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One more thing re: “privacy concerns” raised by the DCMS fake new report…

A meaty first report by the UK parliamentary committee that’s been running an inquiry into online disinformation since fall 2017, including scrutinizing how people’s personal information was harvested from social media services like Facebook and used for voter profiling and the targeting of campaign ads — and whose chair, Damian Collins — is a member of the UK’s governing Conservative Party, contains one curious omission. Among the many issues the report raises are privacy concerns related to a campaign app developed by a company called uCampaign — which, much like the scandal-hit (and now seemingly defunct) Cambridge Analytica, worked for both the Ted Cruz for President and the Donald J Trump for President campaigns — although in its case it developed apps for campaigns to distribute to s...

AI spots legal problems with tech T&Cs in GDPR research project

Technology is the proverbial double-edged sword. And an experimental European research project is ensuring this axiom cuts very close to the industry’s bone indeed by applying machine learning technology to critically sift big tech’s privacy policies — to see whether AI can automatically identify violations of data protection law. The still-in-training privacy policy and contract parsing tool — which is called ‘Claudette‘: Aka (automated) clause detector — is being developed by researchers at the European University Institute in Florence. They’ve also now got support from European consumer organization BEUC — for a ‘Claudette meets GDPR‘ project — which specifically applies the tool to evaluate compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. Early results from this project hav...

Facebook, Google face first GDPR complaints over “forced consent”

After two years coming down the pipe at tech giants, Europe’s new privacy framework, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is now being applied — and long time Facebook privacy critic, Max Schrems, has wasted no time in filing four complaints relating to (certain) companies’ ‘take it or leave it’ stance when it comes to consent. The complaints have been filed on behalf of (unnamed) individual users — with one filed against Facebook; one against Facebook-owned Instagram; one against Facebook-owned WhatsApp; and one against Google’s Android. Schrems argues that the companies are using a strategy of “forced consent” to continue processing the individuals’ personal data — when in fact the law requires that users be given a free choice unless a consent is strictly necessary for provisi...

Instapaper on pause in Europe to fix GDPR compliance “issue”

Remember Instapaper? The Pinterest-owned, read-it-later bookmarking service is taking a break in Europe — apparently while it works on achieving compliance with the region’s updated privacy framework, GDPR, which will start being applied from tomorrow. Instapaper’s notification does not say how long the self-imposed outage will last. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation updates the bloc’s privacy framework, most notably by bringing in supersized fines for data violations, which in the most serious cases can scale up to 4% of a company’s global annual turnover. So it significantly ramps up the risk of, for example, having sloppy security, or consent flows that aren’t clear and specific enough (if indeed consent is the legal basis you’re relying on for processing people’s ...

Russia starts blocking Telegram for failing to turn over encryption keys

The Russian state telecommunication regulator has began blocking Telegram as expected. This comes after the messaging company refused to give Russian security services encryption keys. The service is expected to be blocked within the coming hours. According to several reports Telegram is still operational in the country though several service providers have started blocking the company’s website. Ran by its Russian founder Pavel Durov, Telegram has over 200 million users and is a top-ten messaging service made popular by its strong stance on privacy. Telegram is recognized as an operator of information dissemination in Russia and therefore the company is required by Russian to provide keys to its encryption service to the Federal Security Service. This is so the FSS can reportedly read the...

Facebook’s tracking of non-users ruled illegal again

Another blow for Facebook in Europe: Judges in Belgium have once again ruled the company broke privacy laws by deploying technology such as cookies and social plug-ins to track Internet users across the web. Facebook uses data it collects in this way to sell targeted advertising. The social media giant failed to make it sufficiently clear how people’s digital activity was being used, the court ruled. Facebook faces fines of up to €100 million (~$124M), at a rate of €250,000 per day, if it fails to comply with the court ruling to stop tracking Belgians’ web browsing habits. It must also destroy any illegally obtained data, the court said. Facebook expressed disappointment at the judgement and said it will appeal. “The cookies and pixels we use are industry standard technologies and enable h...

German court finds fault with Facebook’s default privacy settings

A court in Germany has ruled that Facebook’s default privacy settings and some of its terms and conditions breached local laws. The Berlin court passed judgement late last month but the verdict was only made public this week. The legal challenge, which dates back to 2015, was filed by a local consumer rights association, the vzbv. It successfully argued Facebook’s default privacy settings breach local consent rules by not providing clear enough information for the company to gather ‘informed consent’ from users when they agreed to its T&Cs. “Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about this when users register,” said Heiko Dünkel, litigation policy officer at vzbv, in a statement. “This does not me...

Digital minister’s app lands on data watchdog’s radar after privacy cock-up

UK digital minister Matt Hancock, who’s currently busy with legislative updates to the national data protection framework, including to bring it in line with the EU’s strict new privacy regime, nonetheless found time to launch an own-brand social networking app this week. The eponymously titled: Matt Hancock MP App. To cut a long story short, the Matt app quickly ran into a storm of criticism for displaying an unfortunately lax attitude to privacy and data protection. Such as pasting in what appeared to be a very commercially minded privacy policy — which iOS users couldn’t even see prior to agreeing to it in order to download the app… [Insert facepalm emoji of choice] In the words of one privacy consultant, who quickly raised concerns via Twitter: “You’d think the Digital Minister and one...

Facebook starts polishing its privacy messaging ahead of GDPR

As the May 25 deadline for compliance with the EU’s updated privacy framework fast approaches Facebook is continuing to PR the changes it’s making to try to meet the new data protection standard — and steer away from the specter of fines that can scale as high as 4% of a company’s global turnover. Today it’s published — for the first time — what it dubs a set of “privacy principles” that it says guide its approach to handling users’ information, making grand claims like: “We give you control of your privacy“, “You own and can delete your information” and “We are accountable“. In truth it’s just cribbing chunks of the GDPR and claiming the regulation’s principles as its own. So full marks for spin there. The EU’s sharply tightening enforcement regime for data protection also explains why Fa...