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Insurers turn to Facebook timelines to beat fraud

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By TIMOTHY SMIT, director and MEGAN BADENHORST, senior associate in the dispute resolution practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Facebook, according to Statista, had 2.32 billion monthly active users by the fourth quarter of 2018. Thanks to Facebook, you can post videos, brag about your children, announce your new job or even moan about your former boss to people all over the world, instantly. Many people even have public profiles – meaning that they do not change their security settings to limit who can see what they post on Facebook – but do they know who’s watching?

The Guardian newspaper recently reported that William Owen wasn’t worried about who was looking at his profile. Mr Owen had come 7th out of 2,000 in a 10km race. Before that, he had signed up for a half marathon and posted a photograph of himself on top of Mount Snowdon. Who wouldn’t plaster that all over Facebook? His insurer certainly “liked” his photos because the 29-year-old had, a few months earlier, claimed to have suffered neck and back pain caused by whiplash after a car reversed into his vehicle at a garage. His insurer understandably didn’t think that they should have to pay his claim.

Insurance companies may use information found on a public Facebook profile. Yes, there is a right to privacy in s14 of the Constitution and it includes the right not to have your communication infringed but that right is not absolute. It is framed by subjective and objective expectations of privacy. When you click “I accept” on the standard terms and conditions on any social media platform you erode your own subjective expectation of privacy.

Facebook, for example, expressly state in their Terms of Service that they “Provide a personalised experience for you”. How? By analysing “the connections you make, the choices and settings you select, and what you share and do on and off our Products”. Your objective expectation of privacy requires the rest of society to recognise your expectation of privacy as being reasonable. So, if you are instagramming your dinners, tweeting your workout routine or vlogging about your online dating – society will assume that you aren’t a very private person.

Facebook aside, to what other apps do you give personal information? Did you check their Terms of Service? The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that several popular health apps share personal and health data with Facebook. Extreme Tech recounted a finding by WSJ that 11 of the 70 iOS apps it tested shared personal or health data with Facebook’s servers via Facebooks Analytics. These included apps that record heart rate data or even when a user was having her period.

Going back to insurance companies – are they allowed to use unlawfully obtained information? For example, information obtained by hacking? Surprisingly, the position is not completely clear.

In Harvey v Niland and Others, Harvey relied on Niland’s private Facebook posts to prove that Niland was secretly competing and violating his fiduciary duties to their joint business. Was the Facebook evidence admissible? Niland said it infringed his right to privacy and was obtained through the commission of an offence under s86(1) of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, No 25 of 2002 (Act). Judge Plasket held that the Act didn’t prohibit evidence obtained in contravention of s86(1) but reasoned that the admission of the evidence would depend

·       on the nature and extent of the violation of Niland’s right to privacy; and

·       whether Harvey could have obtained the evidence in another, lawful way.

Judge Plasket found that hacking Niland’s Facebook communications would have produced both information that was relevant to the issue before him and information that was irrelevant and entirely private. The relevant portion accessed established that Niland had been conducting himself in a duplicitous manner, contrary to the fiduciary duties he owed to the business – not to mention the fact that he had denied the allegations and undertaken not to do as he had done. Plasket said “his claim to privacy rings rather hollow.” Finally, the Judge found that the evidence was essential to Harvey’s case and could not in practice have been procured in another, lawful way. “All he had was a suspicion but, without [the hacked posts], he had no evidence of Niland’s wrongdoing.” The application to strike out the hacked posts was dismissed with costs.

Arguably, an insurer can also rely on unlawfully obtained evidence to defeat a fraudulent claim. A fraudulent claimant is obviously acting dishonestly and what if that is the only way the insurer can prove it? Bhekisisa reports that fraud, waste and abuse is costing the private healthcare system more than R22 billion. In 2018, it was reported by IOL that by rooting out fraudulent claims, Discovery Health saved R568 million for its client schemes in 2017, up from R405 million in 2016. Should the rest of us have to pay higher premiums because Jane Soap faked a knee injury and then used her pay-out to go skiing? Surely not.

It is an intriguing debate, but in the meantime, you might want to re-evaluate your online and in app activity and decide what sort of privacy you expect to enjoy.

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Dell plans 50/50 gender split; 1:1 recycling and reuse

Dell Technologies has unveiled an ambitious 2030 target for a social impact plan called Progress Made Real.

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Dell Technologies has declared a decade of responsibility and innovation to ramp up the company’s social impact worldwide. At the company’s Dell Technologies Summit in Austin, Texas, last week, chairman and CEO Michael Dell unveiled a set of ambitious goals in a plan called 2030 Progress Made Real.

“Unlocking the power of data will advance humanity more than any other force over the next decade,” said Dell. “We are committed to making that power broadly available to communities around the world, so we can all move forward together.”

Over the next decade, he said, Dell Technologies will use its global scale, broad technology portfolio and expertise to yield meaningful and measurable impact on society and the planet. 

The plan sets the following goals for the company:

Advance sustainability 

·        Recycle an equivalent product for every product a customer buys

·        Lead the circular economy with more than half of all product content being made from recycled or renewable material 

·        Use 100% recycled or renewable material in all packaging 

·        Deliver future-ready skills development for workers in their supply chain

·        Drive a comprehensive science-based climate program, setting emissions goals across facilities, supply chain and operations to customer use of our products including partnering with suppliers to meet a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 60% per unit revenue by 2030

Cultivate inclusion

·        Acquire, develop and retain women so they account for 50% of the company’s global workforce and 40% of global people managers

·        Acquire, develop and retain black/African American and Hispanic team members so they account for 25% of the company’s U.S. workforce and 15% of U.S. people managers 

·        Educate 95% of all team members on an annual basis about unconscious bias, harassment, micro-aggressions and privilege 

Transform lives

·        Advance the health, education and economic opportunity of 1 billion people

·        Digitally transform 1,000 nonprofit organisations

·        Achieve 75% team member participation in charitable giving and volunteerism in communities

The company says ethics and privacy are foundational to its corporate and social impact strategies and are essential to executing the 2030 goals. To this end, it is fully automating data control processes, making it easier for customers to access, delete or share their personal data. The company will use digital tools to make it easier to get insights from, measure and monitor compliance issues using digital data. 

In addition to seeking customer input, Dell Technologies engaged third parties, considered the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and Business Roundtable’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, and surveyed team members to assess the most critical issues and opportunities they see in their work and the world.

“We have a great responsibility to apply the full power of Dell Technologies to transform lives and society,” said Karen Quintos, chief customer officer at Dell Technologies. “By combining our technology portfolio, global scale, team member talent and customer partnerships, we can drive significant positive impact. Our 2030 agenda is comprehensive and deeply embedded across the business. The moonshot goals stretch us to go far beyond incremental change. In some cases, we’re still working to uncover how we’ll get there – but we know that significant change and innovation starts with deep commitment.”

In June 2019, Dell Technologies announced early completion of many of its 2020 goals. For example, through a global recycling network, it reached a 2020 goal of recycling 2-billion pounds of used electronics.  Through partnerships with the Government of India and Tata Trusts, it deployed a cloud-based analytics solution to deliver preventive healthcare to remote villages, reaching 11 million people who would otherwise not have these services. A range of additional social impact goals have also been reached (see graphic below)

* For the full list of 2030 goals, see delltechnologies.com/2030goals

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Behind the scenes of Netflix SA’s Queen Sono

South Africa’s first Netflix Original TV show, Queen Sono, is almost ready to air. Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER spoke to the show’s creators on set.

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In the heart of Johannesburg, a house is about to make history as one of the first homes to have a South African Netflix Original filmed inside. During filming, it’s surrounded by a dozen large trucks that carry props, camera equipment, set equipment and equipment needed to make this production a reality. 

We chatted with Queen Sono’s writer, director, and showrunner, Kagiso Lediga, on set recently. He also heads up Diprente, the Johannesburg-based production company behind the show.

“[Being writer and director] gives one the ability to carry out the vision,” says Lediga. “I mean, it’s not just that I’m wearing many hats. But there’s the other creators, other HODs: from production designer to cinematographer, to the other writers that I work with. So it’s great, I guess that being a showrunner you kind of have to touch on all of those.

“It’s a huge responsibility in terms of carrying out the narrative. You know, sometimes what’s great is when you come up with an idea, and then when you see it when, either you’re sitting behind the monitor, directing, or while you’re sitting and editing, and you’re like ‘Whoa, that’s exactly how we imagined it’.”

The show is an action-packed series that follows Queen Sono, a highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life.

Of course, the gravity of being a Netflix Original means that Queen Sono will be put on a global stage, and will be available to stream in over 40 countries. We asked the show’s Director of Photography, Motheo Moeng, how the show’s image has been carefully crafted for a local and global audience.

“Overall, the treatment of the show is based on the characters we have written, naturally, and other spy films that we have looked at,” says Moeng. “So the treatment of her visually, and the look to the show visually, had that in mind. So as much as you wanted to treat it as an African show, we were well aware that it had to have international appeal.”

It’s also dangerous work getting the show to be perfect, Moeng says.

“It’s like being in a boxing ring, so there are days when you’re getting punched, there are days when you have to stand up and go. But overall, I guess the banter between myself and the first aiders is interesting. Our jobs are a direct contrast to each other; I’m trying to constantly light and make things look pretty, and he has to make sure we make the day, so if you stick around for long enough, you’ll see the love-hate relationship between us.”

Stunt Coordinators Grant Powell and Filip-Ciprian ‘Chip’ Florian have us a quick insight into how to get the actors (and film crew) ready for a spy movie’s action.

“[Most productions] have the same demands because they all have the same elements,” says Powell. “It doesn’t matter how big the movie, they’re still an actor. An actor still has to be trained. I still have to deal with the psychology of that. Convincing them that they can do it. So it really doesn’t matter the scale of the film, you’re still dealing with the same elements, which is training an actor from scratch sometimes.

“There was a combat scene with Queen Sono and the baddies, and she kicks one of them out the window, which is Chip by the way. So he goes through plate glass, goes over the balcony, three stories up and lands on a car. I thought that was cool. We had three weeks prep, which is great for a local show. You never get that, you’re usually learning on the day. That’s why the audience will instantly see the quality will be better because of this preparation. That’s what’s going to make this show stand out over and above anything that’s ever been done locally.”

Queen Sono is expected to be released exclusively on Netflix in 2020.

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