Tech Giants Face More Questions Regarding Privacy Issues

Six years after Facebook deactivated facial recognition from its platform in Europe in response to regulators’ concerns about its consent system, the social media company has again introduced such tools in the European Union, as part of an update of its user permission process. Privacy groups and consumer organizations, along with a few officials, have responded, saying it violates people’s privacy. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked Amazon and Apple to provide information on how they handle personal data. Continue reading Tech Giants Face More Questions Regarding Privacy Issues

Court Rules Police Need a Warrant for Phone Location Data

The Supreme Court has ruled that police need a search warrant to obtain data showing the location of cell phone users. Similar to rulings made in 2012 and 2014, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that police should have the same access as investigators do in order to examine business records held in banks or conduct physical surveillance. The ruling stated the “world of difference” between 1970s decisions allowing the limited personal information obtained in accessing business records and today’s digital records. Continue reading Court Rules Police Need a Warrant for Phone Location Data

Critics Argue GDPR’s Article 13 Threatens Future of Internet

A European Parliament committee just voted on Article 13, a controversial provision in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that wasn’t in the final draft but was re-introduced on May 25, the day it went into effect. Article 13 requires Internet platforms to vet uploads such as news articles and music videos for copyright infringement. Such filters could encourage platforms to block more content and place an undue burden on smaller platforms, argue the critics. Worse, they continue, filters could be modified to block content critical of governments. Continue reading Critics Argue GDPR’s Article 13 Threatens Future of Internet

ACLU Has Concerns Regarding AWS Facial Recognition Tool

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), leading more than 24 other civil rights organizations, has asked Amazon to stop selling Rekognition, its facial/object recognition system, to law enforcement. Amazon introduced this online service in late 2016, offering Rekognition at a low cost through Amazon Web Services. Pitching it to law enforcement with the idea it could be used to assist in criminal investigations, Amazon signed on the Orlando Police Department in Florida and Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon. Continue reading ACLU Has Concerns Regarding AWS Facial Recognition Tool

Google, Government Partner on AI to Analyze Drone Footage

Google and the Department of Defense are exploring the use of artificial intelligence to identify objects in drone footage. The tech giant has been working with the Pentagon’s Project Maven, an initiative focused on big data and machine learning. According to sources, when the pilot project became an object of discussion at Google, some employees were angry that the company was working with the military on surveillance tech for drone operations. Google’s Eric Schmidt admitted that the tech community is concerned that the military-industrial complex will use Google’s research to kill innocent people. Continue reading Google, Government Partner on AI to Analyze Drone Footage

ARM Proposes Security Framework Standard for IoT Devices

Consumer confidence in the Internet of Things can be easily rattled by reports of compromised privacy, such as when researchers found that some baby monitors had been turned into surveillance devices. The SoftBank Group-owned U.K. chip manufacturer ARM, however, has introduced a potential solution: a security framework for IoT devices from home appliances and children’s toys to vehicles and streetlights. Up until now, the many IoT manufacturers haven’t agreed on a single security standard, something ARM hopes to remedy. Continue reading ARM Proposes Security Framework Standard for IoT Devices

VC Firm Predicts 45 Billion Cameras Worldwide in Five Years

A new study predicts that smartphones of the future could have as many as 13 cameras capturing 360-degree, 3D video that can easily create augmented reality as well as the optical zoom and aperture effects of a digital SLR camera. Although that might sound far-fetched, there are already billions of cameras in the world today, a figure that is expected to explode in the next five years. That equals a lot of surveillance, but also new capabilities for smartphones, wearables, autonomous vehicles and a range of other smart devices. Continue reading VC Firm Predicts 45 Billion Cameras Worldwide in Five Years

China Issues Plan to Become the World’s AI Leader by 2030

China’s State Council released a statement of intent to build a domestic industry in artificial intelligence worth $150 billion and become the world leader in AI by 2030. China is also planning a multi-billion dollar investment in startups and academic research related to AI, say two professors consulting with the Chinese government. At the same time, the U.S. is cutting back on investments in science, and budget proposals from the Trump administration aim to cut funds from agencies supporting AI research. Continue reading China Issues Plan to Become the World’s AI Leader by 2030

SenseTime Facial Recognition Firm Is Valued at $1.5 Billion

SenseTime Co., a Beijing-based startup founded in 2014 that sells its facial recognition systems to the Chinese police, just scored $410 million in new venture capital funding that values the company at more than $1.5 billion. The valuation, which makes the company a unicorn, underscores how such surveillance technologies are increasing in importance. Facial recognition breaks down a face into measurements that create a template, and SenseTime uses artificial intelligence to match faces against those in an image database. Continue reading SenseTime Facial Recognition Firm Is Valued at $1.5 Billion

Facebook Data Policy Update Will Curb Surveillance of Users

Under pressure from the ACLU and other advocacy groups, Facebook announced it would not allow law enforcement and third party vendors to use its data for surveillance purposes. Facebook did not define surveillance in the update to its data policy, but police have reportedly been using the social network to track protesters and activists. In October, the ACLU published documents from startup Geofeedia that detailed how the location-based, social media analytics platform tracked protestors in Baltimore, Maryland and Ferguson, Missouri. Continue reading Facebook Data Policy Update Will Curb Surveillance of Users

WikiLeaks Claims of CIA Hacking Could Impact Tech Industry

WikiLeaks released thousands of documents yesterday that it claims detail methods used by the CIA “to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions,” reports The New York Times. According to WikiLeaks, the CIA and allied intelligence services bypassed encryption on messaging services including Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp. WikiLeaks also suggests that agencies can collect audio and messaging data from Android phones “before encryption is applied.” The Wall Street Journal notes that such activities, if actually taking place with consumer electronics, could fuel tensions between intelligence agencies and the tech industry, which has been concerned about customer privacy. Mobile devices are a major concern; NYT published an article detailing potential smartphone vulnerabilities. Continue reading WikiLeaks Claims of CIA Hacking Could Impact Tech Industry

Court Rules Microsoft Email Surveillance Lawsuit Can Proceed

In April, Microsoft sued the federal government for intercepting its customers’ emails and preventing Microsoft from alerting them. Now, U.S. District Judge James Robart has ruled that Microsoft made a viable argument, but rejects its contention that the government interception is an unlawful search and seizure of property. At the time, federal courts issued Microsoft about 2,600 so-called secrecy orders, and the tech company could not inform its customers, even when the search was over. Continue reading Court Rules Microsoft Email Surveillance Lawsuit Can Proceed

Documentarians Entreat Camera Manufacturers for Encryption

Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who shot the Oscar-winning “Citizenfour” about Edward Snowden, along with 150 other documentary filmmakers, signed an open letter from the nonprofit Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) asking camera manufacturers Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, Fuji, Kodak and Ricoh to add encryption features. The fear is that thieves, law enforcement or agents of authoritarian governments can access footage by simply taking possession of the camera, and the documentarians want protection. Continue reading Documentarians Entreat Camera Manufacturers for Encryption

Signal Emerges as a Must-Have Hacker-Proof Messaging App

The free encrypted messaging app Signal is gaining users, not just because privacy advocates and security researchers have all given it a seal of approval. The app, available for smartphone and computer, is a bulwark against hacking, which got a national spotlight when WikiLeaks posted emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Others fear increased government surveillance under the incoming President Donald Trump, a reaction to Trump’s choice of CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, who advocates just that. Continue reading Signal Emerges as a Must-Have Hacker-Proof Messaging App

In a First, Yahoo Secretly Scans All Incoming Emails for Feds

In response to a classified edict from the National Security Agency or the FBI, Yahoo scanned all of its users’ incoming emails for a specific “set of characters,” keeping the scans and the software system it built to do so a secret. Millions of emails were scanned, but neither federal agency nor Yahoo will say if they found what they were looking for. Experts say this is the first case of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to search all arriving emails, rather than stored messages or a small number of email accounts. Continue reading In a First, Yahoo Secretly Scans All Incoming Emails for Feds