The Weekly Cypher is specially curated to keep you up-to-date on the latest in cybersecurity, biometrics, and related news and innovations. Here are a few of the headlines you might have missed this week.
A new research report has raised concerns about how in-home smart devices such as AI virtual voice assistants, smart appliances, and security and monitoring technologies could be gathering and sharing children’s data. It calls for new privacy measures to safeguard kids and make sure age appropriate design code is included with home automation technologies. The report, entitled Home Life Data and Children’s Privacy, is the work of Dr. Veronica Barassi of Goldsmiths, University of London, who leads a research project at the university investigating the impact of big data and AI on family life.
The newly revealed email breach at the State Department is the latest black eye for an agency continually besieged by cybersecurity audits and critical watchdog reports. In a Monday POLITICO scoop, Eric and Nahal Toosi reported that some employees had their personal information exposed by a breach of unclassified email system. “We have determined that certain employees’ personally identifiable information (PII) may have been exposed,” a Sept. 7 alert informed the agency’s workforce. “We have notified those employees.” The message described the breach as “activity of concern … affecting less than 1% of employee inboxes.” The classified email system was not affected, according to the alert marked “Sensitive But Unclassified.”
Japanese retailers walk fine privacy line to gather customer data with facial recognition | BiometricUpdate
The Parco_ya shopping center in Tokyo’s Ueno district is using 90 cameras and facial recognition technology from AI startup Abeja Inc. to estimate the ages of visitors and track their movements, The Asahi Shimbun reports. Data collected by the system is shared with the mall’s 60 stores to help them improve their marketing and product arrangement.
US lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives meant to address the cybersecurity workforce shortage crisis. The bill, named the Cyber Ready Workforce Act (H.R.6791), would establish a grant program within the Department of Labor. According to the bill’s proposed text, the Secretary of Labor will be able to award grants to workforce intermediaries to support the creation, implementation, and expansion of apprenticeship programs in cybersecurity. These apprenticeship programs may include career counseling, mentorship, and assistance with transportation, housing, and childcare costs.
Facial recognition technology presents myriad opportunities as well as risks, but it seems like the government tends to only consider the former when deploying it for law enforcement and clerical purposes. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has written the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Trade Commission, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission telling them they need to get with the program and face up to the very real biases and risks attending the controversial tech.