Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Author Archives: Sabrina I. Pacifici

HUD File Housing Discrimination Complaint Against Facebook

“WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today a formal complaint against Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act by allowing landlords and home sellers to use its advertising platform to engage in housing discrimination. HUD claims Facebook enables advertisers to control which users receive housing-related ads based upon the recipient’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or zip code. Facebook then invites advertisers to express unlawful preferences by offering discriminatory options, allowing them to effectively limit housing options for these protected classes under the guise of ‘targeted advertising.’ Read HUD’s complaint against Facebook. “The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination including those who might limit or deny housing options with a click of a mouse,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it’s the same as slamming the door in someone’s face. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing transactions including print and online advertisement on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status. HUD’s Secretary-initiated complaint follows the Department’s investigation into Facebook’s advertising platform which includes targeting tools that enable advertisers to filter prospective tenants or homebuyers based on these protected classes.  For example, HUD’s complaint alleges Facebook’s platform violates the Fair Housing Act. It enables advertisers to, among other things:

  • display housing ads either only to men or women;
  • not show ads to Facebook users interested in an “assistance dog,” “mobility scooter,” “accessibility” or “deaf culture”;
  • not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “child care” or “parenting,” or show ads only to users with children above a specified age;
  • to display/not display ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in a particular place of worship, religion or tenet, such as the “Christian Church,” “Sikhism,” “Hinduism,” or the “Bible.”
  • not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “Latin America,” “Canada,” “Southeast Asia,” “China,” “Honduras,” or “Somalia.”
  • draw a red line around zip codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes…”

EPIC Comments on Second Annual Privacy Shield Review

EPIC Comments on Second Annual Privacy Shield Review – “EPIC provided comments to the European Commission to inform the second annual review of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, a framework that permits the processing of the personal data of Europeans in the United States. EPIC detailed the latest privacy developments in the U.S., including the extension of Fourth Amendment… Continue Reading

UK Open standards for government

Open standards for government – Information about the open standards chosen for use in government technology. “The UK government selects open standards for use in government technology. The aim is to apply these consistently across government bodies, making our services more integrated and better for users. These profiles include the open standards chosen by peer… Continue Reading

Drone Awards 2018 Photographer of the Year Winners

Newsweek – Drone Awards 2018 Photographer of the Year Winners: Amazing Aerial Photos – “From revealing hidden patterns in the landscape to showing how tiny and fragile the human figure really is, these are the most beautiful drone photos of the year.” Continue Reading

Preserving Presidential History

Podcast – “The National Archives has been collecting records of the United States since 1934. It holds billions of documents, photographs, and objects that tell the story of our country and our Presidents. White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin talks to David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, about the importance of record-keeping,… Continue Reading

3 Practical Tools To Help Regulators Develop Better Laws And Policies

Berkman Klein Center, Harvard University. 3 Practical Tools To Help Regulators Develop Better Laws And Policies a Policy Paper on Autonomous Vehicles, July 2018. “Regulators and policymakers are driving efforts to deliver the benefits of automated vehicles (AVs) to the public as soon as possible, while minimizing their potential challenges. However, there are still many… Continue Reading

14% of Americans have changed their mind about an issue because of something they saw on social media

“For most Americans, exposure to different content and ideas on social media has not caused them to change their opinions. But a small share of the public – 14% – say they have changed their views about a political or social issue in the past year because of something they saw on social media, according… Continue Reading

How the Holocaust-Swiss banks deal was brokered

Swissinfo: “It has been 20 years since Swiss banks agreed to compensate Holocaust victims for assets lost during the Second World War. A documentary takes a look at the dormant Swiss bank account scandal.  The conflict over Jewish assets in Swiss bank accounts culminated in the 1990s in what would become Switzerland’s largest foreign policy… Continue Reading

Paper and interview – Short-Run Pain, Long-Run Gain? Recessions and Technological Transformation

[email protected] – interview transcript and podcast: “During the financial crisis of 2008, employment fell dramatically, as was expected. But in the economic recovery that followed, only certain jobs bounced back. A research paper by Wharton finance professor Nikolai Roussanov looks at this phenomenon and correlates it with technological adoption by companies during a down economy. … Continue Reading

CNET – Best DNA Ancestry Testing Kits

CNET:  “Home DNA testing has gone from a curiosity to a competitive market in the past decade, with at least a dozen companies now competing with trailblazers such as Ancestry and 23andMe. But before we compare and contrast the available options, let’s take a look at exactly why you’d invest in a DNA testing service — including the… Continue Reading

National Archives Guides Federal Agencies on Managing Electronic Records

WASHINGTON, August 8, 2018 — “Earlier this week, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) held its first forum to discuss management of digital records [via YouTube] moving into the 21st century. As of December, 31, 2022, the agency will no longer accept records in analog or text form. So NARA is proactively providing guidance… Continue Reading

Symantec – Mobile Privacy: What Do Your Apps Know About You?

Just how much personal information are your apps gathering? “And do they really need so much? The average smartphone user these days has between 60 and 90 apps on their device. Most of these apps request some sort of information about you and the device you are using. They may want to know your name,… Continue Reading