Privacy and data protection


Absher, the official app for eServices of the Saudi Ministry of Interior’s National Information Center in Saudi Arabia, allows men to track and restrict the movement to women. It sends text messages to men when their wife or daughter tries to use their passport and men can use it to alert airports in Saudi Arabia to catch a woman in case the is trying to travel without permission or flee Saudi Arabia. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden sent an open letter to Apple and Google chief executive officers, Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, urging them to ‘immediately remove from your app stores the Saudi government’s Absher app, which enables Saudi men to track and control the movements of Saudi women.’ Wyden asked them to prevent technical infrastructure, including app stores, from being used by Saudi government to enable ‘abhorrent surveillance and control of women.’ Cook was not familiar with the case, but promised the company will look into it and consider next steps on Apple’s App Store. A spokesman for Google said the company has also started investigating the app hosted on Google Play Store in order to determine if it is in accordance with its policies.

India’s government is finalising proposals to enable itself to block internet content, continuing its battle with global Internet technology companies (for example, India was the first country to reject Facebook's Free Basics). The new rules would require that applications like Facebook, Twitter, and TikToc implement automated screening tools and to remove posts or videos Indian officials consider 'libelous, invasive of privacy, hateful, or deceptive'. They could also undermine the privacy protections of messaging services by allowing the government to trace messages, for example. Critics have compared the moves to censorship policy in China

Wired's Paris Martineau commented on the situation in India is Cracking Down on Ecommerce and Free Speech.

According to the commission’s alert, the communication system of the watch is unencrypted, which enables access to the data stored in the watch (e.g. location, phone numbers). Therefore, it is possible for hackers to send commands to the watch, to communicate with the child wearing the watch or locate the child.

The US advocacy group The Future of Privacy Forum in consultation with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) Technology Forum published a white paper exploring the benefits, challenges, and privacy tensions concerning IoT and people with disabilities. The paper describes the privacy considerations of IoT for people with disabilities and offers several recommendations for companies and policymakers on how to address the issue. Main recommendations are: prioritising inclusive design for people with disabilities, consideration of the sensitive nature of the personal data of people with disabilities when designing IoT devices, and asking policymakers to consider the risks and benefits of IoT for people with disabilities in policy decisions.

ICANN has issued its third Legislative and Regulatory Report summarising recent and pending privacy and data protection, as well as cybersecurity legislation as of 31 December 2018. The report includes enacted regulations and current trends from around the world which may have bearing on ICANNs mission.

Based on reports published by NHK world and Forbes, Japan’s Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, Masashi Ishida, has approved an amendment related to connected devices. According to the amendment, which is a part of a governmental security survey, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology Law, will attempt to hack connected devices at homes and offices in Japan, in order to test their vulnerabilities. The operators of the survey will randomly hack into about 200 million devices and create a list of vulnerabilities, which they will share with the owners of the breached devices as well as their Internet service providers (ISPs) for them to improve their safeguards. This move is done in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, as part of the Japanese government’s efforts to deal with cybersecurity threats.



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