Amazon's surveillance doorbell marketers help cops get warrantless access to video footage from peoples' homes

Every time I write about the unfolding scandal of Amazon's secret partnerships with hundreds of US police departments who get free merch and access to Ring surveillance doorbell footage in exchange for acting as a guerrilla marketing street-team for Ring, I get an affronted email from Amazon PR, implying that I got it all wrong, but unwilling to enter into detailed discussions of what's actually going on (the PR flacks also usually ask to be quoted officially but anonymously, something I never agree to). 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

America's institutions can preserve liberty, but they're also pretty good at destroying it

As trumpism metastasizes, I've taken some comfort in the American system of checks and balances, especially the independent judiciary and the strong Constitutional tradition, which lets impact litigators like EFF and ACLU leverage the courts to overturn the executive branch; I've seen this work many times with EFF and other civil liberties organizations. Read the rest

Cops in small MA town warn about roving rap-battle challengers

The police in Charlton, Massachusetts (one of the fifty safest towns in America) have issued a warning to the citizenry that they've heard tell of young men in a black SUV who are driving around town, challenging teenagers to rap battles. Read the rest

A bowel-loosening long-term geopolitical weather report

The idea that global politics are a terrifying blend of natural disasters, belligerence, and deadly military potential isn't unique to this decade, but holy fuck, did it ever just get weird. Read the rest

What will it take to get MIT to stand up for its own students and researchers?

In 2007, 19-year-old MIT Media Lab student named Star Simpson went to Boston's Logan Airport to meet a friend wearing a sweater she'd decorated with LEDs in the shape of a star; the Logan police responded (with machine guns) to a call about a "dark-skinned man" with a suspicious device. Read the rest

UK National Crime Agency: if your kids like computers, they're probably criminals

Warning signs that your kid is involved in cybercrime: "Are they interested in coding? Do they have independent learning material on computing?" Read the rest

French Ministry of Interior wants to ban open wifi, Tor

A leaked memo from the Ministry sets out new bills it would like to see introduced into the French Parliament as early as next month, setting out an ambitious plan to block privacy tools, something only technically possible by recreating China's Great Firewall in a European democracy, spying on all networked activity to prevent the use of Tor. Read the rest

All 40 of the FBI & DHS's post-9/11 terror attack warnings fizzled

And yet, the press keeps on reporting these "reliable intelligence-based" reports of impending attacks on the "homeland" as though you should believe them. Read the rest