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How Amazon Plans to Expand Into Mental Health Services With On-Demand Therapists

Insider reported:

Insider has learned Amazon is planning to add mental health services to its portfolio — so one day you may not only have an Amazon robot cleaning your house, an Amazon doctor providing care and an Amazon store to pick out your clothes, but you could also have an Amazon therapist.

Amazon’s primary-care service, Amazon Care, plans to add behavioral health support to its growing list of medical offerings and is planning to partner with mental healthcare provider Ginger.

The service, which hasn’t been launched yet, will provide Amazon Care users on-demand access to mental health experts, such as licensed therapists or psychiatrists.

Amazon has been doubling down on its healthcare business. Just last month, the company announced plans to acquire One Medical for $3.9 billion.

Ring Cameras Amassing Info on Users and Their Neighbors

ZeroHedge reported:

About 18% of Americans now own a video doorbell. That means a significant and growing slice of American neighborhoods are under a form of intermittent surveillance. If the surveillance video and associated data were the exclusive property of individual homeowners, it might not be of much concern.

However, that’s not the case. For example, Ring, the company behind the top-selling brand, maintains a vast database of its users and their cameras. Ring is an Amazon subsidiary, thanks to the tech giant‘s 2018 purchase of the company for over $1 billion.

Ring gets your name, phone number, email and postal address and any other information you provide to it — such as payment information or your social media handles if you link your Ring account to Facebook, for instance. The company also gets information about your Wi-Fi network and its signal strength, and it knows you named your camera “Secret CIA Watchpoint,” as well as all the other technical changes you make to your cameras or doorbells.

Maybe you’ve opted against buying a Ring doorbell out of privacy concerns. That’s fine, but don’t forget that your neighbor’s Ring camera may be watching you — or even listening to you. Tests have found Ring cameras can record audio from 20 feet away.

Twitter Activates ‘Steps’ to ‘Protect’ Midterms, Fight ‘Misleading Narratives’

The Daily Wire reported:

Twitter announced on Thursday that it would implement several measures to “protect civic conversation” in the run-up to the midterm elections, saying users “deserve to trust the election conversations and content they encounter” on the social media platform.

In an announcement titled, “Our approach to the 2022 U.S. midterms,” the company explained that it aims “to enable healthy civic conversation on Twitter while ensuring people have the context they need to make informed decisions.”

The company is “activating enforcement” of its “Civic Integrity Policy,” specifically designed to combat “harmful misleading information.” Twitter will be rolling out various measures, including blocking certain accounts from sharing links or content it deems false.

Likewise, the social media company will be “educating” users on how to identify fake news.

UnitedHealth Deal Questioned by DOJ on Risk of Data Misuse

Bloomberg reported:

The Justice Department held out a 2021 internal audit of UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s data practices as evidence that the healthcare giant’s proposed acquisition of Change Healthcare Inc. should be blocked.

An internal audit of UnitedHealth’s data policies found the company had “no effective means of enforcement if or when data misuse is discovered or reported,” according to evidence presented by prosecutors during an antitrust trial Wednesday.

The DOJ has sued to block the deal, saying it would give UnitedHealth access to sensitive information about rival health insurers. The case is a test of the Biden administration’s antitrust agenda. A ruling for the Justice Department could have implications for other mergers where valuable data would change hands.

Chicago Public Schools 2022-2023 COVID Guidelines: Mask and Vaccine Mandates Are out, ‘Close Contact’ Procedures Are in

NBC 5 Chicago reported:

With Chicago Public Schools’ back-to-school start date just over a week away, summer break for students and teachers is coming to a close. And now that COVID vaccinations are approved for children 6 months and older, guidelines and policies have shifted for the upcoming school year, with officials stressing the importance of vaccine protection over masking.

But as the classroom inches closer, the city remains at what the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention classifies as a “high” community transmission of the virus.

“Only about 9% of Chicagoans under five have gotten that first dose,” Chicago Public Health Department commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live update Tuesday. However, vaccines will not be mandated for 2022-2023, and neither will masks — with Arwady stressing that as COVID continues to evolve, so too will guidelines around the virus.

COVID Curbs Affect Cities Across China, Including Xinjiang and Tibet

NBC News reported:

Several COVID-hit Chinese cities from the country’s east to west imposed fresh restrictions and lockdowns on their populations on Thursday to contain flare-ups that are again threatening to disrupt local economies.

Reducing people’s unnecessary movement for a few days — a softer type of lockdown — as soon as dozens of new cases emerge is a key practice of China’s “dynamic COVID-zero” strategy. The aim is to avoid turning efforts to halt an outbreak into the extended nightmares seen in Shanghai and Wuhan.

The uncertainty over how long such smaller lockdowns may last — because Omicron’s high transmissibility makes it harder to clear infections — has hurt business confidence and made people less willing to travel.

Federal Trade Commission Expected to Launch Effort to Expand Online Privacy Protection

The Wall Street Journal reported:

The Federal Trade Commission is expected to begin writing federal rules to expand online privacy protections as soon as Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter.

If adopted, the rules could impose significant new responsibilities on businesses that handle consumer data, including potentially barring certain kinds of data collection practices, the people said.

Congress is also considering legislation to impose new rules to give Americans more control over their personal data, but it is unclear if there are enough votes to ensure passage this session. A group of state attorneys general has raised concerns that the bill could pre-empt tougher privacy standards adopted at the state level.

​​The new FTC rules could take years to enact, and the commission could follow several different paths, the people said. One option would be to declare certain data collection practices unfair or deceptive, using its authority to police such conduct.

Meta Begins Default End-to-End Encryption Tests on Facebook Messenger

Gizmodo reported:

Meta’s expanding end-to-end encryption on its Messenger platform. The company is now testing the privacy feature as the default setting for certain chats, as announced in a Thursday press release.

E2E encryption is the gold standard for online data privacy. With E2E, messages can theoretically only be viewed by the sender and the intended recipient(s) — even Meta shouldn’t be able to see the content of chats sent with this level of encryption.

Though the company first introduced E2E encryption as an option in 2016, this is the platform’s first major step towards actually making the privacy setting the default — something that’s critical for users’ true online security.

Previously, Meta has indicated that default E2E is the ultimate goal for Facebook and beyond, yet the timing of today’s announcement is hard to ignore. It comes in the immediate aftermath of the news that Meta shared Messenger chats with police in a criminal case concerning a 17-year-old’s abortion.

Online Privacy in a Post-Roe World

Associated Press reported:

The case of a Nebraska woman charged with helping her teenage daughter end her pregnancy after investigators obtained Facebook messages between the two has raised fresh concerns about data privacy in the post-Roe world.

Since before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Big Tech companies that collect personal details of their users have faced new calls to limit that tracking and surveillance amid fears that law enforcement or vigilantes could use those data troves against people seeking abortions or those who try to help them.

History has repeatedly demonstrated that whenever people’s personal data is tracked and stored, there’s always a risk that it could be misused or abused. With the Supreme Court’s overruling of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, collected location data, text messages, search histories, emails and seemingly innocuous period and ovulation-tracking apps could be used to prosecute people who seek an abortion — or medical care for a miscarriage — as well as those who assist them.

House Administrators Warn Lawmakers Against TikTok Use

The Hill reported:

“The ‘TikTok’ mobile application has been deemed by the House’s Chief Administration Officer (CAO) Office of CyberSecurity to be a high risk to users due to its lack of transparency in how it protects customer data, its requirement of excessive permissions and the potential security risks involved with its use,” the office wrote in a memo released Tuesday.

The advisory comes with no shortage of ways the app could access personal information, including checking a location device once an hour, and noting that the app “continually requests access” to a user’s contacts and external storage.

“TikTok actively harvests content for identifiable data. TikTok ‘may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information as defined under US laws,’ including ‘faceprints’ and ‘voiceprints,’ from videos users upload to their platform,” the advisory states.

It also may be able to access the device phone number, Wi-Fi network names, SIM card serial numbers, GPS status information and subscription information.