• PerspectiveDystopian Future Watch: Is San Francisco’s facial recognition ban too little, too late?

    Life just keeps creeping along, leading us step-by-step closer to living in a Philip K. Dick dystopian future—in real-time. And often, in our surveillance culture, we are willing participants to work alongside Big Brother. Harmon Leon writes in the Observer that Remember how fun it used to be to see facial recognition and retina scanning in sci-fi movies? We loved it in RoboCop and Blade Runner, right? Now, many of these biometrictechnologies have become a nightmarish reality.

  • SurveillanceBig tech surveillance could damage democracy

    By Chase Johnson

    Data is often called the oil of the 21st century. The more tech companies know about their users, the more effectively they can direct them to goods and services that they are likely to buy. The more companies know about their users, the more competitive they are in the market. But this business model – what I consider spying machines – has enormous potential to violate civil liberties. Big tech is already being used abroad to enhance the power of repressive regimes, as my work and others’ has shown.

  • PerspectiveSilicon Valley’s scramble for China

    In August 2012, China launched one of its first major “smart city” projects for the remote oil town of Karamay in the autonomous province of Xinjiang. “Information technology is not just about technology. It should be integrated with all aspects of life in our city and make people’s lives more convenient,” said then Karamay Mayor Chen Xinfa. Nafeez Ahmed writes in Coda Story that A report released last year by subsidiary Deloitte China, titled “Super Smart City: Happier Society with Higher Quality,” celebrates China’s drive to build “super smart cities” which integrate data across services like health care, transport, education and public safety. Billed by Deloitte as a virtual utopia, China’s smart cities represent the biggest and most intrusive surveillance architecture ever built by any single nation, according to experts and analysts.

  • SurveillanceSan Bernardino Court asked to review cell-site simulator, digital search warrants likely improperly sealed

    By Dave Maass

    Since the California legislature passed a 2015 law requiring cops to get a search warrant before probing our devices, rifling through our online accounts, or tracking our phones, EFF has been on a quest to examine court filings to determine whether law enforcement agencies are following the new rules.

  • PerspectiveDystopian Future Watch: Is San Francisco’s facial recognition ban too little, too late?

    Life just keeps creeping along, leading us step-by-step closer to living in a Philip K. Dick dystopian future—in real-time. And often, in our surveillance culture, we are willing participants to work alongside Big Brother. “Remember how fun it used to be to see facial recognition and retina scanning in sci-fi movies?” Hermon Leon asks in the Observer. “We loved it in RoboCop and Blade Runner, right? Now, many of these biometric technologies have become a nightmarish reality. Let’s take a look.”

  • PrivacyDHS’ assertion of broad authority to search travelers’ phones, laptops challenged

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU the other day asked a federal court to rule without trial that the Department of Homeland Security violates the First and Fourth Amendments by searching travelers’ smartphones and laptops at airports and other U.S. ports of entry without a warrant.

  • SurveillanceHow artificial intelligence systems could threaten democracy

    By Steven Feldstein

    U.S. technology giant Microsoft has teamed up with a Chinese military university to develop artificial intelligence systems that could potentially enhance government surveillance and censorship capabilities. The advent of digital repression is profoundly affecting the relationship between citizen and state. New technologies are arming governments with unprecedented capabilities to monitor, track and surveil individual people. Even governments in democracies with strong traditions of rule of law find themselves tempted to abuse these new abilities.

  • CybersecurityDrones pose significant cyber, privacy challenges

    Growing drone use in populated areas poses significant risks that, without additional safeguards, could result in attacks by malicious entities and exploited for use in cyberattacks, terrorism, crime and invasion of privacy.

  • PrivacyPutting data privacy in the hands of users

    By Rob Matheson

    In today’s world of cloud computing, users of mobile apps and web services store personal data on remote data center servers. Services often aggregate multiple users’ data across servers to gain insights on, say, consumer shopping patterns to help recommend new items to specific users, or may share data with advertisers. Traditionally, however, users haven’t had the power to restrict how their data are processed and shared. New platform acts as a gatekeeper to ensure web services adhere to a user’s custom data restrictions.

  • CybersecurityIs your VPN secure?

    By Mohammad Taha Khan and Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez

    About a quarter of internet users use a virtual private network, a software setup that creates a secure, encrypted data connection between their own computer and another one elsewhere on the internet. Many people use them to protect their privacy when using Wi-Fi hotspots, or to connect securely to workplace networks while traveling. Other users are concerned about surveillance from governments and internet providers. However, most people – including VPN customers – don’t have the skills to double-check that they’re getting what they paid for. A group of researchers I was part of do have those skills, and our examination of the services provided by 200 VPN companies found that many of them mislead customers about key aspects of their user protections.

  • Data securityNew computing architectures to deliver verifiable data assurances

    Whether a piece of information is private, proprietary, or sensitive to national security, systems owners and users have little guarantees about where their information resides or of its movements between systems. As is the case with consumers, the national defense and security communities similarly have only few options when it comes to ensuring that sensitive information is appropriately isolated, particularly when it’s loaded to an internet-connected system. A new program seeks to create new software and hardware architectures that provide physically provable assurances around data security and privacy.

  • PrivacyCloaking location on mobile devices to protect privacy

    We agree to give up some degree of privacy anytime we search Google to find a nearby restaurant or use other location-based apps on our mobile devices. The occasional search may be fine, but researchers says repeatedly pinpointing our location reveals information about our identity, which may be sold or shared with others. The researchers say there is a way to limit what companies can glean from location information.

  • PrivacyOn Facebook and Twitter, even if you don’t have an account, your privacy is at risk

    Individual choice has long been considered a bedrock principle of online privacy. If you don’t want to be on Facebook, you can leave or not sign up in the first place. Then your behavior will be your own private business, right? A new study shows that privacy on social media is like second-hand smoke. It’s controlled by the people around you.

  • CybersecurityData breaches are inevitable – here’s how to protect yourself anyway

    By W. David Salisbury and Rusty Baldwin

    It’s tempting to give up on data security altogether, with all the billions of pieces of personal data – Social Security numbers, credit cards, home addresses, phone numbers, passwords and much more – breached and stolen in recent years. But that’s not realistic – nor is the idea of going offline entirely. In any case, huge data-collection corporations vacuum up data about almost every American without their knowledge. As cybersecurity researchers, we offer good news to brighten this bleak picture. There are some simple ways to protect your personal data that can still be effective, though they involve changing how you think about your own information security.

  • PrivacyAmazon, Facebook and Google don’t need to spy on your conversations to know what you’re talking about

    By Jason Nurse

    If you’ve ever wondered if your phone is spying on you, you’re not alone. One of the most hotly debated topics in technology today is the amount of data that firms surreptitiously gather about us online. You may well have shared the increasingly common experience of feeling creeped out by ads for something you recently discussed in a real life conversation or an online interaction. Tech companies don’t need to listen to your phone calls or read you emails. Simply put, tech firms routinely gather so much data about you in other ways, they already have an excellent idea what your interests, desires and habits might be.