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The Data Drop News for Thursday, April 29, 2021

Updated: May 6, 2021

TikTok sued for billions over use of children's data. Apple's new privacy features draw antitrust complaint in Germany. Every digital camera leaves a fingerprint. It may be time to try a "Privacy Browser." Who's watching your Ring doorbell? Plus, this week's Drop Shots!

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TikTok sued for billions over use of children's data

TikTok is facing a new class-action lawsuit over its treatment of children's data.

The UK-based suit alleges the social media giant takes children's personal information without sufficient warning, transparency, or the necessary consent required by law. The data in question includes phone numbers, exact location, biometrics, and more.

TikTok and its parent company ByteDance could face damages in the billions.

Apple's new privacy features draw antitrust complaint in Germany.

Multiple companies in Germany have recently filed an antitrust complaint against Apple, alleging that new iOS user privacy protections represent market abuse.

In a joint statement, they said , "As a result of these one-sided measures, Apple is effectively shutting out all competitors from processing commercially relevant data in its ecosystem"

Apple has responded by saying their intention is to uphold personal privacy, which they describe as a human right.

Every digital camera leaves a fingerprint

Think you're protecting your personal privacy by only posting pictures of your cat?

As it turns out, every digital photo has a unique fingerprint created by tiny imperfections in your camera's sensors. These subtle differences can then be traced back to the camera that took the photo.

Welcome to "photo fingerprinting", a new technique that has been officially approved for use as forensic evidence in court cases in the United States.

It may be time to try a "Privacy Browser"

Combined, Google Chrome and Apple Safari account for nearly 85% of all web browser traffic.

But with so many headlines about the dangers of online data collection recently, you may want to start exploring your options.

We encourage Data Drop subscribers to check out browsers from Mozilla, DuckDuckGo, and Brave which minimize data gathering and block the many tracking technologies present in mainstream browsers.

Who's watching your Ring doorbell?

According to a Data Subject Access Request submitted by the BBC, Amazon’s Ring doorbells are recording and storing "every conceivable interaction anyone has with the app and camera."

An independent privacy expert stated, “What’s most interesting is not just the data itself, but all the patterns and insights that can be learned from it. Knowing when someone rings your door, how often, and for how long, can indicate when someone is at home.”

Amazon says they only use the information they gather to evaluate and improve their products and services.


This week's Drop Shots

Your quickfire news items from the world of data privacy

Google loses in Australia

Google has lost a court battle in Australia over its use of location data from user devices.

Earmuffs for Alexa

There are now physical devices on the market that will help you stop Amazon Alexa from eavesdropping on your conversations. The product uses ultrasonic sound to block Alexa's listening capabilities, but in an odd twist, it uses its own microphone to receive these instructions.

Stop posting pics of your vaccine cards!

Scammers are having a field day as thousands of excited vaccine recipients continue to post their vaccine cards - and all the sensitive medical information they contain - to social media. The Data Drop team reminds everyone that vaccines are actually private healthcare data that could be weaponized at a future date. Post carefully!

Google scrubs Robinhood's negative reviews

Google has deleted over 100,000 negative reviews of the stock-trading app Robinhood in order to restore its 4-star rating in Google Play. Users had panned the app after it blocked the purchase of GameStop and other so-called "meme stocks."

Alexa Skills don't include privacy

Amazon's Alexa relies on plugins called Skills to add new functionality, but researchers have determined that only a fraction of the tens of thousands of Skills even have a privacy policy.


A prominent genetic researcher has created an NFT of his DNA, in what can only be described as the most 2021 data ownership headline yet.


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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