Liked The Government Protects Our Food and Cars. Why Not Our Data? (

The United States was not always a data protection laggard. In 1974, Congress passed a law, the Privacy Act, regulating how federal agencies handled personal information. It was based on a credo, known as fair information practices, that people should have rights over their data. The law enabled Americans to see and correct the records that federal agencies held about them. It also barred agencies from sharing a person’s records without their permission.

Congress never passed a companion law giving Americans similar rights over the records that private companies have on them. Historically, Americans have feared big government more than big business. The European Union, by contrast, established a directive in 1995 governing the fair processing of personal data by both companies and government agencies.

Today, the European Union has an even more comprehensive law, the General Data Protection Regulation, and each member state has a national agency to enforce it. Those agencies in BelgiumFranceGermany and other European countries have recently acted to curb data exploitation at FacebookGoogle and other tech giants.

It’s not just the European Union. AustraliaCanadaJapan and New Zealand have also established stand-alone data agencies. By contrast, American consumers have to rely largely on the F.T.C. to safeguard their personal information, a data protection system that privacy advocates consider as airtight as Swiss cheese.

Liked The Government Protects Our Food and Cars. Why Not Our Data? (

Now some consumer groups and members of Congress are calling for a sweeping data protection law, along with a dedicated federal regulator to enforce it. The idea is to provide Americans with the same level of safeguards for apps as they have for appliances.

Bookmarked Facebook’s Push for Facial Recognition Prompts Privacy Alarms by Natasha Singer (

Facebook is working to spread its face-matching tools even as it faces heightened scrutiny from regulators and legislators in Europe and North America.

Natasha Singer discusses Facebook’s continual push for facial recognition. She discusses some of the history associated with Facebook’s push into this area, including various roadblocks such as GDPR. She also looks at some of the patent applications, such as:

A system that could detect consumers within stores and match those shoppers’ faces with their social networking profiles. Then it could analyze the characteristics of their friends, and other details, using the information to determine a “trust level” for each shopper.


Cameras near checkout counters could capture shoppers’ faces, match them with their social networking profiles and then send purchase confirmation messages to their phones.

This made me wonder how many patents actually come to fruition and how many are a form of indirect marketing?