San Francisco Is First to Prohibit Use of Facial Recognition

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in an 8-to-1 vote, outlawed the use of facial recognition by police and other agencies, making it the first major U.S. city to do so. The vote comes as many U.S. cities are turning to facial recognition to identify criminals, while civil rights advocates warn of its potential for mass surveillance and abuse. But San Francisco city supervisor Aaron Peskin, who sponsored the bill, said its passage sent a message, particularly from a city known as a center for new technology. Continue reading San Francisco Is First to Prohibit Use of Facial Recognition

U.S. Blocks Chinese Telecom Bid for International Services

Citing law enforcement and national security risks, the Federal Communications Commissions unanimously denied an application by China Mobile USA (the U.S. arm of Chinese telecom giant, China Mobile Ltd.), which aimed to provide international calls and other services via American networks. This could be another in a series of signs of escalating tensions between China and the U.S. The crux of the FCC’s concern is that the company is owned by the Chinese government and would be therefore vulnerable to that influence.

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Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Facebook is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for numerous potential civil and criminal violations. The Silicon Valley company, which denies the charges, said it is cooperating with law enforcement. The HUD investigation, the most recent, states that Facebook allowed advertisers to restrict who they target, based on race, religion and national origin. Continue reading Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Microsoft Advocates For Washington State AI Regulation Bill

Washington State has introduced a bill to regulate facial recognition software, and tech giant Microsoft is advocating for its passage, while e-commerce leader Amazon remains undecided. Amazon asked state senator Reuven Carlyle, who sponsored the bill, for clarification as well as a change to the requirement that AI software developers claiming the ability to identify faces must allow third parties to test it. Carlyle explained he would examine all submitted requests and introduce a revised version of the bill. Continue reading Microsoft Advocates For Washington State AI Regulation Bill

New York Settles with Devumi, Purveyor of Social Media Bots

The state of New York reached a settlement, announced attorney general Letitia James, with Devumi, a company that sold fake followers on Twitter and other social media platforms. Her investigation was prompted by a New York Times report about how the then-Florida-based Devumi raked in millions of dollars selling social media bots to at least 200,000 customers, among them businesses, politicians, reality TV stars, professional athletes, comedians, models and pornographic actors in New York and other states. Continue reading New York Settles with Devumi, Purveyor of Social Media Bots

Experts Question Apple’s Security in Light of FaceTime Bug

News site 9to5Mac reported that Apple’s FaceTime app, which places audio/video calls over the Internet, had a significant bug: an iPhone user could call another iPhone user and eavesdrop on that person’s conversation through the phone’s microphone — even if the call recipient doesn’t answer the call. The bug was actually discovered a full week before Apple disabled Group FaceTime and stated that it was working to fix it. In that gap, a developer discovered the bug, which was reported in 9to5Mac. Security researchers have dubbed the glitch FacePalm. Continue reading Experts Question Apple’s Security in Light of FaceTime Bug

New Australian Legislation Challenges Unbreakable Encryption

Australia passed a law that challenges the right of tech companies to sell devices with unbreakable encryption. The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018, which took effect last month, covers all devices sold in Australia. But if Apple, for example, creates a back door for its iPhones sold there, authorities in other countries previously stymied by Apple’s tough encryption could demand the same access. Australia’s law said it can’t ask a company to build universal decryption. Continue reading New Australian Legislation Challenges Unbreakable Encryption

CES: The Era of Screens in Contact Lenses May Be Upon Us

Beneficial Vision smart contact lenses from Care Harmony Corp. use a variety of technologies distributed among wearable devices to deliver monochromatic text and video images through contact lenses. The smart lenses contain an outer ring of rechargeable batteries and lasers that use wave-guide technology to project an image into the central area of the contact lens. In addition to delivering audio, wireless earbuds track head position and send that information to the contacts, so the projected image can appear to be a stable overlay in a fixed position in the real world when you move your head. Continue reading CES: The Era of Screens in Contact Lenses May Be Upon Us

Australian Law Will Allow Agencies to Circumvent Encryption

In the United States, Congress has resisted calls by the FBI and Department of Justice that would require tech companies to create a “back door” to allow them to bypass devices’ encryption. But other U.S. allies are moving forward on just such legislation, with Australia about to adopt a tough encryption law permitting intelligence agencies these powers. The country believes that its agencies need the power to circumvent encryption to protect it from terrorist attacks during the holiday season, often a high-threat period. Continue reading Australian Law Will Allow Agencies to Circumvent Encryption

Microsoft Wins U.S. Army Contract to Produce AR Headsets

The U.S. Army has awarded a $480 million contract to Microsoft to supply augmented reality system prototypes that it can deploy for training and combat missions. If successful, the contract could lead to Microsoft providing 100,000 headsets, which the Army says will be intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy.” The U.S. Army and Israel Defense Forces have already used Microsoft’s HoloLens in training, but using it in live combat would be a new step. Continue reading Microsoft Wins U.S. Army Contract to Produce AR Headsets

Zuckerberg Details Facebook’s Steps Against Election Attacks

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg published a 3,300-word blog post listing steps the company has taken to make the platform safer from election interference. He said that, although the company wasn’t prepared in 2016, it has developed “sophisticated systems” and that it is “better prepared for these kinds of attacks” in worldwide elections. The company is facing its first test in Brazil’s upcoming presidential election. Zuckerberg said he will also publish in-depth reports on how the company is facing its challenges. Continue reading Zuckerberg Details Facebook’s Steps Against Election Attacks

Apple Working on Portal for Law Enforcement Data Requests

According to a recent letter from Apple general counsel Kate Adams to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Apple has plans to develop an online portal this year that would assist law enforcement in requesting user data in addition to educating police about the type of data that would be available for request. While the iPhone maker has provided user data to law enforcement in the past, including data stored in its iCloud, the company has sparred with law enforcement and government agencies regarding the encryption of its CE devices. Continue reading Apple Working on Portal for Law Enforcement Data Requests

Amazon Makes the Case That Rekognition Is a Force for Good

In June, in a letter to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, almost 19 groups of Amazon shareholders expressed concern about the company’s cloud-based facial recognition system Rekognition being provided to law enforcement in Orlando, Florida and the Washington County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office. They joined forces with Amazon employees, the ACLU, academics and more than 70 other groups to protest the decision. After the ACLU showed how Rekognition can err in IDing people, three Democratic lawmakers joined the chorus. Continue reading Amazon Makes the Case That Rekognition Is a Force for Good

Facebook Suspends Analytics Firm Over Data Use Concerns

Facebook just suspended Boston-based analytics firm Crimson Hexagon, which has harvested data from its site and Instagram, to investigate whether the company violated Facebook policies. Crimson Hexagon, which says it has one trillion social media posts, had contracts to analyze public Facebook data with the U.S. government and a Russian nonprofit tied to the Kremlin, as well as other clients, say sources. Facebook has “little oversight” over Crimson Hexagon once it harvests the data. Continue reading Facebook Suspends Analytics Firm Over Data Use Concerns

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

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