• How an “AI-tocracy” Emerges

    Many scholars, analysts, and other observers have suggested that resistance to innovation is an Achilles’ heel of authoritarian regimes. But in China, the use of AI-driven facial recognition helps the regime repress dissent while enhancing the technology, researchers report.

  • FireDrone Supports the Firefighters

    Researchers are developing a heat-resistant drone that can analyze the source of danger at close range in the event of a building or forest fire. This allows firefighters to optimize the strategy of a high-risk operation before entering the danger zone.

  • The Executive Order on Commercial Spyware: Implications and Prospects

    The growing national security threat from misuse of commercial spyware is increasingly being recognized. The US has been taking the lead in addressing the growing menace of unregulated spyware companies and the proliferation of intrusive tools. The Biden administration’s latest Executive Order will ensure that commercial spyware firms will be subjected to unprecedented scrutiny.

  • U.S. Reliance on Chinese Drones: A Sector for the Next CHIPS Act?

    More and more lawmakers from both parties are beginning to pay attention to the issue of drones and national security. Different bills seek to regulate federal agency procurement and use of certain foreign-made unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), or drones. Annie I. Antón and Olivia C. Mauger write that “Building on the bipartisan consensus to enact the 2022 Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science (CHIPS) Act, there is a compelling case that UASs should be a next sector for similar action.”

  • Tech Mandated by U.K. Online Safety Bill “Could Turn Phones into Surveillance Tools”

    Tech mandated by the U.K. government’s Online Safety Bill could be used to turn millions of phones into facial recognition tools. It would be possible, for example, for governments to use client-side scanning (CSS) to search people’s private messages, for example performing facial recognition, without their knowledge.

  • Exploring Feasibility of Using Drones to Survey Sites for Low Levels of Radiation

    Drones are tools for search and rescue, traffic monitoring, weather monitoring, and perhaps even package hauling. One day, they may work with humans to augment the task of conducting surveys to detect low levels of radiation—information that could contribute to the decommissioning of sites no longer needed for nuclear-related energy production or research.

  • PEGA Committee Votes on Spyware Recommendations

    In July 2021, the Pegasus Project—a consortium of 80 journalists from 17 media organizations in 10 countries—broke the story that several governments were using the Israel-made Pegasus spyware against journalists, activists, politicians, academics, and even heads of state. Responding to the public backlash, the European Parliament set up a committee of inquiry (PEGA committee) to investigate the allegations concerning misuse of spyware on the continent.

  • Appeals Court Should Reconsider Letting the FBI Block Twitter’s Surveillance Transparency Report

    Twitter tried to publish a report bringing much-needed transparency to the government’s use of FISA orders and national security letters, including specifying whether it had received any of these types of requests. However, without going to a court, the FBI told Twitter it could not publish the report as written. Twitter sued, and last month the federal Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit upheld the FBI’s gag order.

  • “Smart” Tech Coming to a City Near You

    The data-driven smart tech trend extends far beyond our kitchens and living rooms. Will real-time sensors and data offer new solutions to the challenges cities face, or just exacerbate existing inequalities?

  • Making Drones Suitable for Cities

    Unmanned aerial vehicles will make their way into urban skies only if the safety of people below can be ensured.

  • New Algorithm Keeps Drones from Colliding in Midair

    Researchers create a trajectory-planning system that enables drones working together in the same airspace to always choose a safe path forward.

  • Mapping CBP’s Expansion of Its Surveillance Tower Program at the U.S.-Mexico Border

    EFF is releasing a new map and dataset of more than 290 surveillance towers installed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) along the border with Mexico. The tower systems are able to automatically detect and track objects  up to 7.5 miles away and assist agents in classifying objects 3 miles away.

  • Lawmakers: “Clean Reauthorization” of Surveillance Authorities a “Nonstarter”

    Key U.S. lawmakers are warning the country’s top intelligence officials that they could soon find themselves without a much-talked-about surveillance authority unless their agencies are able to prove they can be trusted.

  • Section 702’s Unconstitutional Domestic Spying Program Must End

    On its face, Section 702 allows the government to conduct surveillance inside the United States so long as the surveillance is directed at foreigners currently located outside the United States. And yet, the NSA routinely (aka “incidentally”) acquires innocent Americans’ communications without a probable cause warrant. Then, rather than “minimize” the sharing and retention of Americans’ data, as Congress required, the NSA routinely shares such data with other government agencies, which retain it for at least five years.

  • Security Vulnerabilities Detected in Drones Made by DJI

    Researchers have detected security vulnerabilities, some of them serious, in several drones made by the manufacturer DJI. These enable users, for example, to change a drone’s serial number or override the mechanisms that allow security authorities to track the drones and their pilots. In special attack scenarios, the drones can even be brought down remotely in flight.