After Instagram's Demand, Apple Removes App Allowing Surveillance

Apple has removed the Like Patrol app from its App Store, following Instagram's delivery of a cease-and-desist letter to the app's developers for violating its policies against data collection. Like Patrol enables subscribers to keep constant surveillance of other people's social media activities. Like Patrol wanted to make spying on Instagram easier than ever, setting up a service that let paying subscribers get notifications anytime someone they followed commented on or liked a photo.

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Twitter Soliciting Feedback on Policy to Limit Reach of 'Deepfake' Videos

Twitter is soliciting feedback to inform its new policy limiting the reach of "deepfakes," or video footage that has been altered in misleading ways. Twitter's vice president of trust and safety Del Harvey wrote in a blog post that Twitter might begin labeling tweets that include "synthetic or manipulated media" or warning users when they're sharing such content.

Google Working with Healthcare System to Collect Data on Millions of People

Google is engaged with one of the U.S.’s largest health-care systems on a project to collect and crunch the detailed personal-health information of millions of people across 21 states. The initiative, code-named “Project Nightingale,” appears to be the biggest effort yet by a Silicon Valley giant to gain a toehold in the health-care industry through the handling of patients’ medical data.

Lawsuits Target Government's Use of Facial Recognition Technology

The Project on Government Oversight sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement over what it says is the agency’s inadequate response to the group’s request for information about its use of facial recognition. That follows a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration over the same thing.

Facebook, YouTube -- But Not Twitter -- to Block Spread of Whistleblower's Name

Twitter found itself isolated as other major social media platforms moved to block users from spreading the name of a CIA officer who conservatives contend filed the extraordinary whistleblower complaint against President Trump that triggered House impeachment hearings. Facebook said it would block references to the alleged whistleblower’s name and photo under its policy against “coordinating harm.” YouTube said it was doing the same.

DOJ Antitrust Chief Says Law 'Flexible Enough' to Address Tech Firms

The U.S. Justice Department antitrust chief said that existent U.S. antitrust laws are “flexible enough” to address harm caused by technology companies, in the face of growing criticism that such laws cannot tackle tech monopolies. Makan Delrahim spoke at an antitrust conference at Harvard Law School hosted by the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which counts companies like Amazon , Facebook and Alphabet’s Google as members.

International Group of Lawmakers Want False, Misleading Political Ads Suspended

An international “grand committee” of lawmakers called for a pause on online micro-targeted political ads with false or misleading information until the area is regulated. The committee, formed to investigate disinformation, gathered in Dublin to hear evidence from Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google and other experts about online harms, hate speech and electoral interference.

Trump's Chief Technology Officer Criticizes Chinese Surveillance

President Trump's newly appointed Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios criticized Chinese surveillance and censorship in his first major international remarks, ramping up the Trump administration's intensifying battle to beat out China's fast-growing tech industry. Kratsios, who was confirmed as the White House's top tech adviser in August, spent the bulk of a keynote speech in Portugal urging Europe and the U.S. to "embrace innovation and defend our free system against our adversaries."

'Internet Freedom' Declining in U.S. for Third Year, Think Tank Reports

For the third straight year, American Internet users are less free, according to a study that points to the dangers of social media. That’s in part because of increased U.S. government surveillance, as well as disinformation tied to major political events from both foreign and domestic entities, according to research by the pro-democracy think tank Freedom House.

Facebook Defends Not Fact-Checking Political Ads in U.K. Election

Facebook Inc. defended its policy of not fact-checking political advertising in the U.K. general election, saying it wasn’t a matter for a private company to police political speech. Asked whether Facebook would have allowed the U.K. Conservative Party to run a recently doctored video of an interview with a senior Labour lawmaker as an advertisement -- a video that was widely criticized for being misleading -- Facebook said yes.

Facebook Argues Against Disclosing Records in Mass. Privacy Case

Facebook Inc. urged a judge not to force it to turn over records to Massachusetts’ attorney general disclosing thousands of apps the social media giant suspects misused users’ data, as part of a probe into its privacy practices. Facebook argued against the disclosure during a court hearing in Boston concerning one of several probes of Facebook by state attorneys general regarding its business practices and the extent that it has put consumer data at risk.

Calif. Attorney General Asks Court to Force Facebook to Disclose Documents

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra asked a state court to force Facebook to turn over key documents it has withheld in connection with an 18-month investigation into its privacy practices. Alleging the social-media giant has “refused” to cooperate with officials, the filing in San Francisco County Superior Court outlines for the first time the extent of Becerra’s concerns that Facebook may have violated state law after two years of damaging privacy scandals that sparked international outcry and record-breaking punishments in the United States.

Facebook Unknowingly Shared User Info with Outside Developers

Facebook Inc. said it unknowingly gave outside developers access to private user information shared within some groups on its main social network, including the names and profile photos of people who were part of those groups. The company said that some third-party developers who used Facebook’s Groups API — a software program that allows information sharing between Facebook and outside developers — could see which users shared posts or left comments inside a group even though they weren’t supposed to have that level of detail.

U.S. Charges Two Ex-Twitter Employees with Spying for Saudi Arabia

The Justice Department has charged two former Twitter employees with spying for Saudi Arabia in a case that raises concerns about the ability of Silicon Valley to protect the private information of dissidents and other users from repressive governments. The charges, unveiled in San Francisco, came a day after the arrest of one of the former Twitter employees, Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. citizen who is alleged to have spied on the accounts of three users — including one whose posts discussed the inner workings of the Saudi leadership — on behalf of the government in Riyadh.

Lawmakers Criticize Apple, TikTok for Skipping Tech Hearing on China

Apple and TikTok took a lashing for skipping a congressional hearing meant to explore the tech industry and its ties to China, an absence that threatens to bring sustained political scrutiny of the companies’ controversial relationships with Beijing. Two empty chairs at a witness table served to illustrate the companies’ absence from the hearing, convened by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a tech-industry critic who opened the session by blasting Apple and TikTok over “the danger of Chinese tech platforms’ entry into the U.S. market and the danger of American tech companies’ operations in China.”

Russia Working Against U.S. Extradition Efforts of Alleged Hackers

For months, Moscow has pursued what current and former U.S. law-enforcement and diplomatic officials describe as part of a stepped-up and evolving campaign to prevent Russians arrested on criminal hacking charges from being extradited to the U.S. Russia has relied on a variety of techniques — whether leveraging the legal system or resorting to more coercive means, such as bribery — to pressure other countries to impede U.S. extradition efforts, current and former U.S. officials said.

No Evidence of Foreign Tampering in Elections, Justice Department Says

Voting in U.S. state and local elections on Tuesday showed no evidence of successful tampering by any foreign government, the Justice Department and six U.S. security agencies said. But Russia, China, Iran and other adversaries of the United States will seek to meddle in U.S. elections moving forward, including through social media manipulation and cyberattacks, the agencies said.