California companies are struggling to prepare for the impending implementation of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). To address this, new ways of workting are needed, says Tom Pendergast of the company MediaPRO.
Such is the extent of the challenge faced by businesses, one survey finds that 86 percent of U.S. companies describe CCPA compliance as a “work-in-progress.” Adding to that, MediaPRO’s 2019 “Eye on Privacy Report” found that half of U.S. employees have never even heard of the regulation.
Digital Journal: What is the idea behind the CCPA?
Tom Pendergast: At a glance, the big idea of the CCPA sounds simple: give individuals control over the use and sale of their personal information. The bill acknowledges that times are changing, and that it’s basically impossible to “apply for a job, raise a child, drive a car, or make an appointment” without sharing personal information.
And because technology plays such a big role in daily life, consumers are practically being held hostage by businesses: the self-appointed custodians of their data. In many cases, these businesses don’t always have the best interests of consumers in mind; for example, the bill cites the Cambridge Analytica scandal of March 2018 as a primary factor in motivating the public’s desire for privacy controls and transparency. So the big idea is to put control in the hands of the consumer or data subject.
DJ: What are the main requirements of the CCPA?
Pendergast: There are countless ways that the CCPA will impact a businesses’ policies and procedures, depending on how well it has already incorporated policies and practices around the handling of personal data. So at a micro-level, the requirements of the CCPA are too many to count and too diverse to accommodate readers from across different industries. However, there are five very clearly stated rights that the CCPA grants to Californian consumers which will guide compliance requirements. In other words, the CCPA’s requirements are to do whatever an organization needs to in order to grant consumers these five rights.
Those rights are, in brief: 1) consumers can know what data is collected about them; 2) consumers can know if their information is being sold, and to whom it’s being sold; 3) consumers can say “no” to sale of their information; 4) consumers can access their data (and amend/delete it, if desired); 5) consumers get equal service and price, even if they exercise their rights. The implications for how a company builds the capacity to respect those rights is pretty huge.
DJ: To what extent is the CCPA based on European GDPR?
Pendergast: I think it’s safe to say that the CCPA is inspired by the GDPR but it might be going too far to say it’s “based” based on the GDPR. Consumer rights granted by the CCPA are similar to the GDPR’s rights for EU citizens, but they aren’t copy-pasted from the GDPR’s text.
The CCPA differs in handful of significant ways. One notable way is that the CCPA doesn’t focus the “legal basis” for collecting and processing personal data, which is essential to the GDPR. In effect, the CCPA gives affected businesses more authority over why they process data, so long as they do so with consumer rights in mind. But zoom out a level, and I’d say that both the CCPA and the GDPR are motivated by a desire to shift the power dynamic around the control of personal data from corporations back to the individual.
DJ: What are the key challenges businesses face?
Pendergast: It will all depend on the businesses existing maturity around data protection. If they’ve already done all the work to get prepared for the GDPR, for example, then there will be relatively minor improvements or additions to both policy and technology. But if the business is just getting started on solid data protection and handling practices, the lift could be very heavy in terms of changes to internal data handling practices, business policies, etc. A recent report on GDPR showed that smaller businesses have gone out of business rather than taking on the costs of compliance, and I suspect similar things will happen with CCPA.
DJ: What should businesses be doing?
Pendergast: One could write whole books answering this question. It comes down to assessing what it will take to meet the requirements in terms of impact on technology, process, and people, and then building a systematic plan to get into compliance. For many businesses without the expertise to do that assessment, the first thing will be to hire an experienced privacy professional to help them make a game plan.
One element that businesses don’t consider frequently enough is the need to develop an educated population. Starting a privacy awareness program that informs employees about what constitutes personal information, how it should be handled and protected, and what they should do if they suspect there is a privacy incident is an important but often overlooked component of meeting regulatory guidelines.
DJ: Will the CCPA fully address consumer concerns over privacy?
Pendergast: The answer to this question is immensely complex because it ventures into the area of the human psyche, which is about as weirdly complicated a place as we could possibly investigate. First it’s important to consider whether consumers really want their privacy protected. This varies by individual and by what scandal is in the news cycle; regardless, people’s actions don’t seem to follow the assumption that people want privacy (the famous “privacy paradox.”)
For example, in the wake of Facebook’s various scandals and the “delete Facebook” campaign … Facebook’s user base is essentially unchanged (well, Facebook monthly deletes more fake accounts than there are consumers in most countries, but that’s another issue). Basically, people want the benefits that our modern technology provides while still wanting to remain “private.”
Wouldn’t it be nice to eat pizza and friend chicken and tacos and ice cream for every meal and stay at your ideal weight? Get out of here. Consumer concerns about privacy won’t be fixed by CCPA, in fact, most consumers probably won’t even notice it or take advantage of their rights. However, whether or not consumers realize it: they need those rights to protect them from abuse and collateral damage to our society, often without our knowledge.
The CCPA is 100 percent better than what we have now: nothing. The bill is an essential first step towards amending the Wild-West landscape of big data that exploits our personal info all the time and, as we’ve seen, complicates our domestic and international politics. It’s a problem that needs to be solved, and maybe CCPA will get the ball rolling.
DJ: Will there be a US wide roll out of CCPA type legislation?
Pendergast: It’s possible, but most people place the odds of federal privacy legislation getting enacted pretty low in the short term. In February, Congressional House and Senate hearings discussed the subject from various angles. Lawmakers are eager to avoid a “grab bag” of state laws percolating across the country, and such legislation is a mostly-sort-of-probably-bi-partisan issue. However, predicting whether legislation will make it to the president’s desk before the 2020 elections has about as much success as predicting the outcome of the election itself. My opinion is that we’ll be dealing with the multiplication of state laws mimicking the CCPA until after the next presidential election.
AI will fuel the next wave of digital transformation in Asia
From the recently-wrapped Milken Institute Asia Summit in Singapore, president of Asia and corporate vice president at Microsoft, Ralph Haupter, spoke to Bloomberg Markets: Asia on how Artificial Intelligence will continue to disrupt the technology space and drive growth on the continent.
As it stands, an increasing number of reports are showing the importance of AI on growth on a global scale:
- AI could contribute an additional $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030 (PwC)
- The technology represents a potential impact on GDP of 26.1 percent in China (PwC)
- 28 percent of businesses are already realizing tangible returns on their AI implementation (AI Business)
“We need to understand that AI is the next accelerator for digital transformational companies,” explained Haupter. “We did a study here in Asia and it turns out that companies really think AI will drive double on innovation and double on productivity. That’s pretty impactful.”
The study referenced by Haupter was released earlier this year, showing that AI will accelerate the rate of innovation and employee productivity improvements to nearly double in Asia Pacific by 2021. Furthermore, only 41 percent of organizations in the region have embarked on the AI journey.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Haupter cited one success story: Narayana Health in India, which uses AI visual recognition with its X-Rays. “The quality is better, the cost is down, scale is higher — that’s what technology is about. It makes me excited.”
The urgency of re-skilling
Of course, a significant touchpoint when discussing the important and rise of AI on growth, is the prioritization of reskilling workers.
A recent IBM Institute for Business Value study found that “as many as 120 million workers in the world’s 12 largest economies may need to be retrained or reskilled over the next three years as a result of the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.”
In his interview, Haupter is quick to point out that AI “is something that is augmenting us as human beings, and not replacing us,” emphasizing that reskilling is a clear goal on the agenda.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
Robot delivery: Bots will be bringing parcels to your home
Ford, FedEx and Amazon are each at an advanced stage with autonomous robot delivery vehicles, designed to bring packages to the doors of businesses and homes. Several successful pilots have been completed.
Each robot looks different but the objective is similar — getting a package to a customer using an autonomous machine. The aim of these new robot delivery tools is to boost efficiency and eliminate the need to pay people to carry out the final part of the delivery process.
Ford / Agility Robotics
Ford, more commonly associated with cars and trucks, is partnering with legged locomotion specialist Agility Robotics to assess how self-driving car deliveries can be improved. The project objective is to ensure self-driving vehicles can accomplish something that’s been very difficult to accomplish: carrying out the last step of the delivery, from the car to the recipient’s front door.
The two companies hope the answer is a two-legged robot called “Digit”.
Digit has been designed to approximate the look and walk of a human. The robot is constructed from lightweight material and it is capable of lifting packages that weigh up to 40 pounds. In tests, Digit has been shown to be capable of going up and down stairs and to negotiate uneven terrain, thanks to the use of LiDAR and stereo cameras.
The courier delivery services company FedEx is developing an autonomous delivery robot designed to assist retailers make same-day and last-mile deliveries to their customers. The device is called the FedEx SameDay Bot, and the aim is to deliver packages by bot directly to customers’ homes or businesses the same day. The device has been developed in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research Corp., run by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway.
The FedEx device is the most adventurous of the three, in that it will cross roads and is destined to cover longer distances. The interaction with roads is supported by machine-learning algorithms to help the robot to detect and avoid obstacles, plot a safe path, and to follow road and safety rules.
Amazon’s autonomous delivery robots are about to begin rolling out on California sidewalks. Amazon Scout will begin with delivering packages to the company’s Prime customers residing in Southern California. The new Amazon device will work during daylight hours, providing small and medium-sized packages to customers. The Amazon Scout is a six-wheeled electric-powered vehicle around the size of a small cooler. In terms of movement, the Scout rolls along sidewalks at what’s described as a walking pace.
Amazon began testing out the Scout in January 2019, running a pilot program using six machines to deliver packages in Snohomish County, Washington. Vice president of Amazon Scout Sean Scott said: “We developed Amazon Scout at our research and development lab in Seattle, ensuring the devices can safely and efficiently navigate around pets, pedestrians and anything else in their path.”
Following the success of the pilot — where the Scout autonomously navigated the various obstacles commonly found in residential neighborhoods like trashcans, skateboards, lawn chairs, the occasional snow blower and more — the device is ready for a wider launch.
The wider launch will feature a small number of Amazon Scout devices, delivering Monday through Friday, during daylight hours in the Irvine area of California, according to Smart2Zero. Customers will order items as they would normally, but in some cases their Amazon packages will be delivered by an Amazon Scout. To make sure things go smoothly, each Scout will initially be accompanied by a human “Amazon Scout Ambassador.”
Amazon adds fear detection and age ranges to its facial-recognition tech as the Border Patrol looks to award a $950 million contract
- Amazon Web Services has added several new features to its facial-recognition technology, Rekognition.
- This includes expanded age-recognition capabilities and the new ability to recognize fear.
- Rekognition is a controversial technology and has been the subject of much criticism and protests — from both inside and outside Amazon.
- These new features drew some flack from commenters on Twitter.
- Meanwhile, the US Customers and Border Patrol is looking for quotes on a sweeping new border protection system that includes more facial-recognition tech.
Amazon Web Services has expanded the capabilities of its controversial facial-recognition technology called Rekognition.
It now better detects more age ranges and it can also detect fear, the company announced in a blog post on Monday.
The company explained (emphasis ours):
“Today, we are launching accuracy and functionality improvements to our face analysis features. Face analysis generates metadata about detected faces in the form of gender, age range, emotions, attributes such as ‘Smile’, face pose, face image quality and face landmarks. With this release, we have further improved the accuracy of gender identification. In addition, we have improved accuracy for emotion detection (for all 7 emotions: ‘Happy’, ‘Sad’, ‘Angry’, ‘Surprised’, ‘Disgusted’, ‘Calm’ and ‘Confused’) and added a new emotion: ‘Fear’.Lastly, we have improved age range estimation accuracy; you also get narrower age ranges across most age groups.”
Earlier this month AWS also announced that Rekognition can now detect violent content such as blood, wounds, weapons, self-injury, corpses, as well as sexually explicit content.
But it was the news of more age ranges and fear detection that was met with comments on Twitter.
Just last month several protesters interrupted Amazon AWS CTO Werner Vogels during a keynote speech at an AWS conference in New York.
They were protesting AWS’s work with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the family separation policy at the Southern Border. Amazon hasn’t acknowledged whether ICE uses its Rekognition technology, but the company did meet with ICE officials to pitch its facial-recognition tech, among other AWS services, as revealed by emails between Amazon and various government officials obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundations.
Amazon’s Rekognition has come under fire from a wide range of groups who want the company to stop selling it to law enforcement agencies. In April, AI experts penned an open letter to Amazon about it. Civil rights group have protested it. 100 Amazon employees sent a letter to management last year asking the company to stop selling Rekognition to law enforcement. Another 500 signed a letter this year asking Amazon to stop working with ICE altogether.
“AWS comes under fire for Rekognition sales to the federal government, who in turn is building concentration camps for children, and AWS’s response is to improve ‘age range estimation’ and ‘fear detection’ in the service? Are you f– KIDDING ME?!” tweeted Corey Quinn from the Duckbill Group, a consultant that helps companies manage their AWS bill. Quinn also hosts theScreaming in the Cloud podcast.
Another developer tweeted, “In 25 years we’re going to be talking about how AWS handled this situation in the same way we talk about how IBM enabled the holocaust. Every engineer and ML researcher who worked on this should be ashamed of themselves.”
The CBP is looking to buy more facial-recognition tech
Meanwhile, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a sister agency to ICE, has put out a new request for quotes on a sweeping new border-security system that includes expanded use of facial-recognition technology.
“Integration of facial recognition technologies is intended throughout all passenger applications,” the RFQ documents say.
The CBP already uses facial recognition at various airports, such as in Mexico City, where it matches passenger’s faces with photos taken from their passports or other government documents, it says.
And the CBP uses other biometric information, such as taking fingerprints of people at the border if it suspects that they are entering the country illegally, it says.
“CBP’s future vision for biometric exit is to build the technology nationwide using cloud computing,” the agency wrote in a 2017 article about the use of facial recognition and finger-print tech.
This new contract for new border security technologies is expected to begin in early 2020 and could be worth $950 million over its lifespan, according to the RFQ documents.
This article was originally published on Business Insider. Copyright 2019.
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