• PerspectiveRethinking Encryption

    In the face of congressional inaction, and in light of the magnitude of the threat, it is time for governmental authorities—including law enforcement—to embrace encryption because it is one of the few mechanisms that the United States and its allies can use to more effectively protect themselves from existential cybersecurity threats, particularly from China. This is true even though encryption will impose costs on society, especially victims of other types of crime.

  • Perspective: EncryptionWill Canada Weaken Encryption with Backdoors?

    Imagine you wake up one morning and discover that the federal government is requiring everyone to keep their back doors unlocked. First responders need access your house in an emergency, they say, and locked doors are a significant barrier to urgent care. For the good of the nation, public health concerns outweigh the risk to your privacy and security. Sounds crazy, right? Byron Holland writes that, unfortunately, a number of governments are considering a policy just like this for the internet, and there’s growing concern that the Canadian government could soon follow suit.

  • Perspective: AIAI 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.

  • Perspective: SurveillanceThe 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.”

  • CybersecurityPrivacy Flaw Found in E-Passports

    Researchers have discovered a flaw in the security standard of biometric e-passports that has been used worldwide since 2004. This standard, ICAO 9303, allows e-passport readers at airports to scan the chip inside a passport and identify the holder.

  • Medical informationWhat Data Hackers Can Get about You from Hospitals

    When hospitals are hacked, the public hears about the number of victims – but not what information the cybercriminals stole. New research uncovers the specific data leaked through hospital breaches, sounding alarm bells for nearly 170 million people.

  • Perspective: DystopiaScience Fiction Has Become Dystopian Fact

    So which dystopia are we living in? Most educated people have read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. So influential have these books been that we are inclined to view all disconcerting new phenomena as either “Orwellian” or “Huxleyan”. If you suspect we shall lose our freedom to a brutally repressive state, grinding its boot into our faces, you think of George. If you think we shall lose it to a hedonistic consumer culture, complete with test-tube designer babies, you quote Aldous. “My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power,” Huxley wrote in a letter to Orwell in 1949. Niall Ferguson agrees: “As I reflect on the world in 2019, I am struck by the wisdom of [Huxley’s] words. In Xi Jinping’s China, we see Totalitarianism 2.0. The boot on the face remains a possibility, of course, but it is needed less and less as the system of social credit expands, aggregating and analyzing all the digital data that Chinese citizens generate.”

  • SurveillanceBorder Communities Inundated with Surveillance Technologies

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) the other day published The Atlas of Surveillance: Southwestern Border Communities. The Atlas consists of profiles of six counties along the U.S.-Mexico border, outlining the types of surveillance technologies deployed by local law enforcement—including drones, body-worn cameras, automated license plate readers, and face recognition. The report also includes a set of 225 data points marking surveillance by local, state, and federal agencies in the border region.

  • PerspectiveHow Long Will Unbreakable Commercial Encryption Last?

    Most people who follow the debate over unbreakable, end-to-end encryption think that it’s more or less over, and that unbreakable commercial encryption is here to stay. But. this complacent view is almost certainly wrong. Enthusiasm for controlling encryption is growing among governments all around the world and by no means only in authoritarian regimes. Even Western democracies — not only authoritarian regimes — are giving their security agencies authorities that nibble away at the inviolability of commercial encryption. “While the debate over encryption has stalled in the United States, it’s been growing fiercer abroad as other nations edge closer to direct regulation of commercial encryption,” Stewart Baker writes.

  • Surveillance stateAI and the Coming of the Surveillance State

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) used to be the stuff of science fiction, but is now making its presence felt in both the private and the public domains. In an important new study — The Global Expansion of AI Surveillance – Steve Feldstein of the Carnegie Endowment writes: “Unsurprisingly, AI’s impact extends well beyond individual consumer choices. It is starting to transform basic patterns of governance, not only by providing governments with unprecedented capabilities to monitor their citizens and shape their choices but also by giving them new capacity to disrupt elections, elevate false information, and delegitimize democratic discourse across borders.”

  • Surveillance stateI Researched Uighur Society in China for 8 Years and Watched How Technology Opened New Opportunities – Then Became a Trap

    By Darren Byler

    The Uighurs, a Muslim minority ethnic group of around 12 million in northwest China, are required by the police to carry their smartphones and IDs listing their ethnicity. As they pass through one of the thousands of newly built digital media and face surveillance checkpoints located at jurisdictional boundaries, entrances to religious spaces and transportation hubs, the image on their ID is matched to their face. If they try to pass without these items, a digital device scanner alerts the police. The Chinese state authorities described the intrusive surveillance as a necessary tool against the “extremification” of the Uighur population. Through this surveillance process, around 1.5 million Uighurs and other Muslims were determined “untrustworthy” and have forcibly been sent to detention and reeducation in a massive internment camp system. Since more than 10 percent of the adult population has been removed to these camps, hundreds of thousands of children have been separated from their parents. Many children throughout the region are now held in boarding schools or orphanages which are run by non-Muslim state workers.

  • PerspectiveConstitution Day 2019: The Hidden Domestic Surveillance Crisis

    As we mark the 232nd anniversary of the signing of America’s governing charter in 1787, we have ample evidence that it continues to be violated by the federal officials charged with upholding it. The FBI’s 2018-2020 “Consolidated Strategy Guide,” for example, not only references the targeting of so-called “Black Identity Extremists” (BIE’s) but also those designated as engaged in “Anti-Government/Anti-Authority Extremism,” “Abortion Extremism,” or “Animal Rights/Environmental Extremism.” “That the FBI is using an ideological test of its own devising to determine whether a person seeking products or services on ‘the Dark Web’ is a threat raises a host of potential constitutional issues, including whether the monitoring of a person’s online activities based on their ideology runs afoul of the First Amendment or the Brandenburg v. Ohio decision,” Patrick Eddington writes, adding: “If we are on the cusp of a de facto COINTELPRO 2.0,  the infamous Cold War-era FBI program of domestic spying and organizational disruption, we need to end it. Now.”

  • Perspective: Suspicionless border searches Harvard Student’s Deportation Raises Concerns About Border Device Searches and Social Media Surveillance

    Media outlets reported this week that an international student at Harvard University was deported back to Lebanon after border agents in Boston searched his electronic devices and confronted him about his friends’ social media posts. EFF argues that these allegations raise serious concerns about whether the government is following its own policies regarding border searches of electronic devices, and the constitutionality of these searches and of social media surveillance by the government.

  • Perspective: China syndromeChina May Have Used a Recent Massive iPhone Hack to Target Uighur Muslims

    A recent massive iPhone hack discovered by Google researchers may have been a campaign to target Uighur Muslims, an oppressed ethnic minority living in China, TechCrunch and Forbes report. The hack came to light last week, when researchers at Google’s cybersecurity wing Project Zero reported they had found a handful of websites which had been secretly injecting spyware into iPhones over the course of two years.

  • Perspective: Emerging technologiesWe Need to Ban More Emerging Technologies

    With more and more innovation, there is less and less time to reflect on the consequences. To tame this onrushing tide, society needs dams and dikes. Just as has begun to happen with facial recognition, it’s time to consider legal bans and moratoriums on other emerging technologies. These need not be permanent or absolute, but innovation is not an unmitigated good. The more powerful a technology is, the more care it requires to safely operate.