PRG News Roundup, November 3, 2021

Upcoming Events

Guarini Colloquium: Regulating Global Digital Corporations – Monday November 8, 2021, 17:20 – 18:20. In this NYU Law School colloquium, Hong Shen, the author of Alibaba: Infrastructuring Global China Routledge 2021) will be joining to discuss Alibaba’s role in China’s digital economy and beyond. If you are interested in attending, please email guariniglobal@nyu.edu (NYU Law community members can attend in person).

News Items 

Facebook announced that it plans to shut down its decade-old facial recognition system this month due to Societal Concerns. Facebook’s facial-recognition software had allowed it to build one of the largest repositories of digital photos in the world. This decision will result in deleting the face scan data of more than one billion users and effectively eliminating a feature that has fueled privacy concerns, government investigations, a class-action lawsuit and regulatory woes.

Yahoo is pulling out of China, ending its few remaining operations, as the country’s new strict regulations over data and gaming go into effect. Yahoo will be joining LinkedIn and Epic Games’ Fortnite to announce downsize China operations in the past month. The new Chinese data regulation requires a security assessment from a government authority, as well as certain contractual clauses about the government’s access to people’s personal data and restrictions on where that data can be stored. Also, a new gaming law attempts to prevent anyone under 18 years old from playing more than three hours of video games a week.

Facial recognition firm Clearview AI has been ordered to cease collecting photos of Australians from the internet and destroy all images and facial templates belonging to individuals living in Australia by the country’s national privacy regulator after it was revealed police in some states had trialed the technology. Clearview, which claims to have scraped 10 billion images of people from social media sites in order to identify them in other photos, sells its technology to law enforcement agencies. Following an investigation, Australia’s privacy regulator has found that the company breached citizens’ privacy according to the Australians Privacy Act 1988. 

Last week, India’s Supreme Court ordered an independent probe into reports that the government used the NSO’s surveillance software “Pegasus” to spy illegally on journalists, activists, and political opponents. The top court appointed a three-member committee to investigate the allegation, and its report will be submitted in two months.

Meta (Facebook’s owner) denies a claim by the Kazakhstan government that it had been granted exclusive privileges to remove ‘harmful’ content from Facebook. The Kazakh government had published what it called a “joint statement” with Facebook, alleging that it granted exclusive access to Facebook’s content reporting system that would streamline the process of removing content deemed illegal by Kazakhstan. In response, Meta spokesman Ben McConaghy said Facebook had dedicated online channels for governments to report content that they believe violates local law, and that “This process is the same in Kazakhstan as it is for other countries around the world,” additionally, he added that the government released their own statement, independent from Facebook. 

(Compiled by Student Fellow Amit Shoval)