Trump White House changed top-secret system to heighten secrecy

Trump White House changed security on the National Security Council's top-secret codeword system in early 2018, two former administration officials tell Politico, in an apparent effort to increase secrecy around Trump calls with foreign leaders. Read the rest

Amazon's secret deals with cops gave corporate PR a veto over everything the cops said about their products

Last week, Motherboard broke a story revealing that Amazon had entered into secret agreements with local law enforcement agencies that had the cops pushing Ring surveillance doorbells to the people they were sworn to protect, in exchange for freebies and access to a system that let them request access to footage recorded by the Amazon's industry-leading internet-of-shit home surveillance tools. Read the rest

Amazon struck secret deals with local cops to get them to push surveillance-camera doorbells

Amazon quietly struck deals with dozens of local law enforcement agencies across America that gave the police access to a distributed surveillance feed from its Ring "smart doorbell" products in exchange for the cops providing free advertising for the products without revealing their contractual requirement to do so. Read the rest

Prosecutors and federal judges collaborate with corporations to seal evidence of public safety risks, sentencing hundreds of thousands of Americans to death

When federal prosecutors drag corporations into court for business practices that hurt or even kill people, it's routine for corporate counsel to ask to have the evidence in the case sealed, and for prosecutors to agree, and for judges to rubberstamp the deal, meaning that the public never finds out about the risks around them. Read the rest

A mysterious nonprofit made millions suing companies to put California cancer warnings on coffee

The Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) is a nonprofit that kicked off its mysterious existence by filing a string of lawsuits against restaurant chains and coffee roasters for not posting California Proposition 65 notices (the notices are mandatory warnings about the presence of "chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and reproductive toxicity") despite the disputed science behind their demands. Read the rest

After retaliation against Googler Uprising organizers, a company-wide memo warns employees they can be fired for accessing "need to know" data

Last year, Google was rocked by a succession of mass uprisings by its staff, who erupted in fury after discovering that the company was secretly pursuing a censored Chinese search tool and an AI project for US drones, and that it had secretly paid Android founder Andy Rubin $150m to quietly leave the company after women who worked for him accused him of sexually assaulting them. Read the rest

Big Tech's addiction to illegal, overreaching NDAs protects wage discrimination, sexual harassment, and other evils by "terrorizing" employees

NDAs were once used exclusively to protect bona fide trade secrets, but today's Big Tech companies force new hires to sign far-ranging NDAs that exceed the law in many ways (for example, by banning employees from discussing illegal workplace conditions), as a means of "terrorizing" employees into keeping their mouths shut, lest they face threats from the company's high-powered lawyers. Read the rest

Public records requests reveal the elaborate shell-company secrecy that Google uses when seeking subsidies for data-centers

It's not just Amazon and Apple that expect massive taxpayer subsidies in exchange for locating physical plant in your town: when Google builds a new data-center, it does so on condition of multimillion-dollar "incentives" from local governments -- but Google also demands extraordinary secrecy from local officials regarding these deals, secrecy so complete that city attorneys have instructed town councillors to refuse to answer questions about it during public meetings. Read the rest

Beyond GIGO: how "predictive policing" launders racism, corruption and bias to make them seem empirical

"Predictive policing" is the idea that you can feed crime stats to a machine-learning system and it will produce a model that can predict crime. It is garbage. Read the rest

Facebook reminds America's cops that they're not allowed to use fake accounts

Facebook's terms of service require users to use their real names; though thiis has lots of potential downsides (including allowing dictators to identify and round up opposition figures), you'd hope that it would at least be evenly applied -- for example, to law enforcement agencies like the Memphis Police Department, who use "Bob Smith" accounts to befriend and entrap activists online. Read the rest

Laramie County, Wyoming Sheriffs' department blocks public records requests for their prison phone monopoly deal

Every crappy thing in the world is beta-tested on people who have little or no power, perfected, and brought to the rest of us -- CCTV starts with prisoners, moves to mental institutions, then to schools, then to blue-collar workplaces, then airports, then white-collar workplaces, then everywhere. Read the rest

For the first time, a US president has classified the legal justification for taking publicly acknowledged actions

It's not uncommon for legal opinions from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to be classified; whenever the President wants to do something nefarious -- like authorizing the CIA's program of torture -- he'll get a memo out of the OLC, and then classify the whole thing: the action and its justification. Read the rest

William Gibson on individual privacy, governmental secrecy and the future of history

In a thoughtful New York Times editorial, science fiction giant William Gibson mediates on the difference between the privacy that individuals have and deserve, the privacy that governments assert ("What does it mean, in an ostensible democracy, for the state to keep secrets from its citizens?"), and what this will mean for the historians of the future. Read the rest

Chinese opsec funnies: your foreign boyfriend is a western spy!

In this Chinese government comic book, women are warned that mysterious foreign strangers who pitch woo at them are secretly Western spies trying to get at their government secrets. Read the rest

Microsoft sues US government for the right to tell you when the feds are reading your email

“We appreciate that there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post Thursday. “But based on the many secrecy orders we have received, we question whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy. To the contrary, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.” Read the rest

UC Davis paid $175,000 or more to scrub police pepper spray incident from web searches

Looks like the geniuses who run UC Davis never Googled the words “Streisand Effect.” Read the rest

Obama: 'Top Secret' could mean info that would endanger America, or random stuff you can Google

“There’s classified, and then there’s classified,” President Barack Obama recently told Fox News anchor Chris Wallace in response to a question about the now-classified material on Hillary Clinton’s private email server from when she was Secretary of State. Read the rest

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