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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
A new study says Facebook and dating apps collect the most personal information about users, though a wide range of apps are collecting more data than one would expect.
Why it matters: It's not always intuitive which apps are grabbing data. And even when a site or app doesn't explicitly collect a piece of information, it can still infer that information from other data it does collect.
Cisco's WebEx will announce today a new version of its conferencing software designed specifically for legislatures and other governmental bodies.
Why it matters: With the pandemic, governments around the world are trying to function remotely and securely.