more on surveillance in this IMS blog
Posts Tagged ‘surveillance’
Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.
We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the leaders of these companies may be. Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American.
It is time to break up Facebook.
America was built on the idea that power should not be concentrated in any one person, because we are all fallible. That’s why the founders created a system of checks and balances.
More legislation followed in the 20th century, creating legal and regulatory structures to promote competition and hold the biggest companies accountable.
Starting in the 1970s, a small but dedicated group of economists, lawyers and policymakers sowed the seeds of our cynicism. Over the next 40 years, they financed a network of think tanks, journals, social clubs, academic centers and media outlets to teach an emerging generation that private interests should take precedence over public ones. Their gospel was simple: “Free” markets are dynamic and productive, while government is bureaucratic and ineffective.
American industries, from airlines to pharmaceuticals, have experienced increased concentration, and the average size of public companies has tripled. The results are a decline in entrepreneurship, stalled productivity growth, and higher prices and fewer choices for consumers.
From our earliest days, Mark used the word “domination” to describe our ambitions, with no hint of irony or humility.
Facebook’s monopoly is also visible in its usage statistics. About 70 percent of American adults use social media, and a vast majority are on Facebook products. Over two-thirds use the core site, a third use Instagram, and a fifth use WhatsApp. By contrast, fewer than a third report using Pinterest, LinkedIn or Snapchat. What started out as lighthearted entertainment has become the primary way that people of all ages communicate online.
The F.T.C.’s biggest mistake was to allow Facebook to acquire Instagram and WhatsApp. In 2012, the newer platforms were nipping at Facebook’s heels because they had been built for the smartphone, where Facebook was still struggling to gain traction. Mark responded by buying them, and the F.T.C. approved.
The News Feed algorithm reportedly prioritized videos created through Facebook over videos from competitors, like YouTube and Vimeo. In 2012, Twitter introduced a video network called Vine that featured six-second videos. That same day, Facebook blocked Vine from hosting a tool that let its users search for their Facebook friends while on the new network. The decision hobbled Vine, which shut down four years later.
unlike Vine, Snapchat wasn’t interfacing with the Facebook ecosystem; there was no obvious way to handicap the company or shut it out. So Facebook simply copied it. (opyright law does not extend to the abstract concept itself.)
As markets become more concentrated, the number of new start-up businesses declines. This holds true in other high-tech areas dominated by single companies, like search (controlled by Google) and e-commerce (taken over by Amazon). Meanwhile, there has been plenty of innovation in areas where there is no monopolistic domination, such as in workplace productivity (Slack, Trello, Asana), urban transportation (Lyft, Uber, Lime, Bird) and cryptocurrency exchanges (Ripple, Coinbase, Circle).
The choice is mine, but it doesn’t feel like a choice. Facebook seeps into every corner of our lives to capture as much of our attention and data as possible and, without any alternative, we make the trade.
Just last month, Facebook seemingly tried to bury news that it had stored tens of millions of user passwords in plain text format, which thousands of Facebook employees could see. Competition alone wouldn’t necessarily spur privacy protection — regulation is required to ensure accountability — but Facebook’s lock on the market guarantees that users can’t protest by moving to alternative platforms.
Mark used to insist that Facebook was just a “social utility,” a neutral platform for people to communicate what they wished. Now he recognizes that Facebook is both a platform and a publisher and that it is inevitably making decisions about values. The company’s own lawyers have argued in court that Facebook is a publisher and thus entitled to First Amendment protection.
As if Facebook’s opaque algorithms weren’t enough, last year we learned that Facebook executives had permanently deleted their own messages from the platform, erasing them from the inboxes of recipients; the justification was corporate security concerns.
Mark may never have a boss, but he needs to have some check on his power. The American government needs to do two things: break up Facebook’s monopoly and regulate the company to make it more accountable to the American people.
We Don’t Need Social Media
The push to regulate or break up Facebook ignores the fact that its services do more harm than good
Colin Horgan, May 13, 2019
Hughes joins a growing chorus of former Silicon Valley unicorn riders who’ve recently had second thoughts about the utility or benefit of the surveillance-attention economy their products and platforms have helped create. He is also not the first to suggest that government might need to step in to clean up the mess they made
Nick Srnicek, author of the book Platform Capitalism and a lecturer in digital economy at King’s College London, wrotelast month, “[I]t’s competition — not size — that demands more data, more attention, more engagement and more profits at all costs
more on Facebook in this IMS blog
Think You’re Discreet
APRIL 21, 2019 Zeynep Tufekci
Think You’re Discreet Online? Think Again
Because of technological advances and the sheer amount of data now available about billions of other people, discretion no longer suffices to protect your privacy. Computer algorithms and network analyses can now infer, with a sufficiently high degree of accuracy, a wide range of things about you that you may have never disclosed, including your moods, your political beliefs, your sexual orientation and your health.
There is no longer such a thing as individually “opting out” of our privacy-compromised world.
In 2017, the newspaper The Australian published an article, based on a leaked document from Facebook, revealing that the company had told advertisers that it could predict when younger users, including teenagers, were feeling “insecure,” “worthless” or otherwise in need of a “confidence boost.” Facebook was apparently able to draw these inferences by monitoring photos, posts and other social media data.
In 2017, academic researchers, armed with data from more than 40,000 Instagram photos, used machine-learning tools to accurately identify signs of depression in a group of 166 Instagram users. Their computer models turned out to be better predictors of depression than humans who were asked to rate whether photos were happy or sad and so forth.
Computational inference can also be a tool of social control. The Chinese government, having gathered biometric data on its citizens, is trying to use big data and artificial intelligence to single out “threats” to Communist rule, including the country’s Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic group.
Zeynep Tufekci and Seth Stephens-Davidowitz: Privacy is over
more on privacy in this IMS blog
Russia Is Considering An Experiment To Disconnect From The Internet
February 11, 20194:50 PM ET SASHA INGBER
Russia is considering a plan to temporarily disconnect from the Internet as a way to gauge how the country’s cyberdefenses would fare in the face of foreign aggression, according to Russian media.
It was introduced after the White House published its 2018 National Security Strategy, which attributed cyberattacks on the United States to Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
Russia’s Communications Ministry also simulated a switching-off exercise of global Internet services in 2014, according to Russian outlet RT.
Russia’s State Duma will meet Tuesday to consider the bill, according to RIA Novosti.
Roskomnadzor has also exerted pressure on Google to remove certain sites on Russian searches.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress last month that Russia, as well as other foreign actors, will increasingly use cyber operations to “threaten both minds and machines in an expanding number of ways—to steal information, to influence our citizens, or to disrupt critical infrastructure.”
My note: In the past, the US actions prompted other countries to consider the same:
Germanty – http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/2014/07/01/privacy-and-surveillance-obama-advisor-john-podesta-every-country-has-a-history-of-going-over-the-line/
more on cybersecurity in this IMS blog
more on surveillance in this IMS blog
Down the Security Rabbit Hole
The most secure and anonymous communication tools available
David Koff August 27 2018
These tools are used not only to lock down your security and anonymity on the known internet, but also to access the portions of the internet that are normally hidden — “The Dark Web.”
most of us don’t need the same high-privacy, high-security tools that confidential informants, journalists, and whistleblowers use, we should all know about these tools in case the time comes when we actually need them.
It’s also worth reminding everyone there’s no such thing as perfect digital security on the internet.
TAILS is an acronym for “The Amnesic Incognito Live System.”
TAILS is a highly-secure operating system (and a host of cool applications) designed to be booted off of a DVD or USB thumb drive. This not only makes TAILS easy to transport, but also ensures that TAILS can be booted and instantly useful from nearly any PC, Mac, or Chromebook. TAILS is built on Linux, a name you might recognize because it’s a popular, free, and open-source operating system that’s been available since 1991. TAILS, in particular, runs on a variant of Linux known as “Debian,” which became available in 1996.
Third and most importantly, when setup correctly, TAILS helps ensure that all of your communications — email, web browsing, chat, and more — are encrypted, made anonymous, and then routed in such a way that it’s extremely difficult to detect or trace them.
If you’re wondering just how powerful these tools really are, many of them are known by the NSA to be difficult or impossible to break. This includes:
- The TOR browser, for safe internet browsing
- KeePassX, a great application for generating and safekeeping of all of your various passwords
- Thunderbird, for emailing, secured by the Enigmail extension to encrypt and authenticate emails using a well-know and secure protocol called “OpenPGP”
- Pidgin Instant Messenger, for live chats, which are secured by the Off The Record (or OTR) encryption
- OnionShare, for safe sharing of files over the TOR network
- LibreOffice, for open-source versions of every standard office application you’ve come to know and love
TAILS even published a page of possible ways that its own security can be compromised.
Whonix (pronounced “HOOnix”) is an OS focused on anonymity, privacy, and security. Like TAILS, it is built on the open source Debian Linux OS and on TOR, the decentralized network which randomizes and segments your data transmissions.
Its unique approach to offering such well-regarded security is the creative use of two virtual machines (or VMs) running in tandem on one host computer. One of these VMs is known as the Gateway while the other is known as the Workstation.
Compared to TAILS, Whonix only provides a few free, open-source applications and those need to be set up fairly extensively. The list includes:
- The TOR browser, for safe web browsing
- Firefox, for less secure web browsing
- Icedove, for emailing, secured by the Enigmail extension to encrypt and authenticate emails using a well-know and secure protocol called “OpenPGP”
- HexChat, for internet chats
- VLC, to open and view every kind of video file that’s ever existed
Chinese Facial Recognition Will Take over the World in 2019
Michael K. Spencer Jan 14, 2018
The best facial recognition startups are in China, by a long-shot. As their software is less biased, global adoption is occurring via their software. This is evidenced in 2019 by the New York Police department in NYC for example, according to the South China Morning Post.
The mass surveillance state of data harvesting in real-time is coming. Facebook already rates and profiles us.
The Tech Wars come down to an AI-War
Whether the NYC police angle is true or not (it’s being hotly disputed), Facebook and Google are thinking along lines that follow the whims of the Chinese Government.
SenseTime and Megvii won’t just be worth $5 Billion, they will be worth many times that in the future. This is because a facial recognition data-harvesting of everything is the future of consumerism and capitalism, and in some places, the central tenet of social order (think Asia).
China has already ‘won’ the trade-war, because its winning the race to innovation. America doesn’t regulate Amazon, Microsoft, Google or Facebook properly, that stunts innovation and ethics in technology where the West is now forced to copy China just to keep up.
more about facial recognition in schools
With Safety in Mind, Schools Turn to Facial Recognition Technology. But at What Cost?
By Emily Tate Jan 31, 2019
SAFR (Secure, Accurate Facial Recognition)
violent deaths in schools have stayed relatively constant over the last 30 years, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. But then there’s the emotive reality, which is that every time another event like Sandy Hook or Parkland occurs, many educators and students feel they are in peril when they go to school.
RealNetworks, a Seattle-based software company that was popular in the 1990s for its audio and video streaming services but has since expanded to offer other tools, including SAFR (Secure, Accurate Facial Recognition), its AI-supported facial recognition software.
After installing new security cameras, purchasing a few Apple devices and upgrading the school’s Wi-Fi, St. Therese was looking at a $24,000 technology tab.
The software is programmed to allow authorized users into the building with a smile.
“Facial recognition isn’t a panacea. It is just a tool,” says Collins, who focuses on education privacy issues.
Another part of the problem with tools like SAFR, is it provides a false sense of security.
more on surveillance in this IMS blog
more on privacy in this IMS blog
China Restores Public Access To Microsoft’s Bing Search Engine
January 24, 20195:31 AM ET MATTHEW S. SCHWARTZ VANESSA ROMO
Microsoft President and Chief Legal Counsel Brad Smith explained that it’s not the first time the search engine has been blocked. “It happens periodically,” he said in an interview with Fox Business News from Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday.
“You know, we operate in China pursuant to some global principles that’s called the Global Network Initiative in terms of how we manage censorship demands and the like,” he said.
Although Bing enjoyed only about 2 percent of China’s search engine market, its banishment was significant in a country known for controlling electronic access to information. With Bing blocked, China’s citizens had even fewer options for finding information on the Internet.
Why Technology Favors Tyranny
Artificial intelligence could erase many practical advantages of democracy, and erode the ideals of liberty and equality. It will further concentrate power among a small elite if we don’t take steps to stop it.
YUVAL NOAH HARARI OCTOBER 2018 ISSUE
Ordinary people may not understand artificial intelligence and biotechnology in any detail, but they can sense that the future is passing them by. In 1938 the common man’s condition in the Soviet Union, Germany, or the United States may have been grim, but he was constantly told that he was the most important thing in the world, and that he was the future (provided, of course, that he was an “ordinary man,” rather than, say, a Jew or a woman).
n 2018 the common person feels increasingly irrelevant. Lots of mysterious terms are bandied about excitedly in ted Talks, at government think tanks, and at high-tech conferences—globalization, blockchain, genetic engineering, AI, machine learning—and common people, both men and women, may well suspect that none of these terms is about them.
Fears of machines pushing people out of the job market are, of course, nothing new, and in the past such fears proved to be unfounded. But artificial intelligence is different from the old machines. In the past, machines competed with humans mainly in manual skills. Now they are beginning to compete with us in cognitive skills.
Israel is a leader in the field of surveillance technology, and has created in the occupied West Bank a working prototype for a total-surveillance regime. Already today whenever Palestinians make a phone call, post something on Facebook, or travel from one city to another, they are likely to be monitored by Israeli microphones, cameras, drones, or spy software. Algorithms analyze the gathered data, helping the Israeli security forces pinpoint and neutralize what they consider to be potential threats.
The conflict between democracy and dictatorship is actually a conflict between two different data-processing systems. AI may swing the advantage toward the latter.
As we rely more on Google for answers, our ability to locate information independently diminishes. Already today, “truth” is defined by the top results of a Google search. This process has likewise affected our physical abilities, such as navigating space.
So what should we do?
For starters, we need to place a much higher priority on understanding how the human mind works—particularly how our own wisdom and compassion can be cultivated.
more on SCSU student philosophy club in this IMS blog
What Happens to Student Data Privacy When Chinese Firms Acquire U.S. Edtech Companies?
By Jenny Abamu Apr 24, 2018
Between the creation of a social rating system and street cameras with facial recognition capabilities, technology reports coming out of China have raised serious concerns for privacy advocates. These concerns are only heightened as Chinese investors turn their attention to the United States education technology space acquiring companies with millions of public school users.
A particularly notable deal this year centers on Edmodo, a cross between a social networking platform and a learning management system for schools that boasts having upwards of 90 million users. Net Dragon, a Chinese gaming company that is building a significant education division, bought Edmodo for a combination of cash and equity valued at $137.5 million earlier this month.
Edmodo began shifting to an advertising model last year, after years of struggling to generate revenue. This has left critics wondering why the Chinese firm chose to acquire Edmodo at such a price, some have gone as far as to call the move a data grab.
as data becomes a tool that governments such as Russia and China could use to influence voting systems or induce citizens into espionage, more legislators are turning their attention to the acquisitions of early-stage technology startups.
NetDragon officials, however, say they have no interest in these types of activities. Their main goal in acquiring United States edtech companies lies in building profitability, says Pep So, NetDragon’s Director of Corporate Development.
In 2015, the firm acquired the education technology platform, Promethean, a company that creates interactive displays for schools. NetDragon executives say that the Edmodo acquisition rounds out their education product portfolio—meaning the company will have tools for supporting multiple aspects of learning including; preparation, instructional delivery, homework, assignment grading, communication with parents students and teachers and a content marketplace.
NetDragon’s monetization plan for Edmodo focuses on building out content that gets sold via its platform. Similar to tools like TeachersPayTeachers, So hopes to see users putting up content on the platform’s marketplace, some free and others for a fee (including some virtual reality content), so that the community can buy, sell and review available educational tools.
As far as data privacy is concerned, So notes that NetDragon is still learning what it can and cannot do. He noted that the company will comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a federal regulation created in order to protect the privacy of children online, but says that the rules and regulations surrounding the law are confusing for all actors involved.
Historically, Chinese companies have faced trust and branding issues when moving into the United States market, and the reverse is also true for U.S. companies seeking to expand overseas. Companies have also struggled to learn the rules, regulations and operational procedures in place in other countries.
more on data privacy in this IMS blog:
1 2 3 4 Next