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The Data Drop News for Friday, February 26, 2021

Updated: May 18, 2021

China accessing Clubhouse users' data, Spotify listening to their listeners, Facebook retracts news ban in Australia, more US states introduce data privacy laws, and more!

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Clubhouse user data accessible in China

Clubhouse, a new and increasingly popular audio chatroom app developed in the US, was found to contain security flaws that left users’ data vulnerable to access by the Chinese government.

The Stanford Internet Observatory confirmed that Chinese tech firm Agora Inc. supplied back-end infrastructure that would likely give them access to users’ raw audio, and potentially provide access for the Chinese government.

Clubhouse says it is reviewing its data protection practices.

Spotify listening to listeners?

Music streaming service Spotify recently registered a patent for monitoring the background noise and speech of its users. In other words, they want to listen to you while you listen to them. Their stated goal is to assess the listener’s “emotional state, gender, age, or accent,” in order to enhance their music recommendation algorithm.

Spotify released a statement saying that filing a patent does not guarantee the technology will ever see the light of day.

Facebook lifts news content ban in Australia

Facebook announced that it will lift its ban on Australians sharing news on its platform after it struck a deal with the country's government on legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism.

The social media giant received criticism when it decided to block news on its platform across Australia after the House of Representatives passed the draft law. Facebook's ban previously censored posts about Australia's response to the global pandemic, as well as stories related to public health and emergency services - which of course sparked anger among Australian users of the service.

More US states advancing Data Privacy

The bill enjoyed popular support among state lawmakers, passing 89-to-9 in the Virginia House and unanimously in the state Senate. The law is now expected to be signed into action by Governor Ralph Northam in the coming days.

Hot on their heels is Florida, which just introduced House Bill 969. The new law is aimed at consumer privacy protection, but there's great doubt that it will pass due to the potential rise in litigation.

Virginia and Florida join the growing number of US jurisdictions that are advancing data protection for their citizens, a list that includes California, Oklahoma, Utah, New York, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Washington.


This week's Data Privacy zingers

UK employee surveillance

In the UK, a recent survey found that 12 percent of businesses have implemented software to track how long it takes workers to reply to emails, whether they’re attending Zoom meetings, and more, which could be used to determine raises, promotions, and firings.

Iowa woman discloses whistleblowers

In Iowa, a former government employee revealed the identities of individuals cooperating with a police investigation by accessing the district’s shared storage drive, snapping pictures with her phone, and uploading them to a Facebook group for "outing snitches.”

US citizen data worth $8 on the black market

A recent investigation of the data identity black market on the dark web found that a US citizen's full credentials - including Social Security number, credit card info, home address, and more - sell for an average of just $8.

TikTok Trouble

A recent TikTok trend has some users inadvertently revealing more than they intended.

In the “silhouette challenge,” users pose nude while obscuring any details with a red and black filter. However, other users have started editing the posts to reveal faces and other intimate details in a gross violation of privacy.


The Data Drop News is a production of the Data Collaboration Alliance, a nonprofit working to advance data ownership through pilot projects in sustainability, healthcare, education, and social inclusion, as well as free training in the Data Collaboration methodology.

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