«Роснефть» потрапила до списків санкцій Євросоюзу після початку російського вторгнення
«Роснефть» потрапила до списків санкцій Євросоюзу після початку російського вторгнення
When Chandler Jones realized she was pregnant during her junior year of college, she turned to a trusted source for information and advice.
“I couldn’t imagine before the internet, trying to navigate this,” said Jones, 26, who graduated Tuesday from the University of Baltimore School of Law. “I didn’t know if hospitals did abortions. I knew Planned Parenthood did abortions, but there were none near me. So I kind of just Googled.”
But with each search, Jones was being surreptitiously followed — by the phone apps and browsers that track us as we click away, capturing even our most sensitive health data.
Online searches. Period apps. Fitness trackers. Advice helplines. GPS. The often obscure companies collecting our health history and geolocation data may know more about us than we know ourselves.
For now, the information is mostly used to sell us things, like baby products targeted to pregnant women. But in a post-Roe world — if the Supreme Court upends the 1973 decision that legalized abortion, as a draft opinion suggests it may in the coming weeks — the data would become more valuable, and women more vulnerable.
Privacy experts fear that pregnancies could be surveilled and the data shared with police or sold to vigilantes.
“The value of these tools for law enforcement is for how they really get to peek into the soul,” said Cynthia Conti-Cook, a lawyer and technology fellow at the Ford Foundation. “It gives [them] the mental chatter inside our heads.”
HIPAA, hotlines, health histories
The digital trail only becomes clearer when we leave home, as location apps, security cameras, license plate readers and facial recognition software track our movements. The development of these tech tools has raced far ahead of the laws and regulations that might govern them.
And it’s not just women who should be concerned. The same tactics used to surveil pregnancies can be used by life insurance companies to set premiums, banks to approve loans and employers to weigh hiring decisions, experts said.
Or it could — and sometimes does — send women who experience miscarriages cheery ads on their would-be child’s birthday.
It’s all possible because HIPAA, the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, protects medical files at your doctor’s office but not the information that third-party apps and tech companies collect about you. Nor does HIPAA cover the health histories collected by non-medical “crisis pregnancy centers, ” which are run by anti-abortion groups. That means the information can be shared with, or sold to, almost anyone.
Jones contacted one such facility early in her Google search, before figuring out they did not offer abortions.
“The dangers of unfettered access to Americans’ personal data have never been more clear. Researching birth control online, updating a period-tracking app or bringing a phone to the doctor’s office could be used to track and prosecute women across the U.S.,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said last week.
For myriad reasons, both political and philosophical, data privacy laws in the U.S. have lagged far behind those adopted in Europe in 2018.
Until this month, anyone could buy a weekly trove of data on clients at more than 600 Planned Parenthood sites around the country for as little as $160, according to a recent Vice investigation that led one data broker to remove family planning centers from the customer “pattern” data it sells. The files included approximate patient addresses (down to the census block, derived from where their cellphones “sleep” at night), income brackets, time spent at the clinic, and the top places people stopped before and after their visits.
While the data did not identify patients by name, experts say that can often be pieced together, or de-anonymized, with a little sleuthing.
In Arkansas, a new law will require women seeking an abortion to first call a state hotline and hear about abortion alternatives. The hotline, set to debut next year, will cost the state nearly $5 million a year to operate. Critics fear it will be another way to track pregnant women, either by name or through an identifier number. Other states are considering similar legislation.
The widespread surveillance capabilities alarm privacy experts who fear what’s to come if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The Supreme Court is expected to issue its opinion by early July.
“A lot of people, where abortion is criminalized — because they have nowhere to go — are going to go online, and every step that they take (could) … be surveilled,” Conti-Cook said.
Punish women, doctors or friends?
Women of color like Jones, along with poor women and immigrants, could face the most dire consequences if Roe falls since they typically have less power and money to cover their tracks. They also tend to have more abortions, proportionally, perhaps because they have less access to health care, birth control and, in conservative states, schools with good sex education programs.
The leaked draft suggests the Supreme Court could be ready to let states ban or severely restrict abortion through civil or criminal penalties. More than half are poised to do so. Abortion foes have largely promised not to punish women themselves, but instead target their providers or people who help them access services.
“The penalties are for the doctor, not for the woman,” Republican state Rep. Jim Olsen of Oklahoma said last month of a new law that makes performing an abortion a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
But abortion advocates say that remains to be seen.
“When abortion is criminalized, pregnancy outcomes are investigated,” said Tara Murtha, the communications director at the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia, who recently co-authored a report on digital surveillance in the abortion sphere.
She wonders where the scrutiny would end. Prosecutors have already taken aim at women who use drugs during pregnancy, an issue Justice Clarence Thomas raised during the Supreme Court arguments in the case in December.
“Any adverse pregnancy outcome can turn the person who was pregnant into a suspect,” Murtha said.
State limits, tech steps, personal tips
A few states are starting to push back, setting limits on tech tools as the fight over consumer privacy intensifies.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, through a legal settlement, stopped a Boston-based ad company from steering anti-abortion smartphone ads to women inside clinics there that offer abortion services, deeming it harassment. The firm had even proposed using the same “geofencing” tactics to send anti-abortion messages to high school students.
In Michigan, voters amended the state Constitution to prohibit police from searching someone’s data without a warrant. And in California, home to Silicon Valley, voters passed a sweeping digital privacy law that lets people see their data profiles and ask to have them deleted. The law took effect in 2020.
The concerns are mounting, and have forced Apple, Google and other tech giants to begin taking steps to rein in the sale of consumer data. That includes Apple’s launch last year of its App Tracking Transparency feature, which lets iPhone and iPad users block apps from tracking them.
Abortion rights activists, meanwhile, suggest women in conservative states leave their cellphones, smartwatches and other wearable devices at home when they seek reproductive health care, or at least turn off the location services. They should also closely examine the privacy policies of menstrual trackers and other health apps they use.
“There are things that people can do that can help mitigate their risk. Most people will not do them because they don’t know about it or it’s inconvenient,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, a deputy director with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “There are very, very few people who have the savvy to do everything.”
Digital privacy was the last thing on Jones’s mind when she found herself pregnant. She was in crisis. She and her partner had ambitious career goals. After several days of searching, she found an appointment for an abortion in nearby Delaware. Fortunately, he had a car.
“When I was going through this, it was just survival mode,” said Jones, who took part in a march Saturday in downtown Baltimore to support abortion rights.
Besides, she said, she’s grown up in the Internet age, a world in which “all of my information is being sold constantly.”
But news of the leaked Supreme Court draft sparked discussions at her law school this month about privacy, including digital privacy in the era of Big Data.
“Literally, because I have my cell phone in my pocket, if I go to a CVS, they know I went to a CVS,” the soon-to-be lawyer said. “I think the privacy right is such a deeper issue in America [and one] that is being violated all the time.”
A South African company that promotes solar power and uses crowdsourcing to raise capital is financing a solar-powered farm in Zimbabwe that is also benefiting neighboring farmers. The company, The Sun Exchange, raised $1.4 million for the farm. Columbus Mavhunga reports from Marondera, Zimbabwe.
Російські суди розглянули 2029 адміністративних справ щодо «дискредитації» Збройних сил РФ, пповідомив голова правозахисної групи «Агора» Павло Чиков.
«Є дані про щонайменше чотири кримінальні справи за статтею 280.3 КК РФ – повторна дискредитація збройних сил РФ особою, раніше притягнутою за аналогічні дії до адміністративної відповідальності. Кримінальні справи розслідуються у Петропавловську-Камчатському, Благовіщенську, Кемерові та Нальчику. Цікаво, що в той же час розглянуто лише 4 адміністративні справи про заклики до санкцій», – повідомив правозахисник у Telegram.
У середньому суди розглядають по 40 справ кожного робочого дня. Штраф за цією статтею – від 30 до 50 тисяч рублів.
Закон «про публічне розповсюдження явно неправдивої інформації про використання збройних сил РФ з метою захисту інтересів Росії та її громадян» президент Росії Володимир Путін підписав 4 березня. За порушення закону громадянам загрожує штраф до 5 млн рублів або позбавлення волі до 10 років. Якщо поширення фейків спричинило тяжкі наслідки, термін позбавлення волі становитиме від 10 до 15 років.
The Apple Store at Union Square, the heart of San Francisco’s upscale tourist district, had drawn more than 30 customers within a few minutes of opening Friday morning. Visitors, couples and even a preschool-age boy browsed the atrium packed with iPhone 13s and watches to try out. A sign urged people to trade in old phones to save money on the 13s.
But a staff member could not say when the iPhone 14 would come out — presumably sometime this year — or what it would cost. Some shoppers wondered whether it would be delayed or cost more than expected given the months of supply chain disruptions in China, where the phones are made.
“This stuff has got to hit hard at some point,” said Bill Kimberlin, an Apple Store shopper from San Francisco.
Apple, based in the Silicon Valley, just 50 miles south of San Francisco, outsources iPhone parts from around East Asia, and its handsets are assembled in China.
Apple had to delay product rollouts first in 2020, when new gear was held up for a month because of China’s first COVID-19 wave, said Rachel Liao, senior industry analyst with the Taipei-based Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute.
In the first quarter this year, she said, lockdowns in China suspended assembly plants, including at least one operated by Pegatron. Pegatron is the No. 2 iPhone assembler, with 25% of orders, after Foxconn. Both companies are based in Taiwan but manufacture in China.
Since 2020, the costs of making the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series have increased “slightly” because of a materials shortage in the semiconductor supply chain, Liao said.
“Sharp and protracted lockdowns are causing a lot of short-term havoc on logistics, and it’s obviously affecting delivery times significantly,” said Ivan Lam, senior research analyst with market analysis firm Counterpoint Research.
Apple declined to answer a query from VOA about its China supply chain.
Not just phones
Supply chain upsets set off by China’s lockdowns in the major commercial hubs Shenzhen and Shanghai are slowing exports of products ranging from phones to building materials to motor vehicles. Western nations are experiencing shortages and higher prices imported goods.
Chinese authorities ordered Shenzhen shuttered in March, and Shanghai, with a population of about 26 million, closed weeks later. Those closures have kept workers away from factories, delivery jobs and seaports.
Cities are locking down as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “zero-COVID” policy, aimed at controlling deaths from the coronavirus.
“The impact of the COVID-19-related restrictions and lockdown there in Shanghai is going to be severe on businesses, not just in China but globally,” said Ker Gibbs, executive in residence at the University of San Francisco and former president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.
“Shanghai is so important as a port and as a logistics hub, as a supply chain, so that any business that is touching China is going to be impacted by the lockdown,” Gibbs said.
COVID-19 cases in China, the world’s largest consumer market, “exacerbated” a drop in global mobile phone production in the first three months of 2022, Taipei-based market analysis firm TrendForce said in an emailed statement May 10. It says production volume worldwide was 310 million phones in the same period.
Jayant Menon, a visiting senior fellow with the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute Regional Economic Studies Program in Singapore, calls demand for China-made goods “uneven” — another cause for supply chain upsets. He anticipates the disruptions will last for two more quarters.
“The quantities involved, I think, will clearly reflect the kind of disruptions still ongoing in China because of their zero-COVID strategy,” he said.
Strategies for smartphones
Smartphone supplies are holding up better than those of many other China-made goods, analysts say.
Phone parts such as chips and screens are sourced from outside China; for example, camera lenses are made in Taiwan, and flash memory is produced in South Korea.
“These things are counted as exports from China, as if 100% of it were made there, and in fact, a much smaller percentage is actually created in China,” said Douglas Barry, vice president of communications at the U.S.-China Business Council, an advocacy group in Washington with over 260 members.
Apple now requires suppliers to increase inventories as it plans further in advance for product launches, Liao said. That’s a hedge against more supply chain problems.
The Silicon Valley icon is now asking its assemblers over the longer term to cut reliance on China and raise orders for factories in India, she added. Its chief assemblers — Foxconn, Pegatron and Wistron — will continue to increase production capacity in India, she predicted. Wistron is also based in Taiwan.
Apple is diversifying further with assembly orders to China-based Luxshare Precision Industry. Liao says that firm handles 3% of iPhone orders, with the prospect of more this year.
Apple was the world’s No. 2-selling brand of smartphone after Samsung in the first three months of this year, with an 18% market share and 56.5 million units shipped, according to market research firm IDC, up slightly from the same period in 2021.
Some smartphone factories are using “closed-loop operations” to keep production going in China, Lam said. Companies such as Foxconn have long housed workers in factory compounds so large that some have compared them to cities.
“At the end of the day, companies will assess their vulnerabilities and adjust their supply chains accordingly,” Barry said. “It won’t be easy, and consumers will feel their pain by having to wait and paying more for products they want.”