Ashkan Soltani, the head of California’s new online privacy regulator, faces the daunting task of overseeing the first United States government body with the sole job of regulating how Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other companies collect and use data. Mr. Soltani, a privacy expert who once served as the Federal Trade Commission’s top technologist, must overcome the lack of precedent. The California Privacy Protection Agency will be a more than 30-person group with a $10 million annual budget to help enforce the state’s privacy law, among the most stringent in the country. The effort has attracted global interest. Wojciech Wiewiorowski, the European Data Protection Supervisor, said he spoke with Mr. Soltani this year and saw the California agency as a potentially fruitful ally to rein in the tech giants.
The latest revisions to the draft Online Safety Bill include a radically reduced timeframe of two months to apply criminal liability against senior tech executives who fail to cooperate with information requests from UK media & communications regulator, Ofcom. With the draft bill, the UK aims to tackle not only explicitly illegal content online, but also to set rules for how the largest Internet platforms need to approach ‘legal but harmful’ online content, such as trolling. However, digital rights groups warn that the legislation represents a massively chilling attack on freedom of expression. The Open Rights Group likened the threat of prison for social media executives to powers being exercised by Vladimir Putin in Russia.
Tinder users will be able to run criminal background checks on their potential dates. The background check tool lets Tinder users search whether someone has a criminal record using their name, phone number, and age. The feature aims to make public safety information more accessible, and users feel safer. But experts who specialize in sexual violence and surveillance have said the move is misguided, and risks amplifying the biases inherent in the criminal justice system. The feature could intensify discrimination against black and brown people, who are disproportionately targeted by the police.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a law legalizing cryptocurrency, which establishes a legal framework for Ukraine to operate a regulated crypto market. Crypto exchanges and firms handling digital assets will now be required to register with the government to operate legally in Ukraine, and banks will be allowed to open accounts for crypto firms. The law also empowers Ukraine’s National Securities and Stock Market Commission to determine the country’s policies on digital assets, issue licenses to businesses dealing with crypto, and act as a financial watchdog. Ukraine has partnered with the Bahamas-based exchange giant FTX to convert crypto contributions to aid Ukraine’s war effort into fiat for deposit at the National Bank of Ukraine.
The White House has been closely watching TikTok’s rise as a dominant news source, leading to its decision to approach a select group of the platform’s most influential names. 30 top TikTok stars gathered on a Zoom call to receive key information about the war unfolding in Ukraine. President Biden has increasingly sought online creators to sell major policy initiatives. The administration worked with dozens of top TikTok stars last year to encourage vaccination. He also hosted a briefing for influencers to educate them about his infrastructure plan. To emphasize the child-care components of his “Build Back Better” initiative, he sat for interviews with two parenting influencers on Facebook Live and YouTube.