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Category Archives for "Surveillance"

Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police

The tech giant records people’s locations worldwide. Now, investigators are using it to find suspects and witnesses near crimes, running the risk of snaring the innocent.

The warrants, which draw on an enormous Google database employees call Sensorvault, turn the business of tracking cellphone users’ locations into a digital dragnet for law enforcement. In an era of ubiquitous data gathering by tech companies, it is just the latest example of how personal information — where you go, who your friends are, what you read, eat and watch, and when you do it — is being used for purposes many people never expected.

Source: Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police – The New York Times

EU pushes to link tracking databases

Lawmakers are set to approve plans for an enormous new database that will collect biometric data on almost all non-EU citizens in Europe’s visa-free Schengen area.

The database — merging previously separate systems tracking migration, travel and crime — will grant officials access to a person’s verified identity with a single fingerprint scan.

Source: EU pushes to link tracking databases – POLITICO

Your social media activity and your credit score

Banks and credit agencies have started coming up with creative ways of assessing risk of “unbanked” or “credit invisible” people.

They’re calling it “alternative data,” which really just means data that isn’t normally used in a credit report. That could be things like proof of rental payments, or mobile phone bill payments, or cable TV payments. Anything people can use to prove that they’ve paid bills on time certainly helps.

But it doesn’t stop there. In a report on alternative data, Experian proposed also using things like a person’s educational history, occupation, and even social media activity. “Yelp reviews, Foursquare check-ins and online rankings and ratings can all shed light on a business’s health, growth and stability,” the report explains.

Source: Forms From the Future: your social media activity and your credit score.

UK businesses using artificial intelligence to monitor staff activity

Unions warn systems such as Isaak may increase pressure on workers and cause distrust Dozens of UK business owners are using artificial intelligence to scrutinise staff behaviour minute-to-minute by harvesting data on who emails whom and when, who accesses and edits files and who meets whom and when.

The actions of 130,000 people in the UK and abroad are being monitored in real-time by the Isaak system, which ranks staff members’ attributes.

Source: UK businesses using artificial intelligence to monitor staff activity

Surrendering privacy for survival

Americans at the lower end of the economic ladder suffer from an ever-growing privacy divide, impacting more than just their personal dignity and autonomy.

Low-income communities have historically been been monitored by government and their privacy has been routinely invaded. In Colonial America, most towns had an “overseer of the poor” who tracked poor people and either chased them out of town or auctioned off their labor. Current public benefits programs ask applicants extremely detailed and personal questions and sometimes mandate home visits, drug tests, fingerprinting, and collection of biometric information.

Full article: Another tax on the poor: Surrendering privacy for survival

Autonomous cars rise privacy questions

When fully autonomous vehicles begin circulating on public roads they will have to be able to detect when people enter or exit a vehicle, who the person is, whether they have left anything behind in the car, and especially if a person has become disabled (because of intoxication or a medical emergency).

And that information will inevitably be shared online, although there may be ways that some people can still preserve their sense of independence in the car.

“In the future, it may be different for people who own their own cars, where there’s more privacy,” said Mr. Wisselmann at BMW, “and for people who use robo taxis, where there will be less.”

Full article: Eyes on the Road! (Your Car Is Watching) – The New York Times

With facial recognition, shoplifting may get you banned in places you’ve never been

There are hundreds of stores using facial recognition – none that have any rules or standards to prevent abuse.

With facial recognition, getting caught in one store could mean a digital record of your face is shared across the country. Stores are already using the technology for security purposes and can share that data – meaning that if one store considers you a threat, every business in that network could come to the same conclusion. One mistake could mean never being able to shop again.

Full article: With facial recognition, shoplifting may get you banned in places you’ve never been – CNET

A New Age of Warfare: How Internet Mercenaries Do Battle for Authoritarian Governments

Sophisticated surveillance, once the domain of world powers, is increasingly available on the private market. Smaller countries are seizing on the tools — sometimes for darker purposes.

NSO, a private company based in Herzliya, Israel, has hired former government hackers to ply their trades for foreign governments.

Full article: A New Age of Warfare: How Internet Mercenaries Do Battle for Authoritarian Governments – The New York Times

MoviePass founder wants to use facial recognition to score you free movies

PreShow is developing an app to earn you free movie tickets – to any film in any theater – if you watch 15 to 20 minutes of high-end advertising.

But PreShow hinges on what some may consider a cost and others consider a bargain: facial recognition. PreShow’s app will only unlock with your phone’s facial recognition technology. And while you’re watching the ads to earn that free ticket, your phone’s camera monitors your level of attention. Walk away or even obscure part of your face? The ad will pause after five seconds.

Source: MoviePass founder wants to use facial recognition to score you free movies – CNET

EU Advocate General Issues Opinion on Consent for Cookies and Intersection with the GDPR

On March 21, 2019, Advocate General Szpunar released his opinion in the Planet49 case, currently pending before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The case centers on the use of consent for the processing of personal data and consent for the use of cookies.

In the Advocate General’s view, the pre-ticked box for cookies does not provide a valid active consent under the GDPR nor under the ePrivacy Directive. Moreover, he considers that the ePrivacy Directive’s consent requirement for cookies applies irrespective of whether the collected data qualify as personal data.

Source: EU Advocate General Issues Opinion on Consent for Cookies and Intersection with the GDPR

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