• SURVEIILANCEDetroit Takes Important Step in Curbing the Harms of Face Recognition Technology

    By Tori Noble

    In a first-of-its-kind agreement, the Detroit Police Department recently agreed to adopt strict limits on its officers’ use of face recognition technology as part of a settlement in a lawsuit brought by a victim of this faulty technology.

  • TECH COMPANIES & BORDER SECURITYHundreds of Tech Companies Want to Cash In on Homeland Security Funding. Here's Who They Are and What They're Selling.

    By Dave Maass

    Whenever concerns grow about the security along the U.S.-Mexico border and immigration, the U.S. government generate dollars — hundreds of millions of dollars — for tech conglomerates and start-ups. Who are the vendors who supply or market the technology for the U.S. government’s increasingly AI-powered homeland security efforts, including the so-called “virtual wall” of surveillance along the southern border with Mexico?

  • PRIVACYBusinesses Are Harvesting Our Biometric Data. The Public Needs Assurances on Security

    By Kamran Mahroof, Amizan Omar, and Irfan Mehmood

    Visual data capturing and analysis are particularly critical compared to non-visual data. That’s why its growing use by businesses raises so many concerns about privacy and consent. While the public remains unaware of the extent to which their visual data is being captured and utilized, their information will be vulnerable to misuse or exploitation.

  • SURVEILLANCEPolice Are Using Drones More and Spending More for Them

    By Matthew Guariglia and Beryl Lipton

    Police in Minnesota are buying and flying more drones than ever before, according to an annual report recently released by the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). Minnesotan law enforcement flew their drones without a warrant 4,326 times in 2023, racking up a state-wide expense of over $1 million.

  • DEMOCRACY WATCHUN’s Global Digital Compact Is Looking Like an Authoritarian Dream

    By Mercedes Page

    This week, global representatives to the United Nations in New York will review the latest draft of the UN Global Digital Compact (GDC). The latest draft of the GDC is concerning. It would consolidate power within the UN, expand the reach of both the UN and national governments over digital matters and ultimately threaten the openness of the global internet.

  • PRIVACYPrivacy-Enhancing Browser Extensions Fail to Meet User Needs, New Study Finds

    By Rachel Greenstadt

    Popular web browser extensions designed to protect user privacy and block online ads are falling short, according to researchers, who are proposing new measurement methodologies to better uncover and quantify these shortcomings.

  • CHINA WATCHChina Turns to Private Hackers as It Cracks Down on Online Activists on Tiananmen Square Anniversary

    By Christopher K. Tong

    Chinese authorities restrict the flow of information online by banning search terms, scanning social media for subversive messages and blocking access to foreign media and applications that may host censored content. Control of online activity is particularly stringent around the anniversary of the protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989 that ended with a bloody crackdown on demonstrators by troops on June 4 of that year.

  • SURVIELLANCEThe Alaska Supreme Court Takes Aerial Surveillance’s Threat to Privacy Seriously, Other Courts Should Too

    In March, the Alaska Supreme Court held that the Alaska Constitution required law enforcement to obtain a warrant before photographing a private backyard from an aircraft. The government argued that the ubiquity of small aircrafts flying overhead in Alaska; the commercial availability of the camera and lens; and the availability of aerial footage of the land elsewhere, meant that Alaska residents did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy The Court divorced the ubiquity and availability of the technology from whether people would reasonably expect the government to use it to spy on them.

  • CHINA WATCHChina Seeks to Harvest User Data from Global Apps to Boost Propaganda Efforts

    By Fergus Ryan

    In the global discussion around data privacy and security, much attention has been rightfully placed on the Chinese-owned platform TikTok, with concerns that the user data it collects is accessible to Chinese authorities. But the issue of data collection on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and its integration into propaganda efforts, extends far beyond a single app.

  • CHINA WATCHSpyware as Service: What the i-Soon Files Reveal About China’s Targeting of the Tibetan Diaspora

    Governments are increasingly incorporating cyber operations into the arsenal of statecraft. This sophisticated integration combines open-source intelligence, geospatial intelligence, human intelligence, and cyber espionage with artificial intelligence, allowing for the gathering and analysis of ever-expanding data sets. Increasingly, such operations are being outsourced.

  • ENCRYPTIONEuropean Court of Human Rights Confirms: Weakening Encryption Violates Fundamental Rights

    By Christoph Schmon

    In a milestone judgment—Podchasov v. Russia—the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that weakening of encryption can lead to general and indiscriminate surveillance of the communications of all users and violates the human right to privacy.

  • PRIVACYDozens of Rogue California Police Agencies Still Sharing Driver Locations with Anti-Abortion States

    In October 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta clarified that a 2016 state law, SB 34, prohibits California’s local and state police from sharing information collected from automated license plate readers (ALPR) with out-of-state or federal agencies. Despite the Attorney General’s definitive stance, dozens of law enforcement agencies have signaled their intent to continue defying the law by sharing ALPR information with law-enforcement agencies of states with restrictive abortion laws, putting abortion seekers and providers at risk.

  • CHINA WATCHBritish Documentary Alleges China Influences Universities, Spies on Hong Kongers in UK

    By Lyndon Lee

    A BBC Channel 4 documentary claims the Chinese government is interfering with academic freedom and spying on Hong Kong activists in the United Kingdom. The film also alleges that Chinese government agents pretending to be journalists used fake profiles and avatars to target Hong Kong activists now living in the U.K.

  • ARGUMENT: MARTIME SURVEILLANCEOutsourcing Surveillance: A Cost-Effective Strategy to Maintain Maritime Supremacy

    Persistent surveillance is one of the most valuable types of surveillance missions. But, Josh Portzer and Aaron Stein write, “Persistent surveillance is a challenging problem for two reasons: capacity and cost. In today’s budgetary climate, “simply increasing U.S. military capacity is not tenable. [But] by increasing the number of sensors globally, the Department of Defense would not only gain valuable, near-persistent surveillance data in areas of interest at (relatively) affordable prices, but also would enjoy the option of gray-zone operations given the strategic ambiguity that outsourcing provides.”

  • PRIVACYEFF to Supreme Court: Fifth Amendment Protects People from Being Forced to Enter or Hand Over Cell Phone Passcodes to the Police

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) last week asked the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling undermining Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination and find that constitutional safeguards prevent police from forcing people to provide or use passcodes for their cell phones so officers can access the tremendous amount of private information on phones.