• Search & rescueFoldable drone flies through narrow passages in rescue missions

    Researchers have developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

  • Terrorism“Big picture” platforms boost fight against online terror activity

    The fight against terrorism-related content and illegal financing online is speeding up thanks to new platforms that join up different internet-scouring technologies to create a comprehensive picture of terrorist activity. The idea is that when an online tool discovers a fragment of information it can be added to a constellation of millions of others - revealing links that might otherwise have gone undetected or taken much longer to uncover.

  • SurveillanceTSA’s roadmap for airport surveillance moves in a dangerous direction

    By India McKinney

    The Transportation Security Administration has set out an alarming vision of pervasive biometric surveillance at airports, which cuts against the right to privacy, the “right to travel,” and the right to anonymous association with others.

  • EncryptionNew Australian law would compel tech firms to hand over encrypted data

    Australia’s parliament earlier today (Thursday) passed a controversial measure which will force tech firms to give police access to the encrypted communications of suspected terrorists and criminals. The law, fiercely opposed by big tech firms, has engendered heated debate over national security and privacy at a time law enforcement agencies are struggling with how to access encrypted information to monitor illegal activities. The passage of the law may have global implications for encrypted communications. Critics say the law may unleash unintended consequences.

  • DronesBetter drone detection through machine learning, cameras

    Visual detection of drones has never been considered as effective as its thermal, radio or acoustic counterparts. The trouble is always discriminating between different moving objects in view. Typically, a bird or even a plastic bag caught in the wind might be mistaken for a drone, which is why most discrimination methods have primarily focused on heat and acoustic signatures in the past (though acoustic signatures also tend to become less useful in urban areas with higher levels of background noise). Combined with machine learning, however, a camera can tell a different story.

  • Search & rescueFleets of drones could aid searches for lost hikers

    By Rob Matheson

    Finding lost hikers in forests can be a difficult and lengthy process, as helicopters and drones can’t get a glimpse through the thick tree canopy. Recently, it’s been proposed that autonomous drones, which can bob and weave through trees, could aid these searches. But the GPS signals used to guide the aircraft can be unreliable or nonexistent in forest environments. New system allows drones to cooperatively explore terrain under thick forest canopies where GPS signals are unreliable.

  • SurveillanceThe problem with using ‘super recognizers’ to spot criminals in a crowd

    By Emma Portch

    People often say that they never forget a face, but for some people, this claim might actually be true. So-called super recognizers are said to possess exceptional face recognition abilities, often remembering the faces of those they have only briefly encountered or haven’t seen for many years. Their unique skills have even caught the attention of policing and security organizations, who have begun using super recognizers to match photographs of suspects or missing persons to blurry CCTV footage. But recent research shows that the methods used to identify super recognizers are limited, and that the people recruited for this work might not always be as super as initially thought.

  • Intelligence & societyAn assault on American intelligence

    By Una Hajdari

    “The veneer of civilization is something that is quite thin,” retired four-star general Michael Hayden said at an MIT presentation. “It has to be protected and nurtured.” The United States was formed on the basis of the ideas of the Enlightenment, he said, with adaptations and improvements being made as societies and “civilization” developed. Since then, those who rejected these ideas represented the negative phenomena in society and were often overpowered by the progressive or forward-thinking mainstream. Now, those who represent the negative segments of society are threatening to become mainstream.

  • SurveillanceChicago should reject a proposal for private-sector face surveillance

    By Shahid Buttar

    A proposed amendment to the Chicago municipal code would allow businesses to use face surveillance systems that could invade biometric and location privacy, and violate a pioneering state privacy law adopted by Illinois a decade ago. EFF joined a letter with several allied privacy organizations explaining the EFF’s concerns, which include issues with both the proposed law and the invasive technology it would irresponsibly expand.

  • SurveillanceCombining multiple CCTV images could help catch suspects

    Combining multiple poor-quality CCTV images into a single, computer-enhanced composite could improve the accuracy of facial recognition systems used to identify criminal suspects, new research suggests. Researchers have created a series of pictures using a ‘face averaging’ technique – a method which digitally combines multiple images into a single enhanced image, removing variants such as head angles or lighting so that only features that indicate the identity of the person remain.

  • SurveillanceU.K. surveillance regime violated human rights

    By David Ruiz

    On September 13, after a five-year legal battle, the European Court of Human Rights said that the U.K. government’s surveillance regime—which includes the country’s mass surveillance programs, methods, laws, and judges—violated the human rights to privacy and to freedom of expression. The court’s opinion is the culmination of lawsuits filed by multiple privacy rights organizations, journalists, and activists who argued that the U.K.’s surveillance programs violated the privacy of millions.

  • Government hackingGovernment hacking raises new security concerns

    News of governments such as Russia and North Korea deploying their tech teams to hack into companies for political reasons has made headlines (think Sony after release of the movie The Interview). But what about when the U.S. government “hacks” to get around security measures designed to protect consumers? Can those hacks backfire and put us all at risk?

  • SurveillanceHolding law-enforcement accountable for electronic surveillance

    By Adam Conner-Simons

    When the FBI filed a court order in 2016 commanding Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters in a terrorist attack in San Bernandino, California, the news made headlines across the globe. Yet every day there are tens of thousands of court orders asking tech companies to turn over Americans’ private data. Many of these orders never see the light of day, leaving a whole privacy-sensitive aspect of government power immune to judicial oversight and lacking in public accountability. MIT researchers have proposed a new cryptographic system, using cryptography on a public log of wiretap requests, which encourages government transparency.

  • SurveillanceSpotting spies in the sky

    The use of drones for surveillance is no longer in the realm of science fiction. Researchers have developed the first technique to detect a drone camera illicitly capturing video. The new technology addresses increasing concerns about the proliferation of drone use for personal and business applications and how it is impinging on privacy and safety.

  • CybersecurityCongress must adopt stronger safeguards for wireless cybersecurity: Expert

    Thanks to the advent of cell phones, tablets and smart cars, Americans are increasingly reliant on wireless services and products. Yet despite digital technology advancements, security and privacy safeguards for consumers have not kept pace. One expert told lawmakers that Congress should take immediate action to address threats caused by cell-site simulators by “ensuring that, when Congress spends about a billion taxpayer dollars on wireless services and devices each year, it procures services and devices that implement cybersecurity best practices.”