Nov 252019
 November 25, 2019  Posted by  Business, Govt

Ben Brody reports:

Antitrust authorities probing Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have struggled with scrutinizing companies whose products are popular and free. Now they may have a solution: Use privacy as a test.

As the U.S. Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission, Congress and the states investigate whether internet companies are flouting antitrust laws, academics and even some regulators are pushing to go beyond the traditional focus on price as a determinant of harm. Enforcers, they say, should also consider privacy lapses as a proxy for anti-competitive behavior.

Read more on Bloomberg

Nov 242019
 November 24, 2019  Posted by  Featured News, Surveillance, U.S., Youth & Schools

Thomas J. Prohaska reports:

Lacking permission to use its 300 digital cameras for facial recognition, officials at the Lockport City School District came up with another idea: Use the cameras to look for guns instead.

That was their plan for this Monday, when the system was to be switched on at the district’s schools.

But the State Education Department hasn’t responded to the district’s request to make that change, so plans to turn on the system have been canceled indefinitely, Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley told The Buffalo News.

Read more on Buffalo News.

Nov 232019
 November 23, 2019  Posted by  Business, Featured News, Healthcare

Dan Robitzski names a number of DNA testing firms and outlines how questionable their results are, writing, in part:

The problem, according to experts, is that these companies are promising information about DNA with a granularity that even scientists can’t deliver. Deanna Church, a geneticist at the biotech company Inscripta, told Futurism the tests are “all equally useless.”

“There is not a scientific basis for this sort of testing,” she said. “I certainly would not recommend anyone spend any money on this sort of thing.”

But thousands of people are doing just that — and receiving supposed facts about themselves that have little or no scientific grounding. This can cause problems — Genomelink customers could feasibly see their predictions for traits like “gluten sensitivity,” “longevity,” or “alcohol drinking behavior,” assume the results are valid, and make ill-informed lifestyle or medical changes based on the results.

And other Genomelink customers agree with Mary: the results just don’t hold up.

Read more on Futurism.

Nov 232019
 November 23, 2019  Posted by  Breaches, Business, Featured News

Cory Doctorow talks common sense about privacy in describing a huge data leak whose immediate owner is as yet unknown.  Cory writes, in part:

The brokers don’t think they were breached. PDL founder Sean Thorne hypothesized that some of the data his company nonconsensually gathered on 1.5 billion people was sold to a normal customer who mishandled it and that is “their responsibility.”

Oxydata exec Martynas Simanauskas said that while his company sells its nonconsensual dossiers on terms that require its customers to manage the data conservatively, “there is no way for us to enforce all of our clients to follow the best data protection practices and guidelines.”

They’re totally right about one thing: once you gather and sell this data, you can’t control it — it’s pluripotent, omnitoxic, and immortal. It’s nuclear waste.

The thing they’re wrong about is the wisdom of selling that pluripotent, omnitoxic, immortal toxic waste, given that they can’t control it.

Read more on BoingBoing.