The controversial surveillance program that gave the NSA access to the phone call records of millions of Americans has cost US taxpayers $100m – and resulted in just one useful lead over four years.
RING, AMAZON’S CRIMEFIGHTING surveillance camera division, has crafted plans to use facial recognition software and its ever-expanding network of home security cameras to create AI-enabled neighborhood “watch lists,” according to internal documents reviewed by The Intercept.The planning materials envision a seamless system whereby a Ring owner would be automatically alerted when an individual deemed “suspicious” was captured in their camera’s frame, something described as a “suspicious activity prompt.”It’s unclear who would have access to these neighborhood watch lists, if implemented, or how exactly they would be compiled, but the documents refer repeatedly to law enforcement, and Ring has forged partnerships with police departments throughout the U.S., raising the possibility that the lists could be used to aid local authorities. The documents indicate that the lists would be available in Ring’s Neighbors app, through which Ring camera owners discuss potential porch and garage security threats with others nearby.
Ring device owners are often unclear on what information, specifically, police can see and how they can use it. That secrecy is entirely by design, CNET reports today, as Ring has a list of features its police partners are explicitly not supposed to share with the public.Documents security researcher Shreyas Gandlur obtained through a FOIA request include a communication from Ring to police in Bensenville, Illinois, saying that “Neighbors Portal back-end features should not be shared with the public, including the law enforcement portal on desktop view, the heat map, sample video request emails, or the video request process itself as they often contain sensitive investigative information.”
“The legal basis for automatic facial recognition has been called into question, yet the government has not accepted that there’s a problem. It must. A legislative framework on the use of these technologies is urgently needed. Current trials should be stopped and no further trials should take place until the right legal framework is in place.”
CIA-backed data-mining business Palantir is reportedly in talks with banks to take the company public for a blockbuster sum, and could move as early as next year.Peter Thiel’s company – known for its work with the US government, spy agencies and police as well as its reported links to the Cambridge Analytica data-harvesting saga – has raised some $2bn since its inception in 2004.
If ever there were a case for rejecting requested device permissions, it’s made by an Android app with more than 10 million downloads from Google Play. The official app for the Spanish soccer league La Liga was recently updated to seek access to users’ microphone and GPS settings. When granted, the app processes audio snippets in an attempt to identify public venues that broadcast soccer games without a license.According to a statement issued by La Liga officials, the functionality was added last Friday and is enabled only after users click “yes” to an Android dialog asking if the app can access the mic and geolocation of the device. The statement says the audio is used solely to identify establishments that broadcast games without a license and that the app takes special precautions to prevent it from spying on end users.
The company formerly known as Cambridge Analytica shocked the media today when it announced an immediate shutdown and liquidation of its business.That “shutdown,” however, may be short-lived as official documents indicate those behind the controversial analytics company will be launching as a new firm with a less-toxic brand.
The attorneys general of 35 US states on Wednesday signed an open letter calling for the quick passage of the Clarify Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act – with some qualifications.The proposed legislation, if passed by Congress, will allow the Feds to demand people’s emails and other personal communications from overseas computers with a simple subpoena issued by a US judge.In effect, it means the FBI can ask, say, a California court for a subpoena to obtain files from a San Francisco upstart’s servers hosted in France, sidestepping French privacy laws and legal system. The act’s wording also does not limit the Feds to serving orders for communications on US companies and entities – agents would be able to demand information from whomever they wished, if a US judge approved.
Flight sim company FlightSimLabs has found itself in trouble after installing malware onto users’ machines as an anti-piracy measure. Code embedded in its A320-X module contained a mechanism for detecting ‘pirate’ serial numbers distributed on The Pirate Bay, which then triggered a process through which the company stole usernames and passwords from users’ web browsers.
The restrictions imposed by the government for operating under the law impose a huge burden on the defense team. And the stringent rules, along with other arguments the prosecution is making to the judge, could leave Winner little room to make her case.The efforts on the part of the prosecutors represent a broad push by the government to hamper Winner’s attempt to defend herself. They are seeking to prevent Winner’s lawyers from citing public news articles in open court, restricting their ability to research those public articles even in private, hiding several aspects of the case completely from public view, and arguing that someone charged under the Espionage Act is not even allowed to bring up the fact that her actions never harmed national security.