Cyrus Farivar

Frustrated by internet service providers, cities and schools push for more data

Months into the school year, the one thing many families have learned is how much they rely on a functioning internet connection to access remote classrooms. So education equality experts who are trying to chip away at the many challenges families are struggling with through the pandemic are starting by simply trying to identify which students aren't connected to make sure those households have access to affordable packages. But even though most internet service providers, or ISPs, offer affordable packages, they refuse to say how many customers they have signed up for the programs.

Facebook leveraged user data to fight rivals and help friends

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network's power and control competitors by treating its users' data as a bargaining chip. Zuckerberg, along with his board and management team, found ways to tap Facebook users' data — including information about friends, relationships and photos — as leverage over the companies it partnered with.

Mark Zuckerberg leveraged Facebook user data to fight rivals and help friends, leaked documents show

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power and control competitors by treating its users’ data as a bargaining chip, while publicly proclaiming to be protecting that data, according to about 4,000 pages of leaked company documents largely spanning 2011 to 2015 and obtained by NBC News.

Facebook just hired a handful of its toughest privacy critics

Facebook has acknolwedged it has hired three veteran privacy law activists, including Nate Cardozo, an attorney formerly of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who has been very publicly critical of the company in recent years. In 2015, Cardozo once wrote in an op-ed that Facebook's "business model depends on our collective confusion and apathy about privacy."  In addition to Cardozo, Facebook also hired attorney Robyn Greene, previously with the Open Technology Institute in Washington, DC, and Nathan White, who is set to leave his position at Access Now.

Judge rejects proposed settlement to Yahoo data breach lawsuit

US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose (CA) has rejected a proposed settlement that would put an end to the years-long lawsuit over the company’s 2016 disclosure that it had been hit by nation-state hackers that exposed hundreds of millions of accounts. Judge Koh, who has presided over many tech-related cases, including the Apple v. Samsung trial, lambasted Yahoo for its lack of transparency over how it has handled the aftermath of the breach.

Vizio to Notify Class-Action Lawsuit Message To Consumers Via The TVs

In what is likely a first in the industry, Vizio is on the verge of agreeing to display a class-action lawsuit message through its previously sold "Smart TV" televisions as part of a legal settlement. This message is meant to alert customers who bought the TV that they will be party to the forthcoming settlement and likely will get a small amount of money. The manufacturer has been under scrutiny since a 2015 revelation that it was snooping on its customers.

Man sues over Google’s “Location History” fiasco, case could affect millions

On Aug 17, Google quietly edited its description of the practice on its own website—while continuing said practice—to clarify that "some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps." As a result of the previously unknown practice, Google has now been sued by a man in San Diego (CA). Simultaneously, activists in Washington (DC) are urging the Federal Trade Commission to examine whether the company is in breach of its 2011 consent decree with the agency.

Senator Wyden to FCC: How much do police stingrays drain a cellphone battery?

In a new letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) submitted a slew of new questions concerning how the controversial stingray devices interact with the 911 emergency system. His inquiries come on the heels of efforts in May to scrutinize what the Department of Justice knows about the secretive use of these devices. In addition, Sen Wyden got a new amendment into an appropriations bill that was approved by the Senate on June 25.

In seconds, we faked our way into a political campaign, got unsecured voter data

On June 5, polls will be open to voters in eight states, including California, which holds gubernatorial primaries among many other national, state, and local elections. Under California law, voter data (name, address, phone, age, party affiliation) is supposed to be "confidential and shall not appear on any computer terminal... or other medium routinely available to the public." However, there's a big exception to that law: this data can be made available to political campaigns, including companies that provide digital analysis services to campaigns.

Facebook removes 1.5 billion users from protection of EU privacy law

Facebook has quietly altered its terms of service, making stricter Irish data protection laws no longer binding on the vast majority of its users. Now, Facebook’s headquarters in California will be responsible for processing any relevant legal claims, and American law will be binding for those outside the European Union.