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EU Advocate General Issues Opinion on Consent for Cookies and Intersection with the GDPR

On March 21, 2019, Advocate General Szpunar released his opinion in the Planet49 case, currently pending before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The case centers on the use of consent for the processing of personal data and consent for the use of cookies.

In the Advocate General’s view, the pre-ticked box for cookies does not provide a valid active consent under the GDPR nor under the ePrivacy Directive. Moreover, he considers that the ePrivacy Directive’s consent requirement for cookies applies irrespective of whether the collected data qualify as personal data.

Source: EU Advocate General Issues Opinion on Consent for Cookies and Intersection with the GDPR

EU citizens being tracked on sensitive government sites

EU governments are allowing more than 100 advertising companies, including Google and Facebook, to surreptitiously track citizens across sensitive public sector websites, in apparent violation of their own EU data protection rules, a study has found.

Danish browser-analysis company Cookiebot found ad trackers — which log users’ locations, devices and browsing behaviours for advertisers — on the official government websites of 25 EU member states. The French government had the highest number of ad trackers on its site, with 52 different companies tracking users’ behaviour.

Source: EU citizens being tracked on sensitive government sites | Financial Times

How the tragic death of Do Not Track ruined the web for everyone

A decade ago, a simple browser setting – called Do Not Track – promised to make it easy to protect your online privacy from nosy advertisers. To opt out of being tracked, you’d check a box in your browser’s settings.

It was a great idea. Too bad it never came anywhere near to living up to its promise.

For all practical purposes, DNT died years ago. But Apple’s removal of the Do Not Track preference from Safari for Macs and iOS in an update in early February officially signaled the end of what might have been a workable understanding between consumers and the advertisers that rely on ad-tech networks to target them.

Full article: How the tragic death of Do Not Track ruined the web for everyone

Chrome will soon make it harder for websites to spy on you

A new feature coming to Chrome in the near future will allow users to limit the kind of data certain websites collect about them by blocking access to motion and light sensors on their device.

The feature will alert you if you visit a website that wants to access your sensors. A pop-up window will appear saying “This page is using motion or light sensors” and offers you the choice of allowing access to the sensors or blocking access on a page-per-page basis.

Source: Chrome will soon make it harder for websites to spy on you | TechRadar

Second rise for the ‘Do Not Track’

In recent years, the setting has been criticized as being essentially meaningless. But it might have a crucial role to play in enforcing privacy regulations.

In January 2017 the European Commission announced an initiative to update the ePrivacy Regulation, a proposal that would revisit a 15-year-old directive dealing with privacy protections and how users consent to being tracked by cookies (websites served to citizens of the European Union are required to ask for consent for the use of cookies).

Among the goals of the new ePrivacy Regulation was cleaning up “cookie pop-up” mess by requiring some sort of standardized and automatic process that is transparent to users.

Source: A Second Life for the ‘Do Not Track’ Setting—With Teeth

How Taylor Swift showed us the scary future of facial recognition

Surveillance at concerts is just the beginning, as fears grow around an unregulated, billion-dollar industry.

Taylor Swift raised eyebrows late last year when Rolling Stone magazine revealed her security team had deployed facial recognition recognition technology during her Reputation tour to root out stalkers. But the company contracted for the efforts uses its technology to provide much more than just security. ISM Connect also uses its smart screens to capture metrics for promotion and marketing.

Full article: How Taylor Swift showed us the scary future of facial recognition

Lawsuit against weather app sign of things to come?

Last week , the office of the Los Angeles City Attorney, Mike Feuer, filed a complaint against The Weather Channel Product and Technology, LLC (TWC) the company owned by IBM and behind the popular Weather Channel mobile application.

Feuer stated: “[W]e allege TWC elevates corporate profits over users’ privacy, misleading them into allowing their movements to be tracked, 24/7. We’re acting to stop this alleged deceit.”

Full article: Lawsuit against weather app sign of things to come?

DuckDuckGo denies using fingerprinting to track its users

Responding to a forum post that accused it of “fingerprinting users”, privacy-centric search engine DuckDuckGo says that fears are unfounded and that it is not tracking its users.

The allegation was made after the Firefox extension CanvasBlocker showed a warning to users. The suggestion of fingerprinting — gathering as much information as possible about a user through their browser to create a unique identifier that can be used for tracking — is clearly something that would seem to sit in opposition to what DuckDuckGo claims to stand for. The company CEO says the accusation is simply wrong.

Full article: DuckDuckGo denies using fingerprinting to track its users

Wearables in The Arena: The Shifting Legal Landscape Governing Fitness Trackers in Professional Sports

The use of wearable technology (colloquially known as “wearables”) has been on the radar of athletes, sponsors, sports teams and leagues for years, with the various constituencies carefully balancing the necessity for player privacy with growing professional and financial interests.

Full article: Wearables in The Arena: The Shifting Legal Landscape Governing Fitness Trackers in Professional Sports

Facebook Knows How to Track You Using the Dust on Your Camera Lens

In 2014, Facebook filed a patent application for a technique that employs smartphone data to figure out if two people might know each other.

The author, an engineering manager at Facebook named Ben Chen, wrote that it was not merely possible to detect that two smartphones were in the same place at the same time, but that by comparing the accelerometer and gyroscope readings of each phone, the data could identify when people were facing each other or walking together.

That way, Facebook could suggest you friend the person you were talking to at a bar last night, and not all the other people there that you chose not to talk to.

However, Facebook says it hasn’t put this technique into practice.

Full article: Facebook Knows How to Track You Using the Dust on Your Camera Lens

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