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Banning access to one application does not create safety or security for Americans’ data from China or from any other country.

- Kate Ruane, Attorney, Center for Democracy and Technology

Welcome to Snippets—As a bill that could effectively lead to a nationwide ban on TikTok makes it way to the Senate, Lauren Leffer of Scientific American makes the case that with so many other apps selling and sharing data worldwide a ban on one data-devouring social app would do very little to protect Americans' personal data. 

Plus, a lawsuit against Apple AirTags moves forward, General Motors stops sharing in-car data with data brokers, Vermont passes the Data Privacy Act, and more. 


Would a TikTok ban protect Americans’ data?


Yau Ming Low/Alamy Stock Photo

Following last week’s House vote in favor of a bill that would effectively ban TikTok in the US, Lauren Leffer of Scientific American argues the move would actually do very little to protect Americans’ data.
  • Though many lawmakers claim Americans' data is at risk of exposure to Chinese authorities as long as TikTok remains owned by ByteDance, there's little evidence to support that claim.
  • Given that several other foreign and domestic tech companies are also accessible to intelligence agencies seeking sensitive data, there are clear limitations to a TikTok ban, with one expert describing it as little more than “political drama.”
  • Calli Schroeder of the Electronic Privacy Information Center stated that legislators "are smart enough to know this doesn’t address the root of the problem, but they want credit for looking like they tried.” 

🎉 Transcend named to Fast Company’s World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2024

We're thrilled to announce that Transcend has been named to Fast Company’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2024—joining the ranks of Microsoft, OpenAI, and others!

This year’s list highlights businesses shaping industry and culture through their innovations, setting new standards and achieving remarkable milestones in all sectors of the economy.


Apple’s AirTags privacy suit moves forward



A lawsuit filed last year against Apple, claiming unresolved privacy issues with AirTags, recently received court approval to proceed—drawing renewed scrutiny of AirTags’ privacy and security safeguards.
  • The plaintiffs, including a woman in the middle of a divorce and another who had recently left a three-month relationship, claimed tracking, harassment, and abuse, leading to “substantial” injuries.
  • Lawyers representing the plaintiffs cited at least 150 police reports describing stalking through AirTags, with the actual number likely being higher when accounting for unreported incidents.
  • Although Apple tweaked the 'unwanted tag detection' feature to send alerts to users who might be targeted, a test by The Washington Post concluded that victims were still vulnerable.


General Motors stops sharing data with brokers


Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

General Motors has discontinued its years-long practice of sharing driver behavior data with two data brokers, both of which used the information to build risk profiles for insurance providers.
  • Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that GM had been disclosing mileage, braking, acceleration, and speed information collected by its OnStar Smart Driver feature.
  • The data, collected unbeknownst to drivers, was sold to insurance companies through two intermediaries, resulting in increased insurance rates.
  • In one case, a Florida man’s rate nearly doubled, prompting him to file a complaint seeking a class-action lawsuit.
  • With more than 8 million vehicles connected, the Smart Driver feature contributed millions to GM’s annual revenue.

  • Vermont passes the Data Privacy Act.
  • Apple, Meta, and Google face scrutiny over DMA non-compliance.
  • Telegram’s peer-to-peer login program raises privacy concerns.
  • Are smart office pods privacy-friendly?
  • The FTC imposes a $26-million fine for deceptive marketing.


Mozilla ends partnership with Onerep over broker ties


Image: Mozilla

Mozilla terminated its partnership with Onerep, an AI-powered service that removes Firefox users from people-search websites, after Onerep’s CEO, Dimitri Shelest, admitted to having connections with a data broker.
  • In February, Mozilla began offering Onerep’s services to Monitor Plus subscribers, giving them the ability to make takedown requests for personal information across scores of websites.
  • However, a report from cybercrime investigative journalist, Brian Krebs, revealed that Shelest had started several people-search websites himself.
  • In a statement to The Verge, Mozilla’s VP of Communications, Brandon Borrman, said the company will continue to offer the Monitor Plus tier while working on a transition plan.


UK’s proposed AI Bill receives second reading



The UK’s Artificial Intelligence (Regulation) Bill, introduced in November 2023, received a second reading at the House of Lords last week.
  • The UK has taken a pro-innovation approach towards AI, but the bill’s introduction made it clear innovation won’t be unregulated, with “trust, transparency and accountability” identified as key pillars.
  • The bill recommends the creation of an AI Authority that will oversee regulatory enforcement, plug existing gaps, and actively involve the public in AI discourse.
  • To secure transparency, AI products will be subjected to testing through a regulatory sandbox—an idea borrowed from the fintech industry.
  • Though largely well-received, some House members were skeptical of follow-through, and one, Baroness Stowell of Beeston, flatly rejected legislation that would introduce another regulator.

🌟 Ron De Jesus joins Transcend as the first-ever Field Chief Privacy Officer

Transcend is proud to welcome Ron De Jesus to the team as the first-ever Field Chief Privacy Officer (FCPO)! As the former Chief Privacy Officer at Grindr, Ron pioneered initiatives to safeguard user privacy within one of the world's largest social networking platforms for the LGBTQ+ community.

In his new role, Ron will embody Transcend's mission to strengthen the privacy community and drive competitive advantages for customers that range from the world’s most advanced technology companies to household consumer brands.

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