• Border 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.

  • AI 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.”

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

    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.

  • Huawei's Dominance of Africa's Mobile Networks Mean More Spying on African Citizens

    Chinese tech firm Huawei has been increasing its footprint across Africa, providing countries with new technology and telecommunications equipment, including most notably 4G and 5G mobile networks. Some of this expansion has involved Huawei technicians helping governments in Africa to spy on their political opponents.

  • China 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.

  • We 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.

  • Facial Recognition: Ten Reasons You Should Be Worried About the Technology

    Facial recognition technology is spreading fast. Already widespread in China, software that identifies people by comparing images of their faces against a database of records is now being adopted across much of the rest of the world. It’s common among police forces but has also been used at airports, railway stations and shopping centers. The rapid growth of this technology has triggered a much-needed debate. Activists, politicians, academics and even police forces are expressing serious concerns over the impact facial recognition could have on a political culture based on rights and democracy.

  • Facial Recognition “Epidemic” in the U.K.

    An investigation by the London-based Big Brother Watch has uncovered what the organization describes as a facial recognition “epidemic” across privately owned sites in the United Kingdom. The civil liberties campaign group has found major property developers, shopping centers, museums, conference centers and casinos using the technology in the United Kingdom.

  • Data Leviathan: China’s Burgeoning Surveillance State

    Classical totalitarianism, in which the state controls all institutions and most aspects of public life, largely died with the Soviet Union, apart from a few holdouts such as North Korea. The Chinese Communist Party retained a state monopoly in the political realm but allowed a significant private economy to flourish. Yet today, in Xinjiang, a region in China’s northwest, a new totalitarianism is emerging—one built not on state ownership of enterprises or property but on the state’s intrusive collection and analysis of information about the people there. Xinjiang shows us what a surveillance state looks like under a government that brooks no dissent and seeks to preclude the ability to fight back. And it demonstrates the power of personal information as a tool of social control.

  • Shoppers Targeted by Face‑Recognition Cameras in “Epidemic” of Surveillance

    There is an “epidemic” of facial recognition surveillance technology at privately owned sites in Britain, campaigners say. Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties group, found shopping centers, museums, conference centers and casinos had all used the software that compares faces captured by CCTV to those of people on watch lists, such as suspected terrorists or shoplifters. Privacy campaigners have criticized trials of the technology by police in London and Wales, questioning their legal basis.

  • Silicon Valley Wants to Read Your Mind – Here’s Why You Should Be Worried

    Not content with monitoring almost everything you do online, Facebook now wants to read your mind as well. The social media giant recently announced a breakthrough in its plan to create a device that reads people’s brainwaves to allow them to type just by thinking. These mind-reading systems could affect our privacy, security, identity, equality and personal safety. Do we really want all that left to companies with philosophies such as that of Facebook’s former mantra, “move fast and break things”?

  • Pentagon Testing Mass Surveillance Balloons Across the U.S.

    The U.S. military is conducting wide-area surveillance tests across six Midwest states using experimental high-altitude balloons, documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reveal. Up to 25 unmanned solar-powered balloons are being launched from rural South Dakota and drifting 250 miles through an area spanning portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri, before concluding in central Illinois.

  • Military-Style Surveillance Technology Is Being Tested in American Cities

    What if you fly a helicopter over the city at 1,000 feet. Now, with your telescopic camera, you can even make out distinctive features of the people in your frame. Surely this isn’t legal, you might say. Surely a bright line exists between snapping a photo with your phone from an airplane window and focusing a telescopic lens a few hundred feet over someone’s backyard. But it doesn’t. This is because airspace over America falls into the same legal category as other public spaces, such as sidewalks, roads, parks, and beaches—and it isn’t illegal to take photographs of private property, or private citizens, from public space. As a result, we have no expectation of privacy from above.

  • Insurance Black Boxes and the Surveillance State – How Free Are You, Really?

    Over the last few years there’s been a noticeable rise in the number of drivers opting to fit a “black box” to their cars in order to obtain cheaper insurance. The idea is that the boxes send location data to nearby satellites, allowing insurance companies to monitor how people are driving, offering discounts and even refunds to those deemed to be driving more safely. Certainly, the driver wouldn’t know any different, as they’d still drive with the same acute awareness of the rules of the road.

  • Private Surveillance Is a Lethal Weapon Anybody Can Buy

    High-tech surveillance technology, once the purview of sophisticated spy services in wealthy countries, is now being offered by private contractors around the world as part of a highly secretive multibillion-dollar industry. While other kinds of weapons are subjected to stringent international regimes and norms — even if these are often broken — the trade in spy technology is barely regulated.