House of Representatives Okays Extension of Surveillance Act

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 278 to 136 for the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020, to extend provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This legislation established rules for surveillance and information collection “between foreign powers or agents of foreign powers suspected of espionage or terrorism.” Although the House is led by Democrats, the vote was bipartisan, with 152 Democrats and 226 Republicans approving the act. The measure will now go to the Senate, on recess next week. Continue reading House of Representatives Okays Extension of Surveillance Act

Robots Look Friendly But Surveil, Manage Staff in Workplaces

Humans fear the very real possibility of robots replacing them in work environments, so manufacturers are doubling down on designing those robots to look friendly rather than threatening. As University of Central Florida professor Peter Hancock puts it, “it’s like Mary Poppins … a spoonful of sugar makes the robots go down.” Even if they don’t replace humans, robots already in the workplace are working in management, tracking workers’ every move, telling them to work faster, and even docking their pay. Continue reading Robots Look Friendly But Surveil, Manage Staff in Workplaces

HPA Tech Retreat: Evolving Security for Media & Entertainment

An increasing concern over content security was the subject of HBO/WarnerMedia productions and content security head Marc Zorn’s talk on “Why Traditional Information Security Doesn’t Fit in Most of Media & Entertainment.” “Film security was based on physical controls,” he said. “Post production began after photography, and threats were primarily from post onwards.” Once the workflow became digital, he added, threats to digital media looked like IT security, “from an IT security professional’s perspective.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Evolving Security for Media & Entertainment

Federal Agency Reveals Bias in Facial Recognition Systems

The National Institute of Standards and Technology reported that most commercially available facial recognition systems — often used by police departments and federal agencies — are biased. The highest error rate involved Native American faces, but African-American and Asian faces were incorrectly identified 10 to 100 times more than Caucasian faces. The systems also had more difficulty identifying female faces and falsely identified older people up to 10 times more than middle-aged adults. Continue reading Federal Agency Reveals Bias in Facial Recognition Systems

Comparison of Biometric Data Use, Storage in 50 Countries

The use of biometrics — and the resulting data — are growing exponentially. Pro-consumer website Comparitech analyzed 50 different countries to create a more detailed picture of where and why biometrics are collected and how the data is being stored. Although the U.S. is one of the countries whose biometric collection is “extensive and invasive,” in related news, the Department of Homeland Security mothballed a plan to require facial recognition screening for every person before leaving or entering the country. Continue reading Comparison of Biometric Data Use, Storage in 50 Countries

Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes Regarding IoT Devices

ADT teamed with technology publications including Digital Trends, CNET and Engadget to survey how consumers feel about smart technology and, more specifically, smart homes. The results are complex but pointed towards a growing interest in and support of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. That aligns with other evidence that the IoT market is expected to also grow; by 2023, the smart home market worldwide is predicted to reach $150+ billion. The U.S. leads, with 45+ million smart devices already installed in homes. Continue reading Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes Regarding IoT Devices

Facebook, FBI Face Brewing Conflict Over Data Collection

Facebook, which has been under scrutiny for its privacy policies, just settled with the U.S. government for a record $5 billion fine. But the FBI has now complicated that picture by more aggressively monitoring potential threats on all social media platforms. Last month, the FBI asked for third party vendors to submit proposals by August 27 for examining public data to “proactively identify and reactively monitor threats to the United States and its interests” on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Continue reading Facebook, FBI Face Brewing Conflict Over Data Collection

Privacy Concerns Grow Over Facial Recognition Data Sets

Social networks, dating services, photo websites and surveillance cameras are just some of the sources of a growing number of databases compiling people’s faces. According to privacy advocates, Microsoft and Stanford University are among the many groups gathering images, with one such repository holding two million images. All these photos will be used to allow neural networks to build pattern recognition, in the quest to create cutting edge facial recognition platforms. Some companies have collected images for 10+ years. Continue reading Privacy Concerns Grow Over Facial Recognition Data Sets

Walmart Monitors Store Registers with AI-Powered Cameras

Walmart is leveraging computer vision tech by Ireland-based Everseen and several other companies in more than 1,000 of its stores to more closely monitor checkouts. The surveillance program is internally referred to as Missed Scan Detection, and uses AI-powered cameras to identify and correct problems such as errors, fraud and theft during the checkout scanning process at self-checkout registers and those run by cashiers. The National Retail Federation notes that U.S. retailers lost an estimated $47 billion in 2017 to such problems. Continue reading Walmart Monitors Store Registers with AI-Powered Cameras

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

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

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

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

Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

An investigation reveals that Facebook has been secretly paying users ages 13 to 35 since 2016 to install an iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app that gives the company access to all of their smartphone and Internet activity. The Research app is similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and may also be a violation of Apple policy. Legislators on both sides of the aisle were infuriated at the news, decrying the surveillance technology. Facebook’s earlier Onavo app was also criticized as spyware.

Continue reading Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

AI Firm Shows Multilingual Translator That Fits in Your Pocket

The iFLYTEK Translator 2.0 is a handheld spoken language translator developed with Chinese AI technology and training. The size of a mobile phone, it can translate between any two of 63 languages and is trained in a number of “professional vocabularies.” The device touts a 5-hour battery life, and at $450, would be a useful and affordable business and personal tool. This Chinese tech also raises some interesting privacy and geopolitical issues. In addition to the upgraded Translator 2.0, the company also announced its iFLYREC Series voice-to-text products, AI Note for recording and transcription, and iFLYOS voice-interaction system at CES. Continue reading AI Firm Shows Multilingual Translator That Fits in Your Pocket

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