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The Post-Roe Data Privacy Nightmare Is Way Bigger Than Period-Tracking Apps
Since the Supreme Court’s draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade leaked, influencers, activists and privacy advocates have urged users to delete period-tracking apps from their devices and remove their information from associated services. With abortion now outlawed in several states, data from such apps could be used in criminal investigations against abortion seekers, and a missed period — or even simply an unlogged one — could be used as evidence of a crime.
These services, like many “wellness” apps, are not bound by HIPPA, and many have long histories of shady practices resulting in fines and regulatory scrutiny. Mistrust in them is well-founded. However, calls to delete period-tracking or fertility apps are obscuring what privacy experts say is a much larger issue.
While concerns about period-tracking apps are valid, they are only a small piece of a much larger problem. And deleting the services from your phone won’t be enough, on its own, to ensure your personal data can’t be used against you. But though users may be badly outmatched by a vast and largely unregulated industry, they aren’t entirely helpless.
Lia Holland, campaigns and communications director for Fight for the Future, an advocacy group focused on digital rights, and India McKinney, director of federal affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, pointed to the importance of protecting your private messages and browsing history, via encrypted messaging apps and privacy-protecting browsers.
“Your phone is tracking you so leave it at home if you don’t want it to know where you go,” says McKinney.
Popular Child-Monitoring Android Apps Have Been Secretly Tracking the Parents, Too
Mobile apps that help people monitor their children are also leaking the parents’ data to third parties, and possibly malicious actors, researchers have found.
The Cyber news research team recently took a closer look at the 10 most popular child-tracking apps. These are essentially surveillance apps, designed for parents who fear for their children’s safety and want to use their mobile devices to make sure they are safe.
Cumulatively, these apps have amassed more than 85 million downloads among them. However, none received the highest grade for privacy and one app with more than 50 million installs was even deemed a “critical risk.”
One of the problems with these apps is that they carry third-party trackers, meaning that both children and parents are having their data harvested, the researchers explained. The data can be used for a wide variety of things, but mostly it’s used for targeted advertising.
Hugely Popular NGL App Offers Teenagers Anonymity in Comments About Each Other
A new app that allows Instagram users to send anonymous messages is soaring in popularity — and renewing concerns about cyberbullying and harassment that plagued previous apps allowing teens to comment on one another without attribution.
Instagram Stories over the past week have been swamped with links to the new app: NGL Q&A, which is an abbreviation for ‘not gonna lie,’ developed by a company called DeepMoji. The link invites friends and followers to share anonymous feedback that goes directly to the app’s inbox. NGL follows in the footsteps of websites and apps like Ask.fm, Whisper, Yolo, and YMK that have built huge audiences by allowing teenagers to vent privately on social media before facing a public backlash over child-safety fears.
The resurgence of anonymous messaging comes as concerns mount over the impact of social media on the mental health of young people. Senators grilled Meta and other social media executives last year after the WSJ published leaked documents that suggest Instagram was harmful for a significant percentage of its young users.
These problems appear even more extreme with apps that promise to offer teenagers a private glimpse of what peers really think of them: a void in which bullying, harassment and threats can flourish.
Kids Happier, Healthier Away From All Those Screens: Study
New research confirms the dangers of too much screen time for kids and teens: Those who play sports, take music lessons or socialize with friends after school are happier and healthier than children who are glued to a screen during these hours.
“Screen time, where you are sitting and watching TV or playing computer games or scrolling social media for hours on end, is so detrimental because it’s sedentary and usually not engaging,” said study author Rosa Virgara, a research associate at the University of South Australia.
She and her colleagues looked at how nearly 62,000 kids aged 4 to 9 spent their time after school. These kids also completed questionnaires about their well-being. Children who played video games, watched TV and used social media after school almost always had lower levels of well-being than their peers who took part in after-school activities, the study showed.
Youngkin Urges Defense Secretary to ‘Indefinitely Postpone’ Army Guard Vaccine Mandate
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) urged Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to “indefinitely postpone” the implementation of the department’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for Army National Guard Troops in a new letter obtained by The Hill on Tuesday.
The letter, which was also signed by Republican Virginia Reps. Bob Good, Rob Whittman, Ben Cline and Morgan Griffith, argues that the mandate will drive members of Virginia’s national guard away.
Additionally, the letter cites the recently dropped mask and vaccine mandate in other jurisdictions, natural immunity to the virus and the use of therapeutics as reasons for dropping the mandate.
A Momentous Year for Religious Liberty at the Supreme Court
In my 33 years of advocating for religious liberty, I have never seen a year like this at the U.S. Supreme Court.
This term, the Supreme Court decided on three important religious liberty cases. Each case firmly defended the right of people of faith to be free from anti-religious discrimination at the hands of government officials.
In each case, the government tried to defend its religious discrimination by relying on a mistaken understanding of the Establishment Clause. In each case, the Court rejected any interpretation of the First Amendment that treats people of faith as second-class citizens or religious expression as a second-class right.
Apple and Google Should Kick TikTok out of Their App Stores, FCC Commissioner Argues
TikTok should be thrown out of the iPhone and Android app stores in the U.S., a Republican commissioner in the Federal Communications Commission has argued in a plea for action on the part of gatekeepers Apple and Google.
Brendan Carr’s appeal to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai followed a Buzzfeed News report last week that — based on over a dozen leaked recordings from internal TikTok meetings — showed the Chinese firm had “repeatedly accessed nonpublic data about U.S. TikTok users.”
The report also indicated that TikTok’s U.S. employees “had to turn to their colleagues in China to determine how U.S. user data was flowing,” even though TikTok — whose app has huge traction among American youth — had promised the Senate that a U.S.-based security team had those controls.
“TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface,” Carr wrote to Cook and Pichai. “It is not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. That’s the sheep’s clothing. At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.”
South Korea’s Seegene Creates Monkeypox PCR Test With AI
South Korean medical company says it has created a PCR test to detect the monkeypox virus using artificial intelligence. Seoul-based Seegene, which makes diagnostic products, announced its Novaplex monkeypox virus test on Tuesday.
The test, developed using the company’s AI-based automated test development system, can identify a positive case in 90 minutes, Seegene states.
Brainwashed: A New History of Thought Control by Daniel Pick
In this frankly brilliant book, Daniel Pick sets out to explore why the idea of mind control became such a contested topic during the second half of the 20th century. His skills as a historian and a practicing psychoanalyst allow Pick to move beyond a methodology in which human subjects are either reduced to data points or inflated into grand actors.
One of the reasons the U.S. government was so quick to accuse the communist bloc of brainwashing was a sneaking awareness that it was doing something similar to its own population. By the early 1960s a template of the “American dream” had emerged, consisting of a corporate job for him, a kitchen bristling with mod cons for her and a college education for their sporty children.