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Biometric tracking increasingly employed by government and others during stressful time 

Personal data is being widely scooped up during the pandemic and, while it can be legitimately needed for contract tracing and other safety reasons, we should be aware of the privacy risks involved. Research by AI Now takes an in-depth look at the extent and implications of biometric tracking.

--Susan Raab, Editor


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FB open-source platform designed to help engineers with differential privacy

Facebook's Opacus tool, offers new approach 

Facebook wants to make it easier for engineers to use differential privacy in AI, with a new tool that limits impact on the primary dataset. Opacus, which trains PyTorch models with differential privacy, uses an algorithm that centers instead on intervening with parameter gradients. This follows recent announcements from Google to open source the differential privacy library, and Microsoft, which released WhiteNoise for Azure and GitHub. 

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Your face as a digital token - good idea?

PopID users' faces are key to payment & entry 

California start-up PopID has just launched a face-based payments network and a facial ID tool, called PopEntry, to verify people at businesses and universities. The company anticipates 3,000 installations in U.S. states by the end of 2020. People enrolled with PopID can use their face as ID for a range of applications, including for keys, key cards, facilities access, payments and loyalty programs. 

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Brazil's General Data Protection Law (LGPD) is set to go into effect September 16th. Their Senate decided to reject further delays.  Unless vetoed by Brazil's President, the law which has an extraterritorial effect, will proceed. The Senate also approved creation of a new data authority for enforcement, the ANDP.

EDISON's OnMail provides inbox control

Help is on the way for those despairing of fending off random news alerts, ads, and trick emails in the form of a new service from Edison that lets you choose who can get into your inbox. The new release, now in public beta, includes a proprietary Permission Control feature that allows you to accept or block senders before mail gets in your box. It also blocks ad targeters trying to monitor your email behavior and lets you set a custom domain for use on multiple platforms.  Free and professional plans are available.

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State of Biometrics Report Addresses: How'd we get here? Where are we headed? 

“Regulating Biometrics: Global Approaches and Urgent Questions,” from the AI Now Institute says there’s a growing sense among regulation advocates that a biometric surveillance state is not inevitable. 

There are many types, including facial, vocal, and retinal. An emerging category is behavioral which can include interpreting gait, keyboard keystroke patterns, vascular patterns. There's also genomic identification. 

Concerns are many, including that, biometric data is often collected (via cameras and other methods) without individuals knowing it; laws are inconsistent in regulating for notification and disposal; and there is significant room for error, particularly in behavioral biometrics (also called “soft biometrics”).  Advocates claim there is a high degree of accuracy and continuity over time. 

The report covers types of biometrics being employed, case histories on use, and the state of this global, multi-billion-dollar industry.

Now, with individual fears for safety heighted during the pandemic, and with healthcare, education and government sectors gathering data at unprecedented rates, this is a critical area for privacy.

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Timeline of Legal Developments

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CDP Institute's 2020 member survey found 28% of companies treat privacy as a selling point; 58% just try to comply with regulations; and 14% take few steps to comply. 

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