data tracked by mobile phones became a highly sought-after commodity. Authorities in China, Israel, Russia, the US, and even the uber-privacy-conscious European Union secured or at least planned to secure access to mobile phone location data that they could use to identify people at risk of infection. Europe, for example, is trying to carve out a middle way – it's asking mobile phone companies to share anonymised location data to help stem the spread of the virus in a way that still adheres to the bloc's tough data protection laws, while also issuing guidance to those member states who do want to pass emergency legislation that would allow for more detailed tracking.
- Employers can track our sleeping habits, retailers can follow us round the aisles, car parts suppliers say that they can identify drivers’ emotions. The resulting data are training complex algorithms, which then nudge us towards certain behaviours. “We are moving from a digital age to an age of prediction,” warned Pam Dixon, director of the World Privacy Forum, a think-tank.
- A majority of Americans are deeply concerned about the privacy of their personal data. Sixty-three percent of adults surveyed believe that the US government is constantly collecting data about them and that they are powerless to prevent it, according to a recent Pew study.
- Employers can track our sleeping habits, retailers can follow us round the aisles, car parts suppliers say that they can identify drivers’ emotions. The resulting data are training complex algorithms, which then nudge us towards certain behaviours. “We are moving from a digital age to an age of prediction,” warned the director of the World Privacy Forum, a think-tank.
- The Financial Times noted that as consumers become more privacy conscious, growing numbers of people are trying to take control of their data. But removing personal details from people search websites is arduous - and the information often reappears within months, according to companies that monitor sites. Some people search engines permit individuals to remove their information from sites, but in many cases, although data are taken down from a website, it is not necessarily deleted from the records.
- TechCrunch claimed that while, everyone wants technology to be more private, we must increasingly discern between leading companies' promises and delivery. Like “mobile,” “on-demand,” “AI” and “blockchain” before it, privacy can’t be taken at face value and we as users deserve improvements to the core of how our software and hardware work.
- Norms around privacy appear to have come into existence with the rise of the middle class. Medieval farmers and peasants had no expectation of privacy because they literally had no private spaces.
- There may be a growing privacy divide in countries like the US, as a new digital fault-line is built by surveillance and data. Many low-income families regularly have to surrender data access to get access to welfare services.
- Further reading:
- More privacy could mean an online economic collapse. Fraud may become more rare, but the frequency of transactions could dwindle to a dangerous low.
- Almost every aspect of our lives is shaped by digital technology and its immense efficiency, argued Raconteur. Many countries have now turned to various forms of e-voting, either by adopting electronic voting machines or offering people the chance to cast their vote online. While some privacy and security concerns remain, advocates say electronic voting helps uphold the accuracy and integrity of the result by preventing miscounts or any other mix-ups. As well as cutting election costs, internet voting offers the chance to boost turnout by engaging parts of the electorate not usually interested, or able, to get out to their polling station.
- In a recent interview with The Intercept, Edward Snowden offered some advice for what average citizens can do to reclaim their privacy, believing the sharing of information should be a conversation, not an enigma buried in a site's 'Terms of Service.'
- The data organisations collect on customers, employees, prospects, even visitors to their buildings or their websites is increasingly subject to rules and regulations. The new European data-protection directive, GDPR, is part of the story but it’s not the whole story by any means, cautioned McKinsey consultants who spend their time working with clients on issues related to data, analytics, technology, privacy, and risk.
- Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter joined to announce a new standards initiative called the Data Transfer Project, designed as a new way to move data between platforms. In a blog post, Google described the project as letting users “transfer data directly from one service to another, without needing to download and re-upload it”.
- An academic argued that people's demands for privacy seem to have gone hand-in-hand with their decisions to sacrifice it. Citizens simultaneously shielded and broadcast their private lives through surveys and social media, gradually coming to accept that modern life means contributing to - and reaping the rewards of - the data on which we all increasingly depend.
- Chinese president, Xi Jinping, launched a major initiative to bolster the country’s domestic surveillance capabilities, which analysts estimate will include the installation of almost 300 million surveillance cameras by 2020.
- China wants to build a giant database to track the behaviour of its 1.3 billion-plus citizens. It then plans to reward “sincere” or “trustworthy” conduct, such as paying bills on time, while punishing bad actions, like jaywalking or ignoring a court judgement – all in the name of creating a more harmonious society. According to GZEROMedia, Beijing’s vision has sparked all sorts of headlines and comparisons to Black Mirror or the all-seeing Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984.
- Top officials from Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and other tech firms convened for half a day in San Francisco to talk about a way forward after the EU’s strict new personal-data rules and Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal,
- A rapidly growing proportion of human activities - professional, social and personal - are now mediated by digital devices and services, noted Chatham House. The users of these devices are producing an inconceivable quantity of digital footprints that can be used to reveal intimate traits and emotions and predict future behaviour. Often these services are free at the point of use but in recent months, particularly in light of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica story, consumers have become increasingly aware of the value of their data and the price they might be paying in terms of their privacy.
- Lack of competition is killing our privacy, warned Quartz, noting that Facebook users have nowhere to go if they’re fed up with data intrusions.
- Signal Media noted in early 2018 that the three largest economic zones on Earth differ significantly in how they treat privacy. Europe gives people the last word on how their personal data can be used – and imposes harsh penalties on rule-breakers. In China, it’s the government that has the real sovereignty over all data and information flows (Russia and Turkey are trying fitfully to do the same.)
- But in the US, apart from some sector-specific exceptions such as healthcare and a general ban on deceptive trading practices, it falls to private companies to set their own privacy policies on their platforms. As Facebook and others have found out, profit-seeking, politics, and privacy don’t always fit together neatly.