Data Protection News Update 14 May 2024

United Kingdom

Organisations must do more do more to combat the growing threat of cyber attacks

  • A ‘malign actor’ has probably compromised the payments system used by the British military, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday after reports that China had hacked into a database holding personal information of the armed forces.
  • The BBC and other media have reported that China had been behind the cyber-attack on the payroll system used by Britain’s Ministry of Defence, which contains names and bank details of those serving in the Royal Navy, Army, and Royal Air Force.
  • Beijing has rejected any involvement, describing the accusation as a smear for political ends.
  • Defence Minister Grant Shapps told parliament that ministers did not believe data had actually been stolen and there was evidence of potential failings at the hands of a contractor who works with other government departments.

Northern Ireland police obtained reporters’ phone data, tribunal hears

  • The lawyers of two investigative journalists alleged to a London tribunal that Northern Ireland’s police force regularly obtained reporters’ telephone billing data to find out if police officers had been leaking information.
  • Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey are suing the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) after their arrest in 2018 over the alleged theft of material used in a documentary they filmed. The pair claim they were subject to covert surveillance before and after the release of the film.
  • The documentary released in 2017 alleged police collusion in the 1994 murder of six Catholic soccer fans by loyalist paramilitaries.
  • The full hearing of Birney and McCaffrey’s case is due to take place in October.

United States

Google privacy deal yields $18 mln for lawyers, no funds for consumers

  • The US District Court for the Northern District of California approved Google’s USD $62 million consumer privacy settlement, awarding USD $42 million to advocacy groups and USD $18 million to attorneys, but no money to class members.
  • The five-year-old claims assert that Google unlawfully tracked and stored location data for 247.7 million US mobile users who had disabled “location history” on their phones.
  • Judge Edward Davila said in his order that the number of Google users involved meant any monetary award to class members would be too small to be practical.
  • The Judge called the settlement “fair, adequate and reasonable” and said Google was making “meaningful” business practice changes benefiting millions of Americans. Google declined to comment on Davila’s order.


Turkey’s competition board to fine Meta $37.2 million in data-sharing probe

  • Turkey’s competition board fined Meta Platforms 1.2 billion lira ($37.20 million) on Wednesday after concluding two separate investigations on data-sharing in its Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Threads platforms.
  • The board launched an investigation into Meta in December over a possible violation of competition law by linking social media platforms Threads and Instagram.
  • In March, the Board imposed an interim measure on Meta meant to hinder data sharing between those two platforms, including shutting down Threads in Turkey.
  • According to the board’s decision, alongside the fines imposed, users will only be able to merge personal data between Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp with their own consent and will be notified about data usage.

Unions seek privacy probes over Amazon’s work surveillance systems

  • Trade unions from 11 different European countries have written to data protection authorities across the bloc asking them to investigate Amazon’s data surveillance practices.
  • The union leaders from European countries where Amazon’s warehouses employ significant workers question the online marketplace’s use of surveillance and algorithmic management.
  • The claim is that the tech giant uses head scanners, activity monitoring software, video cameras, GPS devices and other tracking technologies, which has consequences on workers’ mental and physical health.


Aussie software firm Iress flags data breach at third-party platform

  • Australia’s Iress Ltd detected and contained an unauthorised access of the firm’s space on a third-party platform, GitHub, which is used to manage its pre-production software code, the financial software firm said on Monday.
  • Iress stated they do not store client information on the third-party platform and there was no evidence that client data had been compromised.
  • The company operates across Asia, Australia, and the United Kingdom, and shared that it does not expect business to be affected by the data breach as clients should not face difficulty in accessing its systems.

TikTok to label AI-generated content from OpenAI and elsewhere

  • TikTok plans to start labelling images and video uploaded to its video-sharing service that have been generated using artificial intelligence using a digital watermark known as ‘Content Credentials’.
  • The company already labels AI-generated content made with tools inside the app, but the latest move would apply a label to videos and images generated outside of the service.
  • The Content Credentials technology was spearheaded by the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity, a group co-founded by Adobe, Microsoft, and others, but is open for other companies to use.


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