• DHS S&T, BIRD Foundation Announce Awards for Advanced Homeland Security Technologies

    The Israel – U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation the other day announced three awards for collaborative projects totaling $2.3 million to develop advanced technologies for the homeland security mission.

  • The FBI Needs to Be Reformed

    Bob Bauer and Jack Glodsmith write that “the FBI has taken a large hit in its credibility over the last four years, due in large part to Trump’s unprecedented, reckless, and routinely baseless attacks on it. But the Bureau has also hurt itself by its conduct of the investigation of Trump campaign officials and of Hillary Clinton’s emails when she was a presidential candidate.” There are many destructive pressures today on the legitimacy of the American electoral process, and “Our democracy cannot afford the added delegitimating burden of botched investigations related to elections that inevitably give rise to suspicions or charges of political manipulation,” they write.

  • The Crossfire Hurricane Report’s Inconvenient Findings

    The DOJ IG report, Michael Sanchez, writers, confounds the hopes of Donald Trump’s more ardent admirers by failing to turn up anything resembling a Deep State cabal within the FBI plotting against the president, or deliberate abuse of surveillance authorities for political ends – but it also paints a disturbing picture of the FBI’s vaunted vetting process for FISA warrant applications.

  • Justice Department Inspector General’s Report Raises Troubling Questions About FBI’s Role in FISA

    The Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the FBI’s initiation of the Russia probe met legal standards, but the report issued last Monday by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) strongly criticized the FBI’s handling of one aspect of the probe: the request for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) wiretap of ex-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page and subsequent renewals of the FISA. Peter Margulies writes that along with the record of Russian election interference compiled in the Russia probe, institutional reforms to the FISA process will be a valuable legacy of the investigation.

  • Unlawful Metadata Access Is Easy When We’re Flogging a Dead Law

    After watching this year’s media raids and the prosecution of lawyers and whistleblowers, it’s not hard to see why Australians wonder about excessive police power and dwindling journalistic freedom. But these problems are compounded by another, less known issue: police, and other bodies not even involved in law enforcement, have broad powers to access metadata. Each year, police alone access metadata in excess of 300,000 times.

  • Crack Down on Genomic Surveillance

    Across the world, DNA databases that could be used for state-level surveillance are steadily growing. Yves Moreau writes that “Now the stakes are higher for two reasons. First, as technology gets cheaper, many countries might want to build massive DNA databases. Second, DNA-profiling technology can be used in conjunction with other tools for biometric identification — and alongside the analysis of many other types of personal data, including an individual’s posting behavior on social networks.”

  • System Locates Shooters Using Smartphone

    Researchers have developed a system that can accurately locate a shooter based on video recordings from as few as three smartphones. When demonstrated using three video recordings from the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and hundreds wounded, the system correctly estimated the shooter’s actual location - the north wing of the Mandalay Bay hotel. The estimate was based on three gunshots fired within the first minute of what would be a prolonged massacre.

  • Victory: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Police Can’t Force You to Tell Them Your Password

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a forceful opinion on Wednesday holding that the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from being forced to disclose the passcode to their devices to the police. The court found that disclosing a password is “testimony” protected by the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination.

  • The Coming Middle East Conflagration

    Israel is girding for the worst and acting on the assumption that fighting between Israel and Iran, or between Israel and Iran’s regional proxies, could break out at any time. Michael Oren writes that it’s not hard to imagine how it might arrive. “The conflagration, like so many in the Middle East, could be ignited by a single spark. Israeli fighter jets have already conducted hundreds of bombing raids against Iranian targets in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Preferring to deter rather than embarrass Tehran, Israel never comments on such actions. But perhaps Israel miscalculates, hitting a particularly sensitive target; or perhaps politicians cannot resist taking credit. The result could be a counterstrike by Iran, using cruise missiles that penetrate Israel’s air defenses and smash into targets like the Kiryah, Tel Aviv’s equivalent of the Pentagon. Israel would retaliate massively against Hezbollah’s headquarters in Beirut as well as dozens of its emplacements along the Lebanese border. And then, after a day of large-scale exchanges, the real war would begin.”

  • Why Adding Client-Side Scanning Breaks End-To-End Encryption

    Recent attacks on encryption have diverged. On the one hand, we’ve seen Attorney General William Barr call for “lawful access” to encrypted communications, using arguments that have barely changed since the 1990’s. Erica Portnoy writes that we’ve also seen suggestions from a different set of actors for more purportedly “reasonable” interventions, particularly the use of client-side scanning to stop the transmission of contraband files, most often child exploitation imagery (CEI).

  • Why Did Microsoft Fund an Israeli Firm that Surveils West Bank Palestinians?

    Microsoft has invested in AnyVision, an Israeli startup which has developed a facial recognition technology used by Israel’s military and intelligence services to surveil Palestinians throughout the West Bank, in spite of the tech giant’s public pledge to avoid using the technology if it encroaches on democratic freedoms. The surveillance technology lets customers identify individuals and objects in any live camera feed, such as a security camera or a smartphone, and then track targets as they move between different feeds. The Israeli surveillance project is similar to China’s surveillance of its Uighur minority population. China is using artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology for a pervasive, intrusive monitoring of the Uighurs, a Muslim group living in western China.

  • Why We Must Ban Facial Recognition Software Now

    Facial recognition technology, once a darling of Silicon Valley with applications for policing, spying and authenticating identities, is suddenly under fire. Conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats have strongly criticized the technology. San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Somerville, Mass., have barred all of their government agencies, including the police, from using it. And several Democratic candidates for president have raised deep concerns about it, with one, Senator Bernie Sanders, calling for an outright ban for policing.

  • AI Could Be a Force for Positive Social Change – but We’re Currently Heading for a Darker Future

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already re-configuring the world in conspicuous ways. Data drives our global digital ecosystem, and AI technologies reveal patterns in data. Smartphones, smart homes, and smart cities influence how we live and interact, and AI systems are increasingly involved in recruitment decisions, medical diagnoses, and judicial verdicts. Whether this scenario is utopian or dystopian depends on your perspective.

  • A Safer Way for Police to Test Drug Evidence

    Scientists have demonstrated a way for police to quickly and safely test whether a baggie or other package contains illegal drugs without having to handle any suspicious contents directly. The new technique can limit the risk of accidental exposure to fentanyl and other highly potent drugs that can be dangerous if a small amount is accidentally inhaled.

  • The FISA Oversight Hearing Confirmed That Things Need to Change

    Section 215, the controversial law at the heart of the NSA’s massive telephone records surveillance program, is set to expire in December. Last week the House Committee on the Judiciary held an oversight hearing to investigate how the NSA, FBI, and the rest of the intelligence community are using and interpreting 215 and other expiring national security authorities. If last week’s hearing made anything clear, it’s this: there is no good reason for Congress to renew the CDR authority,” McKinney writes, adding: “Despite repeated requests from the members of the panel to describe some way of measuring how effective these surveillance laws are, none of the witnesses could provide a framework. Congress must be able to determine whether any of the programs have real value and if the agencies are respecting the foundational rights to privacy and civil liberties that protect Americans from government overreach.”