This week, Keep Internet Devices Safe Act was gutted by the Illinois senate: it would have allowed people sue manufacturers if they determined that a device had engaged in remote recording without notifying its owner. Read the rest
Bloomberg reporters learned that -- despite public pronouncements to the contrary -- Amazon has an "annotation team" of thousands of people all over the world, charged with reviewing recordings made by Alexa devices in the field, with both staffers and contractors listening to conversations that Alexa owners have had with and near their devices. Read the rest
Airbnb has a hidden camera problem: Airbnb hosts keep getting caught using hidden webcams to spy on people staying in their unlicensed hotel-rooms, and while the company proclaims a zero tolerance policy for the practice, the reality is that the company tacitly tolerates Airbnb hosts who engage in this creepy, voyeuristic behavior. Read the rest
One of my mottoes is that the important thing about tech isn't what it does, it's who it does it to, and who it does it for; this is especially important in discussions of "smart city" tech, which can easily be turned to systems of population-scale surveillance, control and oppression. Read the rest
You could be the proud owner of this customized 1978 Tradesman 200 undercover police surveillance van! Currently for sale on the San Francisco Bay Area's Craigslist, the white, 8-cylinder automatic has just 78,000 original miles. Asking price is $4,000. And now for the good stuff:
It has been carpeted with a bench and workbench inside. It is chock full of surprises and cool modifications including; a CB radio setup (don't think it currently works), police band radio/scanner, black out windows/shades, custom AC unit designed to run off a few deep cycle-cell marine batteries (daisy-chained together), a door to separate the cab from the rear of the vehicle, and best of all.....a periscope that comes out of the vent. It does have some minor dents and dings as a 40 year-old truck will likely have, but no major defects/issues. Everything seems to work on it, but I haven't done much driving in it since it is not currently registered or insured. Seats are going to need to be recovered or replaced. This van would make an awesome undercover PI van, party van, camper van, hippy van, surfer van, boogie van, classic 70's van. I have another one already, and with two jobs, and school, I don't have a lot of free time to convert a second van. I may consider a trade for a 4x4 van, or similar, Suburban, Bronco, Scout, Jeep etc.
Teslas are incredibly data-hungry, storing massive troves of data about their owners, including videos of crashes, location history, contacts and calendar entries from paired phones, photos of the driver and passengers taken with interior cameras, and other data; this data is stored without encryption, and it is not always clear when Teslas are gathering data, and the only way to comprehensively switch off data-gathering also de-activates over-the-air software updates for the cars, which have historically shipped with limited or buggy features that needed the over-the-air updates to fix them. Read the rest
ORGCON19 is the annual conference put on by the UK Open Rights Group (disclosure: I co-founded ORG and volunteer on its advisory board); it is "the UK’s largest human and digital rights conference," and this year's conference -- held on July 13 in central London -- is centred on "Data and Democracy, Digital Privacy, Online Censorship & the Role of Algorithms," so it only follows that the whistleblower Edward Snowden as its keynote speaker! Read the rest
In China, technology firms are working with the government to push voice and facial recognition to help pigs, many of which have been dying from a swine disease that's sweeping the country. Read the rest
“The Chinese authorities turned to a Massachusetts company and a prominent Yale researcher as they built an enormous system of surveillance and control.”
This is a heck of a story about how genetic surveillance, powered by American know-how, is being used to oppress the Muslim minority Uighur population and others in China, from the New York Times. Read the rest
If you're a disgruntled ex-Facebooker or someone who "made threatening statements" against the company, there's a chance its internal security force is tracking your location and activities, using Facebook's apps and other tracking tools. Read the rest
The NSO Group is an Israeli firm that has long marketed itself as a "cyber warfare" company, selling mobile surveillance technology to governments that include notoriously corrupt human rights abusers. One of these is Mexico, where NSO spyware played a key role in targeting teachers and journalists, and missing students.
On Thursday, NSO Group announced it has been “re-acquired” by its founders. Read the rest
Senator Ron Wyden has publicly denounced both Apple and Google for hosting mobile apps that connect to Absher, a Saudi government service designed to allow Saudi men to track their spouses and employees' whereabouts at all times. Read the rest