All Data privacy stories

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
May 19, 2020 - Health

Americans are on board with contact tracing as long as it doesn't involve cellphone data

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A large majority of Americans say they're likely to cooperate with contact tracing and isolation efforts — as long as that doesn't involve handing over their cellphone location data, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Basing contact tracing efforts around voluntary cellphone programs is only effective if people are willing to use those programs — which Americans generally aren't, as we reported last week.

May 18, 2020 - World

FBI finds links between Pensacola gunman and al-Qaeda

Military personnel carry a transfer case for a service member who died in the Pensacola shooting, Dec. 8, 2019. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The FBI uncovered cellphone evidence that links al-Qaeda to last year's shooting at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, that killed three service members, the New York Times reports.

The state of play: The agency discovered that the gunman, a Saudi Air Force cadet training with the American military, communicated with an operative of a branch of the terrorist group who encouraged the attacks.

Ina Fried, author of Login
May 18, 2020 - Technology

Nigerian scam targets unemployment checks with stolen personal information

The Secret Service warns that an organized scam ring from Nigeria has been using stolen personal information to apply for unemployment benefits in various states, Krebs on Security reported over the weekend.

Why it matters: States were already struggling with a deluge of claims and trying to speed up the process. Defending against scammers could prompt governments to instill stricter security measures, potentially delaying payment to the millions who have recently lost their jobs.

Democrats offer public health privacy legislation

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A group of House and Senate Democrats on Thursday announced legislation meant to ensure any tech tools used to combat pandemics don't violate Americans' privacy or introduce cybersecurity risks.

Why it matters: Americans report being wary of tech-based systems for coronavirus contact tracing — that is, identifying infected people and isolating those who've come in contact with them. A recent Axios-Ipsos survey found that just half of Americans would participate in a voluntary, cell-phone-based contact-tracing program.

May 14, 2020 - Technology

Coronavirus derails smart city projects

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Large smart city projects were getting a lot of attention and investment from city halls before the coronavirus pandemic. Now, those budgets have all but evaporated and priorities have shifted dramatically.

Yes, but: Some smaller-scale innovations could help cities as they fight to recover from the crisis.

Advocacy groups want FTC probe into kids' privacy on TikTok

Photo Illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A coalition of children's advocacy groups accused video-sharing platform TikTok of violating children's privacy and called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate in a complaint Thursday.

Why it matters: TikTok is facing heat from Washington over concerns about how well it's protecting kids who use its wildly popular app — and it paid $5.7 million last year to settle an FTC investigation alleging that a predecessor app illegally obtained children's personal information.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
May 13, 2020 - Technology

The brave new world of digital coronavirus screening

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Employers emerging from lockdown are looking to new COVID-19 screening tools to help workers get back on the job.

Why it matters: Neither employees nor customers are likely to return to businesses if they fear infection, so there needs to be some way to separate the sick from the well. But many new screening services are untested, and could open the door to intrusive health surveillance.

May 7, 2020 - Technology

Zoom to step up user privacy, security following state probe

Zoom founder Eric Yuan in New York on the day of the firm's 2019 IPO. Photo: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Zoom agreed to step up security protections for all of its users under an agreement with the New York attorney general's office announced today.

The big picture: Zoom is keen to placate lawmakers and regulators as it deals with the increased scrutiny that has accompanied the popularity of its videoconferencing service during the coronavirus pandemic.

GOP senators unveil bill to police data use during pandemic

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images.

Senate Republicans on Thursday announced a measure to police how companies use Americans' personal data to track the spread of the coronavirus.

The big picture: Tech firms are increasingly looking to use data to combat the pandemic. Lead bill sponsor Roger Wicker said in a statement that this data "has great potential to help us contain the virus and limit future outbreaks, but we need to ensure that individuals’ personal information is safe from misuse."

Ina Fried, author of Login
Apr 17, 2020 - Technology

Bluetooth-based coronavirus contact tracing finds broad support

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Consensus seems to be building globally around the idea that Bluetooth-based contact tracing could be a practical use of technology to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Both governments and advocacy groups agree that using Bluetooth to sense the proximity of users' phones could be more effective and less of a civil rights problem than tapping location-based data that apps and service providers often collect.