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AI and privacy

The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It: It’s taken 3 billion images from the internet to build a an AI driven database that allows US law enforcement agencies identify any stranger. from r/Futurology

Until now, technology that readily identifies everyone based on his or her face has been taboo because of its radical erosion of privacy. Tech companies capable of releasing such a tool have refrained from doing so; in 2011, Google’s chairman at the time said it was the one technology the company had held back because it could be used “in a very bad way.” Some large cities, including San Francisco, have barred police from using facial

But without public scrutiny, more than 600 law enforcement agencies have started using Clearview in the past year, according to the company, which declined to provide a list. recognition technology.

Facial recognition technology has always been controversial. It makes people nervous about Big Brother. It has a tendency to deliver false matches for certain groups, like people of color. And some facial recognition products used by the police — including Clearview’s — haven’t been vetted by independent experts.

Clearview deployed current and former Republican officials to approach police forces, offering free trials and annual licenses for as little as $2,000. Mr. Schwartz tapped his political connections to help make government officials aware of the tool, according to Mr. Ton-That.

“We have no data to suggest this tool is accurate,” said Clare Garvie, a researcher at Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology, who has studied the government’s use of facial recognition. “The larger the database, the larger the risk of misidentification because of the doppelgänger effect. They’re talking about a massive database of random people they’ve found on the internet.”

Law enforcement is using a facial recognition app with huge privacy issues Clearview AI’s software can find matches in billions of internet images. from r/technology

Part of the problem stems from a lack of oversight. There has been no real public input into adoption of Clearview’s software, and the company’s ability to safeguard data hasn’t been tested in practice. Clearview itself remained highly secretive until late 2019.

The software also appears to explicitly violate policies at Facebook and elsewhere against collecting users’ images en masse.

while there’s underlying code that could theoretically be used for augmented reality glasses that could identify people on the street, Ton-That said there were no plans for such a design.

Banning Facial Recognition Isn’t Enough from r/technology

In May of last year, San Francisco banned facial recognition; the neighboring city of Oakland soon followed, as did Somerville and Brookline in Massachusetts (a statewide ban may follow). In December, San Diego suspended a facial recognition program in advance of a new statewide law, which declared it illegal, coming into effect. Forty major music festivals pledged not to use the technology, and activists are calling for a nationwide ban. Many Democratic presidential candidates support at least a partial ban on the technology.

facial recognition bans are the wrong way to fight against modern surveillance. Focusing on one particular identification method misconstrues the nature of the surveillance society we’re in the process of building. Ubiquitous mass surveillance is increasingly the norm. In countries like China, a surveillance infrastructure is being built by the government for social control. In countries like the United States, it’s being built by corporations in order to influence our buying behavior, and is incidentally used by the government.

People can be identified at a distance by their heart beat or by their gait, using a laser-based system. Cameras are so good that they can read fingerprints and iris patterns from meters away. And even without any of these technologies, we can always be identified because our smartphones broadcast unique numbers called MAC addresses.

China, for example, uses multiple identification technologies to support its surveillance state.

There is a huge — and almost entirely unregulated — data broker industry in the United States that trades on our information.

This is why many companies buy license plate data from states. It’s also why companies like Google are buying health records, and part of the reason Google bought the company Fitbit, along with all of its data.

The data broker industry is almost entirely unregulated; there’s only one law — passed in Vermont in 2018 — that requires data brokers to register and explain in broad terms what kind of data they collect.

The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It from r/technews

Until now, technology that readily identifies everyone based on his or her face has been taboo because of its radical erosion of privacy. Tech companies capable of releasing such a tool have refrained from doing so; in 2011, Google’s chairman at the time said it was the one technology the company had held back because it could be used “in a very bad way.” Some large cities, including San Francisco, have barred police from using facial recognition technology.

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on social credit system in this IMS blog
https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=social+credit

Jennifer Newstead privacy Facebok

Facebook’s new general counsel is a Trump adviser who helped author Patriot Act

infamous former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo wrote in his 2006 book that Newstead was the “day-to-day manager of the Patriot Act in Congress”.

The Patriot Act was passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and brought in a series of new federal crimes related to terrorism. The legislation was broad and much of the government’s expanded surveillance powers stemmed from parts of the act. It enabled, among other things, the controversial Section 215, which was used to justify the National Security Agency’s phone records collection programme.

It also had a “roving wiretap” provision, which allowed government to place a tap on all of an individual’s personal devices based purely on the approval of the notoriously permissive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

As The Verge points out, the Patriot Act also initiated the practice of “national security letters”, a procedure by which intelligence agencies can informally request data without any kind of court or ex parte authorisation, citing threats to national security. Facebook fields thousands of these requests every year, the content of which is generally subject to gag orders and therefore remains publicly unknown. In her capacity as general counsel, Newstead will be able to approve or deny these requests.

https://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-makes-official-who-helped-write-patriot-act-its-top-lawyer/

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more on privacy in this IMS blog
https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/2019/04/22/data-interference/

https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=privacy

Students Data Privacy

What Happens to Student Data Privacy When Chinese Firms Acquire U.S. Edtech Companies?

By Jenny Abamu     Apr 24, 2018

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-04-24-what-happens-to-student-data-privacy-when-chinese-firms-acquire-u-s-edtech-companies

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.

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Iran and Huawei top agenda as Pompeo meets Merkel for 45 minutes in Berlin

https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/pompeo-merkel-iran-huawei-agenda-110409835.html

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Merkel to Ratchet up Huawei Restrictions in Concession to Hawks

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-13/merkel-to-ratchet-up-huawei-restrictions-in-concession-to-hawks

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more on data privacy in this IMS blog:
https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=data+privacy

privacy and cell phones

In Major Privacy Win, Supreme Court Rules Police Need Warrant To Track Your Cellphone

June 22, 201810:41 AM ET

Cellphone providers routinely keep location information for customers to help improve service. And until now, the prevailing legal theory was that if an individual voluntarily shares his information with a third party — for instance, by signing up for cellphone service — police can get that information without a search warrant.

On Friday, the Supreme Court blew a hole in that theory. Writing for the court majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that cellphone location information is a “near perfect” tool for government surveillance, analogous to an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet.

While Friday’s decision may limit the government’s access to cellphone data, it has no impact on the ability of private companies to amass, use and sell their customers’ information. That is because the Fourth Amendment only limits government conduct, not private conduct. Only Congress, in enacting legislation, can limit how private companies amass and use information.

see also:
https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/2015/12/03/power-privacy-internet/

Aral Balkan: https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/lib290/2018/03/01/duckduckgo-privacy-free-service/
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more on privacy and surveillance in this IMS blog
https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=privacy

https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=surveillance

 

student privacy

Report: Tech Companies Are Spying on Children Through Devices and Software Used in Classroom

By Richard Chang 04/17/17

https://thejournal.com/articles/2017/04/17/report-tech-companies-are-spying-on-children-through-devices-and-software-used-in-classroom.aspx

according to a new report from the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), “Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy

shows that state and federal laws, as well as industry self-regulation, have failed to keep up with a growing education technology industry.

One-third of all K–12 students in the United States use school-issued devices running software and apps that collect far more information on kids than is necessary.

Resource-poor school districts can receive these tools at deeply discounted prices or for free, as tech companies seek a slice of the $8 billion ed tech industry. But there’s a real, devastating cost — the tracking, cataloging and exploitation of data about children as young as 5 years old.

Our report shows that the surveillance culture begins in grade school, which threatens to normalize the next generation to a digital world in which users hand over data without question in return for free services

EFF surveyed more than 1,000 stakeholders across the country, including students, parents, teachers and school administrators, and reviewed 152 ed tech privacy policies.

“Spying on Students” provides comprehensive recommendations for parents, teachers, school administrators and tech companies to improve the protection of student privacy. Asking the right questions, negotiating for contracts that limit or ban data collection, offering families the right to opt out, and making digital literacy and privacy part of the school curriculum are just a few of the 70-plus recommendations for protecting student privacy contained in the report.

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more on students and privacy
https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=student+privacy
https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=privacy+government

https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/blog/2017/03/us-senate-votes-50-48-away-broadband-privacy-rules-let-isps-telecoms-sell-internet-history/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/03/28/the-house-just-voted-to-wipe-out-the-fccs-landmark-internet-privacy-protections/?utm_term=.34ed3dce7494

 

Power, Privacy, and the Internet

Power, Privacy, and the Internet

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/gallery/2014/feb/07/power-privacy-and-internet-conference/

  • Governments, Corporations and Hackers: The Internet and Threats to the Privacy and Dignity of the Citizen:

https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/126066881/download?secret_token=s-QvmZz&client_id=0f8fdbbaa21a9bd18210986a7dc2d72c 

  • The Internet and the Future of the Press

https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/126066391/download?secret_token=s-v6mpP&client_id=0f8fdbbaa21a9bd18210986a7dc2d72c

  • The Internet, Repression and Dissent

https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/126066389/download?secret_token=s-Udzom&client_id=0f8fdbbaa21a9bd18210986a7dc2d72c

 Merkel calls for separate EU internet

http://www.aljazeera.com/video/europe/2014/02/merkel-calls-separate-eu-internet-201421955226908928.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/edward_snowden_here_s_how_we_take_back_the_internet

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/

 

 

https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/2015/12/03/surveillance-age-and-librarians/

Pro Domo Sua: Are We Puppets in a Wired World? Surveillance and privacy revisited…

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/nov/07/are-we-puppets-wired-world/

Are We Puppets in a Wired World?

But while we were having fun, we happily and willingly helped to create the greatest surveillance system ever imagined, a web whose strings give governments and businesses countless threads to pull, which makes us…puppets. The free flow of information over the Internet (except in places where that flow is blocked), which serves us well, may serve others better. Whether this distinction turns out to matter may be the one piece of information the Internet cannot deliver.

 

Zoom succumbs to Chinese authorities

After March 2020 reports about Zoom privacy issues, now Zoom acknowledges working with the Chinese government:

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Is Zoom Safe for Chinese Students?

Elizabeth Redden June 12, 2020

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/06/12/scholars-raise-concerns-about-using-zoom-teach-about-china

Unlike many other major tech platforms based in the U.S., Zoom, which is headquartered in California, has not been blocked by the Chinese government. Zoom said in a blog post that it is “developing technology over the next several days that will enable us to remove or block at the participant level based on geography” which will allow the company to “to comply with requests from local authorities when they determine activity on our platform is illegal within their borders; however, we will also be able to protect these conversations for participants outside of those borders where the activity is allowed.”

Zoom’s interference with the Tiananmen gatherings and its suspension of user accounts raised alarm among many in higher education, which increasingly depends on Zoom to operate courses remotely — including for students located within China’s borders.

Multiple scholars took to Twitter to express their worries

PEN America, a group that advocates for free expression, condemned Zoom for shuttering the activist’s account.

This is not the first time Zoom’s links to China have come under scrutiny. In April, the company admitted that some of its user data were “mistakenly” routed through China; in response, the company announced that users of paid Zoom accounts could opt out of having their data routed through data centers in China.

An April 3 report by scholars at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy said Zoom’s research and development operations in China could make the company susceptible “to pressure from Chinese authorities.”

Zoom, whose Chinese-born CEO is a U.S. citizen, said in its latest annual report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it had more than 700 employees at its research and development centers in China as of Jan. 31. The SEC filing notes that Zoom has a “high concentration of research and development personnel in China, which could expose us to market scrutiny regarding the integrity of our solution or data security features.”

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Zoom Just Totally Caved In to China on Censorship from r/technology


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more about Zoom in this IMS blog
https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=zoom

break up Facebook

https://nyti.ms/2LzRzwq

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 entrepreneurshipstalled 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.

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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

https://onezero.medium.com/we-dont-need-social-media-53d5455f4f6b

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

 

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more on Facebook in this IMS blog
https://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=facebook

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