I'm writing to you from my mother's charming but old and drafty house in Southern Maine. It's 16 degrees Fahrenheit and windy, and I'm only able to will these fingers to type because I'm sitting next to my mother's faux fireplace from Sears. (It was a bargain.)
But the news doesn't stop just because I've caught a chill. This week, I was startled to see Indian media reports that some government-funded schools had begun installing facial recognition technology.
There's been significant study here in the U.S. about the extreme dangers of deploying facial recognition technology now. Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology has reported extensively about the status quo. Here's one finding that freaked me out: "One in two American adults is in a law enforcement face recognition network" already. In a shamefully simplified way, I'll summarize their incredible and meaty work: We are not ready for the technology. We don't have laws to protect innocent people. There are inherent flaws with the technology itself, resulting in innocent people experiencing harm. For example, it frequently misidentifies African Americans. That kind of mistake can put someone in prison for life.
To put facial recognition cameras in Indian schools scares me. As the scheme's critics say, there aren't rules on what happens to the data collected on these children and the adults who teach them. Who can access the data? What happens to it once it's recorded? Do parents understand the technology? And will they be asked to consent for their children?
But most importantly: Facial recognition data has to be treated with great care. If your credit card is lost or stolen, you get a new credit card. You can't get a new face. Know what I mean?
There are benefits to using facial recognition. Law enforcement entities have made strong arguments for its deployment to fight terrorism globally. But it's past time for the laws to catch up to its widespread use. Not everyone is interested in such altruistic aims.
Enjoy reading the news we've rounded up for you, and I'll see you next week!
Facebook, TikTok pay big to settle privacy cases
A U.S. federal judge has approved Facebook's $650 million payment to settle allegations it violated Illinois Facebook users' privacy rights, T_HQ reports. The class-action lawsuit accused Facebook of violating the state's Biometric Information Privacy Act after digitally scanning users' faces for its "tagging feature" without their consent. Meanwhile, TikTok will pay $92 million to settle allegations the platform violates children's privacy rights.
2. What could put the U.K.' adequacy' deal in peril?
Recently, the European Commission issued a draft decision declaring the U.K. to be an "adequate" third country. That means data can continue to flow between the EU and the U.K., as long as the European Data Protection Board and EU Members of Parliament approve the deal. Before Brexit, the U.K. enjoyed the free flow of data within the EU. But Brexit changed all that. Here's an Osano explainer of what it all means and what could put the deal in jeopardy in the future.
3. Clubhouse grew fast but overlooked privacy and security
Social media app Clubhouse has gained popularity in its early days, but it's also facing scrutiny for its privacy and security failings, WIRED reports. The app offers users group audio chats and has more than 10 million users. But privacy critics cite the app's "aggressive collection of users' contact lists," the report states. Also, researchers recently found the app was "transmitting users' Clubhouse identifiers and chatroom identity numbers unencrypted."
4. Critics worry after India's government installs facial recognition tech at schools
Digital rights activists say facial recognition technologies installed at a dozen or more government-funded schools in Delhi violate children's privacy, Al Jazeera reports. In 2019, the Delhi government decided to deploy the technology at more than 700 public schools. But Anushka Jain of the Internet Freedom Foundation said the plans don't include rules on collecting and using student data.
5. Utah, Minnesota aim to push privacy bills through
Though lawmakers introduced several privacy proposals at Utah's legislative session, time is running out, Deseret News reports. The government has until March 5 to pass any of the bills, including the Consumer Privacy Act. Meanwhile, Minnesota lawmakers introduced the Minnesota Consumer Data Privacy Act in the state's House of Representatives on Feb. 22.
6. Facebook campaign aims to combat Apple's upcoming changes
Facebook's new ad campaign, "Good Ideas Deserve to be Found," aims to do more than help users see the benefit of personalized ads, CNBC reports. It responds to Apple's changes to the iPhone that will make it "harder for advertisers to target ads to mobile phones and track their performance," the report states. Apple's changes will give users a front-and-center opt-out of targeted advertising. Facebook is hoping to encourage users to click "yes" to sharing their data when prompted.