Oct. 31, 2017

Mary Madden: Privacy, Security and Digital Inequality

Bio Mary Madden () is a veteran technology researcher, writer and public speaker, having studied trends in American internet users’ behaviors and attitudes for more than a decade. With the support of a grant from the Digital Trust Foundation,...

Online Privacy_Mary Madden_WashingTech Tech Policy Podcast



Mary Madden (@mary_madden) is a veteran technology researcher, writer and public speaker, having studied trends in American internet users’ behaviors and attitudes for more than a decade. With the support of a grant from the Digital Trust Foundation, she is currently leading a Data & Society initiative to understand the privacy and security experiences of low-socioeconomic status populations.

Mary is also an Affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University where she has collaborated with the Berkman Center’s Youth and Media Project to apply quantitative and qualitative research methods to study adolescents’ technology use and privacy management on social media. Prior to her role at Data & Society, Mary was a Senior Researcher for the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. She is a nationally recognized expert on privacy and technology, trends in social media use, and the impact of digital media on teens and parents. Mary is also a member of the National Cyber Security Coalition’s Data Privacy Day Advisory Committee and the Research Advisory Committee for the Future of Music Coalition’s Artist Revenue Streams Project.


Data & Society

Privacy, Security and Digital Inequality by Mary Madden (Data & Society, 2017)

Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte

News Roundup

Social media giants tidy up ahead of big day on Hill

Ahead of appearances before the House and Senate intelligence Committees this coming Wednesday, social media giants appear to be tidying up. Reddit has announced that it will now ban content from Nazi and alt-right groupsTwitter announced that it will now ban the online media outlets RT and Sputnik. Twitter says the two sites are platforms for Kremlin messaging. Both Facebook and Twitter said that they will be more transparent about who is placing political ads on their platforms. The companies said they will begin to include links and other information enabling users to know who sponsored a political ad. The companies will also vet advertisers to weed out bots. But some Senators, including Virginia's Mark Warner are noting that explicit ads may only represent a tiny percentage of ad spend. Many expenditures, they say, are coming from content that appears to be legit--organic content designed to stoke emotions in favor of a political party.

Mark Zuckerberg also upped his pr game last week. The Hill reports that Zuckerberg will be investing $45 million of his own money to address mass incarceration and the housing crisis.

Still, however, Facebook is expected to reveal at Wednesday's hearings that the number of views Russia-sponsored ads garnered is closer to 126 million. This is compared to the 10 million views it initially reported.

And Politico reports that in August and September of 2016, Twitter made a bizarre change to its privacy policy amidst research into the way in which Russian operatives may have been manipulating the platform. The company updated its privacy privacy to require all users associated with deleted accounts to clear their tracks by deleting the content on their end as well. Also revealed last week by the Senate Intelligence Committee--Twitter actually pitched RT to buy ads during the 2016 campaign season--the problem is that the company didn't disclose it.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters is also demanding that Twitter turn over information about Russia-linked accounts that targeted her. The Congresswoman said that she noticed several mysterious accounts tweeting lies about her every time she tweeted  something negative about Donald Trump.

On top of everything else, Axios and Survey Monkey released a study saying 54% of Americans think the issue of Russian meddling is a "serious issue". However, those results were along party lines with Democrats tending to think the issue is more serious than do Republicans.

Apple doesn't want shareholders to tie senior executive diversity to CEO performance 

Apple is asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to step in and prevent a shareholder proposal from taking effect which would base the assessment of the CEO's performance, in part, on the diversity of the ranks of Apple's senior executive team. The shareholder cohort that is pushing for the measure is said to hold almost $10 billion in Apple shares. Ali Breland reports in the Hill.

Georgia wipes out election data after being sued for voting violations

On July 3rd, election reform advocates concerned about the impact of Russian influence on the 2016 election filed a lawsuit against the state of Georgia which attempted to force the state to retire its antiquated election technology. And then Kennesaw State University, which runs the state election system, wiped everything on the voting system clean. The FBI is said to have taken a back-up image of the system back in March. But advocates say the State of Georgia must have had something to hide. Frank Bajak reports for the Associated Press on widespread concerns that outdated election systems in voting districts throughout the country may already be compromised by Russian actors and others seeking to undermine the electoral system.

Facebook by lawsuit saying the company attempted to evade overtime pay rules

Former Facebook employees are suing the company for deliberately evading overtime pay laws by misclassifying them as managers.  David Kravets reports in Ars Technica.

Uber faces yet another discrimination lawsuit

Uber is facing yet another discrimination lawsuit. This time, Latina engineers accuse Uber of not promoting or paying them at a rate that is comparable to their male, white and Asian counterparts. Joel Rosenblatt reports for Bloomberg.

U.S. widened surveillance of "homegrown extremists" under Obama

U.S. Air Force training slides obtained by a surveillance researcher at Human Rights Watch pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request show the U.S. expanded its surveillance of suspected "homegrown violent extremists" in August of last year.  The guidance states that physical or digital surveillance of such suspects is authorized whether or not they're tied to a foreign terrorist organization. Dustin Volz reports in Reuters.

FCC to roll back media ownership rules/Lifeline

The FCC announced its agenda for its November 16th Open meeting. Trump's FCC plans to eliminate the media ownership rule that prevents a company from owning a full power TV station and newspaper in the same market. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also wants to place a cap on Lifeline subsidies for low-income broadband subscribers. That subsidy now stands at $9.95/month. The cap would limit the availability of Lifeline support to new subscribers. Brian Fung reports for the Washington Post and Jon Brodkin reports for Ars Technica.

Tech industry releases AI self-regulatory framework

The Information Technology Industry Council, which boasts tech giants Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and others as members, released a set of guiding principles around the industry's development of artificial technology. ITI President Dean Garfield says the  framework is intended to eliminate harmful bias, prejudice and discrimination from AI algorithms. Will Yakoqicz reports in Inc.

SoftBank drops bid for T-Mobile

SoftBank is ending its plan to merge its Sprint unit with T-Mobile, according to a report in the Asian Review.  This is the second time Softbank has abandoned its effort to acquire T-Mobile. The first time was during the Obama administration when the deal would have been faced with much harsher scrutiny.