CIA Bulk Data Collection: What It Means for Technology


Hello and welcome to Protocol Policy! Today we look at the CIA spy scandal and what it means for the crackdown on Big Tech in Washington. Additionally, the UK’s Online Safety Bill is getting more extreme by the day and Facebook is settling a decade-old score.

Is it still 2013 already?

You remember the post-Snowden days. It was the beginning of the end of the friendly relationship between Washington and Silicon Valley – except that at the time sour feelings mostly moved from west to east. Tech leaders rushed to do damage control with a global user base that suddenly saw its data as dangerous in the hands of corporate America, and years of debate over encryption and government-mandated backdoors unfolded. followed.

A decade later, news about the CIA’s mass data collection program feels a lot like deja vu. But now there is a crucial difference: this time the techlash is upon us. Suddenly, all of Washington’s fingers look like this Spider-Man meme.

  • Take the Earn It Act: Critics say the bill would force platforms to scan every message users post and could punish companies for deploying end-to-end encryption. Who can argue now that some federal government agencies wouldn’t take full advantage of these spying capabilities if they could?
  • “You couldn’t ask for a crystal clear example [of] why legislation like the EARN IT Act that undermines encryption is a terrible idea,” Evan Greer, director of advocacy group Fight for the Future, tweeted Last week.
  • At the same time, despite a flurry of bills, Washington has failed to make a measurable dent by passing privacy legislation or even preventing the government itself from exploiting the same lawmakers and data regulators. who so often criticize Big Tech for collecting in the first place.

The CIA program is not the only reminder that Washington is not following its own advice on privacy and surveillance. But lately, the doublespeak has been hard to ignore.

  • Members of Congress acclaimed IRS decision to stop working with facial recognition company this tax season. Meanwhile, ICE’s contracts with Clearview AI – whose facial recognition technology, it should be noted, has been deemed illegal in Canada – have doubled under President Biden.
  • Lawmakers have called for sanctions against the NSO Group for its Pegasus spyware. Meanwhile, the FBI paid the NSO Group $5 million to test the tool itself.

That doesn’t mean Washington should let technology off the hook. Congressional privacy hawk Sen. Ron Wyden, who along with Sen. Martin Heinrich exposed the CIA agenda last week, warned against relying on what-aboutism in matters of privacy.

  • “Whenever reformers suggest protecting Americans’ personal information from surveillance, whether by government or corporations, the knee-jerk response is, ‘What about the other guy?'” Wyden told Protocol.
  • “The truth is, Americans don’t want the CIA or any other government entity secretly poking into their personal information without a warrant,” he said. “And they also don’t want big companies to abuse our private data to rack up higher profits. My top tech priority is to pass aggressive privacy legislation to protect Americans’ rights on both fronts.

Wyden is right, of course. But as they scrutinize Silicon Valley, lawmakers need to take a closer look at the privacy breaches happening right under their noses. And it’s not just because they have to keep up appearances.

  • As global governments, notably the EU, move forward with privacy protections, the United States is in an increasingly weak position.
  • This is the whole reason why the Privacy Shield, the legal mechanism that allowed Europeans’ data to be processed in the United States, was invalidated. EU courts have seen no way to protect EU citizens’ data from the prying eyes of the US government.

The United States is still cleaning up the mess of the NSA spy scandal. Now he has another mess on his hands. If lawmakers want tech to clean up its act, they also need to get their own house in order.

—Issie Lapowsky (E-mail | Twitter)

In Washington

The long-promised children’s privacy bill is finally here. The senses. Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn introduced the Kids Online Safety Act, which requires technology platforms to take steps to mitigate harm to minors and give them the ability to opt out of algorithmic recommendations, among other things.

Congress wants answers about the fake accounts that were used to support the “Freedom Convoy” in Canada. In a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, asked for details about the number of fake accounts linked to the convoy, where they came from and whether they were part of coordinated networks.

Tech companies backed out of donating to election objectors after Jan. 6. Their lobbyists did not. POLITICO found that inside lobbyists from at least 13 of these companies, including Amazon, Meta, Google and Microsoft, all made personal donations in 2021 to members of Congress who opposed election results.

The Pentagon says consolidation in the defense industry is a threat to national security. In a new report, the Department of Defense argued that “having only one source or a small number of sources for a defense requirement can present a risk to the mission”, particularly when the suppliers are “influenced by an adversary nation”.

The United States needs data minimization requirements, teen privacy laws, algorithmic transparency, and changes to Section 230, according to a new report from the Future of Tech Commission. The bipartisan group – led by former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and children’s advocate Jim Steyer – based the report on polls, a series of town hall meetings and conversations with experts and business leaders. The group also found widespread public support for broadband builds and limiting the power of the biggest tech companies.

In the states

The local chips encountered another problem: Taiwanese semiconductor giant TSMC is reportedly three to six months behind schedule for its first US manufacturing plant in Arizona. Sources told Nikkei Asia that COVID-related labor shortages and difficulty obtaining licenses are contributing to the delay.

A new bill in San Francisco would place an 18-month moratorium on new Amazon delivery facilities. During the ban, the city would study the impact of the facilities on public health and safety. “With this legislation, San Francisco is taking a monumental step to allow communities to set the standards and determine whether they want these types of facilities built in their cities,” said the chairman of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. , Shamann Walton, who introduced the bill. said in a statement.


As we enter a post-COVID-19 world, the biopharmaceutical industry must understand how to maintain this incredible pace of innovation without giving up precision or quality. Smart manufacturing, also known as Industry 4.0, converges IoT, software-defined infrastructure, advanced analytics, and AI to create more flexible and interoperable digital manufacturing platforms.

Learn more

In the sequence C

Nick Clegg is now President of Global Affairs at Metameaning he will lead all of the company’s policy work globally, “including how we interact with governments when they consider adopting new policies and regulations, as well as the how we publicly defend our products and work,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post.

On protocol

Google is planning privacy changes on Android devices that could limit data sharing between apps. It’s very similar to what Apple has done before, which had a devastating impact on apps, including Facebook. According to the New York Times, Google promises its changes won’t be as disruptive. We’ll see.

Facebook will pay $90 million to settle a decade-old privacy lawsuit in California. The case centered on Facebook’s use of cookies to track users who were not logged in. Facebook promised to delete the data as part of the settlement.

Mark your calendar for February 22 when Protocol’s Anna Kramer interviews Alphabet Workers Union’s Stephen McMurtry about the rise of unionization in tech. RSVP here.

Around the world

European lawmakers are on track to reach a final agreement on the Digital Services Act by June, a member of the European Parliament involved in the negotiations told Reuters. The law will create sweeping new content moderation requirements for online platforms.

UK’s Online Safety Bill could make tech platforms liable for ‘lawful but harmful’ content if the UK Home Office gets its way. Which would be… extreme. A technology manager told FT that the measure would cross a “huge red line”.

Stop trying to make fetch

Facebook has so many new names you’d think it’s in witness protection. As of Tuesday, News Feed is now Feed, and Facebook employees are… Metamates. According to Bozthe term “metamates” was invented by scholar Douglas Hofstadter.

Funny, I could have sworn it was Mike Judge.

Thanks for reading – see you Friday!


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