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Remote Learning Apps Shared Children’s Data at a ‘Dizzying Scale’

The Washington Post reported:

Millions of children had their online behaviors and personal information tracked by the apps and websites they used for school during the pandemic, according to an international investigation that raises concerns about the impact remote learning had on children’s privacy online.

The educational tools were recommended by school districts and offered interactive math and reading lessons to children as young as prekindergarten. But many of them also collected students’ information and shared it with marketers and data brokers, who could then build data profiles used to target the children with ads that follow them around the Web.

Those findings come from the most comprehensive study to date on the technology that children and parents relied on for nearly two years as basic education shifted from schools to homes.

What the researchers found was alarming: nearly 90% of the educational tools were designed to send the information they collected to ad-technology companies, which could use it to estimate students’ interests and predict what they might want to buy.

Opponents of Federal Vaccine Mandate Seek Rehearing

Associated Press reported:

A federal appeals court is being asked to reconsider its decision allowing the Biden administration to require that federal employees get vaccinated against COVID-19.

A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month vacated a lower court ruling blocking the mandate and ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the policy, which was ordered by President Joe Biden in September.

However, that 2-1 ruling by the appellate panel doesn’t take effect until May 31. On Saturday, opponents of the mandate, led by a group called Feds for Medical Freedom, filed a petition asking that the April ruling be vacated and that the full 17-member court hear new arguments in the case.

On Monday, the 5th Circuit asked the government to respond by June 2; it was unclear if the court would take any action before then.

Top Privacy Researchers Urge the Healthcare Industry to Safeguard Patient Data

STAT News reported:

Patient data might be the biggest business you’ve never heard of. As a STAT investigation published Monday revealed, data brokers are quietly trafficking in Americans’ health information — often without their knowledge or consent, and beyond the reach of federal health privacy laws.

This market in medical records has become highly lucrative — $13.5 billion annually —  thanks to advances in artificial intelligence that enable the slicing, dicing and cross-referencing of that data in powerful new ways.

But the building of these algorithms often sidelines patient privacy. And researchers who’ve been tracking these erosive effects say it’s time to reform how health data is governed and give patients back control of their information.

“Privacy is an elusive concept, but the potential harms when it’s taken away or when it’s lost — those are critically important to understand,” Eric Perakslis, chief science and digital officer of the Duke Clinical Research Institute said Tuesday at the 2022 STAT Health Tech Summit in San Francisco. “And if we can’t figure out privacy in some way with a law we should be figuring out what those harms are and making them illegal.”

Nets Unwilling to Give Kyrie Irving Long-Term Contract Extension, per Report

CBS Sports reported:

To say the Brooklyn Nets‘ season was a disappointment would be a massive understatement. This is a team that, entering the season was considered title favorites. But where they actually ended up was being swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics — still the only team this postseason that didn’t win a single game.

Given everything that transpired with Kyrie Irving this season, primarily his refusal to get vaccinated, and his injury history overall, it’s not surprising that Brooklyn is taking a more cautious approach with the All-Star guard going forward. With COVID-19 cases spiking again across the country, there’s the possibility that New York could reinstate its vaccine mandate, which could potentially sideline Irving again.

Signing him to a long-term extension comes with some risks, but so too does not giving him an extension. If Irving declines his player option and the Nets come to the table with a new contract he doesn’t like, Brooklyn would be taking the gamble of losing him for nothing.

Irving has about a month left to decide if he wants to opt in on the final year of his contract. This also means the Nets have the same amount of time to decide what they want to do with him going forward. If Irving opts in, it will only push the issue further down the road to the summer of 2023. But if he opts out and becomes an unrestricted free agent, it’ll force Brooklyn to make some tough decisions about the future of this team.

Face Masks Are Now Required Again at Many Philadelphia-Area Schools

CNN reported:

The School District of Philadelphia reinstated face masks in schools, a month after masks were made optional, due to an uptick in cases in the area, the district announced.

School districts in neighboring Montgomery County have also reinstated face mask policies after the county was “designated as high risk,” said a tweet from the Norristown Area School District.

Princeton University Has Disgraced Itself by Firing Free Speech Hero Joshua Katz

Newsweek reported:

“It is our collective responsibility not to shrug our shoulders” or accept “the normalization of untruths,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told Princeton’s 2022 Class Day on May 23. That same day, Princeton’s Board of Trustees, acting on the recommendation of its President Christopher L. Eisgruber, fired star classics professor Joshua Katz after nearly 25 years of employment.

In July 2020, in the wake of George Floyd‘s killing, Katz criticized a Princeton faculty letter demanding preferential treatment for minority faculty members, the disbanding of Princeton’s security, and the creation of faculty panels to police colleagues’ work for supposed racism.

Katz was immediately branded a racist and ostracized by his colleagues. Eisgruber condemned him for having used his freedom of speech “irresponsibly.”

Earlier this month, Eisgruber recommended Katz’s termination to Princeton’s Board. He and other university officials have sheepishly denied that it had anything to do with Katz’s public speech and instead insist that it resulted from a personnel matter dredged up from 16 years ago that just happened to resurface at the exact moment the speech issue emerged.

Iowa Legislature Prohibits COVID Vaccine Mandates for K-12 School, College, Licensed Childcare

KMTV 3 News Now reported:

Iowa children will not face a requirement to be vaccinated for COVID-19 for attendance in school, college or a childcare center under a bill headed to the governor’s desk.

The bill would not allow mandates for attendance at any licensed childcare center, elementary or secondary school or postsecondary school before July 1, 2029.

Republican senators voted 29-16 to approve House File 2298. The bill passed the House on Feb. 28 on a vote of 57-36. The bill needs Gov. Kim Reynolds’ signature to become law.

Almost 4,000 Fined for Breaking Mask Rules on London Transport

The Guardian reported:

Almost 4,000 people were issued with fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) for not wearing a face-covering on public transport in London when it was compulsory to do so, and thousands more were prevented from traveling or told to leave the capital’s network, official figures show.

Mandatory wearing of masks on Transport for London (TfL) services was put in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Face coverings stopped being a condition of carriage from Feb. 24 this year after the shift in the government’s approach towards living with coronavirus.

The release of the data coincides with the publication of a report that has laid bare the partying culture within Downing Street at the same time, where officials discussed how they “got away with” drinks parties.

Tightening COVID Net, Beijing Deals out Punishments, Stark Warnings

Channel News Asia reported:

China’s COVID-hit capital Beijing further tightened its dragnet on the virus with zero community transmission as the target, punishing workplaces that flout rules or circumvent curbs and imploring residents to police their own movements.

Since late April, the city of 22 million has wrestled with dozens of new cases a day. While these have been mostly in quarantine areas, a handful have been found in the community at large, illustrating the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant and the challenges that poses to the world’s most stringent pandemic containment policies.

This week, the city has stepped up quarantine efforts and clamped down on workplace attendance, with more districts issuing work-from-home requirements or guidance. That followed an inspection tour on Monday by Vice Premier Sun Chunlan — in charge of China’s COVID-19 response — during which she called for more thorough measures to sever transmission chains.

Germany to Loosen COVID Entry Rules Over the Summer

Associated Press reported:

Germany’s health minister says the government plans to suspend a pandemic rule requiring people to show proof of vaccination, a negative test result or recent recovery from COVID-19 to enter the country over the summer.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach told the Funke newspaper group in comments published Wednesday that the rule, which applies to everyone age 12 and above regardless of where they are traveling from, will be suspended from June 1 to the end of August.

Confirmed coronavirus case numbers have declined steadily in Germany in recent weeks, and most restrictions have been lifted.  However, the government last week announced plans to spend another 830 million euros ($889 million) to buy vaccines that would help the country deal with a series of possible variants in the fall.

Clearview AI’s Facial Recognition Tool Coming to Apps, Schools

Reuters reported:

Clearview AI is expanding sales of its facial recognition software to companies from mainly serving the police, it told Reuters, inviting scrutiny on how the startup capitalizes on billions of photos it scrapes from social media profiles.

Sales could be significant for Clearview, a presenter on Wednesday at the Montgomery Summit investor conference in California. It fuels an emerging debate over the ethics of leveraging disputed data to design artificial intelligence systems such as facial recognition.

Clearview’s usage of publicly available photos to train its tool draws it high marks for accuracy. The United Kingdom and Italy fined Clearview for breaking privacy laws by collecting online images without consent, and the company this month settled with U.S. rights activists over similar allegations.

Instead of online photo comparisons, the new private-sector offering matches people to ID photos and other data that clients collect with subjects’ permission. It is meant to verify identities for access to physical or digital spaces.

Amazon Installs ‘Creepy’ AI Cameras to Monitor More Delivery Drivers, Report Says

Insider reported:

Amazon is putting artificial intelligence (AI)-powered cameras in more delivery vans in a move that privacy activists called “creepy,” “intrusive” and “excessive” after rolling them out in the U.S. last year, The Telegraph reported.

The cameras monitor how drivers in the U.K. perform on the road and issue voice alerts if they speed or brake sharply and will score drivers accordingly. Two cameras are being installed on Amazon vans in Britain, one facing the driver and the other aimed at the road.

Big Brother Watch called for the installations to be put on hold, The Telegraph reported. Silkie Carlo, director of the U.K.-based privacy campaign group, said: “Amazon has a terrible track record of intensely monitoring their lowest wage earners using Orwellian, often highly inaccurate, spying technologies, and then using that data to their disadvantage.”

Amazon rolled out its AI cameras in the U.S. last year and used them to decide drivers’ pay and whether to keep them on.