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The Data Drop News for Friday, May 7, 2021

Google's new privacy plan off to a rough start as FLoC lacks support. Germany files antitrust complaint against Apple. G7 signs join data declaration. GDPR for AI Is the FBI deleting your files? Amazon pressured Ecobee to collect user data. Plus, this week's Drop Shots!

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Google's new privacy plan off to a rough start.

Google has made headlines recently for its plans to eliminate third-party browser cookies as a part of its new approach to digital privacy Google calls the approach the "Federated Learning of Cohorts", or FLoC for short.

It seeks to lump Chrome users into anonymized groups based on their online activities and then target ads to these groups. However, advertisers and the regulatory bodies are opting out of Google's trial run of this technology and some of them have already started developing ways to sidestep this new system.

Google isn't finding much support for their new FLoC technology from other web browsers either.

Privacy-minded browsers including Brave and DuckDuckGo have actively blocked the FLoC approach, while Firefox creator Mozilla recently gave a statement that they're currently "evaluating many of the privacy-preserving advertising portals including those put forward by Google but have no current plans to implement any of them at this time."

Germany files antitrust complaint against Apple

In other hot news, Germany's media, internet, and advertising industries have filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in response to the company's new iOS privacy feature known as "App Tracking Transparency" or "ATT" for short.

In a recent briefing, the German organizations stated " as a result of these one-sided measures Apple is effectively shutting out all of its competitors from processing commercially relevant data into its ecosystem."

G7 signs join data declaration

G7 countries and the European Union have signed an agreement outlining their agenda for improving online safety, developing a more collaborative regulatory approach, and promoting the free flow of data across borders.

The declaration was signed by representatives from the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US, and the EU ahead of next month's G7 Summit which is being hosted by British prime minister Boris Johnson.


Europe is eyeing artificial intelligence as the next battleground for data privacy.

The European Commission is looking into creating a GDPR-style law to govern AI usage with GDPR style fines to boot. The proposed law would not go into effect until 2023 at the earliest.

Is the FBI deleting your files?

A United States District Court recently approved a search warrant allowing the US Department of Justice to copy and remove web malicious code installed by hackers. While this may sound like a good thing, cybersecurity experts have warned that this has essentially given the FBI the authority to access privately owned computers and delete software without their owners' knowledge or consent

Amazon pressured Ecobee to collect user data.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Amazon recently attempted to force Canadian smart home pioneer Ecobee into collecting user data for their products. The tech giant reportedly wanted the data in exchange for featuring Ecobee products on their site.

Amazon has previously faced allegations that has used such data to inform its own product development, a fact that was raised in an antitrust investigation in the US and EU.

Lawmakers file COPPA complaint against Google

Two lawmakers sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging the agency to investigate Google Play for potentially violating children's privacy as protected by the COPPA law.

Privacy concerns from virtual home tours

Virtual home tours are raising some major privacy concerns as real estate agents have unknowingly published videos that include bank checks insurance policies, and other important documents clearly visible.

Palestinian hackers behind malware attacks

The perpetual conflict in the Middle East is now being fought online as Palestinian hackers have used social media to trick government officials from both the Fatah and Hamas camps into installing malware on their computers

Using data to save finches

Scientists are crowdsourcing data to track a deadly bacteria that has halved the population of house finches over the past 25 years. The data collection project called FeederWatch encourages at-home avian enthusiasts to track and report any birds they see providing valuable information for scientists to go work with.


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. We also offer free training in the Data Collaboration methodology. Listen to the Data Drop on our website or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.


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