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Category Archives for "Surveillance"

New report shows Google tracks 80% of the Web, with Amazon likely to overtake Facebook as second-worst privacy threat

Google is tracking four-fifths of Web traffic, and is thus gaining unparalleled insights into what individuals are doing, and what the online trends are both globally and locally. That tracking data provides Google with market research that is unmatched by any other company.

In 2020 in the U.S., Amazon surpassed Facebook in tracking reach, clocking in at 29.4% tracker reach, with Facebook at only 23%. In the EU and globally, Amazon remains just behind Facebook, ranking 3rd most widespread and coming in at 17.2% reach in the EU and 19.2% globally.

Source: New report shows Google tracks 80% of the Web, with Amazon likely to overtake Facebook as second-worst privacy threat

Amazon Sued For Wiretapping Drivers’ Closed Facebook Groups

Amazon Flex Driver Drickey Jackson alleged that Amazon “wiretapp(ed) the electronic communications of Amazon Flex Drivers’ closed Facebook groups,” according to a class action complaint filed in the Souther District of California.

According to the complaint, Amazon sought to “secretly observe and monitor Flex Drivers’ electronic communications and confidential postings in their closed Facebook groups, through the use of monitoring tools, automated software, and dedicated employees with backgrounds in signals intelligence and communications intelligence,” who purportedly deployed said tools “as part of their … duties on behalf of Amazon.” In particular, the plaintiff cited the existence of a document listing 43 closed Flex Driver Facebook groups that Amazon purportedly monitors.

Source: Amazon Sued For Wiretapping Drivers’ Closed Facebook Groups – Tech

U.S. Schools Are Buying Cellebrite Phone-Hacking Tech

A Gizmodo investigation has found that schools in the U.S. are purchasing phone surveillance tools from Cellebrite and companies that offer similar tools just four years after the FBI used it to crack a terrorism suspect’s iPhone.

Known as mobile device forensic tools (MDFTs), this type of tech is able to siphon text messages, photos, and application data from student’s devices. Together, the districts encompass hundreds of schools, potentially exposing hundreds of thousands of students to invasive cell phone searches.

Source: U.S. Schools Are Buying Cellebrite Phone-Hacking Tech

Huawei worked on several surveillance systems promoted to identify ethnicity

Facing an international outcry over its testing of a “Uighur alarm” system, Huawei said it is committed to human rights “at the highest level.”

But the tech giant has worked with dozens of security contractors to develop surveillance products, some of which were touted as being able to identify a person’s ethnicity or to help suppress potential protests, according to company marketing documents that shed light on a little-publicized corner of one of China’s most valuable tech empires.

Source: ‘Uighur alarm’ wasn’t only Huawei product touted to identify ethnicity – The Washington Post

Varanasi Is Using Crime Control as an Excuse for Facial Recognition Surveillance

Varanasi in India is installing 3,000 CCTV cameras with automated facial recognition tech at the city’s crossings.

Authorities say the sole purpose of these cameras is to advance security measures and track suspected criminals. The project will connect all the police stations in the city to this CCTV network, with 500 kilometres of optical fibre being laid at 700 points in the city. This advanced technology is meant to help identify people by matching their digital images, photos and video feed with the existing database.

Source: Varanasi Is Using Crime Control as an Excuse for Facial Recognition Surveillance

Google and Apple are banning technology for sharing users’ location data

Google and Apple are trying to put a stop to X-Mode Social’s code that may be in some of the apps on your phone, tracking and selling your location data.

X-Mode works by giving developers code to put into their apps, known as an SDK, which tracks users’ location and then sends that data to X-Mode, which sells it. In return, X-Mode pays the developer a certain amount based on how many users the app has.

Now, Google and Apple have told developers to remove X-Mode’s code from their apps, or risk getting them pulled from their respective app stores.

Source: Google and Apple are banning technology for sharing users’ location data – The Verge

France fines Google $120M and Amazon $42M for dropping tracking cookies without consent

France’s data protection agency, the CNIL, has slapped Google and Amazon with fines for dropping tracking cookies without consent.

Google has been hit with a total of €100 million ($120 million) for dropping cookies on Google.fr and Amazon €35 million (~$42 million) for doing so on the Amazon .fr domain under the penalty notices issued on December 10.

The regulator carried out investigations of the websites over the past year and found tracking cookies were automatically dropped when a user visited the domains in breach of the country’s Data Protection Act.

Source: France fines Google $120M and Amazon $42M for dropping tracking cookies without consent

Amazon’s new health band is the most invasive tech ever tested by Washington Post

Amazon approached some aspects of Halo data more carefully than it has other recent products. The Halo does not send Amazon recordings of your voice, like its Echo smart speakers. Instead, it sends recordings to your phone for analysis, and then deletes the recordings from both. Your body fat photos are sent to Amazon’s cloud for processing, then deleted from its systems. 

The Halo privacy policy says Amazon won’t sell your data, share it without your explicit permission or use it to target you with sales pitches.

But that still leaves open plenty of other ways for Amazon to profit from your information. In an anonymized way, it can data mine the heart rate, activity, sleep and tone patterns of Halo owners, using the information to tailor its health algorithms and learn about human bodies. Make no mistake: Disrupting medicine is the next goal for big tech.

Full article: Amazon’s new health band is the most invasive tech we’ve ever tested

Apple takes aim at adtech hysteria over iOS app tracking change

Apple has used a speech to European lawmakers and privacy regulators today to come out jabbing at what SVP Craig Federighi described as dramatic, “outlandish” and “false” claims being made by the adtech industry over a forthcoming change to iOS that will give users the ability to decline app tracking.

The iPhone maker had been due to introduce the major privacy enhancement to the App Store this fall but delayed until early 2021 after the plan drew fire from advertising giants.

Source: Apple takes aim at adtech hysteria over iOS app tracking change

Police Drones Are Starting to Think for Themselves

The latest drone technology — mirroring technology that powers self-driving cars — has the power to transform everyday policing, just as it can transform package delivery, building inspections and military reconnaissance.

Rather than spending tens of millions of dollars on large helicopters and pilots, even small police forces could operate tiny autonomous drones for a relative pittance.

That newfound automation, however, raises civil liberties concerns, especially as drones gain the power to track vehicles and people automatically. As the police use more drones, they could collect and store more video of life in the city, which could remove any expectation of privacy once you leave the home.

Full article: Police Drones Are Starting to Think for Themselves – The New York Times

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