Privacy XFN

Welcome to this week’s Privacy XFN, curating the best reads at the intersection of data privacy and tech. We’re covering President Biden's new executive order against big tech companies, New York City's biometric law, how Apple's recent privacy push could hurt advertisers, and much more.

One more thing: How do technical leaders at leading brands balance consent management with user experience on their sites? This morning, we released a survey into the issue—and the tensions that exist. Read the report.
—The Transcend team

President Biden signed an executive order  encouraging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to develop new rules to limit the amount of data collected by big tech companies. Biden said tech giants have collected too much personal information.


  • In this order, big tech companies were accused of leveraging large amounts of data to create unfair advantages over smaller firms.
  • The FTC is an independent organization hence Biden can't force it to take action.
  • However, in a statement, the FTC expressed support for the executive order and signaled it would implement changes.
  • Last month, Biden made Lina Khan head of the FTC. Khan is a vocal critic of tech giants, most notably Amazon.


Businesses in New York City are required to be transparent about how they'll use any biometric information that's collected, as part of a new privacy law that went into effect on Jul. 9. They're also banned from financially capitalizing on any information that's collected.


  • The law is designed to discourage businesses from collecting biometric information while protecting private information.
  • Businesses caught breaking the law will be allowed to fix the issue or face harsh penalties.
  • Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act lets residents sue companies that collect biometric information without their consent.
  • In February, Facebook agreed to a $650M settlement after it used facial recognition technology without user consent in 2015.
  • On a related note: The American Civil Liberties Union says facial recognition company Clearview AI can't use the First Amendment to protect itself from Illinois' law. (Paywalled)


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Every Chinese firm with data on at least one million people will have to undergo a review from the country's cyberspace regulator before it's allowed to hold an international IPO. The review will focus on how foreign governments are using the data once the company has gone public.


  • ByteDance (TikTok's owner) indefinitely postponed IPO plans after the government ordered it to address data privacy concerns.
  • Separate but related: Chinese tech giant Tencent will use facial recognition technology to block minors from playing video games between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.
  • Last week, regulators ordered the removal of Chinese ride-hailing Didi from all app stores after it illegally collected user data.
  • The move came days after its U.S. IPO, causing share prices to decline by 20%.

Yahoo Finance

The State of Consent Management: We surveyed 100 technical leaders on how they manage user tracking and consent preferences on their company’s websites. Leaders acknowledge they face a tension balancing customer trust and online experiences. Read the full report for more insights.

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Apple's recent privacy push will help strengthen its brand but harm the advertising industry, according to adtech leader Chris Keune. Keune notes that Apple can make these changes since it doesn't rely on advertising as its main source of revenue, unlike other tech giants such as Google and Facebook.


  • Apple announced a series of new privacy features at its Worldwide Developers Conference last month, including "private relay," which will conceal users' web browsing activity on Safari, hurting ad trackers.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook is a vocal critic of ad tracking, calling it "creepy" and saying it violates user privacy.
  • In the past decade, Apple has made several moves to protect user data from the ad industry such as the introduction of IDFA in 2012 and ITP in 2017.

Venture Beat

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) accused WhatsApp of forcing users to accept its new privacy policy. While users aren't forced to accept the changes, the app will continue to issue prompts until they've done so. Users cannot opt-out of receiving the prompt, no matter how many times they decline the new policy.


  • The policy sparked privacy concerns that WhatsApp's parent company Facebook would get greater access to users' personal information.
  • WhatsApp has denied this, however rival apps such as Signal and Telegram saw a surge in downloads earlier this year.
  • A quick recap: In India – WhatsApp's largest market – the company has repeatedly emphasized that users don't have to accept the policy.
  • The company is in the middle of a legal battle with the Indian government over its new data privacy laws.

Associated Press

Chinese genome sequencing company BGI Group used its NIFTY prenatal test to aggregate and store genetic data, according to Reuters. BGI worked with the Chinese military to build the test, and Reuters found no evidence the company violated privacy agreements or regulations. BGI said it has never shared any data with Chinese officials.


  • NIFTY records the height, weight, and country of women who take it but not their names. It can help identify genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome.
  • BGI says the data is destroyed after five years.
  • NIFTY isn't available in the U.S. due to national security concerns but has been used by over eight million women in 52 countries such as Canada and India.
  • In February, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center warned the Chinese government had accelerated efforts to aggregate U.S. health data during the COVID-19 pandemic.


A judge ruled Google is allowed to index web pages and show results when someone's name is searched, under the Canadian privacy law. A man asked the tech giant to remove results he alleged are inaccurate and led to him being harmed. However, Google refused and told the man to ask the original publishers to take down the posts.


  • De-indexing is when a link is removed from a search result but not the original source.
  • Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien said private companies are obligated to de-index private information under the country's privacy law.
  • Google argued that de-indexing search results would violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

CTV News

In other privacy news:
  • ICYMI: Colorado became the third state behind California and Virginia to enact a data privacy law after Gov. Jared Polis signed the Colorado Privacy Act.
  • Up next? Ohio lawmakers introduced the Ohio Personal Privacy Act designed to give residents greater control of their personal data.
  • Israeli startup AnyVision Interactive Technologies raised $235M at a more than $1B valuation. The company's facial recognition technology has attracted privacy concerns.
  • Twitter will maintain legal immunity in India after agreeing to "fully comply" with the country's new social media laws.
  • Facial recognition company DeepGlint was one of 14 companies sanctioned by the U.S. due to its role in alleged human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in China's Xinjiang region.
  • Spanish food delivery firm Glovo is considering appealing a $3.1M fine issued by Italy's data protection authority.

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