Corporations have built a hall of one-way mirrors: from the inside, you can see only apps, web pages, ads, and yourself reflected by social media. But in the shadows behind the glass, trackers quietly take notes on nearly everything you do. These trackers are not omniscient, but they are widespread and indiscriminate. The data they collect and derive is not perfect, but it is nevertheless extremely sensitive.
A data-snorting company can just make low bids to ensure it never wins while pocketing your data for nothing. This is a flaw in the implied deal where you trade data for benefits.
You can limit what you give away by blocking tracking cookies. Unfortunately, you can still be tracked by other techniques. These include web beacons, browser fingerprinting and behavioural data such as mouse movements, pauses and clicks, or sweeps and taps.
Tor, the original anti-surveillance browser, is based on an old, heavily modified version of Firefox.
Most other browsers are now, like Chrome, based on Google’s open source Chromium. Once enough web developers started coding for Chrome instead of for open standards, it became arduous and expensive to sustain alternative browser engines. Chromium-based browsers now include Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, the Epic Privacy Browser and next year’s new Microsoft Edge.
The phrase “school-to-prison pipeline” has long been used to describe how schools respond to disciplinary problems with excessively stringent policies that create prison-like environments and funnel children who don’t fall in line into the criminal justice system. Now, schools are investing in surveillance systems that will likely exacerbate existing disparities.
A number of tech companies are capitalizing on the growing market for student surveillance measures as various districts and school leaders committhemselves to preventing acts of violence. Rekor Systems, for instance, recently announced the launch of OnGuard, a program that claims to “advance student safety” by implementing countless surveillance and “threat assessment” mechanisms in and around schools.
While none of these methods have been proven to be effective in deterring violence, similarsystems have resulted in diverting resources away from enrichment opportunities, policing school communities to a point where students feel afraid to express themselves, and placing especially dangerous targets on students of color who are already disproportionately mislabeled and punished.ProPublica
Chinese cyberspace is one of the most surveilled and censored in the world. That includes WeChat. Owned by Tencent, one of China’s biggest companies, the chat-meets-payment app has more than 1 billion monthly users in China and now serves users outside the country, too, although it does not divulge how many. Researchers say its use abroad has extended the global reach of China’s surveillance and censorship methods.
“The intention of keeping people safe by building these systems goes out the window the moment you don’t secure them at all,” says Victor Gevers, co-founder of the nonprofit GDI Foundation, an open-source data security collective.
Every day, Gevers scans the Internet for vulnerabilities to find unsecured databases, and he has exposed a large number of them, particularly linked to China.
New York’s Lockport City School District, which is using public funds from a Smart Schools bond to help pay for a reported $3.8 million security system that uses facial recognition technology to identify individuals who don’t belong on campus
the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C., published an animated video that illustrates the possible harm that surveillance technology can cause to children and the steps schools should take before making any decisions, such as identifying specific goals for the technology and establishing who will have access to the data and for how long.
Companies like Reveal Mobile collect data from software development kits inside hundreds of frequently used apps. In the United States, another company, inMarket, covers 38 percent of millennial moms and about one-quarter of all smartphones, and tracks 50 million people each month. Otherplayers have similar reach.
What is an S.D.K.?A Software Development Kit is code that’s inserted into an app and enables certain features, like activating your phone’s Bluetooth sensor. Location data companies create S.D.K.s and developers insert them into their apps, creating a conduit for recording and storing your movement data.
Familiar tech giants are also players in the beacosystem. In 2015, Facebook began shipping free Facebook Bluetooth beacons to businesses for location marketing inside the Facebook app. Leaked documents show that Facebook worried that users would “freak out” and spread “negative memes” about the program. The company recently removed the Facebook Bluetooth beacons section from their website.
Not to be left out, in 2017, Google introduced Project Beacon and began sending beacons to businesses for use with Google Ads services. Google uses the beacons to send the businesses’ visitors notificationsthat ask them to leave photos and reviews, among other features. And last year, investigators at Quartz found that Google Android can track you using Bluetooth beacons even when you turn Bluetooth off in your phone.
Companies collecting micro-location data defend the practice by arguing that users can opt out of location services. They maintain that consumers embrace targeted ads because they’re more relevant.
You can download an app like Beacon Scanner and scan for beacons when you enter a store.But even if you detect the beacons, you don’t know who is collecting the data.
The Times’s guide on how to stop apps from tracking your location. For Android users, the F-Droid app store hosts free and open- source apps that do not spy on users with hidden trackers.
The increasing availability of these kinds of tools raise concerns and questions for Doug Levin, founder of EdTech Strategies.acial-recognition police tools have been decried as “staggeringly inaccurate.”
acial-recognition police tools have been decried as “staggeringly inaccurate.”School web filters can also impact low-income families inequitably, he adds, especially those that use school-issued devices at home. #equity.
Social-Emotional Learning: The New Surveillance?
Using data to profile students—even in attempts to reinforce positive behaviors—has Cerda concerned, especially in schools serving diverse demographics. #equity.
As in the insurance industry, much of the impetus (and sales pitches) in the school and online safety market can be driven by fear. But voicing such concerns and red flags can also steer the stakeholders toward dialogue and collaboration.
FBI quietly changes its privacy rules for accessing NSA data on Americans
Classified revisions accepted by secret Fisa court affect NSA data involving Americans’ international emails, texts and phone calls
The FBI has quietly revised its privacy rules for searching data involving Americans’ international communications that was collected by the National Security Agency, US officials have confirmed to the Guardian.
In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA and FBI dragnet surveillance, many Americans are concerned that their rights to privacy and intellectual freedom are under threat. But librarians are perfectly positioned to help our communities develop strategies to protect themselves against unwanted surveillance. In this webinar, Alison Macrina and April Glaser of the Library Freedom Project will talk about the landscape of surveillance, the work of the LFP, and some tips and tools librarians can use to resist pervasive surveillance in the digital age.
About the Presenters:
Alison Macrina is a librarian, privacy rights activist, and the founder and director of the Library Freedom Project, an initiative which aims to make real the promise of intellectual freedom in libraries by teaching librarians and their local communities about surveillance threats, privacy rights and law, and privacy-protecting technology tools to help safeguard digital freedoms. Alison is passionate about connecting surveillance issues to larger global struggles for justice, demystifying privacy and security technologies for ordinary users, and resisting an internet controlled by a handful of intelligence agencies and giant multinational corporations. When she’s not doing any of that, she’s reading.
April Glaser is a writer and an activist with the Library Freedom Project. She currently works as a mobilization specialist at Greenpeace USA, where she focuses on ending oil extraction in the Arctic. Prior to Greenpeace, April was at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, organizing around the net neutrality campaign and EFF’s grassroots programming. April also previously worked with the Prometheus Radio Project, where her efforts helped propel the passage of the Local Community Radio Act, the largest expansion of community radio in U.S. history. She lives in Oakland, California and continues to work with local organizations on a range of digital rights issues.
Can’t make it to the live show? That’s okay. The session will be recorded and available on the Carterette Series Webinars site for later viewing.