The latest generation of chatbot toys listen to your kids 24/7 and send their speech to a military contractor

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Last year's Hello Barbie chatbot toy sent all your kid's speech to cloud servers operated by Mattel and its tech partner, but only when your kid held down Barbie's listen button -- new chatbot toys like My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Intelligent Robot are in constant listening mode -- as is your "OK Google" enabled phone, your Alexa-enabled home mic, and your Siri-enabled Ios device -- and everything that is uttered in mic range is transmitted to Nuance, a company that makes text-to-speech tech (you probably know them through their Dragon-branded tools), and contracts to the US military. Read the rest

The Snoopers Charter gives these 48 organisations unlimited, secret access to all UK browsing history

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With the passage of the Snoopers Charter earlier this month, the UK has become the most-surveilled "democratic" state in the world, where service providers are required to retain at least a year's worth of their customers' browsing history and make it searchable, without a warrant, to a variety of agencies -- and no records are kept of these searches, making it virtually impossible to detect petty vendetta-settling, stalking, or systemic abuses (including selling access to criminals, foreign governments, and institutionalised racism). Read the rest

The Snoopers Charter is now law in the UK: "extreme surveillance" rules the land

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Britain's love-affair with mass surveillance began under the Labour government, but it was two successive Conservative governments (one in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, who are nominally pro-civil liberties) who took Tony Blair's mass surveillance system and turned it into a vicious, all-powerful weapon. Now, their work is done. Read the rest

How to defend your digital rights: street protest edition

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Digital Security Tips for Protesters builds on its indispensable Surveillance Self Defense guide for protesters with legal and technical suggestions to protect your rights, your data, and your identity when protesting. Read the rest

Your user data is secretly sent to China through a backdoor on some U.S. Android phones

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Included for free with some Android phones: “a backdoor that sends all your text messages to China every 72 hours.”

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Brazilian domestic spies use Tinder to infiltrate protest movements

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Brazilian Army Captain Willian Pina Botelho posed as Baltazar "Balta" Nunes in a fake Tinder profile and set out to seduce members of left wing anti-government protest movements in order to infiltrate them. Read the rest

The surveillance economy has 67 days to disarm before Trump is sworn in

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The Obama administration asserted the power to raid the massive databases of peoples' private, sensitive information that ad-based tech companies have assembled; the Trump administration has promised to use Obama's powers to effect the surveillance and deportation of 11 millions undocumented migrants, and the ongoing, continuous surveillance of people of Muslim heritage. Read the rest

A madman has been given the keys to the surveillance state

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When the USA PATRIOT Act was signed into law on October 26, 2001, it erased many of the vital checks and balances that stood between the American people and their government. As Bush supporters cheered the unprecedented power that their people in Washington now held, the civil liberties world warned them: "Your president has just fashioned a weapon that will be wielded by all who come after him."

A fake HP printer that's actual an office-camouflaged cellular eavesdropping device

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Julian Oliver is a playful and media-savvy security researcher; previously, he documented hidden cell-phone towers in bad disguises and produced a hand-grenade shaped "transparency device" that spied on everything going on in the room. Read the rest

Sneaky ultrasonic adware makes homes vulnerable to ultrasonic hacking

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Earlier this year, companies like Silverpush were outed for sneaking ultrasonic communications channels into peoples' devices, so that advertisers could covertly link different devices to a single user in order to build deeper, more complete surveillance profiles of them. Read the rest

One week left! Apply for a Shuttleworth Fellowship

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The Shuttleworth Fellowships hand millions directly to people starting out on a journey to radically transform the world to make it more open; this year, I'm Honourary Steward, meaning I'll help pick the grantees. Read the rest

Digital Defenders: a free open-licensed booklet for kids about privacy and crypto

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European Digital Rights has created a free, CC-licensed kids' booklet about privacy called Digital Defenders. Read the rest

Half of all U.S. adults are in face-recognition databases, and Black people more likely to be targeted

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One in two American adults is in a law enforcement face recognition network.

“The Perpetual Lineup” report out today from a Georgetown University thinktank makes a compelling case for greater oversight of police facial-recognition software that “makes the images of more than 117 million Americans — a disproportionate number of whom are black — searchable by law enforcement agencies across the nation,” as the New York Times account reads.

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UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal says GHCQ illegally spied for 17 years

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The independent tribunal ruled on a case brought by Privacy International, concluding that the UK spy agency GCHQ was acting illegally for 17 years while it amassed huge databases of "bulk collection" data of cellphone location and call-data -- a practice revealed by the Edward Snowden docs. Read the rest

Social media surveillance software used by cops faces backlash

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Geofeedia bills itself as a way for marketers to reach potential customers through geotagged "hashtag listening," but they also sell it to police departments for "predicting, analyzing and acting on social media conversations," like, say, peaceful protests. Read the rest

Massive report details the surveillance powers of 12 Central and South American nations

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Unblinking Eye, EFF's giant, deep research report (available in Spanish, English and Portuguese) on the state of surveillance law in latinamerica, reveals an alarming patchwork of overbroad powers given to police forces and government agencies. Read the rest

Yahoo didn't install an NSA email scanner, it was a "buggy" NSA "rootkit"

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Ex-Yahoo employees have spoken anonymously to Motherboard about the news that Yahoo had built an "email scanner" for a US security agency, likely the FBI or the NSA. These sources -- at least one of whom worked on the security team -- say that in actuality, the NSA or FBI had secretly installed a "rootkit" on Yahoo's mail servers and that this was discovered by the Yahoo security team (who had not been apprised of it), who, believing the company had been hacked, sounded the alarm, only to have the company executives tell them that the US government had installed the tool. Read the rest

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