EU-U.S. data flows could face ‘massive disruption’

One of the European Union’s most powerful data regulators has warned companies may yet face massive disruption to translatlantic data flows as a result of an EU court ruling last year, despite efforts by policymakers to avoid that outcome.

Europe’s highest court last July ruled an EU-U.S. data transfer agreement was invalid, citing concerns the U.S. surveillance regime might not respect the privacy rights of citizens in the bloc.

Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon, who was involved in the case, said the full impact would be determined by an upcoming court ruling in Ireland and efforts by EU and U.S. officials to ameliorate it.

Dixon said her office was “building momentum” after growing from 30 to 150 staff in seven year. It is was likely to issue at least six or seven decisions this year, up from two last year – against Twitter and Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service.

Source: EU-U.S. data flows could face ‘massive disruption’ – Irish regulator | Reuters

Tech Firms Train Voice Assistants to Understand Atypical Speech

Approximately 7.5 million people in the U.S. have trouble using their voices, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Julie Cattiau, a product manager in Google’s artificial intelligence team, said that group is at risk of being left behind by voice-recognition technology.

Google is one of a number of technology companies now trying to train voice assistants to understand everyone.

Some made investments into voice accessibility after realizing that people with dysarthria—often a side effect of conditions including cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease or a brain tumor—may be the group that stands to benefit most from voice-recognition technology.

Source: Tech Firms Train Voice Assistants to Understand Atypical Speech – WSJ

CJEU fines Spain €15 million for failure to implement Data Protection Law Enforcement Directive

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ordered Spain to pay the European Commission 15.5 million euros and a potential daily fine thereafter for failing to transpose the Data Protection Law Enforcement Directive (Directive (EU) 2016/680).

On top of the €15 million fine Spain will have to pay a daily penalty payment of € 89 000 for each day of delay on transposition following the CJEU’s judgment.

Source: CJEU press release

GCHQ to use AI to tackle crime and disinformation

GCHQ  published a paper called Ethics of AI: Pioneering a New National Security which explains why the technology – enabling problem-solving at scale and speed – will be at the heart of our mission to keep the country safe in an increasingly complex world.

The paper also details how GCHQ  will ensure they use AI fairly and transparently, applying existing tests of necessity and proportionality. This includes establishing an AI ethical code of practice to recruiting more diverse talent to help develop and govern our use of AI, protecting privacy and striving for systematic fairness.

Source: GCHQ to use AI to tackle child sex abuse, disinformation… – GCHQ.GOV.UK

9 scary revelations from 40 years of facial recognition research

In science fiction, facial recognition technology is a hallmark of a dystopian society. The truth of how it was created, and how it’s used today, is just as freaky.

In a new study, researchers conduct a historical survey of over 100 data sets used to train facial recognition systems compiled over the last 43 years. The broadest revelation is that, as the need for more data (i.e. photos) increased, researchers stopped bothering to ask for the consent of the people in the photos they used as data.

Full article: 9 scary revelations from 40 years of facial recognition research

COMB – Biggest Data Breach of All Time Explained

It’s being called the biggest breach of all time and the mother of all breaches: COMB, or the Compilation of Many Breaches, contains more than 3.2 billion unique pairs of cleartext emails and passwords. While many data breaches and leaks have plagued the internet in the past, this one is exceptional in the sheer size of it. To wit, the entire population of the planet is at roughly 7.8 billion, and this is about 40% of that.

However, when considering that only about 4.7 billion people are online, COMB would include the data of nearly 70% of global internet users (if each record was a unique person). For that reason, users are recommended to immediately check if their data was included in the leak.

Full article: COMB – Biggest Data Breach of All Time Explained | CyberNews

CyberScotland offers centralised security resource hub

A coalition of 10 organisations – including the Scottish government, Police Scotland and the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) – have clubbed together to set up the CyberScotland Partnership, designed to respond to calls for clarity around cyber security from both private individuals and businesses.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)-supported resource will provide a central online hub to offer resources for anyone seeking information and support across a number of cyber security and business resilience issues – as well as cyber careers and skills support and guidance.

Source: CyberScotland offers centralised security resource hub

Tech Companies Too Secretive About Algorithms That Curate Feeds

When social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which is owned by Google, cook up a complex algorithm to curate your feed, they’re making the choices they think will push you to spend more time on their platform, experts say, boosting their ad revenue. You don’t get to choose how the platforms select the posts or videos to deliver to you first, and in what order.

The evaluation by Ranking Digital Rights found that powerful American technology companies are cagey with even the most basic details about their algorithmic systems.

Social media companies use a combination of human eyes and algorithmic systems to decide which posts to take down for violating their rules. For many users, those decisions are hard to decipher—like when users who discuss racism find that their accounts are flagged for hate speech.

Source: Algorithms That Curate Feeds & Tech Company Secrecy – Consumer Reports

More US states are on track to pass data privacy laws in 2021

U.S. states are slowly embracing policies to ensure that digital companies protect their users—or at least introduce more transparency.

llinois led the way in 2008 with the Biometric Information Privacy Act, a law that lets Illinois residents sue companies that collect their biometric data (face scans, fingerprints, etc.) without their consent. After Europe passed the General Data Protection Regulation in 2016, which entitles people to obtain any data collected on them and have their records deleted, California decided to use it as a framework for its own law.

The original CCPA has now inspired several look-alike laws in other states, as momentum builds for state-level privacy legislation. 2021 could be the year that privacy laws become more pervasive across the country, helping Americans wrest back some of the aspects of their digital lives.

Source: These states are on track to pass data privacy laws in 2021

Ranking Digital Rights flunks the tech giants

A new report on the human-rights policies of 26 tech and telecom firms around the world delivers a harsh verdict: From Alibaba to Vodafone, they all get an F.

The 2020 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index, as previewed in advance of its Wednesday posting, blames this collective failure to get “even close to earning a passing grade” on widespread opacity among these firms in how they analyze, promote, and demote the speech of their customers for marketing, advertising, and content-moderation purposes.

Source: Ranking Digital Rights flunks 26 tech firms and telcos