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Digital Privacy

April 25, 2019
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Facebook announced that it was preparing for a massive fine from the Federal Trade Commission for its mishandling of user privacy. The fine could be as much as $5 billion.

The social media giant revealed the fine as a one-time expense in its annual earnings statement, explaining a 51% decline in income, “in connection with the inquiry of the FTC into our platform and user data practices.”

“We estimate that the range of loss in this matter is $3.0bn to $5.0bn,” the company’s...

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April 22, 2019
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The European Union’s parliament voted to create a biometric database of over 350 million people.

The Common Identity Repository, or CIR, will consolidate the data from the EU’s border, migration, and law enforcement agencies into one system to be quickly accessible and searchable by any or all of them. Information will include names, birthdates, passport numbers as well as fingerprints and face scans.

While the CIR’s purpose is to eliminate several...

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April 19, 2019
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Facebook announced that it “unintentionally” harvested the email contacts of 1.5 million of its users without their consent.

The social media company automatically uploaded the information from users who had registered with the site after 2016 and provided their email addresses and passwords. Upon submitting a form to “confirm” their accounts, registrants saw a screen showing that their email contact lists were harvested without any means of providing consent, opting out, or...

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April 17, 2019
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On March 20, The Walt Disney Company completed its purchase of 21st Century Fox. The acquisition added huge properties like The Simpsons and National Geographic as well as film...

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March 28, 2019
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The Federal Emergency Management Agency failed to properly protect the personal information of 2.3 million survivors of natural disasters.

A partially redacted memo issued by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security stated that FEMA released the personally identifiable information of 2.3 million survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria as well as the...

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March 8, 2019
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The National Security Agency has stopped a controversial domestic surveillance program, according to a senior congressional aide.

The program monitored the metadata of domestic calls in bulk (including dates, locations, times, and parties involved) in an effort to identify potential terrorist activity. While it was implemented by the Bush administration shortly after 9/11, the program continued collecting information over the next eight years, and was renewed by the Obama...

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March 7, 2019
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The sitcom "Happy Days" was pretty much doomed when the Fonz, wearing swim trunks and a leather jacket, stepped into that waterski and jumped a shark. That episode now epitomizes the over-reach that sends television shows on a downhill trajectory.

The Internet of Things (IoT) found a still better foothold in consumer households with Amazon's recent ...

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March 5, 2019
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A newly enacted Vermont law offers a glimpse at companies engaged in the compiling and selling of individual user data.

Under H.764 (Act 171), third-party data brokers (companies with no prior relation or interaction with consumers) are required to register with the state. Other requirements include disclosing whether consumers can opt out from their data collection, if there are any restrictions on how data is...

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March 1, 2019
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The Federal Trade Commission fined the popular social media and video sharing service TikTok a record $5.7 million for illegally collecting the personal data of children under 13.

TikTok, known until recently as Musical.ly, allowed users to upload brief videos of themselves lip-syncing popular songs and boasted at least 65 million users in the United States, a “significant percentage,” according to the FTC ...

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February 21, 2019
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As Brexit looms, the UK and the EU can still agree that Facebook needs to be reined in.

A report published earlier this month by the U.K. Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee likened the social media company to “‘digital gangsters’ in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law.” The committee came to the conclusion that Facebook knowingly violated U.K....

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