About Face: EFF's new campaign to end government use of face surveillance

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation launched About Face, a new national campaign to end governmental use of facial recognition technology for surveillance at all levels -- city, state and federal. Read the rest

"Out of Home Advertising": the billboards that spy on you as you move through public spaces

Outdoor advertising companies are tapping location data brokers like Placeiq (which aggregates location data leaked by the spying dumpster-fire that is your phone's app ecosystem) and covertly siting Bluetooth and wifi sniffers in public space to gather data on the people who pass near to billboards: "gender, age, race, income, interests, and purchasing habits." Read the rest

You can stay in this Japanese hotel for $1 if you agree to be livestreamed on YouTube

Business Ryokan Asahi is a hotel in Fukuoka, Japan. They will let you stay in a room for 130 yen ($1.20) if you agree to be livestreamed on its YouTube channel.

From Oddity Central:

It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. While the camera covers the entire tiny room, leaving occupants no place to hide, it doesn’t come with a microphone. The lack of audio coverage is designed to avoid copyright infringement complaints for music that could be heard from the in-room TV, but guarantees that no one will hear you talking to yourself or others, snoring, or making other embarrassing sounds.

Photo: Business Ryokan Asahi

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Public treated to obfuscation at Waterfront Toronto meeting on negotiations with Google sister company over surveillance district

[Rosemary Frei is an independent journalist who broke the story that Google's Sidewalk Labs had quietly sewn up the rights to turn most of Toronto's lakeshore into a surveilling "smart city" (Google/Sidewalk lied about this at first, were cornered, admitted it, and rolled back the plan). Now she's back with a report on last night's "Public Update on Quayside" meeting, where any hope anyone nursed that Google would be pursuing humane urbanism, rather than surveillance and extraction, were firmly dashed. -Cory]

At Waterfront Toronto’s first meeting for the public after its board of directors voted Oct. 31 to continue negotiating with Sidewalk Labs on the parameters of a 12-acre surveillance district, officials from the public agency made it clear they’re already wedded to the Google sister company.

The hundreds of attendees of last night’s ‘Public Update on Quayside’ were each given a package that included a copy of an Oct. 29 letter from Waterfront Toronto President and CEO George Zegarac to Sidewalk Labs’s Chief Development Officer Josh Sirefman. Zegarac lays out in the letter how the two bodies will work closely together -- with Waterfront Toronto taking the lead in on such things as negotiations with all three levels of government – to "develop an ‘Innovation Plan’ to advance and achieve Waterfront Toronto’s priority outcomes." Based on this newly arrived at ‘realignment of Master Innovation and Development Plan threshold issues,’ Waterfront Toronto’s final decision on whether to proceed with the plan will be taken by its board by March 31, 2020. Read the rest

Majority of Americans know they're under constant surveillance, don't trust the companies doing it, and feel helpless to stop it

A Pew Study found that 60% of Americans believe that they are being continuously tracked by companies and the government, 69% mistrust the companies doing the tracking, 80% believe that advertisers and social media sites are collecting worrisome data, 79% think the companies lie about breaches, and 80% believe that nothing they do will make a difference. Read the rest

A woman's stalker compromised her car's app, giving him the ability to track and immobilize it

An Australian woman's creepy, violent ex-boyfriend hacked her phone using stalkerware, then used that, along with her car's VIN number, to hack the remote control app for her car (possibly Landrover's Incontrol app), which allowed him to track her location, stop and start her car, and adjust the car's temperature. Read the rest

Why is Facebook's iOS app accessing my camera while I do unrelated things, users ask

Facebook says, oops, it's 'likely' a bug.

Foreigners visiting China are increasingly stumped by its cashless society

Technically, it's illegal for Chinese merchants to refuse payment in cash, but this rule is hardly ever enforced, and China has been sprinting to a cashless society that requires mobile devices -- not credit-cards -- to effect payments, even to street hawkers. Read the rest

Make: a facial-recognition confounding "Opt Out Cap"

Mac Pierce created a simple wearable to challenge facial recognition: do a little munging to an image of a face, print it on heat transfer paper, iron it onto see-through mosquito netting, slice, and affix to a billed cap -- deploy it in the presence of facial recognition cameras and you'll be someone else. It's the kind of "adversarial example" countermeasure that fools computers pretty reliably but wouldn't work on a human. (via JWZ) Read the rest

Report from a massive Chinese surveillance tech expo, where junk-science "emotion recognition" rules

Sue-Lin Wong is the Financial Times's South China reporter; this week, she attended the China Public Security expo, the country's largest surveillance tech show, held biannually in Shenzhen. Read the rest

Toronto approves Google's surveillance city, despite leaks revealing Orwellian plans

Yesterday, Waterfront Toronto unanimously approved the continuation of Sidewalk Labs's plans for "Quayside," a privatised, surveillance-oriented "smart city" that has been mired in controversy since its earliest days, including secret bullying campaigns, mass resignations of privacy advisors, lies that drastically understated the scope of the project, civil liberties lawsuits, and denunciations by the indigenous elders who were consulted on the project. Read the rest

10,000 people are calling for Congress to investigate Amazon Ring

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Amazon Ring's surveillance doorbell partnerships with police are spreading like a virus. There are already more than 500 of them across the country. We can fight them at the local level, but at this scale we need Congress to intervene. Amazon is refusing to be transparent about its own policies and relationships with law enforcement. That's why more than 10,000 people have already called on Congress to investigate and demand answers about the impact these partnerships have on our privacy and civil liberties. If you're concerned, you can add your voice here." Read the rest

The top FBI lawyer who tried to force Apple to backdoor its crypto now says working crypto is essential to public safety and national security

Jim Baker served as the FBI's general counsel from 2014 until 2017, and he presided over the the FBI's attempt to force Apple to undermine its cryptography under the rubric of investigating the San Bernadino shooters; he has long been a prominent advocate for mass surveillance, but he has had a change of heart: in a long, detailed essay on Lawfare, Baker explains why he believes that governments should not seek to introduce defects into cryptographic systems. Read the rest

Google could use internal surveillance tool to monitor worker dissent and labor organizing, employees warn

Workers at Google say the company is developing an internal surveillance system that could be used to monitor the behavior of employees, and thwart dissent and labor organizing.

The company says they're only trying to make it easier for workers to manage their internal Google calendars and manage meeting spam. Read the rest

Japanese robot hotel chain ignored repeated warnings that its in-room “bed-facing” robots could be turned into spy devices

Japan's Henn na Hotel chain, owned by the HIS Group, uses "bed-facing Tapia robots" in its rooms; these robots turn out to be incredibly insecure: you can update them by pairing with them using a NFC sensor at the backs of their heads. The robots do not check the new code for cryptographic signatures, meaning that malicious actors can install any code they want. Read the rest

#NothingButDragnet: EFF calls on @Shaq to stop endorsing police partnerships with Amazon's creepy, surveilling Ring doorbells

Amazon's Ring surveillance doorbells are part of a secretive, nationwide police surveillance network, with cops being offered covert incentives to act as street-teams to buzz market the products, and with Amazon repeatedly misleading the public and reporters about when and how police can gain access to footage from the cameras. Read the rest

Electronic badge monitors workers' conversations, toilet usage and posture

The Economist reports that a tech startup sells a surveillance and control badge for the workforce. The device monitors workers' conversations and tracks their movements. You can even use it to make them sit straight.

The company that makes the creepy "sociometric" combadge has a creepy name — Humanyze — and its marketing is a cold wall of data jargon. The CEO and co-founder, Ben Waber, is an MIT Media Lab alumnus who boasts that he "literally wrote the book on People Analytics" and who published research on having workers take coffee breaks together to improve their productivity.

If it weren't reality, it would be too crudely dystopian to pass muster as fiction.

"I literally wrote the book on People Analytics. You're spending WAY too long on the toilet" Read the rest

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