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Trump Administration Issues Directive Aimed At Enhancing Cybersecurity In Space

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-09-05 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Today, the Trump administration released its fifth Space Policy Directive, this one designed to come up with a list of best practices for the space industry on how to protect their spacecraft from cyber threats. The goal is to encourage the government and space industry to create their space vehicles with cybersecurity plans in place, incorporating tools like encryption software and other protections when designing, building, and operating their vehicles. [...] To combat these threats, Space Policy Directive 5 lays out guidelines that companies should try to adhere to as they launch satellites and other vehicles to space. The administration is recommending operators use various types of software to ensure that the data they receive from their spacecraft is encrypted. The directive also encourages companies to use trusted supply chains and oversee the safety of their ground systems -- the facilities they use to send signals and retrieve data from their spacecraft. The report also recommends protecting against jamming and spoofing of satellites. "Sometimes the jamming can be fairly crude; other cases, some of the spoofing can be fairly sophisticated if somebody's trying to get on board," one official said. "So there's a whole range of things that you need to look at kind of end-to-end." Ultimately, the directive says that government agencies should work with commercial companies to further refine what these best cybersecurity practices should be, especially since many in the space industry already implement these strategies when building and launching vehicles. [...] SPD-5 is the latest policy directive from the Trump administration designed to shape the U.S. space agenda. Trump's first directive instructed NASA to send humans back to the Moon, while other directives have focused on coming up with a way to oversee space traffic and streamlining regulations for space licenses.

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Scene Bust Triggered Historic Drop In 'Pirate' Releases

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-09-04 22:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Every day, millions of people download or stream pirated content including movies, TV-shows, games, MP3s, and books. Many of these files originate from a small and tightly organized 'community' commonly known as The Scene, which is made up of dozens of smaller 'release groups.' These groups tend to operate in the shadows with little or no public profile. At least, that's what the unwritten rules dictate. That's for good reason as the people involved risk high prison sentences when caught. It's very rare for Scene group members to get busted but last week the US Government claimed a major victory. With help from international law enforcement partners, several raids and arrests were carried out, with the SPARKS group at the center of it all. As soon as the first rumors about the raids started spreading on Tuesday, the number of Scene releases started to drop. A day later, when confirmation came in, it became even quieter. With data provided by Predb.org we take a closer look at these dropoffs, showing that some categories are affected more than others. Before delving into detailed groups, it's worth pointing out the overall impact, which can be summarized in two numbers. On Wednesday, August 19, there were 1944 new releases. A week later, a day after the first raids, this number was down to 168 releases. The drop in new releases happened across all categories.

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Apple Commits To Freedom of Speech After Criticism of China Censorship

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-09-04 16:00
Apple has for the first time published a human rights policy that commits to respecting "freedom of information and expression," following years of criticism that it bows to demands from Beijing and carries out censorship in mainland China, Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong. From a report: Apple's board of directors approved the policy and quietly published it ahead of a deadline of September 5 for shareholders to submit motions for next year's investor meeting. The four-page document [PDF], cited here for the first time, tries to walk a fine line between upholding human rights while conceding that Apple is "required to comply with local laws" in authoritarian countries. The document said Apple is "committed to respecting the human rights of everyone whose lives we touch -- including our employees, suppliers, contractors and customers." Its approach is based on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. But it does not mention any particular country, nor does it refer to high-profile dilemmas like what to do when China, the world's largest smartphone market, asks it to ban apps that help users evade censorship and surveillance. The Apple policy merely states: "Where national law and international human rights standards differ, we follow the higher standard. Where they are in conflict, we respect national law while seeking to respect the principles of internationally recognised human rights." Further reading: Apple Has No Backbone.

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Trump Ban On Chinese Drone Parts Risks Worsening Wildfires

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-09-04 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Financial Times: The U.S. interior department's decision not to buy more drones with Chinese parts has made it more difficult to fight wildfires, according to an internal departmental memo that lays bare one cost of the Trump administration's crackdown on Chinese technology. The memo, which was written by the department's Office of Aviation Services earlier this year, found that by the end of the year, the department will have carried out only a quarter of the controlled burning it might otherwise have done had it gone ahead with planned drone purchases. The U.S. is experiencing one of its worst years for wildfire outbreaks thanks to hot weather and a lack of firefighters. And while none of those appear to have happened on federal land, government insiders warn the de facto ban on buying drones with Chinese components risks making the situation worse. The internal memo, which was written earlier this summer and has been seen by the Financial Times, warned: "[The department's current fleet] must expand to meet the demand of preventative measures mandated for the reduction of wildfire via vegetation reduction." It found that by the end of the year, the department will only have carried out 28 percent of the controlled burning it could have done had it purchased 17 new drone-based firefighting systems as planned. "David Bernhardt, the interior secretary, announced the crackdown on Chinese-made drones last year amid concerns about the national security implications of flying them over federal lands," the report says. "Bernhardt decided all 810 departmental aircraft should be grounded pending a review into the security risks they pose, given that they all contain Chinese parts." "Bernhardt did allow an exemption for carrying out controlled burning on federal land, a regular method of halting wildfires in their tracks. But at the same time, Susan Combs, one of his assistant secretaries, said that no new drones should be purchased without her authorization, which she has not since given."

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US Will Not Pay Millions In Dues To WHO This Year

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-09-04 03:25
The Trump administration will decline to pay tens of millions of dollars owed to the World Health Organization (WHO) in annual dues as part of the U.S.'s withdrawal from the global body, which is scheduled for next year. The Hill reports: The Associated Press reported that the U.S. will not pay just over $60 million owed in 2020 dues to the organization, and Reuters reported that the decision also will affect about $19 million still owed in 2019 dues. A decision to forgo the payments comes as the Trump administration has hammered the WHO for months over supposedly bowing to China's wishes and essentially acting as a PR shop for China's government during the early stages of the pandemic while Chinese officials allegedly stymied international health experts from learning about the virus. In a statement, a WHO spokesperson said the agency would review its options and encourage the U.S. to reverse course. "We refer you to our previous statements of regret regarding the U.S. decision to withdraw. We await further details, which we will consider carefully," the spokesperson told Reuters.

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Facebook Halts Oculus Quest Sales In Germany Amid Privacy Concerns

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-09-04 02:45
Facebook has "temporarily paused" sales of its Oculus Quest headsets to customers in Germany. "Reports suggest the move is in response to concerns from German regulators about the recently announced requirement that all Oculus users will need to use a Facebook account by 2023 to log in to the device," reports Ars Technica. From the report: "We have temporarily paused selling Oculus devices to consumers in Germany," Facebook writes in a brief message on the Oculus support site. "We will continue supporting users who already own an Oculus device and we're looking forward to resuming sales in Germany soon." Facebook declined an opportunity to provide additional comment to Ars Technica. But in a statement to German News site Heise Online (machine translation), the company said the move was due to "outstanding talks with German supervisory authorities... We were not obliged to take this measure, but proactively interrupted the sale." In a statement provided to Heise Online, the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HCDPFI) said, in part: "The obligation to create a Facebook account [to access an Oculus headset] is legally extremely questionable, at least for those who have already bought a headset. Whether this also applies to new customers is definitely open to discussion. That should largely depend on the design of the contract, which we do not have." The group goes on to cite the GDPR's so-called "coupling ban," which prohibits tying one side of a contract (say, the EULA needed to use an Oculus headset) to the sharing of specific personal data (say, the data included in a user's personal Facebook account). Facebook's requirement that "the use of the headset should be linked to the establishment of a Facebook account" would seem to violate this coupling ban, HCDPFI said. "For those users who already have a headset and do not log in with a Facebook account after 2023, there is also no immediately suitable alternative to continuing to use the headset. The compulsion to use Facebook is therefore exerted on both old and new customers."

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Former IT Director Gets Jail Time For Selling Government's Cisco Gear On eBay

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-09-03 23:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A South Carolina man was sentenced this week to two years in federal prison for taking government-owned networking equipment and selling it on eBay. The man, Terry Shawn Petrill, 48, of Myrtle Beach, worked as the IT Security Director for Horry County in South Carolina, the Department of Justice said in a press release on Tuesday. According to court documents, "beginning on June 11, 2015, through August 23, 2018, Petrill ordered forty-one Cisco 3850 switches that were to be installed on the Horry County network." US authorities said that through the years, when the switches would arrive, Petrill would take custody of the devices and tell fellow IT staffers that he would handle the installation alone. However, investigators said that "Petrill did not install the switches on the network and instead sold them to third parties and kept the proceeds for himself." FBI agents who investigated the case said they tracked nine of the 41 missing Cisco switches to ads on eBay, while the location of the rest remains unknown. Nonetheless, this was enough to file charges against Petrill, which authorities arrested and indicted in November 2019. Besides prison time, Petrill was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $345,265.57 to the Horry County Government.

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Apple To Delay Privacy Change Threatening Facebook, Mobile Ad Market

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-09-03 21:25
Apple said on Thursday that it will delay until early next year changes to its privacy policy that could reduce ad sales by Facebook and other companies targeting users on iPhones and iPads. From a report: The delay could benefit Facebook, which last week said the changes to the iOS 14 operating system would render one of its mobile advertising tools "so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it." Apple announced new privacy rules in June that were slated to take effect with the launch of its iOS 14 operating system this fall. Among them is a new requirement that advertisers who employ an Apple-provided tracking identifier, or other tools that have a similar function, must now show a pop-up notification asking for tracking permission. Facebook said last week it would quit using the tool that requires a prompt in its own apps but did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Apple said Thursday that developers will still have the option to use the prompt when iOS 14 arrives.

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Big Tech is Suing the Patent Office

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-09-03 20:05
Apple, Google, Cisco and Intel this week sued the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, challenging the agency's recent rule that it can refuse to adjudicate patent claims while litigation about them is pending in court. From a report: The companies say the rule hurts innovation and their legal rights, letting invalid patents stay on the books while lawsuits slowly wend their way through court. The rule, which was introduced by the USPTO in March and became final in May, deals with the agency's obligations around inter partes review (IPR) -- a sort of expert-court process for assessing whether patent claims are valid. USPTO says deferring to an ongoing court case is more efficient than setting up a parallel review internally. District courts are costly and have less expertise in patent law, Cisco general counsel Mark Chandler told Axios. Cisco owns 16,000 U.S. patents, but the agency is undermining its ability to invalidate unworthy ones, he said.

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9th Circuit Rules Apple Owes Retail Workers for Time Spent in Security Screenings

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-09-03 18:49
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday said Apple must pay over 12,000 retail workers in California for the time spent waiting for compulsory bag searches at the end of their shifts. From the report: A unanimous three-judge panel reversed a judge who had tossed the case and ordered him to enter summary judgment for the plaintiffs, after the California Supreme Court in response to certified questions in the case said in February that time spent undergoing security checks is compensable under state law.

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Google Geofence Data Exonerates Man After Being Charged With Murder

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-09-03 15:00
McGruber writes: Keith Sylvester, an Atlanta man wrongfully accused of killing his parents who were found dead in a burning home, is now a free man after Google geofence data identified another man as the murderer. "I had been telling them since 2018 that I was innocent," said Sylvester. "I was held in jail for almost 15 months and I wrote just about everybody and they finally released me in March." "Officers accused Sylvester of strangling his parents and then setting their home on fire to get rid of evidence, but there was video evidence that he was not at the scene at the time of murders," reports CBS46 News Atlanta. "It's not just the video evidence from the convenient stores, it's also his cell phone GPS data that they had, it's also dash camera in his own car that recorded his location throughout the night. Putting all that evidence together it's impossible to reconcile him being there at a time when he could've started a fire," said Sylvester's attorney Zack Greenamyre. "In a statement District Attorney Paul Howard said they dropped the charges after their Major Felonies Unit conducted their own independent investigation," the report says. "During the process they acquired a Google geofence search warrant which identified Cornelius Muckle as the culprit. The statement went on to say Muckle's cell phone was inside the house at the time of the crimes and he has now been charged with the murders. As for Sylvester, his attorney says that much of the information exonerating him was known at the time of his arrest. He says the officers ignored the evidence and should be held accountable."

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Google Removes Android App That Was Used To Spy On Belarusian Protesters

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-09-03 02:50
Google has removed an Android app from the Play Store that was used to collect personal information from Belarusians attending anti-government protests. ZDNet reports: The app, named NEXTA LIVE, was available for almost three weeks on the official Android Play Store, and was downloaded thousands of times and received hundreds of reviews. To get installs, NEXT LIVE claimed to be the official Android app for Nexta, an independent Belarusian news agency that gained popularity with anti-Lukashenko protesters after exposing abuses and police brutality during the country's recent anti-government demonstrations. However, the app contained code to to collect geolocation data, gather info on the device owner, and then upload the data to a remote Russian server at regular intervals. [...] While there is no official link between the fake Nexta app and the Minsk government, this would hardly be the first time that a government would try to spy on its citizens in the midst of anti-government protests, in attempts to identify protest-goers.

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The FBI Botches Its DNC Hack Warning In 2016 -- But Says It Won't Next Time

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-09-03 02:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: On April 28, 2016, an IT tech staffer for the Democratic National Committee named Yared Tamene made a sickening discovery: A notorious Russian hacker group known as Fancy Bear had penetrated a DNC server "at the heart of the network," as he would later tell the US Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence. By this point the intruders already had the ability, he said, to delete, alter, or steal data from the network at will. And somehow this breach had come as a terrible surprise -- despite an FBI agent's warning to Tamene of potential Russian hacking over a series of phone calls that had begun fully nine months earlier. The FBI agent's warnings had "never used alarming language," Tamene would tell the Senate committee, and never reached higher than the DNC's IT director, who dismissed them after a cursory search of the network for signs of foul play. That miscommunication would result in the success of the Kremlin-sponsored hack-and-leak operation that would ultimately contribute to the election of Donald Trump. Four years later, the FBI and the community of incident response security professionals who often work with the bureau's agents says the FBI has significantly changed how it communicates with hacking victims -- the better to avoid another DNC-style debacle. In interviews with WIRED, FBI officials never explicitly admitted to a failure in the case of the DNC's botched notification. But they and their private sector counterparts nonetheless described a bureau that has revamped its practices to warn hacking targets faster, and at a higher level of the targeted organization -- especially in cases that might involve the upcoming election or the scourge of ransomware costing companies millions of dollars across the globe. In December of last year, for instance, the FBI announced a new formal policy of immediately notifying state government officials when the bureau identifies a threat to election infrastructure they control. But the improvements go beyond warnings to state officials, says Mike Herrington, the section chief of the FBI's cyber division. "I see a key change in practice and emphasis, getting our special agents in charge keyed up to gain the full cooperation of potential victims," says Herrington, who says he's personally notified dozens of victims of hacking incidents over his career. Those "special agents in charge" are higher-ranking than the typical field agents who have notified victims in the past, notes Steven Kelly, the FBI's chief of cyber policy. Kelly says that those special agents have also been instructed to aim their warnings further up the victim's org chart. "We want them to be reaching out to the C-suite level, to senior executives," says Kelly. "To make sure they're aware of what's going on and that they're putting the right amount of calories into addressing the issues so that these things don't get ignored or buried."

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Russia May Force Apple To Reduce Its App Store Tax To 20%

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-09-03 00:50
A new bill submitted as draft legislation to Russia's lower house of parliament wants to see the commission taken by app store owners limited to just 20 percent. The change would impact both Apple and Google's app stores, but any other that operate within Russia. PCMag reports: It sounds like a great move for app developers, but the bill goes further and stipulates that developers would be required to pay 30 percent of their app income to a special IT training fund. So rather than losing 30 percent to Apple, developers would be losing 50 percent in total -- 20 percent to Apple and 30 percent to this new training fund. If the bill passes, it would surely see a large influx of cash into the training fund, but could also result in developers opting not to offer their apps to the Russian market in future. There's little incentive to if 50 percent of your app charge goes to other people. Alternatively, it could see app prices increase in Russia to compensate for the change. Apple also wouldn't be very happy, but there's little it could do if the bill passes into law.

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CBP Does Not Make it Clear Americans Can Opt-out of Airport Face Scanning, Watchdog Says

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-09-02 23:30
A government watchdog has criticized U.S. border authorities for failing to properly disclose the agency's use of facial recognition at airports, which included instructions on how Americans can opt out. From a report: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), tasked with protecting the border and screening immigrants, has deployed its face-scanning technology in 27 U.S. airports as part of its Biometric Entry-Exit Program. The program was set up to catch visitors who overstay their visas. Foreign nationals must complete a facial recognition check before they are allowed to enter and leave the United States, but U.S. citizens are allowed to opt out. But the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report out Wednesday that CBP did "not consistently" provide notices that informed Americans that they would be scanned as they depart the United States.

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Court Rules NSA Phone Snooping Illegal -- After Seven-Year Delay

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-09-02 21:15
The National Security Agency program that swept up details on billions of Americans' phone calls was illegal and possibly unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. From a report: However, the unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the role the so-called telephone metadata program played in a criminal terror-fundraising case against four Somali immigrants was so minor that it did not undermine their convictions. The long-awaited decision is a victory for prosecutors, but some language in the court's opinion could be viewed as a rebuke of sorts to officials who defended the snooping by pointing to the case involving Basaaly Moalin and three other men found guilty by a San Diego jury in 2013 on charges of fundraising for Al-Shabaab. Judge Marsha Berzon's opinion, which contains a half-dozen references to the role of former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden in disclosing the NSA metadata program, concludes that the "bulk collection" of such data violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The call-tracking effort began without court authorization under President George W. Bush following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. A similar program was approved by the secretive FISA Court beginning in 2006 and renewed numerous times, but the 9th Circuit panel said those rulings were legally flawed.

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Private Intel Firm Buys Location Data to Track People to their 'Doorstep'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-09-02 20:10
A threat intelligence firm called HYAS, a private company that tries to prevent or investigates hacks against its clients, is buying location data harvested from ordinary apps installed on peoples' phones around the world, and using it to unmask hackers. The company is a business, not a law enforcement agency, and claims to be able to track people to their "doorstep." From a report: The news highlights the complex supply chain and sale of location data, traveling from apps whose users are in some cases unaware that the software is selling their location, through to data brokers, and finally to end clients who use the data itself. The news also shows that while some location firms repeatedly reassure the public that their data is focused on the high level, aggregated, pseudonymous tracking of groups of people, some companies do buy and use location data from a largely unregulated market explicitly for the purpose of identifying specific individuals. HYAS' location data comes from X-Mode, a company that started with an app named "Drunk Mode," designed to prevent college students from making drunk phone calls and has since pivoted to selling user data from a wide swath of apps. Apps that mention X-Mode in their privacy policies include Perfect365, a beauty app, and other innocuous looking apps such as an MP3 file converter. "As a TI [threat intelligence] tool it's incredible, but ethically it stinks," a source in the threat intelligence industry who received a demo of HYAS' product told Motherboard.

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Oracle Loses Appeal in $10 Billion Pentagon Contract Fight

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-09-02 16:52
A U.S. appeals court rejected Oracle's challenges to the Pentagon's disputed $10 billion cloud-computing contract. From a report: Oracle had raised a number of issues, including allegations of conflicts of interest with Amazon.com, and claims the Pentagon violate its own rules when it set up the contract to be awarded to a single firm. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling that Oracle wasn't harmed by any errors the Pentagon made in developing the contract proposal because it wouldn't have qualified for the contract anyway. Oracle was fighting its exclusion from seeking the lucrative cloud-computing deal, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI. The Pentagon awarded the contract to Microsoft in October over market leader Amazon Web Services. The project, which is valued at as much as $10 billion over a decade, is designed to help the Pentagon consolidate its technology programs and quickly move information to warfighters around the world.

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Trump Administration Forces Facebook and Google To Drop Hong Kong Cable

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-09-01 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google and Facebook have withdrawn plans to build an undersea cable between the United States and Hong Kong after the Trump administration raised national security concerns about the proposal. On Thursday, the companies submitted a revised plan that bypasses Hong Kong but includes links to Taiwan and the Philippines that were part of the original proposal. One of the original project's partners, Hong Kong company Pacific Light Data Communication, has been dropped. Federal law requires a license from the Federal Communications Commission to build an undersea cable connecting the United States with a foreign country. When Google and Facebook submitted their application for an undersea cable connecting the US to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines, a committee of federal agencies led by the Justice Department recommended against approving the connection to Hong Kong, citing the "current national security environment." The Trump administration cited "the [People's Republic of China] government's sustained efforts to acquire the sensitive personal data of millions of U.S. persons" as a reason to deny the application. The proposed cable's "high capacity and low latency would encourage U.S. communications traffic crossing the Pacific to detour through Hong Kong before reaching intended destinations in other parts of the Asia Pacific region," the government argued.

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Andrew Yang Takes Lead Role In California Data Privacy Campaign

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-09-01 04:02
Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang is throwing his weight behind California's November data privacy ballot measure -- not just endorsing the initiative but chairing its advisory board, the Proposition 24 campaign announced Monday. Politico reports: Yang's involvement could bring more visibility and cachet to the effort, given the tech entrepreneur's national profile and popularity among younger voters. It could also help counter the negative messaging from some consumer and civil rights groups that are opposing it. Yang lives in New York, thousands of miles from where voters will cast their ballots in November. But the initiative, like the law it would rewrite, could be the nation's de facto privacy law in the absence of federal action. Prop. 24 would rewrite parts of the California Consumer Privacy Act, which gave Californians new rights over their personal data when it took effect in January. The new measure would create a regulatory agency to manage California's privacy regime, add protections for "sensitive data," and eliminate the 30-day window that companies now have to correct problems before the attorney general can take them to court. It also would make it harder for the Legislature to roll back its protections in the future; any changes would need to further the law's aims. Alastair Mactaggart, a Bay Area real estate developer whose 2018 initiative compelled the Legislature to pass the CCPA that year, is behind the effort to amend it. "The California Consumer Privacy Act was a major win for the state of California and the country, but we have to do more," says Yang. "Technology is changing more rapidly than ever before, and tech corporations are already lining up to undermine the CCPA. It's up to us to protect consumers and strengthen our privacy rights to global standards. Our data should be ours no matter what platforms and apps we use. That's why I hope California voters will join me in supporting Prop 24 by voting YES in November."

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