• On internet privacy, be very afraid

    In the internet era, consumers seem increasingly resigned to giving up fundamental aspects of their privacy for convenience in using their phones and computers, and have grudgingly accepted that being monitored by corporations and even governments is just a fact of modern life. In fact, internet users in the United States have fewer privacy protections than those in other countries. In April, Congress voted to allow internet service providers to collect and sell their customers’ browsing data. Cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier talked about government and corporate surveillance, and about what concerned users can do to protect their privacy. “Surveillance is the business model of the internet,” he says.

  • Google’s assault on privacy: a reminder

    On its best day, with every ounce of technology the U.S. government could muster, it could not know a fraction as much about any of us as Google does now” (Shelly Palmer, technology analyst).

  • Outdoor drone testing facility for safe, innovative flight testing

    An outdoor fly lab for testing autonomous aerial vehicles is coming to the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering this fall, adding to the university’s spate of advanced robotics facilities. M-Air will be a netted, four-story complex situated next to the site where the Ford Motor Company Robotics Building will open in late 2019. Construction of the $800,000 M-Air is expected to begin in August and be complete by the end of the year.

  • Tethered drone tested in securing Trump’s vacation golf course in New Jersey

    DHS has announced it will test a tethered drone for surveillance over the Trump National Golf Course in New Jersey, where the president is on a 17-day vacation which started on Friday. Tethered drones fly at altitudes of 300-400 feet. The fly autonomously, but an operator on the ground can control the cameras.

  • Syrian opposition shoots down Israeli “spy” eagle near Idlib

    Opposition forces in Syria the other said they had captured a dead eagle which had a camera and surveillance equipment strapped to its belly. Arab neighbors of Israel have occasionally accused the Jewish state of using trained animals for surveillance and disruption purposes. In December 2010, the Egyptian tourism minister accused Israel of training sharks to attack European tourists at Egyptian Red Sea resorts in order to deter European tourists from coming to Egypt.

  • “Stalking software”: Surveillance made simpler

    The controversial Snap Map app enables Snapchat users to track their friends. The app makes it possible for users to monitor their friends’ movements, and determine – in real time – exactly where their posts are coming from (down to the address). Many social media users expressed their indignation, referring to the app as “stalking software.” This is the latest in a series of monitoring tools to be built on social media platforms. A new study assesses the benefits and risks associated with their use.

  • 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.

  • Smart quadcopters find their way on their own -- without human help or GPS

    Phase 1 of DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program concluded recently following a series of obstacle-course flight tests in central Florida. Over four days, three teams of DARPA-supported researchers huddled under shade tents in the sweltering Florida sun, fine-tuning their sensor-laden quadcopter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) during the intervals between increasingly difficult runs. The quadcopters slalomed through woodlands, swerved around obstacles in a hangar, and reported back to their starting point all by themselves.

  • 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.

  • Navy tests new mine-detection drone

    The new Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (MIW RAC) system is a portable, remote-controlled system that can detect buried or underwater mines during amphibious beach landings. It’s designed to help explosive ordnance disposal teams quickly find mines and dangerous metal obstacles within coastal surf zones and very-shallow-water zones. MIW RAC consists of a one-pound quadcopter outfitted with an ultra-sensitive magnetometer sensor system to detect mines and provide real-time search data to a handheld Android device.

     

  • 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.