Facebook Signs EU’s Privacy Shield Treaty; May Spark Privacy Row

Facebook Signs EU's Privacy Shield Treaty; May Spark Privacy RowSocial networking giant Facebook has agreed to adopt a new European Union (EU) data accord that allows personal information to be transferred to the US, potentially sparking yet another privacy row, the media reported.

Facebook has quietly signed the Privacy Shield – a controversial treaty that allows US technology companies to transfer EU citizens’ details abroad. It will apply to certain advertising data and its new Workplace service for businesses, the Telegraph UK reported on Saturday.

Privacy Shield, a replacement deal that was designed to provide extra safeguards for Europeans, came into force in July. Google and Microsoft have already adopted the treaty.

Facebook signed up at the end of September, although only two aspects of the social network use it.The first is Workplace, a special version of Facebook that allows company employees to communicate, which was launched last week.

The other is its “Ads and Measurement” technology that uses customer data supplied by other companies to target adverts.

Other user data is not covered by the treaty, although it can be transferred to the US under secondary legal measures, the report said.

“We have signed up two important parts of our business to the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework – Facebook at Work and our relevant Ads and Measurement services,” a Facebook spokesman confirmed the report.

Facebook’s adoption of the treaty is significant because the prior US-EU agreement, Safe Harbour which was abolished by the European Court of Justice as a direct result of legal action against the social network by privacy campaigners.

However, it is likely to lead to further scrutiny of the Privacy Shield deal from Facebook’s critics, the report stated.

Tags: EU, Privacy Shield, Facebook, Social, Internet
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Pokemon Go: US Senator Probes Maker Over Data Privacy Concerns

Pokemon Go: US Senator Probes Maker Over Data Privacy Concerns

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Pokemon Go had a privacy issue while Google signing-in process on iOS
  • The company has released an update to the game fixing the problem
  • Nintendo’s Pokemon Go has been a smash hit worldwide since its launch

A Democratic US senator on Tuesday asked the software developer behind Nintendo Co Ltd’s Pokemon Go to clarify the mobile game’s data privacy protections, amid concerns the augmented reality hit was unnecessarily collecting vast swaths of sensitive user data.

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota sent a letter to Niantic Chief Executive John Hanke asking what user dataPokemon Go collects, how the data is used and with what third party service providers that data may be shared.

(Also see:  How to Download, Install, and Play Pokemon Go Right Now)

The game, which marries Pokemon, the classic 20-year-old cartoon franchise, with augmented reality, allows players to walk around real-life neighborhoods while seeking virtual Pokemon game characters on their smartphone screens – a scavenger hunt that has earned enthusiastic early reviews.

(Also see:  Pokemon Go: 21 Pro Tips From People Who Spent the Whole Weekend Playing It)

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Franken also asked Niantic to describe how it ensures parents give “meaningful consent” to a child’s use of the game and subsequent collection of his or her personal information.

“I am concerned about the extent to which Niantic may be unnecessarily collecting, using, and sharing a wide range of users’ personal information without their appropriate consent,” Franken wrote.

“As the augmented reality market evolves, I ask that you provide greater clarity on how Niantic is addressing issues of user privacy and security, particularly that of its younger players,” he added.

(Also see:  Pokemon Go Is Responsible for These Real Life Weird and Scary Things)

Franken additionally asked Niantic to provide an update on a vulnerability detected on Monday by security researchers who found Pokemon Go players signing into the game via a Google account on anApple iOS device unwittingly gave “full access permission” to the person’s Google account.

Pokemon Go on Tuesday released an updated version on iOS to reduce the number of data permissions it sought from Google account users.

(Also see:  Pokemon Go Cheatsheet: 10 Things to Know About the Game That Has Everyone Hooked)

Niantic did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Franken’s inquiry.

The company, spun off by Google last year, created the game in tandem with Pokemon Co, a third of which is owned by Nintendo.

Pokemon Go has been a smash hit for Nintendo. The Japanese company’s first venture in mobile gaming brought market-value gains of $7.5 billion in just two days after the game’s release last week.

Franken asked for a response by August 12.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Tags: Apple, Apps, Gaming, Niantic, Niantic Labs, Nintendo, Pokemon, Pokemon Go, Privacy

 

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EU Privacy Watchdogs Could Seek US Data Pack Review in 2 Years: Reports

EU Privacy Watchdogs Could Seek US Data Pack Review in 2 Years: Reports

European privacy watchdogs could ask for a review in two years of a new transatlantic data pact designed to help companies such as Microsoft and IBM to shuffle around user data, according to three people familiar with the matter.

European data protection authorities are assessing whether to endorse the EU-US Privacy Shield, a framework agreed in February that will allow companies to move Europeans’ data to the United States without falling foul of strict EU data transferral rules.

But the regulators have concerns about how much data US government agents can collect and access as well as the independence of a new US “ombudsperson” to handle EU complaints about US surveillance practices, the people said.

“Who is independent enough? Independence is a key criteria to addressing the real position of this person,” Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, chair of the group of 28 EU data protection authorities, said last week in Washington when asked about the ombudsperson.

The regulators also have doubts about US assurances that Europeans’ data transferred to the United States will not be subject to indiscriminate mass surveillance, two of the people said.

The EU regulators might ask for the framework to be reviewed when a stricter EU data protection law comes into force in 2018 to see if it still meets EU privacy standards, the people said.

That would be separate from the annual review already foreseen in the agreement with Washington.

Falque-Pierrotin had hinted at the idea at a hearing in the European Parliament in March.

The regulators’ opinion will be published on Wednesday at the end of a two-day meeting. While non-binding, it is important because the regulators enforce EU data protection law and can suspend specific data transfers.

In addition, the opinion will be watched closely by EU member state representatives who have to give their approval for the Privacy Shield to be formally adopted.

Commercial data transfers to the United States have been conducted in a legal limbo since October last year when the top EU court struck down Safe Harbour, a framework that for 15 years allowed over 4,000 companies to avoid cumbersome EU data transfer rules by stating that they complied with EU data protection law.

Revelations almost three years ago by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden of mass US Internet surveillance programmes sparked outrage in Europe.

While privacy and consumer groups have urged the regulators not to lend their support to the Privacy Shield, arguing that it does not solve fundamental flaws with US enforcement of privacy, businesses have appealed for it to be swiftly approved.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Data transfer, Facebook, IBM, Internet, Microsoft, Privacy Shield, Social
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US FCC Advances Privacy Proposal for Internet Users

US FCC Advances Privacy Proposal for Internet Users

The US Federal Communications Commission on Thursday advanced a proposal to ensure the privacy of broadband Internet users by barring providers from collecting user data without consent.

The proposed regulation from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler won initial approval with a 3-2 vote to require broadband providers to obtain consumer consent, disclose data collection, protect personal information and report breaches but would not bar any data collection practices.

“It’s the consumers’ information and the consumer should have the right to determine how it’s used,” Wheeler said.

Broadband providers currently collect consumer data without consent and some use that data for targeted advertising, which has drawn criticism from privacy advocates.

Wheeler’s proposal does not prohibit Internet providers from using or sharing customer data for any purpose. The FCC would not extend the broadband provider privacy rules to sites such as Twitter,Google or Facebook, drawing the ire of providers.

Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai said Thursday there is no good reason to single out broadband providers for regulations, while not regulating websites. The plan “favours one set of corporate interests over another,” he said.

The FCC has authority to set privacy rules after it reclassified broadband providers last year as part of new net neutrality regulations. A federal appeals court has not ruled on a challenge to that decision.

A final vote on new regulations will follow a public comment period during which the FCC is asking for possible “additional or alternative paths to achieve pro-consumer, pro-privacy goals.”

Under the rules providers would need to tell consumers what information is being collected, how it is being used and when it will be shared.

They would also be required protect data under a data security standard. Consumers would need to be notified of breaches of their data no later than 10 days after it was discovered.

Ratings agency Moody’s Investors Services said earlier the proposal to impose privacy restrictions on broadband providers such as Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp is “credit negative.”

Advocacy group Free Press praised the FCC for moving ahead and said the commission must consider other issues in setting rules including “pay-for-privacy, deep-packet inspection, upselling services, competition and data security.”

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association urged the FCC to adopt a “technology neutral approach by treating companies with access to similar user information the same.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Broadband, FCC, Federal Communications Commission, Internet, Privacy
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