PRG News Roundup, February 2, 2022

During the second PRG meeting of the Spring 2022 semester, the following topics were discussed.

In Germany, Twitter is challenging a provision in an anti-hate speech regulation. The regulation mandates social media firms to report serious criminal offences to German authorities. In reporting to the authorities, Twitter must transfer user data even though no crime has yet been committed. Twitter is arguing that this law impinges upon German citizens’ individual liberties and transforms social media firms into informal criminal prosecutors.

The Israeli Privacy Protection Authority issued its final paper regarding privacy protection officers.

Crisis Text Line, a non-profit messaging service is under fire for making use of anonymous data drawn from the conversations of its users to build a for-profit machine learning system. This platform’s mission is to help users in the context of mental health crises.

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) activities increased at record rates in 2021. The gaming industry has been one of the main victims of these attacks. Microsoft played an important role in curtailing many of these cyberattacks.

Bank Indonesia was also targeted by a ransomware attack at the beginning of 2022. The cybercriminals acquired non-essential data which belonged to the employees of the Bank. The Conti ransomware group claimed responsibility over the attack. As of the end of the month of January, the Conti group was still threatening to leak the data it had stolen.

Video game corporations may increasingly resort to facial recognition technologies. For instance, Tencent announced last year that it would use facial recognition systems in order to comply with China’s gaming regulations which aim to decrease the amount of time that minors spend on these devices.

Unity Technologies is attempting to create “digital twins” of people. These twins are essentially clones of real-life objects or persons. They exist and interact in a virtual sphere. The creators of these technologies are trying to simulate human behaviour and action through these digital twins. Ultimately, by using large amounts of data, Unity’s objective is to generate a “digital twin of the world”.

State lawmakers in Massachusetts are trying to pass a new privacy bill, the Massachusetts Information Privacy and Security Act.

In San Francisco, the mayor is suggesting a new ballot measure for the upcoming June election which would empower the police department to make use of live surveillance without prior approval in certain circumstances to prevent crime or harm. For example, police would have the authority to deploy real-time surveillance in certain neighborhoods.

In India, the Modi government is planning to reduce carbon emissions by promoting the use and sale of electric vehicles. The government is attempting to reach this goal through a “battery swapping” policy. This policy would allow drivers of electric vehicles to replace their batteries for already charged batteries at “swap stations”.

New Chinese draft provisions and propositions regarding the “deep synthesis” of Internet content have been issued.

In Tel Aviv, researchers have developed a novel method for lie detection by resorting to software, electrodes and algorithmic techniques.

Anduril Industries recently announced its new contract with the U.S Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Anduril will be supporting SOCOM’s “unmanned systems” and help counter military threats. 

Lastly, the Belgian Data Protection Agency decided that the Transparency and Consent Framework (a framework which manages user preferences for targeted advertising) is non-compliant with the GDPR. The Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe (IAB) has been fined in light of these violations.

(Compiled by Student Fellow Natasha Petrof)