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Protego Press Weekly Roundup- December 20th, 2019

It’s the final 2019 Protego Press Round Up, and with topics ranging from algorithmic bias and consumer privacy, Robocalls and Census disinformation, it’s all in this week’s Protego Press Weekly Round Up.  And, a special note from all of us at Progego Press, thank you for your support this year. 

In Case You Missed It: Karthic Kannan wrote “How can we make sure that algorithms are fair?”.  He goes on to say that  “despite the challenges, machines and algorithms will continue to be useful to humans – for physical jobs as well as knowledge jobs. We must remain vigilant that any decisions made by algorithms are fair, and it is imperative that everyone understands their limitations. If we can do that, then it’s possible that human and machine intelligence will complement each other in valuable ways.

Privacy and Mobile Phones: In an expose for the NY Times, Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel detail how every minute of every day, everywhere on the planet, dozens of companies — largely unregulated, little scrutinized — are logging the movements of tens of millions of people with mobile phones and storing the information in gigantic data files. After reading the article about how location data companies are “quietly collecting precise movements using software slipped onto mobile phone apps…[how] they can see the places you go every moment of the day, whom you meet with or spend the night with, where you pray, whether you visit a methadone clinic, a psychiatrist’s office or a massage parlor”, you may reevaluate how you feel about what and how you use your mobile device.

Ring and Privacy: Amazon subsidiary Ring, which manufactures home security cameras and doorbells, found itself in the news again this week. First, the log-in credentials for 3,672 Ring camera owners were compromised this week, exposing log-in emails, passwords, time zones, and the names people give to specific Ring cameras, which are often the same as camera locations, such as “bedroom” or “front door.”  Wirecutter responded by “suspending our recommendation of Ring products & updating affected guides as soon as possible. Ring owners should turn on 2FA & update their passwords with a new, previously unused one.”

Robocalls:  This week, the Senate passed a bipartisan act to stop the rise of unwanted spam callers. The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act, or the TRACED Act, empowers the federal government with new abilities to go after illegal robocallers.  As the Verge writes, “once TRACED is enacted, the Federal Communications Commission could fine robocallers up to $10,000 per call. It also would require major carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile to deploy a new technology called STIR/SHAKEN into their networks, which will make it easier for consumers to know if they’re receiving a call from a spoofed number.” “We’re delighted the Senate acted quickly to pass this legislation to shutdown illegal robocalls,” wrote the bill’s co-sponsors in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement. “We’re working hard to help the American people get real relief from these relentless and illegal calls. We look forward to the President signing this overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation into law very soon.”

Facebook Removing Disinformation About Census: Facebook will remove posts, photos and other content that mislead people about the U.S. census starting next year, aiming to prevent malicious actors from interfering in a critical, once-in-a-decade process that determines political representation, the social media company announced Thursday.  According to a letter published by the social media company on Thursday, Facebook’s census interference policy will prohibit:

  • Misrepresentation of the dates, locations, times and methods for census participation;
  • Misrepresentation of who can participate in the census and what information and/or materials must be provided in order to participate;
  • Content stating that census participation may or will result in law enforcement consequences; 
  • Misrepresentation of government involvement in the census, including that an individual’s census information will be shared with another government agency; and 
  • Calls for coordinated interference that would affect an individual’s ability to participate in the census, enforcement of which often requires additional information and context.

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