Banner Image
qoute Image

All states still have the ability to better protect their residents’ privacy.

- Electronic Privacy Information Center report on state privacy laws

Welcome to Snippets 👋  A new report from Google's Threat Analysis group outlines troubling growth in the increasingly sophisticated commercial surveillance industry—tech that's often widely available, yet largely unregulated by state or federal laws. 

In other news, Meta's announcement about deploying user data to train their new AI raised concerns, state laws received poor grades on protecting consumer privacy, Mozilla is launching a new data protection service, and more. 


Google reports on the rise of commercial surveillance 



The Threat Analysis Group (TAG), a Google unit focused on countering state-sponsored malware attacks, released a report detailing the rise of commercial surveillance tech—offering recommendations on how to address this troubling industry.
  • The report outlined several key findings:
    • Though a few key players get the most public attention, the Commercial Surveillance Vendor (CSV) ecosystem is larger than people think.
    • Spyware has a notable harmful effect, including threatening free speech, for high-risk targets such as journalists.
    • The rise of private sector vendors has effectively ended the state monopoly over advanced surveillance tools.
  • Private sector growth has been enabled by several factors, one being vulnerability researchers who develop exploits and then monetize their work.
  • The report called for a coordinated international response, noting this may be the only way to limit further growth of the CSV market.

Expanding privacy's field of vision 💫

Today, we’re experiencing a seismic shift in privacy, where regulatory headwinds are running headlong into the technical complexities of enterprise data collection and processing.

To rise to this rapidly transforming landscape, Transcend is thrilled to open the first known role for a Field Chief Privacy Officer! Brandon Wiebe, Transcend's General Counsel & Head of Privacy, shares more about this landmark role below. 


Meta’s AI push sets off privacy alarms



Meta’s impending AI chatbot has triggered privacy concerns, after CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed the company has more data to train its AI system than OpenAI had to train ChatGPT.
  • After releasing Meta’s latest earnings report, Zuckerberg disclosed his plan to use the billions of publicly shared images, videos, and text posts on Facebook and Instagram to create general purpose AI systems.
  • The amount of data held by these platforms surpasses the Common Crawl dataset, putting Meta in a position to create a chatbot that could outperform ChatGPT.
  • A Bloomberg report raised two red flags: the use of personal posts to train the model, and the propensity for toxicity in comment threads.


State privacy laws receive poor grades in new report


Getty Images

A report by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a nonprofit privacy research firm, concluded that state privacy laws have failed to regulate companies’ use of personal data.
  • Of the 14 states to have passed comprehensive privacy laws, none received an ‘A’ and half received a failing grade—with the CCPA receiving the highest rating: ‘B+’.
  • Researchers attribute the failure to lack of federal legislation and the Big Tech lobby.
  • They also note that existing federal privacy protections, such as ECPA and HIPAA, have been made less effective by social media, mobile apps, and the data broker industry.

  • NIST expands their privacy framework to telehealth and remote patient monitoring.
  • Dissecting the FTC’s crackdown on location data brokers.
  • Maine edges closer to a comprehensive privacy bill.
  • BIPA update imminent as legislators prepare to revive talks.
  • Uber hit with $11 million fine by Dutch DPA.


Mozilla unveils new tool to protect personal data


Alex Castro / The Verge

Mozilla is launching a new service to protect user information from being sold by data brokers. The privacy tool, called Mozilla Monitor Plus, will be available for $8.99/month.
  • The tool will keep track of personal information on over 190 social media sites, apps, and browser trackers to automatically erase it.
  • User requests for data deletion are honored in 7-14 days. Though some information can’t be removed, paying subscribers can give it a go themselves.
  • Basic tier users can use a one-time removal sweep and monthly scans of broker websites to find sensitive details such as name, address, and kids’ school location.


Connecticut AG report highlights enforcement snags in state privacy laws


Jonathan Hurtarte/Bloomberg Law

A report from the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office has provided insight into what enforcement looks like for state privacy laws already in force.
  • Most of Connecticut’s enforcement efforts so far have focused on privacy policies, targeting disclosures, teen data, and lack of consumer choice to exercise privacy rights.
  • Though the AG’s office received over 30 consumer complaints during this period, a third of them fell under exempted entities and data types.
  • Connecticut provides a 60-day cure period, which expires in 2025, but Matt Schwartz, policy analyst for Consumer Reports, called for a permanent abolition, calling cure periods “get out of jail free cards.”

Attorney Heidi Saas on unleashing privacy magic

Join us February 14 at 9am PT for a captivating conversation with Heidi Saas, a privacy and technology attorney, and one of privacy’s OG superstars! In this very special Valentine's day show, Heidi will share insights on her:

- Remarkable path into the privacy industry
- Top tips for building a successful privacy career
- Key privacy predictions for 2024
- Case studies of real-life privacy challenges

Reserve your spot now!

Transcend Horizontal Logo

Snippets is delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning by Transcend. We're the platform that helps companies put privacy on autopilot by making it easy to encode privacy across an entire tech stack. Learn more.

You received this email because you subscribed to Snippets. Did someone forward this email to you? Head over to Transcend to get your very own free subscription! Curated in San Francisco by Transcend.