• The real costs of cheap surveillance

    Surveillance used to be expensive. Even just a few years ago, tailing a person’s movements around the clock required rotating shifts of personnel devoted full-time to the task. Not any more, though. Governments can track the movements of massive numbers of people by positioning cameras to read license plates, or by setting up facial recognition systems. Private companies’ tracking of our lives has also become easy and cheap too. Advertising network systems let data brokers track nearly every page you visit on the web, and associate it with an individual profile. It is worth thinking about all of this more deeply. U.S. firms – unless they’re managed or regulated in socially beneficial ways – have both the incentive and the opportunity to use information about us in undesirable ways. We need to talk about the government’s enacting rules constraining that activity. After all, leaving those decisions to the people who make money selling our data is unlikely to result in our getting the rules we want.

  • Minority Report? Wisc. company replaces ID cards, badges with microchips implants

    River Falls, Wisconsin-based technology company Three Square Market has become one of the first in the world to implant microchips in staff so they can clock-in or enter secure areas by waving their arm instead of using swipe cards or ID badges. The implanted microchip would also allow employees to order food at the cafeteria and open the parking garage doors. They can also log in to their computer without a password.

  • Mexican government used anti-terrorist surveillance tool to spy on politicians

    Israeli firm NSO Group sold the spy software it has developed – called Pegasus – to the Mexican government for use against terrorists and criminals, but Mexican government agencies deployed it against Mexican anti-corruption crusaders, journalists investigating the president, and various political and social activists. “Espionage is a common practice [in politics] and we know it’s done,” said the opposition party’s spokesman. “But it has to be said this is expensive software. It’s only sold to governments to be used against criminals and terrorists.”

  • Growing opposition in Germany to new surveillance measures

    In the aftermath of the Christmas 2016 market attacks in Berlin last December, the German government written several sweeping surveillance and data retention laws, which were narrowly passed by the Bundestag. Many of these laws will go into effect 1 July. Civil libertarians, opposition parties, and some security experts have criticized the new powers as diminishing privacy without adding much to security. These politicians and NGOs say that a spate of security measures just go too far.

  • Australia: Five-Eyes nations should require backdoors in electronic devices

    Australia attorney-general George Brandis said he was planning to introduce a proposal to Australia’s four intelligence-sharing partners in the Five Eyes group — the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada – to require technology companies to create some kind of a backdoor to their devices. Australian leaders have emerged as strong proponents of allowing law-enforcement and intelligence agencies to gain access to the information and communication records on devices used by terrorists and criminals.

  • Mossad launching investment firm to benefit from Israel’s high-tech prowess

    Israel’s foreign intelligence agency is creating its own investment firm in order to cash in on the success of Israel’s new startups. Mossad will invest its own money in this project, forgoing additional investment from foreign capital and domestic venture capital firms. Unlike a traditional investment firm, Mossad doesn’t plan to control any shares of the constituent startups in exchange for funding. Instead, in a new model, Mossad will obtain rights to the technology produced by these startups.

  • Germany considering spying on children suspected of radicalization

    Germany is debating the question of whether the country’s intelligence and law-enforcement agencies should out under surveillance minors radicalized by extremist Muslim clerics. The law currently bars the country’s intelligence agencies to save any data on anyone under the age of 18 when the data was collected. Bavaria’s interior minister Joachim Herrmann said it is “divorced from reality” to argue that investigators should look the other way when they learn about a radicalized minor.

  • Bringing transparency to cell phone surveillance

    Modern cell phones are vulnerable to attacks from rogue cellular transmitters called IMSI-catchers — surveillance devices that can precisely locate mobile phones, eavesdrop on conversations or send spam. Security researchers have developed a new system called SeaGlass to detect anomalies in the cellular landscape that can indicate where and when these surveillance devices are being used.

  • Israeli data startups driving N.Y. ecosystem

    The ability to interpret big data and find the needle in the haystack of information to help in decision-making is crucial. Israel startups thrive at finding needle-in-the-haystack information in order to make sense of the data and help in decision-making. “Data is a natural resource. Data by itself is like bricks. It’s all about what you do with it,” says Amir Orad, CEO of Sisense.

  • Extracting useful insights from a flood of data is hard to do

    A mantra of these data-rife times is that within the vast and growing volumes of diverse data types, such as sensor feeds, economic indicators, and scientific and environmental measurements, are dots of significance that can tell important stories, if only those dots could be identified and connected in authentically meaningful ways. Getting good at that exercise of data synthesis and interpretation ought to open new, quicker routes to identifying threats, tracking disease outbreaks, and otherwise answering questions and solving problems that previously were intractable.

  • Tech firms urge Congress to enact surveillance reforms

    More than thirty leading internet companies have sent a letter to the chair of the House Judiciary Committee asking for reforms to the law used for carrying out mass surveillance. The letter concerns Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The act must be renewed by Congress before the end of the year. Over the years, the U.S. security agencies have creatively interpreted the law to allow them to store information on potentially millions of U.S. citizens – even though the law specifically requires the opposite.

  • Second judge approves settlement on NYPD Muslim surveillance

    The second of two federal judges has approved a settlement with the New York City Police Department that protects New York Muslims and others from discriminatory and unjustified surveillance. The new rules govern when and how investigations are conducted, and provide for an independent civilian representative inside the NYPD who will act as a check against surveillance abuses.

  • YouTube users beware: Your viewing habits can be tracked

    Despite YouTube’s attempts to safeguard user anonymity, intelligence agencies, hackers, and online advertising companies can still determine which videos a user is watching. Researchers developed an algorithm to determine if someone had watched a specific video from a set of suspicious, terror-related videos. Intelligence agencies could access this technology for tracking terrorists or other suspicious individuals. Internet marketing companies could track the number and make-up of viewers watching an ad.

  • Vibrator maker to pay out $3 million for tracking users' sexual activity

    We-Vibe, the sex toy maker, has agreed to pay customers up to $7,600 each selling them a “smart vibrator” which tracked the customers’ sexual habits without their knowledge. A class-action lawsuit was filed against in an Illinois federal court against We-Vibe’s parent company, Standard Innovation. Standard Innovation has been ordered to pay a total of $3 million to owners of the vibrator who had also used the app associated with the vibrators (the tracking of customers was done by the app).

  • No wiretapping at Trump Tower: Senate, House intelligence leaders

    Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top two lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Thursday issued a statement to confirm that there is no evidence to back President Donald Trump’s assertion that Trump Tower was under surveillance. On Wednesday, Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, said there was no proof Trump was wiretapped during the administration of Barack Obama.