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Privacy and data protection

2019

On April 25, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) announced the launch of an investigation to determine whether Facebook had acted in compliance with the GDPR, after the company found that hundreds of millions of user passwords were stored in plain text in its servers. According to the Irish Times, The DPC has eight active statutory investigations into Facebook, and a further three into Instagram and WhatsApp, which are both owned by Facebook.

Facebook indicated that it expected a fine up to $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission for privacy violations. The FTC is looking into whether Facebook broke its own 2011 agreement to protect user privacy. The company disclosed this amount in its quarterly financial reports. According to the New York Times, this fine would be a milestone for the F.T.C., whose biggest fine for a tech company was $22 million against Google in 2012 for misrepresenting how it used some online tracking tools.  

 

The National Security Agency (NSA) has formally recommended that the White House drop a phone surveillance program launched in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks in 2001. According to the Wall Street Journal, this recommendation is justified by the logistical and legal burden this program created. Until now, the White House has not made its final decision to push for a legislation to renew this surveillance program.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai is publicly opposing the approval of China Mobile’s application to provide telecommunication services within the USA. In his statement Pai raised concerns about national security and law enforcement challenges while encouraging other members of the commission to veto the application when they vote.

According to the Business Insider, Facebook harvested the email contacts of 1.5 million users without their consent. This new privacy breach was revealed after a security researcher noticed that Facebook was asking some users to enter their e-mail passwords when they signed up for new accounts to verify their identities.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is suing all three branches of the Canadian government over privacy violations following the Sidewalk Toronto agreement signed between the Waterfront Toronto and  Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs to develop a smart city in Toronto. The agreement was expected to be approved or rejected this summer. Nevertheless, the CCLA argues that Waterfront Toronto which is a partnership between the City of Toronto, the Government of Canada, and the Province of Ontario does not have the right jurisdiction to make decisions regarding people’s privacy.

 

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