Lab notes: December 2020

Here’s an early December update on the latest from the CR Digital Lab:

Panel invitation: “Building a Movement for Algorithmic Justice”

  • On Monday, December 14 at 1:00 pm ET, Consumer Reports will host a virtual panel discussion to discuss the future of algorithmic bias to follow our viewing event on Coded Bias, a new trailblazing documentary that sheds light on the threats artificial intelligence poses to civil rights and democracy. The panel will include the director of the film, Shalini Kantayya, and representatives from the Data Nutrition Project, Color of Change, and the Algorithmic Justice League. RSVP for the panel here and register to stream the documentary here.

Consumer Reports statement on federal and state antitrust lawsuits against Facebook

  • The Federal Trade Commission and a bipartisan coalition of 48 states filed lawsuits against Facebook earlier this week for its anticompetitive conduct. CR’s director of technology policy, Justin Brookman, notes, “We hope that actions like this one will start to hold tech giants like Facebook accountable, limiting the amount of power they have on our communications and commerce online, and strengthen digital rights.” Read more about the lawsuits and CR’s take in Cheddar, Variety, and Marketwatch.

Security concerns at online proctoring company

  • An investigation by CR tech reporter Thomas Germain found serious security concerns with Proctortrack, an online proctoring company. After an analysis of Proctortrack’s software that was leaked in a data breach, experts found that the company ignored basic data security practices that could lead to private, sensitive information on students being leaked. “We were deeply concerned by what we found,” CR’s privacy researcher Bill Fitzgerald says. “The mistakes that were evident from even a quick look at the code looked like something that should never have gone into production.”

California proposes new rules to strengthen CCPA

  • The California Attorney General has introduced new rules to strengthen the state’s landmark privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The proposed rules are in part based off of Consumer Reports’ October study, “California Consumer Privacy Act: Are Consumers’ Digital Rights Protected?”, which was cited in the new rules. CR submitted our report to the AG in October. It outlines problems that consumers experienced in submitting CCPA requests. CR has helped over 5,000 consumers contact their office to encourage them to step up enforcement and close up loopholes in the CCPA.

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