This Week in Data – May 17

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Australia celebrates privacy week with a federal election campaign

Kind of! The country has had a huge focus on privacy in the past few years, especially with the rise of the importance of the role of National Privacy Commissioner. But as The Mandarin points out, this week’s privacy awareness campaign comes hot on the heels of the federal election – and each state has its own approach to the campaign. Bottom line? Governments everywhere need to step up their game – but citizens need to understand their responsibilities too.


“Government agencies should always try to build in “privacy by design” as much as possible in projects that involve personal information; this should always involve exploring ways to strengthen privacy when digitising an old process of government, where possible, and investigating all the inherent risks that are introduced.”


1 in 3 security breaches caused by human error

One of the benefits of privacy week is that businesses – and individuals – can truly see how many gaps there are in the system. A report from the Australian Information Commissioner has found 1 in 3 breaches are due to human error – and many of those happened because information was shared over the wrong email addresses. Not good!


“As organisations work to secure their applications and other sensitive assets in the cloud as part of their digital transformation strategies, these attacks demonstrate the need to quickly implement consistent security controls across cloud and on-premise environments to protect user privacy.”


San Francisco the first city to ban facial recognition

Now this could get interesting. With countries like China depending on facial recognition to influence its social credit system, San Francisco is taking a stand. Next Tuesday, the city will vote on a bill to ban facial recognition for law enforcement. It comes as more departments around the country, and the world, are using facial recognition to crack down on crime. This debate, no doubt, will be a fierce one.


“An MIT study found that Rekognition, Amazon’s facial recognition product that’s marketed heavily to police departments, struggles to identify the faces of women and people of colour. A July 2018 study by the ACLU found that Amazon Rekognition falsely matching 28 members of Congress to mugshot photos. The results disproportionately impacted people of colour.”


Government apps have a lot to be desired when it comes to privacy

Yeesh. This isn’t a great result. According to a Deloitte study in Australia, government apps don’t rank highly when it comes to privacy. In fact, 63% of consumers surveyed by the report said they had deleted apps due to privacy concerns. With the Australian Government hoping to merge more technology with essential services, this isn’t a great result – and shows how privacy needs to be more embedded in the development process.


“The survey revealed that 65 per cent of consumers cited trust in a brand as their top consideration when deciding whether to grant an app permission to access personal information, Deloitte said.”


Twitter bug disclosed user location data

Yikes yikes yikes. Triple yikes. Twitter recently revealed a bug showed some users’ location data to a third party. Look, sure, the party wasn’t able to identify users individually. But with so many hacks and privacy bugs happening now…it’s just not a good look. (Unless people seem to just…not care anymore?)


“It’s unclear at this time when this location sharing took place, or for how long, as Twitter didn’t disclose this in its post announcing the bug. Nor did it name the partner that had possession of the data, or explain how such a bug came to be in the first place. It only said that it failed to remove the location data.”


Google launches privacy hub in Germany

Just after finishing its I/O Conference, where privacy was a hot topic, Google has now announced a privacy engineering hub in Germany. Not only that – it plans to double the number of privacy engineers in the country to 200 by the end of the year. With GDPR underway that seems like a good move, but…one can’t help but think this should have been done a while ago.

That said, Google seems to be doubling down on privacy now, with CEO Sundar Pichai last week penning an op-ed in the New York Times saying privacy would be a major focus for the company.


“We believe that privacy and safety must be equally available to everyone in the world, and we bring that to life with products that empower everyone with clear and meaningful choices around their data,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post.”


That’s our wrap for this week. Thanks for reading – we hope you found it entertaining and informational. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these articles and anything else data related! Email us anytime at!

Until next week,

Team Data Republic

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