surveillance
Russia’s Planned Coronavirus App is a State-Run Security Nightmare

Like other countries, COVID-19 rocked both Russia and its neighbours, with recent numbers pointing to a collective 4,375 residents across the post-Soviet states being infected by the virus. And while some of these territories are seemingly less than worried about the pandemic, Russia’s spent the bulk of this week rolling out a series of initiatives to surveil its citizens that are putting experts on edge. Read More >>

ai
The Tech in Westworld’s Episode 3 Shocker Is Already Here and Much Worse Than You Think

The latest episode of Westworld had a huge reveal about the real world outside of the parks, one that embodies the show’s latest motto that “free will is not free.” The whole thing might seem far-fetched, like human robots, but it’s actually terrifying once you realise predictive algorithms are already here...and have a much bigger hold on you than you realise. Read More >>

surveillance
Swiss Government Files Criminal Complaint Over CIA’s Decades-Long Global Encryption Racket

As US senators and tech companies scream their fears of Chinese spyware (TikTok) and state-funded telecoms (Huawei) from the rooftops, the US is being called to face up to its own penchant for planetary surveillance. Announced Sunday, a Swiss government agency has filed a criminal complaint against US and German intelligence entities for pushing spyware on over 120 other countries. This follows a joint investigation by the Washington Post, German public broadcaster ZDF, and Swiss broadcaster SRF, which revealed that the CIA and the German intelligence agency BDN had been selling encryption devices through a Swiss company Crypto AG for half a century, with “rigged systems” for less friendly countries. Read More >>

surveillance
Police Use Family-Tracking App on Son’s Phone to Show His Dad Was Near Huge Blaze at Ex-Employer

Authorities linked a man in the US city of Barre, Vermont to a factory arson that destroyed “well over a million” dollars in property last month by convincing his son to give them access to an app that would allow them to view the suspect’s movements, Forbes reported. Read More >>

google
Google Is Going to Charge Police in the US For People’s Data

Google announced that it was going to start charging American law enforcement authorities for legal data disclosure requests, such as subpoenas and search warrants, related to its users. The company receives thousands of petitions from authorities in the US every year and has decided to charge to help “offset the costs” associated with producing the information. Read More >>

ring
Ring Got Reporters to Omit Its Ukraine Staff Is Working on ‘Many Other Amazon Projects’

Amazon’s home security company, Ring, pressed the chief editor at a Ukrainian business publication last year to delete a passage in an article touting the successes of Ring’s Kyiv-based research lab, the Intercept reported Friday. The article reportedly included a quote attributed to the general manager of Ring Ukraine stating the lab was not only working on Ring products, but on “many other Amazon projects” as well. Read More >>

crime
Man’s Confession of Killing His Sister Reportedly Caught on Doorbell Camera

A former American football player accused by law enforcement of murdering his pregnant sister allegedly confessed to the killing while standing in front of a doorbell camera that captured the moment. Read More >>

surveillance
US Telecoms Companies Know Too Much About Users’ Lives

Last week, the New York Times published a galvanising analysis of the location histories of 12 million mobile phones, a stockpile provided to them by sources inside an unnamed location data company that harvests data from mobile apps. This shit is real, man, and we’ve long known that telecoms have been selling our location data to middlemen who can sell it to bounty hunters, and they haven’t answered for that, and their friends in high places don’t hold them accountable. Read More >>

privacy
‘Anonymised’ Location Data Leak Allows Reporters to Quickly Track Donald Trump’s Secret Service Detail

New York Times reporters working on an investigation into the sprawling location data business – in which the paper obtained a three-year-old file containing 50 billion location pings for over 12 million Americans – were able to track the movements of a member of Donald Trump’s Secret Service security detail. And thus, the Times reporters were able to track the movements of the President of the United States. Read More >>

internet
Indian Authorities Order Internet Shutdowns Amid Mass Protests, Outrage Over Citizenship Law

Indian authorities have shut down internet access across much of the nation amid widespread protests against prime minister and far-right supremacist Narendra Modi and his government’s new law designed to bar Muslims from gaining citizenship. Read More >>

north korea
My Dad Was a Spy, Maybe

I remember my first phone call from the FBI clearly. It was mid-May 2015. I was sitting in my dreary Midtown cubicle, chugging iced coffee and trying to hold out for the end of the day as a lowly junior reporter. My eyelids were drooping when my wrist buzzed. Someone was calling me. My fitness band and phone were buzzing with a weird three-digit number. Read More >>

privacy
New Mobile Phone Users in China Must Now Submit to Face Recognition Scans

As the Black Friday authorities command us to buy, buy, buy, until we’re choking on packing peanuts, I suppose the retail dystopia could be bleaker. Effective yesterday, consumers registering new phone numbers or purchasing SIM cards in China have to get their faces scanned under a new rule that orders citizens to submit their identities to facial recognition companies. Read More >>

surveillance
Indian Government Asserts Widespread Digital Surveillance Powers After WhatsApp Hack

The Indian government has asserted sweeping powers to “intercept, monitor, or decrypt” any information that is “generated, transmitted, received, or stored” on any computer network in the country, per TechCrunch, and for purposes as vague as national security or safeguarding “public order.” Read More >>

privacy
Global Internet Freedom Continues to Decline Thanks in No Small Part to Social Media

It often feels like logging on immediately reveals a dump truck’s worth of bad news and bullshit, particularly on social media. But beyond the rampant misinformation and general vitriol that festers in threads on newsfeeds, social media presents a serious global threat to internet freedom that an annual report says is only getting worse. Read More >>

technology
Does Everything Become Evil?

In a sinister corporate nightmare where your bladder is a redundancy, it’s not surprising that warehouses would collect workers’ aggregate corporeal data, and a new company is testing the limits of what we’ll put up with. Bloomberg reports that major manufacturing and shipping companies are asking their manual labourers to strap on motion sensors ostensibly for their own safety, vibrating on their chests to alert them to potentially hazardous bends and twists. Employers then inspect workers’ every move, opening an obvious path to intensive micro-surveillance of their productivity. Read More >>