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Appeals Court Will Weigh Reviving Federal Employee Vaccine Mandate

Reuters reported:

The Biden administration on Tuesday will urge a federal appeals court to allow its mandate requiring federal employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to take effect.

The full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, is considering whether to reverse a 2-1 April ruling by a three-judge panel allowing enforcement of the mandate. The full court put the mandate back on hold until it hears the case.

The case is one of several over federal vaccine mandates. In mid-January, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination-or-testing mandate for employees of large businesses but allowed a separate federal vaccine requirement for workers at healthcare facilities.

A third major vaccine requirement aimed at employees of federal contractors has been blocked in parts of the country by two appeals courts, and the administration has said it will not enforce it.

GOP Reps Demand Biden Hand Over Facebook, Twitter ‘Misinformation’

New York Post reported:

A trio of House Republicans asked President Biden on Tuesday to provide records related to communications and meetings between the executive branch and social media giants Facebook and Twitter over so-called “misinformation” on those platforms.

“We remain concerned with attempts by your administration to pressure private companies like Twitter and Facebook to censor certain speech or silence individuals with whom you disagree,” read the letter, led by House Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and obtained exclusively by The Post.

The missive comes one week after a federal judge in Louisiana ordered the White House to turn over emails that press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top officials sent to social media companies.

The order from U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty was in response to a lawsuit filed by Attorneys General Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Jeff Landry of Louisiana arguing the Biden administration colluded with Facebook and Twitter to “censor freedom of speech” on a number of topics, including the COVID-19 pandemic and elections.

Democratic Senators Call on ICE to Stop Use of ‘Orwellian’ Facial Recognition, Surveillance

The Hill reported:

Two Democratic senators called on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to discontinue its use of facial recognition and other surveillance technologies that they say threaten individual privacy rights.

Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent a letter to ICE acting Director Tae Johnson on Monday pointing to a Georgetown University report that detailed that ICE has used facial recognition and bought information from data brokers to build a “dragnet security system” to help carry out deportation proceedings.

The senators said these secretive methods have allowed ICE to obtain data about most people living in the United States.

“This surveillance network has exploited privacy-protection gaps and has enormous civil rights implications,” Markey and Wyden said. “ICE should immediately shut down its Orwellian data gathering efforts that indiscriminately collect far too much data on far too many individuals.”

Meta Dredges Sensitive Data for Over 100 Rival Companies While Still Claiming It Isn’t a Monopoly

Gizmodo reported:

An ongoing Federal Trade Commission lawsuit against Meta has claimed the tech giant has been anti-competitive. How does Meta respond? By demanding the sensitive data of hundreds of tech companies, including several of its biggest rivals and competitors.

Bloomberg first reported on Meta having filed 132 subpoenas of some of the biggest tech and social media companies around, including ByteDance-owned TikTok, Twitter, Reddit and Snap, whose apps remain some of Facebook and Instagram’s biggest competitors.

As much as the requests for data say they need to show how much competition Meta faces amongst its rivals, they also ask for an incredible amount of sensitive data about each apps targeted ad capability, user data, marketing strategies and contacts for their biggest advertisers.

Artificial Intelligence Is Playing a Bigger Role in Cybersecurity, but the Bad Guys May Benefit the Most

CNBC reported:

Artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly important role in cybersecurity — for both good and bad. Organizations can leverage the latest AI-based tools to better detect threats and protect their systems and data resources. But cyber criminals can also use the technology to launch more sophisticated attacks.

The rise in cyberattacks is helping to fuel growth in the market for AI-based security products. A July 2022 report by Acumen Research and Consulting says the global market was $14.9 billion in 2021 and is estimated to reach $133.8 billion by 2030.

Another driver of market growth was the COVID-19 pandemic and shift to remote work, according to the report. This forced many companies to put an increased focus on cybersecurity and the use of tools powered with AI to more effectively find and stop attacks.

California’s Anti-Misinformation Bill Is Well Intentioned. But It’s a Bad Idea.

The Washington Post reported:

If it’s egregious for politicians and celebrities to purvey misinformation, it’s far worse when the lie peddler is a physician. Surely, such an individual would be in violation of their oath and should be stripped of their medical license.

That’s the thinking behind AB 2098, a bill that passed the California legislature and is waiting to be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). The measure would make California the first state that could take legal action against healthcare professionals for conveying false information about COVID-19 and its treatments.

While well-intentioned, this legislation will have a chilling effect on medical practice, with widespread repercussions that could paradoxically worsen patient care.

AB 2098, taken to the extreme, could put many practitioners at risk. But is it really right for physicians to be threatened with suspension or revocation of their license for offering nuanced guidance on a complex issue that is hardly settled by existing science?

Stuck in China’s COVID Lockdown, People Plead for Food, Medical Care

The Washington Post reported:

Frantic appeals for food and medical care are spreading across China in a grim deja vu, as tens of millions of people are put under weeks-long coronavirus lockdowns ahead of a key meeting of the ruling Communist Party.

While much of the world is moving past the pandemic, China remains stuck, with leader Xi Jinping continuing orders to maintain “zero COVID.” These lockdowns are keeping localized outbreaks from spreading but are taking an enormous economic and psychological toll on the population.

“We’ve been locked up in our home for more than 40 days. We are short of everything, especially food,” said Gulnazar, an Ili resident, whom The Washington Post is only identifying by one name because of security concerns. “There are so many difficulties, I feel like crying just by mentioning them.”

Gulnazar said local authorities locked their apartment door from the outside and opened it only when medical workers came to do coronavirus tests.

Twitter Shareholders Likely to Vote in Favor of Embattled Musk Deal

Gizmodo reported:

Twitter’s stockholders are making their voices heard. They’ve reportedly voted in favor of the company’s $44 billion acquisition deal with Elon Musk, according to a report from Reuters and another from The Wall Street Journal, both based on an unspecified number of anonymous sources.

The official deadline for the vote is today. A virtual Twitter shareholder meeting is set to be held at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern, and there participants will be able to cast their votes in real-time.

However, according to Reuters and WSJ, enough shareholders have already submitted their affirmative vote to make the outcome clear.

Twitter Whistleblower Details Allegations to Lawmakers

ABC News reported:

A whistleblower on Tuesday detailed a slate of explosive allegations against Twitter to congressional lawmakers, describing what he said were widespread security failures and vulnerabilities at the popular social media giant and an effort inside the company to overlook those risks in order to keep the platform viable and profitable.

As Twitter’s head of security, Peiter Zatko was a member of its executive team from late 2020 until he was fired earlier this year for alleged “ineffective leadership and poor performance” and Twitter has said he’s out to harm the company.

He told lawmakers he arrived at Twitter and discovered the company “was over a decade behind industry security standards” and prioritized monetizing advertising at the expense of widespread security vulnerabilities. “I’m here today because Twitter leadership is misleading the public lawmakers, regulators and even its own board of directors,” Zatko testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“The company’s cybersecurity failures make it vulnerable to exploitation, causing real harm to real people and when an influential media platform can be compromised by teenagers, thieves and spies, and the company repeatedly creates security problems on their own — this is a big deal for all of us.”

Smaller Tech Companies Urge Vote on Antitrust Bill

The Hill reported:

Smaller tech companies that offer more privacy options than the dominant giants on Tuesday sent a letter urging Congress to pass a key antitrust bill.

A dozen companies, including Proton, Mozilla and DuckDuckGo, asked House and Senate leaders to bring the American Innovation and Choice Online Act to a vote “as soon as possible,” arguing it would lead to more competition and therefore more privacy options for consumers.

“Massive tech platforms can exert influence over society and the digital economy because they ultimately have the power to collect, analyze and monetize exorbitant amounts of personal information.

“This is not by accident, as some of the tech giants have intentionally abused their gatekeeper positions to lock users into perpetual surveillance while simultaneously making it difficult to switch to privacy-protective alternatives,” the companies wrote, according to a copy of the letter shared with The Hill.

Chinese Police Target Tibetans for DNA Collection, Reports Allege

Axios reported:

Chinese authorities are collecting genetic information from residents across Tibet, according to two recent reports by research organizations in the U.S. and Canada.

Why it matters: The collection of genetic data, though important for scientific research and for criminal investigations, can present serious ethical concerns regarding consent, exploitation and genetic surveillance.

Details: Chinese police have taken DNA samples from as much as one-third of Tibet’s population since June 2016, according to a report published on Tuesday by Citizen Lab, a research institute at the University of Toronto.

What they’re saying: “Without external checks on the Ministry of Public Security’s power, police in Tibet will be free to use a mass DNA database for whatever purpose they see fit,” the Citizen Lab report states.