All Data privacy stories

Ina Fried
Ina Fried, author of Login
Jun 8, 2020 - Technology

IBM is exiting the face recognition business

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna. Photo: IBM

In a letter to members of Congress on Monday, IBM said it is exiting the general-purpose facial recognition business and said it opposes the use of such technology for mass surveillance and racial profiling.

Why it matters: Facial recognition software is controversial for a number of reasons, including the potential for human rights violations as well as evidence that the technology is less accurate in identifying people of color.

Lawsuit alleges Google tracks users even in incognito mode

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Google faces a new lawsuit seeking at least $5 billion over accusations the company profits off of using its ad tech to track people across the internet, even when they take steps to mask their browsing.

The big picture: Google, like other tech giants, has faced rising scrutiny in recent years over its collection and use of private data, and policymakers and advocates have looked to how it uses ad tech as a possible avenue for curbing its power.

Chinese coronavirus test maker agreed to build a Xinjiang gene bank

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A leading Chinese gene sequencing and biomedical firm that said it would build a gene bank in Xinjiang is supplying coronavirus tests around the world.

Why it matters: U.S. officials are worried that widespread coronavirus testing may provide an opportunity for state-connected companies to compile massive DNA databases for research as well as genetics-based surveillance.

Mike Allen, author of AM
May 26, 2020 - Economy & Business

Palantir CEO hits Silicon Valley "monoculture," may leave California

Palantir is "getting close" to a decision on whether to move the company out of California, CEO Alex Karp said in an interview for "Axios on HBO."

The state of play: "We haven't picked a place yet, but it's going to be closer to the East Coast than the West Coast. ... If I had to guess, I would guess something like Colorado."

Ina Fried, author of Login
May 19, 2020 - Technology

DOJ and Apple reignite dispute over encryption

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The long-simmering debate over encryption has come to a boil once more, as Attorney General Bill Barr again attacked Apple on the issue and a leading Senate encryption critic now has law enforcement looking to get into his own device. 

The big picture: Although they're not viable in all cases, there are a number of ways for law enforcement to get suspects' data. That, however, hasn't stopped pressure on companies like Apple to build backdoors to let law enforcement access encrypted devices.

May 19, 2020 - Technology

Exclusive: New York Times phasing out all 3rd-party advertising data

The New York Times building. Photo: Eduardo MunozAlvarez/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images

The New York Times will no longer use 3rd-party data to target ads come 2021, executives tell Axios, and it is building out a proprietary first-party data platform.

Why it matters: Third-party data, which is collected from consumers on other websites, is being phased out of the ad ecosystem because it's not considered privacy-friendly.

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.