Protego Press Weekly Update

It’s been a busy week at Protego Press. We’ve published four must-read pieces in the last few days: 

  • US Presidential campaigns may be putting supporters privacy at risk, argues Bridget Barrett. “Senators Booker, Harris, and Warren are failing to meet data security best practices and are exposing the personally identifiable data of their email subscribers to all of their digital partners” by “including the personally identifiable information of their email list subscribers and campaign contributors in the website URLs that the links in their emails drive to.” Privacy vulnerabilities create a new attack vector that could play an important role in the 2020 election.
  • The upcoming Iowa caucuses will for the first time include a digital component, writes Josh Geltzer, but there is “no indication yet in public statements by the Iowa Democracy Party or media reporting on its proposal of how exactly signing up for participation in the virtual caucuses will occur and, in particular, how that process will be made secure, all with sufficient time to conduct appropriate information assurance activities.” 
  • Vulnerabilities abound on the web given how few controls are in place in the United States. Lindsey Barrett argues that “applying fiduciary duties to data collectors could enable broader regulation of digital harms than a privacy law would otherwise likely encompass and, in turn, help elevate the American approach of treating privacy as a commodity to something closer to a right.”
  • The United States government needs to double down on cybersecurity urgently, argues Bishop Garrison, because the problems are compounding- especially with regards to elections. “The country has not created a comprehensive cyber plan across the multiple organizations affected by these problems. And the issues persist while our electoral process remains susceptible to attack.”

Elsewhere on the web:

  • Jonathan Zittrain argues in The New Yorker that more should be done to address the “intellectual debt” that is created when systems become reliant on AI and machine learning systems that produce results from mechanisms that are not entirely understood. “As knowledge generated by machine-learning systems is put to use, these kinds of gaps may prove consequential.” Consider implications in healthcare, or in finance. 
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee released the first of its final reports on its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The report found that Russian agents prodded and probed election systems in all 50 states, and was in a position to change or delete voter data in more than one state.
  • Missouri freshman Republican Senator Josh Hawley introduced the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology (SMART) Act, a bill that would make it illegal for social media companies to deploy features such as infinite scroll, autoplay video or techniques that reward a user, repeated use. “Big tech has embraced a business model of addiction,” Hawley argues. 
  • Bloomberg’s Noah Smith sees opportunity for Canada in attracting technology talent away from the United States. “Silicon Valley, New York and Seattle have one major weakness — they are located in a country that has chosen to elect Donald Trump as president. Trump’s restrictive policies toward high-skilled immigration, combined with his general xenophobic attitude and rhetoric, are making the U.S. look like a less attractive destination for foreign talent.”
  • Facebook wants to read your mind, and it’s getting closer to that goal in partnership with researchers at UCSF. “Though any sort of think-to-type device you might be able to buy is still far in the future, [Facebook researcher Mark] Chevillet can already imagine how he thinks it should look: a pair of glasses that uses augmented reality and includes a brain-based method for doing everything from sending a text message to adjusting the volume of a song to simply performing the equivalent of a mouse click” through a non-invasive brain-computer interface.