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Senior Facebook Engineers Say No One at the Company Knows Where Your Data Is Kept

Insider reported:

Two longtime Meta engineers were grilled about how the company stores and keeps track of user data and revealed they don’t believe anyone at the company could compile all the data belonging to a single user, newly unsealed court documents revealed.

The two engineers were questioned during a court hearing as part of a consumer privacy lawsuit centered around the Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2018.

The questioning was led by a court-appointed technical expert who was trying to ascertain exactly what information Facebook stores about users and where it is all kept.

“I don’t believe there’s a single person that exists who could answer that question. It would take a significant team effort to even be able to answer that question,” answered Eugene Zarashaw, whose LinkedIn profile says he is an engineering director at Meta and has worked there for almost nine years.

The lawsuit against Meta was filed in 2018 and the company reached a settlement in the case in August, one month before CEO Mark Zuckerberg was due to be deposed.

Why CVS Is Spending $8 Billion to Bring Back Physician House Calls

Vox reported:

CVS announced on Monday that it plans to buy Signify Health, a network of more than 10,000 clinicians that provide in-person evaluations and care for U.S. patients at their homes, along with virtual telehealth visits. The $8 billion acquisition is a major bet for the 59-year-old pharmacy chain. It’s also an attempt to resurrect a relatively old concept: the doctor’s house call.

CVS is just one of several companies, including Amazon and Walgreens, that has recently been investing in at-home healthcare. The reason why is simple: The number of people aged 65 and older in the U.S. could practically double by 2060, which means demand for medical care will almost certainly grow, too.

Completing a medical appointment at home can be safer for people who face difficulties leaving the house. The return of the house call is also part of a broader transformation in how healthcare is delivered and, perhaps more importantly, who delivers it. Like CVS, many of the companies investing in at-home care aren’t traditional healthcare providers, and they’re interested in using tech to take on far more than just home-based medical appointments.

If Caring About Your Digital Privacy Makes Me a Cult Member, Sign Me up

Slate reported:

Asked about state and local police accessing millions of people’s geolocation data without warrants, an Arkansas prosecutor recently said Americans have given up any reasonable expectation of privacy when they use free phone apps — and that those who object belong to a “cult of privacy.”

Well, count me in. I am a proud member of the cult of privacy, and I want to bring you into the fold. If you would rather try to protect your privacy than being tracked in everything you do and everywhere you go, you might want to join us. Light a candle, download a VPN client and help us overthrow surveillance capitalism.

The privacy-poo-pooing prosecutor was quoted last week in an Associated Press story based on a joint investigation with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where I work as associate director of digital strategy. That project revealed that law enforcement agencies across the country have been paying a company called Fog Data Science to gain warrantless access to millions of people’s cell phone location data.

Religious Exemptions for COVID Vaccine to Expire for Froedtert Employees as Novavax Shot Becomes Available

CBS 58 Milwaukee reported:

Staff at Froedtert Health must receive the COVID-19 vaccine or risk termination because of the availability of the Novavax version of the vaccine.

“This protein-based vaccination option eliminates conflicts for those staff with religious or medical exemptions caused by mRNA-based vaccines and other concerns,” Froedtert said in a statement to CBS 58. “Since that staff is now eligible for a vaccination that does not conflict with their religious beliefs or medical situation, their exemption will expire.”

The hospital said the updated policy will only affect a small number of staff who had previously requested an exemption.

How COVID Spurred Governments to Snoop on Sewage

The Economist reported:

Surveying sewage for pathogens is not a new idea. Several American cities, including Charleston, Detroit and Philadelphia, tracked polio that way in the early 20th century. But the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be, as the inevitable joke goes, a “watershed moment.”

Figures from the jauntily named COVIDPoops19 project, hosted at the University of California, Merced, show that the number of survey sites has risen from just 38 in October 2020 to more than 3,500 now, scattered across 70 countries.

“It’s been the silver lining of the pandemic,” says Anna Mehrotra at the Water Environment Federation, an American organization. “We’ve done a decade’s worth of science in the first year,” says Doug Manuel, an epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa.

Now public health officials are hoping that all this newly built infrastructure can be transformed into a worldwide early-warning system for all sorts of diseases. America and Europe are dealing with an outbreak of monkeypox, an infectious disease related to smallpox that has, for the first time, spread outside its African home. Cities are already scouring wastewater for strains of the virus. In India, typhoid, dengue fever and avian influenza are high up on the list. In Malawi, cholera, rotavirus and shigella are priorities.

Western University to Delay COVID Booster Mandate to Early 2023

The Epoch Times reported:

Western University said on Sept. 6 that it will delay imposing a COVID-19 booster requirement due to Health Canada approving a new bivalent vaccine.

The university in London, Ontario, announced in late August it would impose the booster on staff, faculty, students and some visitors. It said the measures were “aimed at preserving the in-person learning experience.”

The initial deadline for compliance was Oct. 1, but the university said it’s now being pushed to Jan. 9, 2023.

Health Canada announced on Sept. 1 that it has authorized Moderna’s bivalent vaccine, which targets the Omicron BA.1 variant. This variant is all but extinguished in Canada, with subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 being dominant.

Chengdu, Chinese City of 21 Million, Has COVID Lockdown Extended Indefinitely

The Guardian reported:

Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, has extended the coronavirus lockdown of most of its districts indefinitely as it hopes to stem further transmissions in the city of 21.2 million.

The lockdown was expected to be lifted on Wednesday, but local government officials said “there are still risks of social spread in some areas,” according to Chengdu authorities.

Residents under lockdown in 16 districts, cities, counties and special zones out of the 23 under Chengdu’s jurisdiction remain under lockdown, the authorities said. They will be tested for the virus every day, authorities said late on Wednesday, without giving a date for when the lockdown would be lifted. A handful of districts were released from a full lockdown, but residents still have to undergo mass testing on Friday and Sunday.

The Facebook Button Is Disappearing From Websites as Consumers Demand Better Privacy

CNBC reported:

Until about a month ago, shoppers on Dell’s website looking for a new laptop could log in using their Facebook credentials to avoid creating a new username and password. That option is now gone. Dell isn’t alone. Other big brands, including Best Buy, Ford Motor, Pottery Barn, Nike, Patagonia, Match and Amazon’s video-streaming service Twitch have removed the ability to sign on with Facebook.

It’s a marked departure from just a few years ago, when the Facebook login was plastered all over the internet, often alongside buttons that let you sign in with Google, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Jen Felch, Dell’s chief digital and chief information officer, said people stopped using social logins, for reasons that include concerns over security, privacy and data-sharing.

The disappearing login is the latest sign of Facebook’s diminishing influence on the internet following more than a decade of spectacular growth. In the past year, the company’s business has been beset by Apple’s iOS privacy change, which made it harder to target ads, a deteriorating economy, competition from short-video service TikTok and reputational damage after a whistleblower leaked documents showing Facebook knew of the harm caused by many of its products.

Don’t Let Fearmongering Derail a New Law That Has Real Teeth to Protect Kids’ Privacy

Gizmodo reported:

For two decades, we have watched as the tech sector rose from quirky start-ups — many of which originated here in the state of California — to global behemoths with the power to entertain, inform, manipulate, addict and destabilize at an individual, local and global scale.

Some of those hurt most by tech’s worst effects are also the most vulnerable among us. There is no longer any question as to the nature of the harm to children around the globe, including heightened body image issues for one-in-three teenage girls on Instagram, death and injury inspired by TikTok challenges and the sexualization of children on YouTube.

With Congress at an impasse on how to rein in the titans of tech, state legislators have rightfully stepped in. The California legislature passed the Age-Appropriate Design Code (AADC) last week, requiring the prioritization of the safety and well-being of children in the design of online products and services. Legislators refer to it as the “Kids’ Code.” Gov. Gavin Newsom has yet to sign the bill into law.

TikTok’s Secret to Explosive Growth? ‘Billions and Billions of Dollars’ Says Snap CEO Evan Spiegel

Forbes reported:

American social media companies are increasingly feeling the squeeze from TikTok, the fastest growing video platform on the planet, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance.

TikTok has been aggressively pulling younger users away from Meta and is now more popular among teens than Instagram and Snapchat, according to August data from the Pew Research Center. (The pandemic also helped TikTok land with older audiences in the U.S. that it had previously struggled to reach.)

These American players cannot operate in China, yet they’re ceding ground to a Chinese company on their own turf — as Code Conference host and journalist Kara Swisher put it, TikTok is “eating their lunch.”

At this year’s Code Conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, some of the world’s top tech and media CEOs, and prominent political voices, raised concerns about the power, rapid growth and surveillance capabilities of the Chinese-owned platform, in some cases calling for it to be banned altogether. TikTok was notably one of the only major, mainstream social media companies not present.

‘We Can Do Better’: Snapchat to Target Millennials After Missing Goals

The Guardian reported:

Snapchat is coming for the oldies — in Gen Z terms, at least. The messaging app is focusing on attracting users in their 30s, according to a leaked memo from its co-founder and chief executive, Evan Spiegel, as part of a goal to increase usage “in at least one new large country or demographic.”

Attracting new users is part of the goal to grow Snapchat to 450 million daily active users by the end of next year. The target isn’t just millennials, though. Snapchat is also focusing on a “big five” list of large countries with low penetration: Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Spain and Japan.