U.K. Spy Agency’s Bid to Snoop on Chats Meets Opposition

The British intelligence agency GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), which analyzes signals and cracks codes, has proposed eavesdropping on encrypted chat services. The backlash has been strong, with 50+ companies, security experts and civil rights organizations calling it a “serious threat” to human rights and digital security. Apple, Google, Microsoft, WhatsApp and Privacy International are among those encouraging GCHQ to drop the “ghost protocol” proposal first put forward in November 2018. Continue reading U.K. Spy Agency’s Bid to Snoop on Chats Meets Opposition

WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

Hackers have reportedly been injecting Israeli spyware onto smartphones via the popular Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp. The surveillance software, named Pegasus, was developed by Israeli firm NSO Group and can access an iPhone with a single missed voice call on WhatsApp. NSO claims that it carefully vets its customers; the company’s software is intended for government agencies to combat crime and terrorism. While it is currently unknown how many users may have been affected at this point (the problem was first discovered in early May), WhatsApp says it has created a patch to address the vulnerability. Continue reading WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

Twitter Launches Feature to Report Election Misinformation

Twitter has unveiled a new feature that will let users directly report misinformation and fake news with regard to elections. Among the elections in India on April 25 and Europe on April 29, Twitter now offers the option “It’s misleading about voting” in the “Report Tweet” dropdown menu. On its blog, Twitter states that “voting is a fundamental human right … any attempts to undermine the process of registering to vote or engaging in the electoral process is contrary to our company’s core values.” Continue reading Twitter Launches Feature to Report Election Misinformation

CES: A Look at Robots, Conscious Computers and Humanity

During CES, Gigaom publisher Byron Reese discussed the ideas in his latest book, “The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers and the Future of Humanity” with CTA’s Cindy Stevens. Reese’s previous three ages are Language and Fire; Agriculture and Cities; Writing and Wheels. But robotics and conscious computers, said Reese, divide people into two groups. “People like Stephen Hawking see AI as an existential threat,” he said. “Whereas Mark Zuckerberg and others think that’s ridiculous and can’t fathom that point of view.” Continue reading CES: A Look at Robots, Conscious Computers and Humanity

Google Unveils Competition to Develop AI for Social Good

Google launched a global competition, the AI Impact Challenge, to encourage the development of artificial intelligence for positive uses. Revealed at the company’s AI for Social Good event at its Sunnyvale offices, the competition aims to reach out to nonprofits, universities and other groups outside of corporate Silicon Valley, to help solve social issues. The initiative, overseen by Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, will award up to $25 million to numerous parties to “help transform the best ideas into action.” Continue reading Google Unveils Competition to Develop AI for Social Good

Facebook Combats Fake News After Hoaxes End in Violence

In the wake of posts that have incited violence in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India, Facebook has tweaked its fake news policy and agreed to remove posts that could lead to physical harm. In the incidents that sparked this change, rumors spread on Facebook led to physical attacks on ethnic minorities. The attacks have involved the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Muslims in Sri Lanka, and other attacks in India and Mexico. Changes do not apply to Instagram or WhatsApp, despite the latter’s involvement in incidents in India. Continue reading Facebook Combats Fake News After Hoaxes End in Violence

Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

Microsoft is calling for regulation of facial recognition technology, with president Bradford Smith writing a blog post detailing its potential misuse, and comparing it to medicine and cars, both of which are highly regulated. He urged Congress to act, saying that, “government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology,” and that, “a world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards.” Continue reading Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

YouTube, Facebook Use AI Tools to Curb Unwanted Content

Google reports that AI-powered machines, not humans, detected about 80 percent of the 8.28 million videos taken off of YouTube in Q4 2017. This revelation underscores the importance of AI-enabled computers in removing unwanted content — and just how aggressively YouTube is pursuing their removal. At Stanford University’s Global Digital Policy Incubator, executive director Eileen Donahoe noted that balancing free speech with the removal of undesirable videos will be YouTube’s major challenge going forward. Continue reading YouTube, Facebook Use AI Tools to Curb Unwanted Content

IEEE Publishes First Draft Guidelines for ‘Ethically Aligned’ AI

The IEEE just published the first version of a 136-page document that it hopes will help technologists build ethically designed AI systems that can benefit humanity and avoid the pitfalls inherent in the new field. Ethics, says the IEEE, is something that technologists should consider when building autonomous systems, and it lists recommendations in the new document, titled “Ethically Aligned Design,” which are based on the input of more than 100 specialists in AI, law, ethics, philosophy and policy. Continue reading IEEE Publishes First Draft Guidelines for ‘Ethically Aligned’ AI

Tech Behemoths Establish Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft established the Partnership on AI to create ground rules for protecting people and their jobs in the face of rapidly expanding artificial intelligence. The organization is also intended to address the public’s concern about increasingly capable machines, and corporations’ worries about potential government regulation. One of the organization’s first efforts was to agree upon and then issue basic ethical standards for development and research in artificial intelligence. Continue reading Tech Behemoths Establish Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

The 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council “passed a resolution condemning countries that prevent or disrupt access to the Internet,” according to The Hill. The nonbinding resolution, likely most useful for public pressure, calls on nations to address security and privacy concerns while securing freedom of expression. It also “condemns violence or intimidation against people for ‘exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet.’” Digital rights group Access Now cited at least 15 Internet shutdowns around the world last year, and 20 so far this year. Continue reading UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

FCC Commissioner Says the Internet is Not a Human Right

Speaking before the Internet Innovation Alliance about the appropriate role of regulators in a growing broadband economy, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly suggested that the Internet is not a necessity or human right, as many tech leaders have suggested. “It is important to note that Internet access is not a necessity in the day-to-day lives of Americans and doesn’t even come close to the threshold to be considered a basic human right,” he said. “I am not in any way trying to diminish the significance of the Internet in our daily lives.” Continue reading FCC Commissioner Says the Internet is Not a Human Right

YouTube and Storyful to Partner on Verified Eyewitness Videos

YouTube announced that it is launching a new service called YouTube Newswire with social news agency Storyful. While the two companies have been working together in different capacities since the Tahrir Square protests in 2011 (and News Corp.-owned Storyful was contextualizing YouTube videos even before that), the new service plans to provide a curated and verified feed of newsworthy global events published on the video site. The goal is to help provide journalists with additional resources regarding breaking news, including first-hand eyewitness accounts. Continue reading YouTube and Storyful to Partner on Verified Eyewitness Videos