Zoom is under scrutiny by the New York Attorney General's office for its data privacy and security practices. The NY attorney general's office sent a letter to Zoom asking what new security measures the company has put in place, if any, to handle its huge surge in usage, according to the New York Times, and how it's handling the data privacy of children especially. Zoom told Business Insider that it received the letter and that the company will be providing the attorney general's office with the requested information. Internet trolls have been infiltrating Zoom calls to share indecent images or other spam, a phenomenon called 'Zoombombing.' Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
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Big Law firms are launching new groups dedicated to data privacy and biometrics. Here's why they're betting changes in regulations are creating a huge opportunity.
Summary List Placement Data privacy seems to be top of mind for all companies these days....Summary List Placement Data privacy seems to be top of mind for all companies these days. As more parts of consumers' lives are being digitized — from banking and transportation to retail and social interaction — there's been an accompanying surge in privacy regulations, which are designed to protect the personal information that's collected in the process. Legal experts cite data protection and cybersecurity as one of the most promising practices to specialize in, as previously reported in Business Insider. Almost every second or third job opening that Alisa Levin, a prominent recruiter who's worked with firms like Cravath and Kirkland & Ellis, has recently seen were related to this area, which she says is "huge." In response to these growing concerns over protecting data, two Am Law 100 firms have both recently launched cross-practice teams dedicated to privacy: Winston & Strawn expanded a five-person task force into a full-blown privacy and data security practice group in August, while Blank Rome has a new team dedicated to biometrics privacy it introduced in September. Business Insider spoke with the attorneys spearheading these teams about the regulatory climate that catalyzed their formation, and how law firms can help their clients navigate an increasingly tricky privacy landscape. Remote work during the pandemic and heightening regulations make it the "perfect time to double down" The lead attorneys for both firms' privacy groups say that the pandemic has only heightened the need for lawyers to step in and help their clients. "The pandemic has caused a huge shift in how clients operate," said Alessandra Swanson, partner at Winston & Strawn's transactions department who co-leads its new data privacy team. "A large remote workforce brings with it a number of privacy and data security issues. Like with company-issued computers — hackers are having a field day." She also added that, as people are starting to return to offices, employers are required by law to collect a host of health information from their employees, which also stirs up privacy issues. Sheryl Falk, a privacy litigator who also heads Winston's data security team with Swanson and one other attorney, explained that the type of work has changed, too. The team originally dealt with larger-scale compliance projects, but now, "it's shifted to smaller, more frantic work like data breaches and ransomware attacks," she said. Even prior to the pandemic, there'd been a steady escalation in privacy regulation across various jurisdictions in recent years, heightening the need for legal counsel in the sphere. A prime example is the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), which went into effect this year. Similar to the European Union's stringent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the law ensures that consumers know what information is being collected about them, and gives them the right to opt out from the data collection or request that the data be deleted. Read more: 9 recession-proof legal practice areas set to boom, according to top lawyers and recruiters "And then you have all these other state laws that are coming along with increased federal and state enforcement," said Falk. "Our clients are really recognizing privacy as a top level risk." To address its clients' concerns, Winston decided to expand its small privacy task force, which had a core group of just five lawyers, into a large, cross-department practice group comprised of around 70 attorneys whose work — whether in litigation, corporate, or intellectual property — substantially dealt with privacy issues. "It's the perfect time to double down," said Falk. Because privacy encompasses so many industries, it made sense to pull in lawyers from different practices, said Swanson. These lawyers continue to work within their original practice groups, but will be pulled onto data protection cases as needed. "We work seamlessly, and are able to leverage expertise across various practice groups to quickly and cohesively counsel clients," she explained. "We've been able to cross-train everyone." Advising clients on how to avoid "landmines" in the "uncharted territory" of biometrics Blank Rome launched its biometrics privacy team for similar reasons, said Jeffrey Rosenthal, partner at the firm's business litigation team and chair of the new team. He explained that the stakes are even higher, though, simply because of the way biometrics works. "The stakes are so high because when it comes to things like identity theft or your social security number being stolen or used, there are steps that can be taken to remedy that," he said. "But when it comes to your fingerprint or your facial geometry or the sound of your voice, those are mostly immutable characteristics." Biometrics is being adopted across more and more industries, from social media, like Facebook's facial recognition technology to automatically tag photos, to business employers, some of whom use fingerprint scanners instead of an old-school punch clock. Reports show that the global biometrics market accounted for just $17 billion in 2018, but is expected to reach nearly $77 billion by 2027. Blank Rome's new privacy team, which consists of seven attorneys from compliance, data privacy, and labor employment practices, aims to take a "holistic" approach to help clients "avoid all the landmines in this uncharted territory," said Rosenthal. With the pandemic, Rosenthal thinks that things like biometrics are only going to be more sought after by companies, especially as people's aversion to touching things has heightened with the highly contagious coronavirus. "More companies are going to get behind facial recognition, or some other technology that doesn't require physical touch," he said. Even though Rosenthal and the firm had been thinking about a team dedicated to biometrics for a long time, the pandemic made it all the more necessary to formalize the practice. And work for the new team, Rosenthal projects, will only get busier. "I think this has only just begun," he said. Read more: The pandemic has forced people to live almost entirely online. These 13 startups offer you control over your data.SEE ALSO: 9 recession-proof legal practice areas set to boom, according to top lawyers and recruiters SEE ALSO: Here's what it takes to get a job at elite law firm Latham & Watkins, according to its hiring chairs and 2 top industry recruiters SEE ALSO: Top law firms are starting to share exclusive data with clients to help them win legal disputes and clinch M&A deals. Here's why they're giving it away for free. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Epidemiologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths
Half of Queens residents are white, but 90% of social distance arrests just this week were of people of color
This week, 20 residents in Queens, New York, were arrested for social distancing Of them, 18...This week, 20 residents in Queens, New York, were arrested for social distancing Of them, 18 — or 90% — were people of color, the district attorney's office told Business Insider. "My office will not be prosecuting social distancing arrests," Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. "Nobody wants a health crisis to fuel a criminal justice crisis." The news follows an announcement from Brooklyn's district attorney that 39 of 40 social distancing arrests made in the last few weeks were for people of color. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. In the Queens borough of New York City, which is 47.9% white, police officers have arrested at least 20 people over social-distancing issues since May 3. Out of those 20 people, 16 were black or Hispanic, two were Asian, and two were white, a representative for the Queens District Attorney's Office told Business Insider. That means 90% of those arrested were people of color. "My office will not be prosecuting social distancing arrests," Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz told Business Insider through a spokesperson. "Nobody wants a health crisis to fuel a criminal justice crisis." "We are committed to nondiscriminatory and even-handed enforcement of all laws, not just social distancing laws," Katz's spokesperson added. The data from the Queens District Attorney's office follows an outcry over figures released by the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. The office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said Thursday that 39 of the 40 residents arrested for social distancing violations from March 17 through May 4 were people of color. A spokesperson for Katz's office said the arrests were made in a time period beginning Sunday, May 3, and that the "cases are not readily identifiable due to the charge imposed." The "roughly 20 arrests" were "related to alleged failure to comply with the City's social distancing mandate." The spokesperson did not provide information about how many arrests were made since mid-March, when the social distancing guidelines were first issued. According to NYPD data released Friday and reported by the Queens Eagle, police issued 28 summonses in Queens between March 16 and May 5, 26 of which were issued to people of color. According to the New York Times, police officers throughout New York City have made at least 120 arrests for social distancing violations between March 16 and May 5. Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Esposito told the Times that black and Hispanic people make up 92% of those arrested on charges of violating the rules in that time period. 'Stark racial disparities' in social distancing enforcement The New York Police Department has faced widespread criticism over its discriminatory policing practices, both before and during the pandemic. Social media has demonstrated a disparity in how different races have been treated by police. The NYPD posted a photo on Twitter this past weekend of an officer distributing masks to a white woman. A few days later, a video trended of officers beating and arresting people of color for apparently not social distancing. Racial justice advocates are calling for Mayor Bill de Blasio to significantly limit the NYPD's presence on the streets. "Mayor de Blasio must take action today to remove the NYPD from social distancing enforcement," Loyda Colon, a leader of Communities United for Police Reform and co-director of Justice Committee, said in a statement to Business Insider. "The stark racial disparities reflected in the initial release of NYPD social distancing enforcement data confirms what we already knew about police officers brutalizing Black New Yorkers and other New Yorkers of color during the COVID-19 pandemic," Colon added. A trend of racist policing has surfaced across New York City In the six weeks since March 17, police officers in Brooklyn have arrested 40 people for violating social-distancing rules. Thirty-five of the people arrested were black and four Hispanic. Just one is white, even though 49.5% of Brooklyn residents are white, according to the US Census Bureau. That means that 39 out of 40 — or 97.5% — of the arrests were for people of color. All 40 cases have been dropped. The arrest data, which was voluntarily released by the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, is consistent with recent concerns that the New York Police Department's social-distancing enforcement overwhelmingly targets communities of color. "We did an analysis because that's an issue we're concerned about," a spokesperson for Gonzalez told Business Insider, noting that there is no discrete category for social-distancing enforcement, which could make it harder to track. "The enforcement should consist of giving masks and sanitizer and so forth. That should be the way this issue is being enforced," the spokesperson added. After Gonzalez's office released the data, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city's discriminatory policing practices would end. "The disparity in the numbers does NOT reflect our values. We HAVE TO do better and we WILL," de Blasio tweeted. The district attorney offices of the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island did not immediately respond to Business Insider's requests for comment.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Inside London during COVID-19 lockdown
The NYC Department of Education is reversing its ban on Zoom after the company addresses its security and privacy concerns (ZM)
New York City schools are once again allowed to use Zoom for online learning, after the...New York City schools are once again allowed to use Zoom for online learning, after the district banned the red-hot videoconferencing app in early April. Zoom made several fixes to address the NYC Department of Education's concerns about privacy and security for students and teachers using the tool, city officials told Chalkbeat. Schools and students will now have access to Zoom through a central NYC Department of Education account with the necessary privacy and security features automatically enabled, according to a letter from NYC Department of Education Chancellor Richard A. Carranza to families. Zoom CEO Eric Yuan told Business Insider in April that he was working with the New York City school district to create a comprehensive, district-wide plan to use Zoom and address the district's concerns. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. New York City schools are once again allowed to use Zoom for online learning, the videoconferencing company and NYC Department of Education both said on Wednesday. The school district banned the use of Zoom for online education on April 4 over privacy and security concerns involved in using the app. Zoom agreed to make some changes to address the city's concerns about privacy and security for students and teachers using the tool, education department officials told Chalkbeat. According to a letter from NYC Department of Education Chancellor Richard A. Carranza to families, schools and students will now have access to a central NYC Department of Education Zoom account with specific data encryption and storage settings that the district requested Zoom implement for all its users. "Our new agreement with Zoom will give your children another way to connect with their schools, teachers and school staff. We are excited to be able to have another safe and secure option for school communities to use during this unprecedented time," Carranza said in the letter. There are also new settings to make sure only NYC Department of Education-approved participants and guests can join virtual classrooms, as well as additional controls over each meeting for hosts. Those settings seem designed to discourage "Zoombombing," where pranksters and trolls crash Zoom meetings and display pornography or other indecent material to other participants. Zoom CEO Eric Yuan told Business Insider in April that he was working with the New York City school district to create a comprehensive, district-wide plan to use Zoom that will make sure there are overarching security settings baked into every teacher and student's account. "We are proud that the New York City Department of Education has made Zoom available as an approved home-based learning platform to educators and staff across the city for secure and frictionless remote education to the city's over 1.1 million students," Yuan said in a statement provided to Business Insider on Wednesday. "We look forward to continued partnership with the DOE and service to the educators and students in New York." Why NYC banned Zoom in the first place New York City schools started remote learning on March 23, with many teachers turning to Zoom because it was simple to set up and start using. Zoom lifted the 40 minute time limit for K-12 schools in countries affected by the pandemic beginning in early March. However, Zoombombing concerns led the New York City Department of Education to ban Zoom entirely in early April. These concerns prompted warnings from the FBI and demands for increased user privacy from the New York Attorney General. After Zoom was banned, the department directed teachers to use alternative tools like Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom. However, not all were happy about this move: It disrupted the learning process, as teachers had to figure out a brand-new tool while already under the pressures of shifting to remote education. Schools can continue using Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams if they prefer. Some teachers posted on Twitter to say they were happy to be able to use Zoom again. And just like that...Zoom is back! Thank you to @nycschools for the return to a great learning platform! #everylearnereveryday #leadersinourlearning pic.twitter.com/PIYNezrq7U — P.S. 304 The Early Childhood Lab School (@PS304X) May 6, 2020 When you find out @NYCSchools can use @zoom_us again! pic.twitter.com/QjT8pyhAaf — Miguel Negron (@AP_Negron) May 6, 2020 Zoom has implemented several changes in the last month to improve the privacy and security of its tool. This includes turning passwords and virtual waiting rooms on by default for free users and K-12 education accounts. Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at email@example.com or Signal at 925-364-4258. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths