Data privacy

The big picture

Tech's deepening split over ads and privacy

A new conflict between Apple and Facebook is spotlighting privacy concerns that stem from online advertising.

Aug 27, 2020 - Technology
EU-U.S. privacy rift leaves businesses in disarray

Thousands of firms are scrambling to figure out how to get data over from Europe without exposing themselves to legal risks.

Aug 12, 2020 - Technology
What companies know about you

An Axios series on what information different companies have on you.

Feb 3, 2020 - Technology
Deep Dive: The end of anonymity

Data that might once have gone unnoticed can now be detected, analyzed and logged in real time.

Sep 7, 2019 - Technology
Cities are the new data guzzlers

A smart city can vacuum up details like your location or daily habits.

Jun 29, 2019 - Technology
Deep Dive: Inside the mass invasion of your privacy

Our lackadaisical approach to safeguarding data has made a handful of companies extremely powerful.

Updated Mar 9, 2019 - Technology

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The risks and rewards of charging state-backed hackers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Last week’s stunning indictment of three North Korean hackers laid bare both the advantages and drawbacks of the U.S. government’s evolving strategy of using high-profile prosecutions to publicize hostile nation-state cyber activities.

Why it matters: Criminal charges can help the U.S. establish clear norms in a murky and rapidly changing environment, but they may not deter future bad behavior and could even invite retaliation against U.S. intelligence officials.

Jan 28, 2021 - Technology

Big Tech at war over privacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The world's biggest tech firms are at each other's throats over how to manage data privacy, an issue that will shape the internet economy for years to come.

Why it matters: Absent any U.S. government intervention, tech companies are introducing rules that favor their own ideals and business models, sometimes at their peers' expense.

Fertility app settles probe into data sharing with Facebook, Google

Illustration: Flo

A fertility app with more than 100 million customers on Wednesday settled a Federal Trade Commission investigation into allegations that it shared health information with Google, Facebook and other companies without users' consent.

Details: The FTC said Flo promised users of its Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker app that their health information would be kept private, but instead shared data, including whether a user was pregnant, with companies that provided marketing and analytics services.

Dec 22, 2020 - World

U.S. charges against Zoom executive highlight tech's China problem

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice charged a China-based Zoom executive with disrupting video meetings hosted by users outside China that commemorated the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. The complaint reveals the now-terminated employee was sending the private data of some U.S.-based users directly to the Ministry of State Security (MSS), China's main civilian spy agency.

Why it matters: Researchers and U.S. government officials have warned that the Chinese government might require China-based employees of U.S. companies to hand over private company data to Beijing. The DOJ's charges indicate those fears are valid.

Dec 17, 2020 - Technology

Facebook goes to war with Apple over ad privacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook further escalated its long-brewing fight with Apple this week, launching a second round of full-page newspaper ads Thursday charging that new Apple privacy measures will hurt small businesses. At the same time, Facebook is backing developers in a lawsuit against Apple's app store policies.

The big picture: Apple wants to give users the chance to opt out of being tracked by Facebook and other companies that sell ads. Facebook says the move will "change the internet as we know it — for the worse."

Apple debuts new privacy "nutrition labels" on App Store

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Apple on Monday debuted its new privacy "nutrition labels" to all product pages for apps listed in its App Store.

Why it matters: The labels are meant to serve as an easy-to-view summary of how apps collect user data for users to review before they install a new app. Some developers worry that the summaries are too broad and could spook users into thinking they collect more data than they do.

Dec 9, 2020 - Technology

Scoop: WhatsApp goes after Apple over privacy label requirements

Photo: Carsten Rehder/picture alliance via Getty Images

Facebook's global messaging service WhatsApp is protesting Apple's requirement that app owners submit information about the user data they collect for use in new privacy labels coming to Apple's app store.

The state of play: WhatsApp says that the provision is anti-competitive because Apple's own encrypted messaging service, Messages, is preinstalled on iPhones and doesn't need to be downloaded from Apple's app store, where the privacy labels are now required.

How Trump chose disinformation over his own cyber chief

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump, in announcing the latest in a line of post-election firings, embraced unsubstantiated claims of election hacking over one of his own top cybersecurity officials.

Why it matters: This is only the latest example of an ongoing attempt to purge officials deemed insufficiently loyal to the president. But the potential decapitation of cyber leadership at the Department of Homeland Security could also create expertise gaps during the presidential transition period, making the country less secure.

U.S. military buys app tracking data from private services

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is quietly purchasing access to vast troves of real-time location and user data from commercial apps that focus on everything from dating services for Muslims to weather reports, according to a new Vice investigation.

Why it matters: Though legal, the purchase of these data tracking services by the U.S. military raises serious civil liberties and privacy questions — as well as questions about just how the military is employing this data.

Report: Swiss government long in dark over CIA front company

Photo by: Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Image

The Swiss intelligence service has known since at least 1993 that Switzerland-based encryption device maker Crypto AG was actually a front for the CIA and its German counterpart, according to a new report released by the Swiss Parliament, but Swiss leaders were in the dark until last year.

Why it matters: Switzerland’s intra-governmental information gap is unlikely to be welcome news in Europe, which already looks warily upon the U.S.’ expansive surveillance practices. Still, Crypto AG provided information of incalculable value to U.S. policymakers over many decades.

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