🗞️ California Orders A Supersized Labor Deal, GDPR's Sting, & Foggy Surveillance
This Week: The Golden State wants to regulate the Golden Arches, Ireland sends Meta a direct message over privacy, and warrantless surveillance at bargain prices. Plus, understanding Justice Alito, and what happened to all your work friends?
Call it the results of the Fight For 15 movement. Call it a response to the unionizing frenzy sweeping Starbucks, Chipotle, and other fast food chains around the country. Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law establishing a 10-member council overseeing the state's fast food industry. The council will be able to raise the minimum wage to $22 an hour (over the state's current $15 an hour) and set other labor regulations, reports The New York Times.
Labor unions, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), cheered the bill's passage. “If you see me crying today it’s (because) I’m completely filled with joy. 550k+ fast food workers finally got their seat at the table to set their working conditions,” Tia Orr, SEIU's California head, wrote on Twitter, notes the Sacramento Bee.
David Weil, who ran the federal office that oversaw the federal minimum wage, told The Times that fast food workers are uniquely vulnerable to workplace exploitation and other labor violations, which means “you need to have government play a larger role than it would in other cases.”
Meanwhile, franchise owners and other industry bigwigs opposed the bill. “This bill has been built on a lie, and now small business owners, their employees, and their customers will have to pay the price,” the International Franchise Association head Matthew Haller wrote in a statement. “This bill is a fork in the eye to franchise owners and customers at a time when it hurts most.”
The Labor Rights Moment
From Amazon warehouses to railroad tracks to Starbucks counters – American workers are having a moment as the effects of the pandemic on the nation's economy shake out. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest JOLTS report (which tracks current job openings in the economy) shows 11.2 million job openings as of the end of July. That means there are currently about 2 jobs for every 1 person looking for work — a staggering figure that gives employees across the country massive leveraging power. “The COVID-19 pandemic supercharged workers' understanding of their own worth,” Maximillian Alvarez of The Real News Network, told the PBS Newshour. “I think that that has had a lot to do with the growing labor movement in this country.”
California has long been a bellwether of democratic and progressive policies for the rest of the nation. For the state to create a special labor standards council for one of the most traditionally marginalized and exploited workforces is a sign that we are in the midst of a serious labor moment. May that spread throughout the rest of the economy.
🔗 Let’s Link Up
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Click the links below to RSVP.
Meta is feeling the wrath of the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). A leaked draft of an Irish Data Protection Commission (IDPC) suit confirms a €405 million fine for the social media giant over Instagram's mishandling of children's data, says TechCrunch. The fine is the second-largest fine ever levied under the GDPR (the first being Amazon's €746 million fine from last year), and Meta's biggest penalty to date, explains Politico.
The IDPC's suit against Instagram centered on how children's data was used through business accounts, and that children's accounts were defaulted to public rather than private, TechCrunch details.
“This inquiry focused on old settings that we updated over a year ago, and we’ve since released many new features to help keep teens safe and their information private,” a Meta spokesperson told Politico, adding that they are “carefully reviewing” the IDPC's decision.
The IDPC currently has six other cases against Meta under investigation.
Instagram isn't the only app allegedly mishandling children's data. According to TechCrunch, the IDPC opened an investigation into TikTok for nearly identical reasons, last year, and has a separate investigation going over how TikTok transfers user data to China and whether the process complies with the GDPR's standards for transferring data to an outside country.
It's rare to see the GDPR leveraged, let alone with such a whopping penalty. While Meta has already begun correcting some of the issues in this case, it also serves as a warning to TikTok and other social media platforms to better secure their data.
🤫 The Secret is Out
We’re bringing together change-makers, influencers, and industry leaders across the legal world to our own private, in-house Slack community. It’ll be a place to network, ask questions, share insights, enjoy exclusive content, and so much more. The only thing we need now is you!
Are you a law enforcement agency that wants to track a suspect, but don't have a large budget or even a warrant? Good news! Fog Reveal, a cellphone tracking tool developed by Virginia-based Fog Data Science, is just for you, reveals the Associated Press. After unearthing a trove of internal emails and combing through public records, the AP has discovered that local law enforcement agencies across the country have been using Fog Reveal to search hundreds of billions of records across 250 million mobile devices to weave together a so-called “pattern of life” location analysis. The tool has been used without search warrants and can track back several months of data.
The technology, “relies on advertising identification numbers, which Fog officials say are culled from popular cellphone apps such as Waze, Starbucks and hundreds of others that target ads based on a person’s movements and interests, according to police emails.” That data is then sold to Fog.
Bennet Cyphers of the privacy advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation says the technology is essentially “a mass surveillance program on a budget.”
Our Online Lives
But don't think Fog Reveal is the only way law enforcement can track your location data. In the wake of the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade, it became clear that law enforcement could collect location and other private data from Silicon Valley giants like Meta and Alphabet completely legally. Earlier this year, law enforcement in Norfolk, Nebraska used Facebook messages secured through a search warrant to bring felony charges against a mother and her 17-year-old daughter over an alleged abortion, reported the Lincoln Journal Star.
Data privacy laws need to keep up with an ever-changing digital landscape — a tall order for a slow-moving legislative process in the face of technology that evolves at warp speeds. Meanwhile, Big Tech needs to define its own stance on such issues: will it comply with extra-judicial data mining, or block such requests?
📤 What Else We're Forwarding
Profiling Alito: The New Yorker does a deep dive into Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, shining a particular light on his ideological roots and jurisprudence. Among the profile, the New Yorker claims Alito seeks to undo much of the Warren Court's legacy and become a more outspoken defender of religious freedom.
Office Buddies: Are we seeing the end of the work friend? The Hustle takes a look at how pandemic-era shifts to hybrid and fully-remote work have led to a drop in workplace friends, yet many people see work friends as one of the least important factors of job satisfaction.
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