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Just When You Thought Surveillance Tech Couldn’t Get Any More Orwellian…

Just When You Thought Surveillance Tech Couldn’t Get Any More Orwellian…

One of my favorite TV shows was Person of Interest. In that show, a genius programmer was hired by the government to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) computer to tap into and analyze communication feeds and predict activities that may pose a threat. Unfortunately, as you can imagine, things spun out of control; the system that was designed to benefit society was not always beneficial to citizens.

As amusing as it is to watch escapist fiction such as this, it’s not so enjoyable when you realize it’s no longer fiction. China has already developed the infrastructure to envelop their citizens in this protective surveillance net and has begun that slippery slope of using AI to not only catch activities deemed undesired by the government – it’s starting to take action against those observed.

In the city of Shenzhen (and most likely others), when an offender is observed jaywalking via video surveillance, they will publicly humiliate you by showing your face on screens located around the city. Now that’s bad enough but they’re going a step further. Those identified will have their cell phone ‘pinged’ and be sent an immediate fine.

By the way, Intellifusion, the company behind the AI system involved is in talks with WeChat and Seina Weibo (China’s equivalents of Facebook and Twitter).

The surveillance state is expanding, and even children are not exempt.

You may think there must be some kind of check-and-balance system built in to ensure that children would be protected so that they wouldn’t suffer the same consequences as an adult. You’d be wrong.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Orwellian Future: Facial Recognition & Mass Surveillance is Coming to U.S. Schools

ORWELLIAN FUTURE: FACIAL RECOGNITION & MASS SURVEILLANCE IS COMING TO U.S. SCHOOLS

We are staring our Orwellian future right in the face.  Beginning in New York, facial recognition is coming to schools in the United States and it’ll be switched on for testing next week.

The dystopian future George Orwell warned about in his accidental historical predictions book, 1984, has arrived. According to an article by Engadget, the Lockport City School District in New York will start testing a facial and object recognitionsystem called “Aegis” on June 3rd. According to BuzzFeed News, that will make it the first in the U.S. to pilot a facial recognition mass surveillance system on its students and faculty.

The district installed cameras and the software suite back in September, using $1.4 million of the $4.2 million funding it received through the New York Smart Schools Bond Act. Funding provided through the Bond Act is supposed to go towards instructional tech devices, such as iPads and laptops, but the district clearly had other plans. –Engadget

BuzzFeed News got its hands on a copy of a letter distributed to the students’ parents, and it describes Aegis as “an early warning system” that can notify officials of threats.  But that’s the propagandized version of what the system is in reality: it’s a mass surveillance tool being sold to the public as “safety” as with any human rights infringement. The system, created by Canadian company SN Technologies, can apparently keep track of certain individuals in school grounds.

Schools have long been indoctrination centers and it doesn’t look like that trend will be reversed anytime soon, in fact, it’s being amplified. The system can identify students and staff who’ve been suspended, but it’s unclear if Lockport will use it to monitor those who’ve been suspended over non-violent offenses.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK Cops Fine Pedestrian $115 For Avoiding Facial Recognition Camera

UK Cops Fine Pedestrian $115 For Avoiding Facial Recognition Camera

A UK pedestrian was arrested and fined £90 ($115 US) after attempting to cover his face while passing a controversial facial recognition camera van on a East London street. The notorious London police vans scan the faces of passers-by and compare them to a database of wanted criminals. 

One man wasn’t having any of it, and was seen covering his face with his hat and jacket before London police stopped him and took his picture anyway according to the Daily Mail

If I want to cover me face, I’ll cover me face. Don’t push me over when I’m walking down the street,” said the man after his stop. 

“How would you like it if you walked down the street and someone grabbed your shoulder? You wouldn’t like it, would you?” the man asked an officer, who replied “Calm yourself down or you’re going in handcuffs. It’s up to you. Wind your neck in.” 

“You wind your neck in,” the man replied. 

After being fined, the man told a reporter: ‘The chap told me down the road – he said they’ve got facial recognition. So I walked past like that (covering my face).

‘It’s a cold day as well. As soon as I’ve done that, the police officer’s asked me to come to him. So I’ve got me back up. I said to him ‘f*** off’, basically.  

‘I said ‘I don’t want me face shown on anything. If I want to cover me face, I’ll cover me face, it’s not for them to tell me not to cover me face. 

‘I’ve got a now £90 fine, here you go, look at that. Thanks lads, £90. Well done.’ –Daily Mail

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Google Tracks Your Location and Shares It With Police, Even When Your Phone is Off

Google Tracks Your Location and Shares It With Police, Even When Your Phone is Off

Even if you disable GPS, deactivate phone location tracking, and turn off your phone, it’s still possible for Google and the NSA to monitor your every move.

Over the last two decades, cell phone use has become an everyday part of life for the vast majority of people around the planet. Nearly without question, consumers have chosen to carry these increasingly smart devices with them everywhere they go. Despite surveillance revelations from whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, the average smart phone user continues to carry the devices with little to no security or protection from privacy invasions.

Americans make up one of the largest smartphone markets in the world today, yet they rarely question how intelligence agencies or private corporations might be using their smartphone data. A recent report from the New York Times adds to the growing list of reasons why Americans should be asking these questions. According to the Times, law enforcement have been using a secret technique to figure out the location of Android users. The technique involves gathering detailed location data collected by Google from Android phones, iPhones, and iPads that have Google Maps and other Google apps installed.

The location data is stored inside a Google database known as Sensorvault, which contains detailed location records of hundreds of millions of devices from around the world. The records reportedly contain location data going back to 2009. The data is collected whether or not users are making calls or using apps.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says police are using a single warrant—sometimes known as a “geo-fence” warrant—to access location data from devices that are linked to individuals who have no connection to criminal activity and have not provided any reasonable suspicion of a crime. Jennifer Lynch, EFF’s Surveillance Litigation Director, says these searches are problematic for several reasons.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China’s Big Brother Social Control Goes to Australia

(Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

(Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s Big Brother Social Control Goes to Australia

Australia is preparing to launch its own version of the Chinese regime’s high-tech system for monitoring and controlling its citizens. The launch will be in Darwin, and will include systems to monitor people and their activity on their cell phones.

The new system is based on monitoring programs in Shenzhen, China, where the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is testing its Social Credit System. Officials on the Darwin council traveled to Shenzhen, according to NT News to “have a chance to see exactly how their Smart Technology works prior to being fully rolled out.”

In Darwin, they’ve already constructed “poles, fitted with speakers, cameras and Wi-Fi,” according to NT News, which will monitor people, their movements around the city, the websites they visit, and what apps they use. The monitoring will be done mainly by artificial intelligence, but will alert authorities on set triggers.

Just like in China, the surveillance system is being branded as a “smart city” program, and while Australian officials claim it’s operations are benign, they’ve announced it functions to monitor cell phone activity and “virtual fences” that will trigger alerts if people cross them.

“We’ll be getting sent an alarm saying ‘there’s a person in this area that you’ve put a virtual fence around’ … boom an alert goes out to whatever authority, whether it’s us or police to say ‘look at camera five’,” said Josh Sattler—the Darwin council’s general manager for innovation, growth, and development services—according to NT News.

The nature of the “virtual fences” and what type of activity will sound an alarm is still not being made clear.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Orwell Goes Retail: Stores Now Track Where You Shop… And Sleep

Orwell Goes Retail: Stores Now Track Where You Shop… And Sleep

In news that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, retailers are now tracking not only where are you shop, but also where you sleep, according to a new Bloomberg article.

For instance, Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave, Texas used information and location data from customers’ phones to determine that a lot of shoppers own pets. Using this data, it went on to install water fountains, babysitting stations and photo op stations for customers and their pets. As a result, the time customers spent in the mall grew by 40%.

One shopping Center in Chicago found it was drawing customers from Asian neighborhoods, so it filled one of its vacancies with a high-end Asian specialty grocery. And even Dunkin’ Donuts is getting in on the trend. It employed phone data to make sure that the 278 new stores it was opening wouldn’t steal customers from existing locations.

These few clues that retail owners are getting from customers’ phones are one of the last chances brick-and-mortar shops have at trying to salvage their industry. They’re buying this mobile phone data hand over fist in order to help determine where people shop, eat and see movies. They’re also looking to see where customers go before and after going to the mall. It helps them look at personal details and paint a picture of the demographic that shops with them. It also helps them advertise.

But aside from transforming the industry, this is raising privacy concerns. The idea of being tracked – surprise – makes some people uneasy (how that is not “all” is beyond comprehension). All the companies interviewed for the article said that they don’t use any information that can identify individuals, but due to lax regulation, they’re really on the honor system to keep their word. So, we’re absolutely positive they’re doing the right thing…

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Global Government and Mass Surveillance May Be Needed to Save Humanity, Expert Says

Global Government and Mass Surveillance May Be Needed to Save Humanity, Expert Says

A prominent Oxford philosopher who is known for making terrifying predictions about humanity has a new theory about our future, and it isn’t pretty.

Over 15 years ago, Nick Bostrom, author of Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, made the case that we are all living in a Matrix-like computer simulation run by another civilization.

Here’s a summary of that theory, explained by Vox:

In an influential paper that laid out the theory, the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom showed that at least one of three possibilities is true: 1) All human-like civilizations in the universe go extinct before they develop the technological capacity to create simulated realities; 2) if any civilizations do reach this phase of technological maturity, none of them will bother to run simulations; or 3) advanced civilizations would have the ability to create many, many simulations, and that means there are far more simulated worlds than non-simulated ones. (source)

Will humanity eventually be destroyed by one of its own creations?

If you find the idea of living in a computer simulation that is run by unknown beings troubling, wait until you hear Bostrom’s latest theory.

Last Wednesday, Bostrom took the stage at a TED conference in Vancouver, Canada, to share some of the insights from his latest work, “The Vulnerable World Hypothesis.”

While speaking to head of the conference, Chris Anderson, Bostrom argued that mass surveillance could be one of the only ways to save humanity – from a technology of our own creation.

His theory starts with a metaphor of humans standing in front of a giant urn filled with balls that represent ideas. There are white balls (beneficial ideas), grey balls (moderately harmful ideas), and black balls (ideas that destroy civilization). The creation of the atomic bomb, for instance, was akin to a grey ball — a dangerous idea that didn’t result in our demise.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Thousands Of Amazon Alexa Eavesdroppers Can Also Access Users’ Home Addresses

Thousands Of Amazon Alexa Eavesdroppers Can Also Access Users’ Home Addresses

Bloomberg has it in for Amazon these days.

Two weeks after we finally got confirmation what everyone had known for so long, namely that an internal Amazon team numbering in the thousands was secretly listening in to Alexa users’ commands without their prior knowledge, Bloomberg reported that the same team also has access to location data and can easily find a customer’s home address.

Citing five (supposedly former) employees familiar with the program, Bloomberg writes that the covert “Alexa team”, which is spread across three continents, and transcribes, annotates and analyzes a portion of the voice recordings picked up by Alexa, “to help Amazon’s digital voice assistant get better at understanding and responding to commands”, also has access to Alexa users’ geographic coordinates and can easily type them into third-party mapping software and find home residences, according to the employees (who signed nondisclosure agreements barring them from speaking publicly about the program, which apparently did not prevent them from speaking off the record with Bloomberg).

And while there has yet to be any evidence that Amazon employees have attempted to track down individual users, two members of the Alexa team who seem to have grown a coscience, expressed concern that Amazon which is fast becoming the world’s biggest monopoly across virtually every industry, was granting unnecessarily broad access to customer data that would make it easy to identify a device’s owner.

“Anytime someone is collecting where you are, that means it could go to someone else who could find you when you don’t want to be found,” said Lindsey Barrett, a staff attorney and teaching fellow at Georgetown Law’s Communications and Technology Clinic, who noted that location data is more sensitive than many other categories of user information. Widespread access to location data associated with Alexa user recordings “would set up a big red flag for me.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

She Wrote The Patriot Act. Her Next Job Is With Facebook

She Wrote The Patriot Act. Her Next Job Is With Facebook

Facebook announced Monday that Jennifer Newstead, a Trump appointee who served in the Department of Justice (DoJ) under President Bush, will join the social media company as General Counsel, supervising its global legal functions.

Newstead replaces Colin Stretch, who announced in 3Q18 that he will exit. Stretch will remain with Facebook through the transition phase, expected to be completed in the coming months.

“Jennifer is a seasoned leader whose global perspective and experience will help us fulfill our mission,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer. “We are also truly grateful to Colin for his dedicated leadership and wise counsel over the past nine years. He has played a crucial role in some of our most important projects and has created a strong foundation for Jennifer to build upon.”

Newstead brings a terrifying history of lobbying and legislating for an Orwellian style of mass electronic surveillance of Americans.

The Hill explains she was credited with writing the controversial 2001 Patriot Act, a piece of legislation that stripped Americans of their First and Fourth Amendments in the name of fighting the War on Terror.

In a 2002 statement, Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh described Newstead’s role in drafting the Patriot Act: “Her enhanced leadership duties and her excellent service on a range of issues — including helping craft the new U.S.A. Patriot Act to protect the United States against terror — have earned her this important distinction. She is first among equals.”

Congress enacted the Patriot Act in the wake of September 11, 2001 attacks, the Act expanded the scope of the government’s surveillance powers to investigate terrorism, organized crime, and drug trafficking. It allowed government investigators to use roving wiretaps and the ability to collect telephone records from US carriers.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Police Still Secretly Tracking TransLink Riders? Yes, Even More

Police Still Secretly Tracking TransLink Riders? Yes, Even More

Two years after sparking a provincial probe, Tyee finds practice has grown. 

TransLink compass card
If you register a Compass card or pay for TransLink rides with a credit card, the police can get personal information like your name, phone number, email address and trip history without a warrant or telling you.

What happened after The Tyee exposed that TransLink increasingly was handing over data about its riders to police without informing customers or requiring any warrants? 

That was in August 2017.

A follow-up Tyee investigation finds police tracking of TransLink riders has since intensified.

And a probe by B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner triggered by The Tyee’s report quietly wrapped up four months ago without telling the public or resulting in any new safeguards.

The fact the data sharing continues without any moves to protect riders’ privacy or ability to know is “tremendously disappointing,” said Micheal Vonn, policy director for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

But TransLink emphasized that the province’s investigation concluded the transit authority broke no laws by secretly sharing customers’ information with police.

TransLink’s data can reveal to police, without the rider’s knowledge, their name, email address, phone number and every trip taken with a Compass card or fare purchased from a kiosk with a credit or debit card.

In July 2017, TransLink responded to a Tyee freedom of information request saying it had received 132 police requests for such information, granting 82. The number of times law enforcers sought and received such information had risen since 2016. In the whole of that year, police had made 147 requests and were granted 111. 

In 2015, The Tyee learned, TransLink fielded only 16 such requests, granting 10.

Five Reasons to Care about RCMP Monitoring Your Social Media

Five Reasons to Care about RCMP Monitoring Your Social Media

Surveillance is going ahead without oversight or accountability, for one.

FacebookNotifications.jpg
Governments have taken no effective steps to protect citizens from round-the-clock, random surveillance in the internet age. Photo: Shutterstock.

You should care, even be scared, by The Tyee’s reports on the RCMP’s “Operation Wide Awake,” a secretive and unsupervised social media monitoring operation.

We’re already deep into a new era. Police — and businesses and other organizations — have the ability to track citizens in ways unimagined even a decade ago. Social media, the internet, cellphones, algorithms and analytics have given the state extraordinary power to monitor what you think and predict what you might think or do.

And governments have taken no effective steps to protect citizens from round-the-clock, random surveillance in the internet age. They have quietly surrendered our rights.

The Tyee’s Bryan Carney revealed the RCMP’s Operation Wide Awake, its expansion, and the lack of oversight to protect Canadians’ rights.

The RCMP, Carney reported, had launched a sweeping project to monitor Canadians’ internet use, especially social media. At first, the goal was to help investigators solve crimes. Then the police decided to expand the monitoring to try and assess whether people might commit crimes. 

Basic privacy considerations around the expanded program have not been completed.

Why should that scare you?

First, this is a whole new kind of surveillance. Even a decade ago, police had few options for tracking citizens. They could intercept mail or tap a phone line, if the court approved a warrant. Officers could interview neighbours or infiltrate groups they thought might be a threat. 

But between legal safeguards and the practical challenges, mass monitoring was impossible.

Operation Wide Awake shows how much that has changed. The RCMP bought social media monitoring technology from Salesforce via Carahsoft, a big U.S. corporation supplying governments with technology.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Are we sleepwalking into an AI police state?

Are we sleepwalking into an AI police state?

Predictive analytics enabling law enforcement to identify “high-risk” areas has highlighted ethical and legal quandaries

Science fiction has long speculated on the danger of a dystopian future and machines powered by artificial intelligence (AI). But with the advent of big data, we no longer need to speculate: the future has arrived. By the end of March, West Midlands Police is due to finish a prototype for the National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS), an AI system designed to predict the risk of where crime will be committed and by whom. NDAS could eventually be rolled out by every police force in the UK.

Ultimately, we need to be able to choose as a society how we use these technologies and what kind of society we really want to be

Fourteen police forces around the UK have used or planned to use such tools. But a report published in February by human rights group Liberty warns that far from being objective, police crime-mapping software reinforces pre-existing biases about who commits crime.

Current mapping tools use past crime data to identify so-called high-risk areas, leading to more intensive patrolling. Yet these areas are often already subject to disproportionate over-policing. By relying on data from police practices, according to Liberty’s advocacy director Corey Stoughton, these tools might simply “entrench discrimination against black and minority-ethnic people”.

Police mapping tools turning citizens into suspects

Ben Hayes, a data protection and ethics adviser to the European Union, United Nations and other international organisations, warns that the increased use of such mapping tools is increasingly turning ordinary citizens into suspects.

“People can be categorised as vulnerable, at risk, threatening, deserving or undeserving,” says Dr Hayes, noting that this tends to target those already marginalised. “Services such as border control, policing and social welfare are all subject to inherent bias. Machine-learning doesn’t eliminate those biases, it amplifies and reinforces them.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Social Media, Universal Basic Income, and Cashless Society: How China’s Social Credit System Is Coming To America

Social Media, Universal Basic Income, and Cashless Society: How China’s Social Credit System Is Coming To America

Some well-informed Americans may be aware of China’s horrifying “Social Credit System” that was recently unveiled as a method of eradicating any dissent in the totalitarian state. Essentially freezing out anyone who does not conform to the state’s version of the ideal citizen, the SCS is perhaps the most frightening control system being rolled out today. That is, until you consider what is coming next.

Unbeknownst to most people, there appears to be a real attempt to create a system in which all citizens are rationed their “wages” digitally each month in place of a paycheck, including the ability to gain or lose money. This system would see any form of dissent resulting in the cut off of those credits and the ability to work, eat, or even exist in society. It would not only be the end of dissent but of any semblance of real individuality.

Here’s how the Social Credit System operates in China.

First, however, for those who are unaware of the Social Credit System as it operates in China, we should briefly describe just what has taken place there. The Social Credit System in China isn’t merely a punishment for criticizing the state as is the case in most totalitarian regimes, the SCS can bring the hammer down for even the slightest infraction such as smoking in a non-smoking zone.

One summary of the SCS can be found in Business Insider’s article by Alexandra Ma entitled “China has started ranking citizens with a creepy ‘social credit’ system — here’s what you can do wrong, and the embarrassing, demeaning ways they can punish you,” where Ma writes,

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

NSA Abandons Part Of Mass Surveillance Program Exposed By Snowden

NSA Abandons Part Of Mass Surveillance Program Exposed By Snowden

The National Security Agency (NSA) has reportedly abandoned part of their infamous surveillance apparatus exposed by former contractor Edward Snowden, and used for the mass collection of Americans’ communications records; including phone logs, metadata and text messages. 

The New York Times noted that House minority leader national security adviser Luke Murry told The Lawfare Podcast that the NSA “hasn’t actually been using it for the past six months,” and that he’s “not certain that the [Trump] administration will want to start that back up” (despite collecting 530 million US phone records in 2017)

Keep in mind, the NYT report isn’t claiming the NSA has abandoned other programs such as XKeyscore – which the agency uses to search and analyze global internet data. When asked by German broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk “What could you do if you would use XKeyscore?” Edward Snowden replied: 

You could read anyone’s email in the world, anybody you’ve got an email address for. Any website: You can watch traffic to and from it. Any computer that an individual sits at: You can watch it. Any laptop that you’re tracking: you can follow it as it moves from place to place throughout the world. It’s a one-stop-shop for access to the NSA’s information.

… You can tag individuals … Let’s say you work at a major German corporation and I want access to that network, I can track your username on a website on a form somewhere, I can track your real name, I can track associations with your friends and I can build what’s called a fingerprint, which is network activity unique to you, which means anywhere you go in the world, anywhere you try to sort of hide your online presence, your identity. –Edward Snowden

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Insane Surveillance of your iPhone that Exposes You To Massive Risks

The Insane Surveillance of your iPhone that Exposes You To Massive Risks 

There is a new and very serious data scandal rising up with iPhones that Apple is being asked to shutdown. There are a number of major companies who are now secretly recording your every move on their iPhone apps without your permission or even your knowledge. They are actually recording every keystroke you make. The list of companies are Abercrombie & Fitch, Air Canada, Expedia, Hollister, Hotels.COM, and Singapore Airlines to mention a few.

According to an investigation by App Analyst, they checked apps created by Glassbox by reviewing their listed customers to see exactly what data was leaving their iPhones and going back to the companies. According to TechCrunch, none of the apps that were checked bothered to tell the client that they were recording their screens or that they were sending the information back to each company. This type of surveillance to see what you might be interested in buying next is EXTREMELYdangerous. This is going way too far and we really do need laws to prohibit this type of data collection. They are capturing everything including your banking details.

What is becoming painfully obvious is you SHOULD NOT use your phone for financial transactions — PERIOD!!!!! Additionally, get a cheap laptop and use that for any financial transactions with NO OTHER apps for movies, travel, or anything. Segregate your financial transactions from the rest of your activities.

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