Hong Kong's #612strike protest movement: a million strong, leaderless, wireless and smart as hell

Hong Kong's previous mass-protest uprisings -- 2014's Occupy Central, 2016's Umbrella Revolution -- were ultimately smashed by the state through a combination of violent suppression and electronic surveillance, greatly aided by the hierarchical structure of the protest movements (which made it possible to decapitate them by arresting their leaders) and their internal divisions and infighting. Read the rest

When you take a commercial genetic test, you opt your whole family into warrantless state genetic surveillance

Cops are increasingly turning to commercial gene-testing services to solve crimes, using a process called "genetic genealogy" that uses the records of people who are near-matches for DNA from crime scenes to zero in on suspects; that's how they caught the Golden State Killer, but cops don't just ask genetics services for data when they're after killers, sometimes they deputize these services to help them solve petty crimes. Read the rest

Mary Meeker's 2019 Internet Trends: stalled growth, security dumpster-fires, more online education and fear of regulation

Every year, VC Mary Meeker (previously) publishes her must-read Internet Trends Report, which comes as a powerpoint deck with hundreds of slides (you can watch her power through them in 30 minutes flat at the Re-Code conference). Read the rest

Hackers stole a US Customs and Border Patrol facial recognition database

Data from facial recognition scans performed by US Customs and Border Patrol on travelers crossing at an unnamed lander border point (an anonymous source says it's a US-Canada crossing) have been stolen by hacker or hackers unknown. Read the rest

Russia adds Tinder to the list of apps that have to release user data to its cops and spies on demand, without a warrant

Tinder has been added to the Russian "Register of Information Dissemination Organizations," a regulatory designation that requires companies to turn over user data on request, without a warrant, to Russian law-enforcement and state agencies (America has a similar regime with a few check-and-balance figleafs). Read the rest

Patronscan wants cities to require bars to scan your ID with its service so it can maintain a secret, unaccountable blacklist

Patronscan is the leading provider of ID-scanning/verification services to bars and restaurants, and one of its selling points is that it allows its customers to create shared blacklists of undesirable customers who can then be denied services at every other establishment that uses its services. Read the rest

Empirical analysis of behavioral advertising finds that surveillance makes ads only 4% more profitable for media companies

In Online Tracking and Publishers’ Revenues: An Empirical Analysis, a trio of researchers from U Minnesota, UC Irvine and CMU report out their findings from a wide-ranging (millions of data-points) study of the additional revenues generated by behaviorally targeted ads (of the sort sold by Facebook and Google) versus traditional, content-based advertising (that is, advertising a piano to you because I spied on you when you searched for pianos yesterday, versus showing you an ad about pianos next to an article about pianos). Read the rest

Germany demands an end to working cryptography

Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer -- a hardliner who has called for cameras at every "hot spot" in Germany -- has announced that he will seek a ban on working cryptography in Germany; he will insist that companies only supply insecure tools that have a backdoor that will allow the German state to decrypt messages and chats on demand. Read the rest

HACKED: Perceptics, license plate reader provider for US Border Patrol at Mexico border

Hackers have breached Perceptics, which sells border security technology and license plate reader systems and the like to governments and other entities. The U.S. government uses their readers, including along the US-Mexico border. Read the rest

Los Angeles! Come see me at Exposition Park library tonight talking about Big Tech, monopolies, mind control and the right of technological self-determination

From 6PM-730PM tonight (Thursday, May 23), I'm presenting at the Exposition Park Library (Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library, 3900 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90062) on the problems of Big Tech and how the problems of monopolization (in tech and every other industry) is supercharged by the commercial surveillance industry -- and what we can do about it. It's part of the LA Public Library's "Book to Action" program and it's free to attend -- I hope to see you there! Read the rest

Americans believe that they should own the mountains of data produced by their cars, but they don't

Your car is basically a smartphone with wheels, and it gathers up to 25gb/hour worth of data on you and your driving habits -- everything from where you're going to how much you weigh. Cars gather your financial data, data on the number of kids in the back seat, and, once they're connected to your phone, data on who you call and text. Read the rest

Secret camera found in Starbucks bathroom

Last week, an employee of a Starbucks in Mill Valley, California, just north of San Francisco, found a tiny digital camera hidden in a bathroom air freshener. At the time of the police statement below, they hadn't determined whether the camera had wireless connectivity. This particular Starbucks is a bustling hangout for kids from the nearby middle school and high school. Gross. And it probably happens in public restrooms more than I'd care to imagine, which is never.

(KRON)

Read the rest

How can spies from democracies compete with spies from autocracies?

Economist international editor Edward Lucas devotes 4,000+ words in the new issue of Foreign Policy to the changing landscape of state espionage in the 21st century; it's not particularly well-organized (if there's a reason for the order in which his thoughts are laid out, I couldn't find it), but despite that, it's well worth a read, even if there's lots I don't agree with here. Read the rest

London police arrest man who covered face during public facial recognition trials

Police in London conducted a public street trial with facial recognition cameras. A man who covered his face as he walked by the cameras was stopped by officers, forced to submit to being photographed, and then arrested on a charge of public disorder after complaining loudly. The segment starts at 3:35 in the embedded BBC video; here's more coverage from The Independent:

The Independent revealed that more than £200,000 was spent on six deployments that resulted in no arrests between August 2016 and July last year. Two people wanted for violent offences were arrested after a trial in December.

Critics have called the force’s use of facial recognition a “shambles” and accused Scotland Yard of wasting public money ... The Metropolitan Police has described the deployments as “overt” and said members of the public were informed facial recognition was being used by posters and leaflets. But no one questioned by The Independent after they passed through a scanning zone in central London in December had seen police publicity material, and campaigners claim the technology is being rolled out “by stealth”.

I can barely beleive the motto of the Metropolitan Police is 'TOTAL POLICING'. Horseshoe theory is a limiting view of politics, but it is amazing how we get to the terminology of comic-book villainy by other means.

The jobsworth "for your own protection" attitude of British cops is incredibly annoying, albeit less annoying than getting executed in the street by American ones. The real danger, though, lurks in how the cops dance their way between that nonsense and, as one plain-clothes officer puts it, "covering your face is grounds for reasonable suspicion." When authorities pick and choose rationalizations depending on the audience, the true answer is a secret. Read the rest

LA! Come see me this Saturday at the Nebula Awards Conference, and next Thursday at Exposition Park Library!

This Saturday, May 18, I'll be appearing at the Nebula Awards Conference, at the Marriott Warner Center in Woodland Hills: I'll be participating in the 1:30PM mass signing in the Grand Ballroom and then I'll be on the "Megatrends for the Near Future" panel at 4PM in A/B Salon. Read the rest

Amazon's staffing up a news vertical full of crime stories designed to scare you into buying a spying, snitching "smart" doorbell

Ring is a "smart" doorbell that Amazon bought for $1B in 2018, and proceeded to turn into an insecure, networked surveillance device, (possibly wired into Amazon's facial recognition system) and connected to law enforcement so that the company could advertise that owning a Ring made you a good citizen of your neighborhood, part of a mesh of relentless eyes-on-the-street that identified suspicious strangers and sicced the law on them, frontended by an app named with pitch-perfect creepiness: "Neighbors." Read the rest

UK cops are secretly harvesting all data from the phones and cloud accounts of suspects, victims and witnesses and insecurely storing it forever

Privacy International's blockbuster Digital Stop and Search report details how British police forces have quietly procured phone-searching tools (including mobile "kiosks" that let them probe devices in the field), often from companies with a track-record of abetting some of the world's worst human rights abusers, and they use these in secret to capture all the data they can from phones taken from suspects, victims and witnesses. Read the rest

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