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The Data Drop Panel for February 2022

Host Debbie Reynolds and special guests take a deep dive into the noteworthy, concerning, and downright fascinating stories featured in recent episodes of the Data Drop News podcast.


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Full Transcript


Debbie Reynolds: Hello. My name is Debbie Reynolds. I'm a global data privacy advisor and strategist from Chicago, Illinois, and a member of the Node Zero Community at the Data Collaboration Alliance. So welcome all to the data drop panel where every month we talk about leading data privacy stories and the news with professionals around the world.

And to hear your take on what's been happening in the past month. So, with everything that's been in the news lately, I'm really interested to see what you guys are talking about or what you guys are really thinking about. Also, I want to mention that all the stories that we feature here today will be included in the sister data drop news podcast, which delivers a four minute data privacy news Roundup each week is really cool.


I highly recommend people check out. So, this month we have had the pleasure of having Kelly Finnerty who's the Director of Brand and Content at Startpage. We have Cat Coode who's the Data Privacy Consultant and Data Privacy Officer at Binary Tattoo from Canada. I love that. And then we have Priya Keshav CEO of Meru Data


She helps companies maximize their value in data. She's from Houston. And also, I forgot to mention Kelly, she's in Los Angeles. So this is hands around North America, apparently. So. So let's get started on the first story. Let's start with Kelly. Startpage search engine launches privacy protection extension.


Kelly Finnerty: Yes. Thanks Debbie. Well in celebration of data privacy week it's an honor to be on the panel. I know it's privacy professionals, basically their Super Bowl and in celebration of it, Starpage did launch a new desktop browser extension. It was reported by fast company as saying that Startpages, latest browser add-on for Chrome and Firefox calls out creepy websites and blocks trackers on a granule level.


And so, you know, data privacy week is all about reminding the world and the wider public and our government officials about the importance of people being able to take control. Their privacy rights and protect their privacy rights. And this extension gives the power in the hands of the people to be able to block third-party trackers, set their default search to private safeguard from social tracking.


And it also gives some cool features of a privacy score per website. And a fun privacy report that lets you see on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, how many cookies and trackers the extension is blocking for you? So it's a fun, new product. It can be. It has over 25,000 installs already in one week and anyone can find it@adddotstartpage.com slash protector.


Debbie Reynolds: It's really cool. I'm a fan of the product. I love to see more privacy enhancing features. In tech, obviously a Startpage has always been very privacy focused, but it's really cool to see that you guys are really getting a ton of traction in the news and a lot of new subscribers and customers.


Kelly Finnerty: Thanks, Debbie. Yeah, this is our first big step outside of just private search to really becoming a global privacy technology.


Debbie Reynolds: Big news. Big news. Definitely. So now I want to go to cat. So this is cool. Does Google analytics violate the GDPR? This is cool. You know, we are going to have a cat fight.


Cat Coode: Actually. I love it. You say this is cool. Cause you're your privacy geek. Like I thought this was really cool. I saw it in the news and I saw analytics violating GDPR. And the first thing I thought. Surveillance ads, which I know someone else is going to talk about today. So we will touch on that after, but it's not about the data that's being gathered by the analytics.

It's actually about the transfer of data. So there's still a lot of misunderstanding about European data being transferred, cross border outside of the EU. And if people remember way back in the summer of 2020 privacy shield was invalidated and privacy shield was something we had in place to be able to say, Hey, we've got the right security safeguards in place and the right procedures and technical measures.


To take your data into the U S well, once that got invalidated, us companies were no longer able to bring that data over. And I know Debbie, you know, all about this stuff. It lets you had all of the right transfer agreements and standard contractual clauses, and a whole bunch of other stuff. So the reason why the Austrian data protection authority is looking at Google analytics right now is because of the transfer of that personal information.


Into the us, and they're saying, Hey, you don't have the right safeguards anymore. To bring that data over. But this sets a real precedent and max Schrems who hopefully people have heard his name is a privacy lawyer in the EU. He's kind of spearheaded a lot of this stuff. He filed 101 different cases on this.


So this is the one that took. So. And we're hoping to see others. But this is really gonna set a standard with a lot of these especially the American companies that gather so much data on what they're actually allowed to bring.


Debbie Reynolds: Yeah, this is this is complicated. So I'm very familiar with max and the stuff that he's doing.


So it's very complicated partially because Google analytics or the tracking that Google does is basically like the DNA and website. So it was not just, oh, let me get a new tool or whatever that doesn't answer the question. And then also. Transfer doesn't necessarily mean it has to be in the us. It could be a us company that has operations over a Europe, and that could be considered transfer as it relates to different us railings.


So it's just complicated. We can do a whole show on that for sure.


Cat Coode: Yeah. And transfers access as well. Right. And some people miss that. If you're accessing data from the U S into the EU, that's also considered a yeah.


Debbie Reynolds: When you're, if your eyeballs touch something, that's in the EU, that's considered a transplant that's considered processing and it could be considered transfer.

So. You know, one thing that I haven't seen is I've not seen a lot of people say, well, let's drop Google analytics and do something else. I think they're waiting to see what Google will do, and then what will be acceptable to the EU in terms of how they handle this situation. So this is an ongoing story, for sure.


We're definitely gonna talk about that. So, I would love to, they didn't want at one time and on this before we go to the next topic, No. Okay. All right. This is really interesting, premier. You're really lucky to have this topic. So the IRS will require taxpayers to sign up with id.me to access their online accounts.


What are your thoughts?


Priya Keshav: Yeah it's an interesting story. Obviously during the pandemic, we heard a lot about the Scamps and around 27 of the states have already started using ID me to verify people's identity before they are eligible for any kind of benefits. But. You know, if you look at ID me and the process of creating the account, it just means that you're going to provide now, you're obviously facial recognition as part of it.


So it's going to take a photograph of you. But you have to provide a copy of your driver's license or some other dominant issued identity. You need to provide a copy of your utility statement or something else as a proof of address your telephone records. They access your credit of boats, all three of them to verify you.


And then obviously they do have a biometric policy, which talks that they're, don't sell your information unless you opt in. But you wonder whether is. Does this seem excessive to you? I mean, I understand the need for security, but putting a lot of information in one place with a private company, just so that you can verify your right into DND with IRS doing this.

It means that pretty much everybody's going to, they're going to have everyone's information. That's seems quite scary. And also if you are not texting, how is it going to be possible for someone to go through this extensive process of verification? Just to create an account with, you know, the IRS, it just seems mind.


Debbie Reynolds: Yeah, I was on a rampage about this one and I'm still, I mean, I could go this a thousand different ways with this. So there is my happy about this. It is, you it was very similar actually to the what is the real ID? Verification that they are doing in the U S so in the us by a certain date. And they like expand of the day has been pushed back for many years now for many years.


So basically you're supposed to have this real ID plus a star in your driver's license or ID card. And you basically have to give almost the same information. So you have to go down to the. More vehicles. They take a picture which has gotta be face ID and all this stuff. You have a similar utility bill.


They do all types of shenanigans for that. So to me, these government agencies, they should have this data anyway. So why are they like recollecting it again if. Crazy to me. And then a lot of people don't, aren't interested in doing it. So even if they're, you know, there are people I know who are tech savvy, they don't want to do this like Debbie.


And then there are people who aren't they're tech savvy, they're aren't going to do it anyway. So the IRS should expect a lot more paper returns, you know? So they're not willing to go in a direction that people aren't going to accept. You know, if they are willing to go like the old fashioned route there, this is not going to be that big of a success for them.

You know, for my thing is if it's a fraudulent thing that you're trying to do, you should only do it in situations where you suspect fraud.


Anyone else have a thought about this?


Cat Coode: Yeah. Well, for me, anything that involves biometrics makes me super nervous because as we know, if you lose a biometric, you can't go down and replace it with something else. So anything around there is an issue. And then also as you all alluded to the access to.

With an I know, like you said, Debbie, there's, there'll be other ways to do it, but the access issues for people in low income areas who don't have internet access and seniors who are not tech savvy I, I worry that a lot of them are gonna fall into this because they won't know that there is another option and, you know, they'll head over to their local library and an unprotected wifi and submit their license over.

Horrible connection, not safe transfers of data. So I think there's going to be a lot of things that play out of this. I would love to see multiple privacy impact assessments done on this by like six different people and then have them assessed. Yeah, I don't, I, it seems like too much too soon and it hasn't been thought out.


Priya Keshav: So much information in the hands of just one company. And that probably means that, you know, everybody's going to start doing this. And so you're going to have yeah, and, and you know, there's multiple issues from a privacy, as well as a security perspective.

Debbie Reynolds: I can say the IRS millions of dollars, talk to the DMV, they have the same information.


Combined together and that's it. You know what I mean? All this stuff. So this is, to me, this is more of like a data graph type thing. And actually as a matter of fact, a lot of government agencies, optimum selves out of a lot of these privacy laws. So they do sell data. Absolutely. So if you look, if you go to your DMV page, it probably has a do not sell my data button on it.

Even if you're not in California.


Kelly Finnerty: You're so right, Debbie, that the DMV, the government has this information and they have ways of collecting this information. To me, it feels like, you know, new tech and facial recognition technology, trying to push their agenda to make money and into that space and introduce a technology that's not ready yet.


That's not safe enough for people.


Debbie Reynolds: Yeah, thumbs down from Debbie on this one, for sure. So Kelly, you say lawmakers plan legislation to ban surveillance advertising. This is really cool.


Kelly Finnerty: Yes. And as Cat mentioned, I mean, Europeans are creating legislation and you know, are fighting against having their own data being transferred to the United States.

And that's because the us is just so far behind on protecting people's. Digital privacy rights. So last Tuesday, January 18th, I was very happy to see that some us lawmakers have proposed new legislation to ban surveillance based advertising. So that's advertising that is really focused on behavioral activity and targeting the indigenous.


The rationale from this is that personal data harvesting and targeted advertising has proven to come at a cost for society. It feels discrimination, disinformation, voter, suppression, privacy, abuses, and many other harms that we've seen. Some people like that, it tailors their online experience, but there's much larger repercussions.


So the legislation proposes that advertising platforms and data brokers won't be able to do targeted ads with the exception of some broad location targeting. And it also prohibits that advertisers targeting ads based on protected class information would be prohibited. And that includes race, gender, and religion.


So. As Startpage, being a company that has been profitable for 15 years using contextual advertising. Right? So not targeting the person, but targeting the moment, the interest the website they're going to place advertising rather than who they are, what they care about, what their religion is.


We've been profitable for 15 years. We'd love for more companies to adopt contextual advertising practices. And we're really excited to see this new legislate.


Debbie Reynolds: I just want to add, add a another note here it is called the banning surveillance advertising act. It was introduced by representatives, an issue of California Jane Koski of Illinois and Kurt Corey Booker of New Jersey.

What do you think, Cat?


Cat Coode: I love this. There's always a head to head between marketing and privacy, right? Privacy is only collect the data you require. And there's always kind of an argument in marketing, but we require this data because we have a marketing budget and it costs us a lot of money to advertise to people that I've literally heard that, that exact sentence, it costs us money to advertise to people who won't buy our products.


So we need to narrow the. I think we were very much in a society where it's like, just because the data is there. People think they have a right to use it. And so hopefully this will kind of clarify that for companies to be able to say, Hey, you know, yeah, the data's there, but it's not for this purpose.


And so your advertising has to go back old school, like Kelly said to be contextual advertising rather than specified by.


Debbie Reynolds: Yeah. I don't know. Maybe I'm on a rant today. I don't know. You know, the problem that I have with this, and this is very, a very American problem that I see with these bills that they're putting forward is always.


To something bad could happen, which aren't having a problem with. But then, you know, there's gotta be a new, you know, they're going to call it something else, you know, tomorrow. Right. And they're going to continue to do this. So I would love to see more bills like the biomed. Information privacy act and Illinois, where it doesn't really specify a technology.

It's talked about the harm to individuals. So our hope that we pass more legislation is broader than just particular thing that people are doing. You know, as we're seeing, for example, in Europe, they have like these cookie laws, you know, all they're going to do is start calling cookies biscuits, and I'm like, oh, w where is his biscuits now?


So let's, it's not cookies and all that stuff. So I feel like we need to be focused. And regulation on the harm of people and that try to target a particular technology. That's just my thoughts. I

Priya Keshav: totally agree with you. Deb, I do believe that, you know, starting from how it's impacting someone makes a lot more sense than just focusing on a specific type of, you know, data or a platform.


It probably is a better way to approach the


Debbie Reynolds: yep. Yeah. You heard it here. The data drop panel says, tell Sam that we definitely need more more laws related to the harm as opposed to technology. All right. So let's go with cat employee surveillance is exploding with remote work and could be the new norm.


What are your thoughts?


Cat Coode: Oh, I hate this too. I love your rant. I could also rent. So we just played into this whole biometrics thing. Gartner did a survey of companies over a thousand employees and found out that 60% of them had deployed some kind of productivity software. And I don't know how familiar people are with some of these softwares.


They could be anything from camera operation to keystroke logging. All of this stuff plays into behavior. Capturing the data and that is a biometric, your behavioral data is biometrics and where we don't have it protected under certain laws. Then, then there are companies are allowed to collect this data.


So we have to be very careful about deploying some of this technology. It's additionally invasive. I mean, I'm looking at everyone's curated backgrounds today. As privacy professionals, we all have either a blurred background or a curated backup. But a lot of people don't understand enough about even the video camera always keep it on ELL classrooms in Canada, all you have to have your video on so we can make sure you're paying attention.


But meanwhile if I look at my kids' classes, the entire background is little kids' rooms and intimate details about their. Spread around. So we're not educating the people who are using the product. And then we are either intentionally surveilling them with these products or unintentionally surveilling them because they're giving away more information than they should.


So this is, this again, is this has gotten away with us and one of the many consequences of the pandemic where we've had a need to fill and people have tried to fill it quickly, but. Need to understand again, that the deployment of this kind of software technology could be infringing on employee rights.


And so you should consider that balance.


Kelly Finnerty: I think that it's going to come down to the individual and cat you're so right. That we need to make sure that individuals are more educated about this. So many people are using their work device at home as their personal device, which they really shouldn't.


If they are using it, let's make sure you have a webcam cover on there and you can close it at any time when you are done with your office. There are other products and tools online that you can use to retain some of your privacy so that your boss isn't creeping on anything, subtle plug, but Startpage our search engine Startpage, shop calm, never records any of your searches.


And you can view pages using anonymous view. So that will be recorded into the spyware your boss might have on your computer. But it really does come down to the individual because unfortunately, The government regulations going to be really behind on this one, everything moves so fast during the pandemic.


And I think companies don't even really realize the need or the rationale behind this spyware. And they're just putting it on there for sake of it for like their own feeling of control. So hopefully we can do our best to just let employees know about what is happening and how they can protect them.


Debbie Reynolds: Yeah, it's also I guess people call it also boss where so, you know, definitely, I think people need more education about how to protect themselves, even in their homes. Right. Against kind of invasive behaviors. I have a friend over in Netflix that he has a soapy screen behind his desk, which is cool.


Right. So can't really, you know, it looks mice that you really can't see what's happening in the background. So that's really, nobody's. As far as our concern, what happens beyond your keyboard is nobody's business. So, you know, I think, you know, like Kelly said, having people log in and secure ways, being able to figure out how to, you know, you don't want things in your background, right.


Especially for children, you know, it's really important that also they'd be supervised when they were like online doing different things. But I think for, you know, this trend is only going to continue because it's really an easy way to, you know, my opinion. As a way to not really do your job, which is managing people.


So I would hate to have someone who's looks staring at a screen for eight hours. Like that means you're not thinking you're not doing other things. So who knows? I have no idea. Oh, let's go to our next story. Priya. This is interesting. Judge rejects Facebook request to dismiss FTC antitrust complaints.


Priya Keshav: Yes. So the us federal judge has ruled. That antitrust officials can continue their case to break up Metta. Obviously this is a big blow for Mecca, but you know, that again is that my dad is easily abused. It's monopoly in the marketplace. But what do what do you think about this situation? Do you think that they have abused their monopoly?


Do you think that their subsidiaries like Instagram and WhatsApp should be spun off? I do think that there's probably too many things in one place. I mean, I remember when they changed the privacy policy for WhatsApp and many of us you know, struggled to sort of, Get out of WhatsApp and find a different tool through which you can communicate and you know, signal has had a signal was an alternative of course, but, you know, in, in terms of being able to share data and have a similar privacy policy E it doesn't make sense.


But what I, our opinion, in terms of should Facebook be broken up, should there be alternatives?


Debbie Reynolds: I'd love to hear from let's start with Kelly. Where do you think?


Kelly Finnerty: Well, I think about the monopoly of Facebook, really in terms of first party data. Right. So third party data is the whole reason why we just created the Startpage privacy protection extension to be able to block third parties from collecting data on websites you're at.


But if you're on any Facebook product you are being collected. For a first party data. Right? And so the fact that they have these all encompassing platforms that are just vacuuming up highly sensitive, personal data is alarming. And the fact that like one advertiser, one data harvester, a one person who wants to you know, suppress voter election through something like Cambridge Analytica can do that.


Using the first party data that's collected and shared amongst Facebook.


Debbie Reynolds: What do you think, Cat?


Cat Coode: WhatsApp aside, I know WhatsApp is widely used in south America in Europe, and it has a function as a chat application. So I would kind of put that one aside, but looking at Facebook and Instagram, there's so many issues that we've already talked about with algorithmic bias and all sorts of manipulative things that are happening in the background.

We're not even going to get into the psychological impacts of social media. So from that perspective, I quite resent them monopoly. I already, they are unregulated and wild stallions running off and doing whatever we want with our data. So already I would love to see. Those reigned in and the fact that Facebook appeals generally to an older audience and Instagram, generally to a younger audience.


And that's where the monopoly gets me. It's the, it's not like we have something and you don't want to use it. Don't use it. It's no, we have all the things. They, they are really catering to all the markets. If they bought Tik TOK, we'd be done. But. They really do have the whole demographic kind of captured.


And so, yeah, I would definitely like to see some kind of desolate dissolution of the company, but more so again, regulations around how they're processing data, especially with younger kids, you find me ad.


Priya Keshav: Company to be dissolved or would you prefer to have better control over how the data is being used?


I mean, the spectrum of who, whether it's a separate company or an audit combined company the problem is more at, on data usage than just, you know, who controls. Maybe data sharing across these platforms. But I, I do think the bigger issue is having more regulations to have you know, basic protection.


I liked I, I contract right now. Remember the name of the person who mentioned this, but when you get on a plane, you kind of just assume you know, that it's going to be. For you to travel. You, you know, it has to be that way. Privacy has to be that way. You have to assume that if you're handing off the data, someone needs to take care of it.


Or again, every corporation, right? In this case, we are handing off data to so many people. I think it needs to be a default and that can only happen through regulation as opposed to the other way around. I mean, You know, the details of whether it's gotta be a separate company or not, to me, I feel like it doesn't matter as much.


Cat Coode: No. I agree. It's the sharing and the lack of silos. And I mean, I honestly am a little more concerned about Fitbit that tracks health data that's covered by HIPAA and Google. Like people don't realize then Google came in and fought Fitbit. Now you've got like a track of where you ran this morning in one set of data, and then you've got another set of data about you.


And people can put that together and make a lot of inferences. So, yeah, I agree. I think it's the separation and the regulation more so than. And the company going away.


Debbie Reynolds: Yeah. Does anyone think that they'll ever stop of tech monopolies before they get entrenched? Is that even possible?


Cat Coode: How many tech monopolies are we going to have


Debbie Reynolds: here? Yeah. This is interesting. So I don't know. Maybe I have a contrarian view of this. So the FTC they complain a lot about WhatsApp and Instagram. They are pre approve. These deals. They're probably guess what if it happened today? They would maybe they'd take longer.


They approve these deals again, mostly because. You know, antitrust doesn't really think about monopolies in the way that they don't think about a data monopoly. So what these companies have are data monopolies, and that's what Kelly was talking about. They have first party data, and basically it are going to have kind of 360 view of a lot of their customers and people who are around their customer.


So that's kind of another play for kind of met on the metaverse just another. No, but of data, I've not heard anyone be upset about what Facebook is planning with the metamours right. And kind of their Oculus thing, but it's just another Instagram. It's the lover, WhatsApp is another kind of data points is being collected.


And I think if the us, we continue to think of antitrust as. Oh, Facebook is buying another company. That's like Facebook. It's like no Facebook buy a gym shoe company, and then we still have more data. Right? So the issue is about data like creating a data, monopoly, not like a, you know, not like a monopoly where a big company is buying other smaller companies.


Kelly Finnerty: I don't want to sound like, like I don't have extreme faith in government to solve all of our brothers. But I do think it's going to come down to individuals aware where they're putting their data. Like we really have to take some individual responsibility to where we put our data and what products we use and to say, you know, that the solution is, you know, breaking up businesses and things like that.


Yes, it's important. And I think it's more important to focus on the data practices of those companies. Then like the size and the ownership structures of those companies. We really, as people have to think about what we're sharing and online and what tools were you using?


Debbie Reynolds: Yeah. Wise words. Very good. I love this.


Well, thank you so much to our panel today. Kelly Finnerty as Startpage cat cold at binary tattoo and Priya Casha of mural data. Oh, do you want me to have, pre-op make a comment.