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."
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.
The world is learning the hard way that ramping up manufacturing of the equipment needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic isn't as easy as scaling up the software that has come to dominate our lives.
Why it matters: Our economy has thrived on manipulating bytes, but to face the threats of the future, we'll need to relearn how to manipulate atoms in the real world. New technology like 3D printing can help by putting the flexibility of software at work in the creation of stuff.
The Senate Commerce Committee will examine how companies and the government are using consumer data in response to the coronavirus pandemic through a so-called paper hearing Thursday.
The big picture: Lawmakers' efforts to pass a bipartisan federal privacy law have stalled, but expect privacy considerations to be a key driver in questions about data use.
Concerns continue to mount over video chat provider Zoom, with New York City's school district, the largest in the country with more than a million students, advising teachers not to use its software. Zoom was also forced to issue yet another apology, this time for routing some calls through China.
Why it matters: Zoom has seen a massive increase in adoption amid the coronavirus lockdowns, but it has also repeatedly been forced to apologize for security lapses and other problems.
Most Americans don't want app makers or the government to scrape their data to combat the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey finds, in the face of public- and private-sector efforts to do just that.
Why it matters: Efforts to fight the pandemic are putting new pressure on privacy protections, particularly around health information, but this study's results shared with Axios suggest the U.S. public isn't ready to give them up.
This is clearly Zoom's moment in the spotlight, as the public has embraced the videoconferencing provider's service during the coronavirus lockdown. However, security woes, privacy controversies, and trolling incidents have marred the company's star turn.
The big picture: When Zoom usage soared as Americans started working and studying from home, some worried whether it could handle the load. It did, but other problems cropped up as millions of consumers started using what had been an unsung piece of business software.
Facebook said Monday it's updating its data privacy tools to include additional information about what content users interact with on Facebook and the machine learning data created from their engagement, which the company uses to infer what else they may like.
Why it matters: Facebook wants to ensure it's getting ahead of any privacy regulations, with GDPR now long in effect, and before the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which went into effect Jan. 1, starts being officially enforced on July 1.
Arweave, a London-based blockchain startup focused on permanent data storage, raised $8.3 million in tokenized funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Coinbase Ventures and Union Square Ventures.
Why it matters: The company's technology is designed to create permanent record of web content — a boon to fighting government censorship, but a possible nightmare for "right to be forgotten" advocates.
Facebook on Thursday sued OneAudience, a mobile data analytics company, for collecting data from its users beginning in September 2019.
Details: Facebook alleges that OneAudience plugged software development kits (SDK) — designed to scrape user data from its site as well as Google and Twitter — into shopping and gaming apps distributed through stores like Google Play.