Amazon patents doorbell camera that calls police when it recognizes a "suspicious" person

Amazon filed a patent application for a doorbell camera that scans the faces of passers by and compares them with a database of suspicious persons. If a match is made the camera calls the cops.

From ACLU:

The ACLU’s test is consistent with academic research demonstrating that face surveillance technology is less accurate for darker skinned faces and women. These systems threaten to further entangle people with law enforcement, ripping families apart and increasing the likelihood of racially biased police violence. In addition, this technology puts activists and protesters in danger when exercising their First Amendment rights.

Despite the risks to civil liberties and racial justice, Amazon has chosen to ignore questions from members of Congress and calls from consumers, civil rights groups, and its own employees and shareholders to take responsibility for the consequences of its technology on communities where it is deployed.

This patent application also suggests that Amazon has no plans to stop at identifying people based on their faces. The company anticipates targeting an arsenal of other biometrics, including fingerprints, skin-texture analysis, DNA, palm-vein analysis, hand geometry, iris recognition, odor/scent recognition, and even behavioral characteristics, like typing rhythm, gait, and voice recognition.

Read the rest

Department of Homeland Security wants to build a database to track journalists and their sources

Well, this is creepy: According to Bloomberg Law, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is currently shopping for a contractor that can help it compile a list of editors, journalists, and online "media influencers." Additionally, they're looking for goons to help them identify all social media coverage that relates to the agency or events that the agency may be involved in.

From Bloomberg:“Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers,” according to the statement. DHS agencies have “a critical need to incorporate these functions into their programs in order to better reach federal, state, local, tribal, and private partners,” it said.

The plan, according to DHS, is to set up a database of influential journalists, publications and online influencers. Those with access to the database--you can go ahead and read that as Big Brother--will be able to browse “present contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer.”

So, kind of like Mudrack, but for spooks.

The proposed database could be searchable by factors such as what beat a writer covers, where they're located, what publications they work for, and whether they rely on local or international sources in their work. Now, here's where it gets ugly. One of the other points that DHS wants to be able to search is the "sentiment" of a story. Was a writer's take on events pro-America or not? Read the rest

China's private data-brokers will sell you full dossiers on anyone in the country

China is engaged in a bizarre dystopian experiment to use social network ratings to punish political dissidence, "antisocial behavior" and noncomformity, using data pulled from many sources, including purchases on China's major ecommerce networks like Alibaba; but you don't have to be the Chinese government to spy on people with an extraordinary degree of creepy precision: for a very small amount of money, China's private data-brokers will let you spy on anyone in the country. Read the rest