WELCOME to Connected Rights, your mote in the eye of digital rights news and analysis.
Enjoy this newsletter? Forward it to a friend or get them to sign up. I’m David Meyer, aka @superglaze on Twitter. Don’t forget to check out the Connected Rights website and download a copy of my book, Control Shift: How Technology Affects You and Your Rights. Dagos tabi!
Apologies for the brevity of the newsletter today. I’ve been on leave for a while and am only slowly getting back up to speed.
GIOVANNI BUTTARELLI, the European Data Protection Supervisor, died in Italy yesterday, surrounded by his family. The sad news broke a short while ago.
From his office: “We are all profoundly saddened by this tragic loss of such a kind and brilliant individual. Throughout his life Giovanni dedicated himself completely to his family, to the service of the judiciary and the European Union and its values. His passion and intelligence will ensure an enduring and unique legacy for the institution of the EDPS and for all people whose lives were touched by him.”
I met Giovanni on several occasions and always found him to be an enthusiastic advocate not only of strong data protection law, but also of the spirit of that law. He believed very firmly in privacy rights, and will no doubt continue to serve as an inspiration to his successors and the rest of us.
FACEBOOK HAS UNVEILED ITS LONG-PROMISED “CLEAR HISTORY” TOOL and, guess what, it doesn’t let people delete the history of their online activities, as passed to Facebook by third parties.
From the Washington Post: “The implementation… doesn’t exactly flush data, as Zuckerberg had promised. Instead, it disconnects information from being identified to a specific user, and it isn’t deleted outright. Facebook officials previously said users could ‘delete this information from your account,’ a pledge that might have led users to believe Facebook would remove it entirely. The controls also won’t prevent Facebook from reporting back to another business whenever users generally purchase their product after seeing an ad targeted to them.”
FACEBOOK GOT HUMAN CONTRACTORS TO LISTEN to and transcribe audio from users’ conversations. Per Bloomberg: “They’re hearing Facebook users’ conversations, sometimes with vulgar content, but do not know why Facebook needs them transcribed, the people said.” The company says it’s paused the practice, as have other AI-training companies such as Apple and Google.
THE CV DAZZLE PROJECT IS ABOUT to get an update, according to progenitor Adam Harvey. He tweeted today: “Launched over 9 years ago. It’s finally time for a software update. Announcement in Sept.” The project aims to combat facial recognition algorithms.
AMAZON HAS PROUDLY ANNOUNCED that its facial recognition system, Rekognition, can now sense fear in people’s faces. Which is just heartwarming.
THE U.K. INFORMATION COMMISSIONER IS PROBING the use of live facial recognition technology in London’s Kings Cross development, which surrounds the busy station of that name.
Elizabeth Denham: “We have launched an investigation following concerns reported in the media regarding the use of live facial recognition in the King’s Cross area of central London, which thousands of people pass through every day. As well as requiring detailed information from the relevant organisations about how the technology is used, we will also inspect the system and its operation on-site to assess whether or not it complies with data protection law.”
Investors in the development aren’t chuffed, either.
THE LEAKED “OPERATION YELLOWHAMMER” DOCUMENT shows the British government knows that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, getting a data protection adequacy assessment from the EU could take years. In the meantime, data flows could be disrupted. Hang on to your hats.