It’s been a year since news broke of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which political operatives improperly took advantage of Facebook user data to influence elections in the U.S. and Europe. The fallout has caused consumer trust to plummet and encouraged regulators to look more seriously at the power that big tech companies wield.
Individuals are finally understanding just how much of their personal data has been mishandled and abused. Defeatism and angst seem to have set in following the steady stream of high-profile breaches and revelations of the vast monetization of personal data. Many even claim that privacy is dead and little can be done to stop this spigot of data leaks.
Facebook is losing its product chief Chris Cox, a top-ranking executive who spent more than a decade at the company, just a week after CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a major new direction for the social network. The departure, announced Thursday, follows Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook FB, -2.46% will shift its emphasis to private messaging over public sharing. The change reflects Facebook’s changing audience and continued problems with serving as a conduit for misinformation and vitriol.
A top Google executive faced tough questions from a Senate committee on Tuesday about the company's data collection practices as lawmakers vow to impose tougher privacy regulations on tech giants. The Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Will DeVries, senior policy counsel at Google, over the company’s user location tracking and data practices.
A bipartisan pair of senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would prevent tech companies from amassing personal information about teenagers without their consent. The bill, introduced by outspoken tech critics Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and freshman Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), would prevent internet companies from targeting ads toward children and require the companies to provide more insight into how they collect and use children's data.
China banned people from buying plane or train tickets 23 million times last year because their social credit scores were too low, according to the Associated Press, which obtained a copy of a government report. The government rolled out the travel ban on people with low social credit scores last May. According to a report from China’s National Public Credit Information Center from last week, people have been blocked 17.5 million times from purchasing airplane tickets, and 5.5 million times from buying high-speed train tickets.
Lawmakers slammed tech industry representatives at a hearing Wednesday as Congress begins work on drafting a federal privacy law. The Senate Commerce Committee held its first data privacy hearing this year, with lawmakers questioning the industry's support for sweeping federal privacy standards.
China has been leaning on American know-how to build a sprawling surveillance program in Xinjiang province, according to the New York Times. Scientists working with Chinese police have been using equipment from Thermo Fisher, a supplier of biotechnology tools in Massachusetts. They also shared genetic survey data with Kenneth Kidd, a geneticist at Yale University. The genetic data was being used to be able to determine, from a blood sample, if someone had Uighur ancestry. Chinese scientists even filed a patent on the idea.
Google said there’s absolutely, positively nothing to worry about the secret microphone in your Nest Secure smart home hub that it didn’t tell you about. Nope, not at all. Just an oversight, said Google. No need to be alarmed. Everything is just fine.
Facebook deliberately broke privacy and competition law and should urgently be subject to statutory regulation, according to a devastating parliamentary report denouncing the company and its executives as “digital gangsters”. The final report of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee’s 18-month investigation into disinformation and fake news accused Facebook of purposefully obstructing its inquiry and failing to tackle attempts by Russia to manipulate elections.