• 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.

  • WILDFIRESUsing Drone Swarms to Fight Forest Fires

    Forest fires are becoming increasingly catastrophic across the world, accelerated by climate change. Researchers are using multiple swarms of drones to tackle natural disasters like forest fires.

  • DRONESTesting Cutting-Edge Counter-Drone Technology

    Drones have many positive applications, bad actors can use them for nefarious purposes. Two recent field demonstrations brought government, academia, and industry together to evaluate innovative counter-unmanned aircraft systems.

  • 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.

  • SEARCH & RESCUEA Drone with Ears

    When a region is hit by a natural disaster, searching for survivors is complex work as buildings and roads may be damaged. The use of drones equipped with daylight cameras and thermal imaging cameras is therefore becoming increasingly widespread – except that if victims are trapped under rubble, they cannot be seen by these imaging sensors. Equipping drones with acoustic sensors allows rescue teams to identify and locate cries for help, clapping, or knocking signals.

  • 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.

  • SURVEILLANCEAbuse-Resistant Digital Surveillance

    Digital surveillance of suspects must be silent so as not to alert them. However, systems currently in use lack stringent technical mechanisms to ensure the legality of these measures. Security protocols to make legally required monitoring of digital communications more resistant to misuse and mass surveillance.

  • SURVEILLANCE“Surveillance: From Vision to Data” Explores History of Surveillance

    The term surveillance may suggest images of high-tech cameras or George Orwell’s ever-watching Big Brother, but surveillance involves more than watching and being watched. To understand surveillance and its consequences, look to data: who collects it, what information is compiled, how it is interpreted, and ultimately, why it matters.

  • SURVEILLANCEAdtech Surveillance and Government Surveillance are Often the Same Surveillance

    By Matthew Guariglia

    In the absence of comprehensive federal privacy legislation in the United States, the targeted advertising industry, fueled by personal information harvested from our cell phone applications, has run roughshod over our privacy.