• Tracey Twynham

Data in the News – December 2019

EU to investigate Google over data collection practices


According to The Guardian, the competition commission has sent out questionnaires to companies that work with Google asking them about the agreements they have made to share data with the search firm.


The regulator said: “The commission has sent out questionnaires as part of a preliminary investigation into Google’s practices relating to Google’s collection and use of data. The preliminary investigation is ongoing.”


Foo Yun Chee, reporting for Reuters, said the questionnaires for the latest investigation showed that the EU’s focus was on “data related to local search services, online advertising, online ad targeting services, login services, web browsers and others”.


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TikTok sent US user data to China, lawsuit claims


Video-sharing app TikTok has been hit with a class action lawsuit in the US that claims it transferred "vast quantities" of user data to China. The lawsuit accuses the company of "surreptitiously" taking content without user consent.


Owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, TikTok has built up a keen US fan base.

TikTok, which is thought to have about half a billion active users worldwide, has previously said it does not store US data on Chinese servers.


However, the platform is facing mounting pressure in North America over data collection and censorship concerns.


The lawsuit filed in a Californian court last week claims TikTok "clandestinely... vacuumed up and transferred to servers in China vast quantities of private and personally-identifiable user data". It alleges the data could be used to identify, profile and track users in the US "now and in the future".


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25% of Brits see their personal data lost or stolen


25% of Brits have had their personal data lost or stolen, but over 43% admit they do not read terms and conditions about how their data is being used, according to Fujitsu’s ‘Driving a Trusted Future in a Radically Changing World’ report.


The report cites privacy as a key concern for consumers, as 25% are worried about their data being used without their knowledge or consent.


The public seems to be aware of the security risks they face, with over a third admitting to having security concerns around the sharing of personal data and 34% lacking trust in how organisations will use their personal data. Similarly, business leaders are becoming more alert towards the security issues putting their business at the most risk. Keeping up with regulation/governance (32%), technological innovation (29%) and cyber attacks and data theft (27%) are all identified as the biggest issues by business leaders.


Overall, when asked whether they are worried society is becoming too reliant on technology, half of all consumers agreed. This sentiment is echoed by UK business leaders, 48% of whom are concerned their organisation itself has become too reliant on technology.


The reliance on technology is changing consumer habits, as nearly a third (30%) of the UK public saying they could only live comfortably without personal technology for one to three days.


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ICO publishes fresh guidance on usage of special category personal data


Fresh guidance has been published by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on the usage of special category personal data.


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) stated that certain types of personal data are expected to be more sensitive, and are given extra protection. Included in these are personal data that reveal racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, genetic data, health, sex life, biometric data, and others.


The new guidance showcases the necessity for a lawful basis for processing and an appropriate policy document, which is a short official record that outlines the compliance measures and retention policies for special category data.


The guidance issued by the non-departmental public body has detailed special category data, including its definition, rules on the usage of the data, conditions for processing it, and the public interest conditions.


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