Lab notes: April 2020

These have been difficult and uncertain times for everyone. We hope you and your loved ones are doing well and staying safe.

Our mission at the Digital Lab — to investigate how technology impacts society — has never been more important as we examine the systems we’ve come to rely on during the pandemic.

Here’s a quick look at what we’ve been working on:

As Zoom becomes a go-to videoconferencing platform, CR has uncovered serious privacy and security issues that should give everyone pause.

After our investigation, Zoom notified CR that it had tightened sections of its privacy policy and made other changes to its privacy practices. However, new privacy and security problemscontinue to emerge. CR’s privacy researcher Bill Fitzgerald notes, “these are issues that should have been caught by Zoom, and it raises the question of what else has been missed by the company.” CR’s work and perspectives have been widely reported by The Washington Post, The New York Times, Politico, Business Insider, Marketwatch, Columbia Journalism Review, Protocol and other news media.

We called on California’s Attorney General to enforce its new consumer privacy law as planned.

Despite having more than a year to begin complying with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), dozens of companies and industry trade associations have asked the AG to delay enforcement of the landmark online privacy law until next year, citing the ongoing health crisis. Maureen Mahoney, a policy analyst at CR told Media Post that the AG should “move ahead with its planned timelines for CCPA enforcement, including holding companies accountable for violations since January 2020.”

Facebook is struggling to handle coronavirus misinformation.

Digital Lab’s Kaveh Waddell conducted an experiment on Facebook to see how misinformation can get introduced on the platform. Kaveh created seven paid ads that included conspiracy theories and hoaxes, and Facebook approved them all. CR did not publish the ads.

To stay informed and up-to-date on the latest with the coronavirus, please visit CR’s Coronavirus Resource Hub to get advice on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Last chance to apply for the Digital Lab fellows program. Deadline is April 15th.

ICYMI News and Updates

Please stay safe, everyone. As always, we’d love to hear from you — if you have tips, ideas or questions for the Digital Lab, reach out!

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