Category: United States

California blocks bill that could’ve led to a facial recognition police-state


As images of police brutality flashed across our screens this week, Californian lawmakers were considering a bill that would have expanded facial recognition surveillance across the state. Yesterday, following a prolonged campaign by a civil rights coalition, the legislators blocked the bill. The Microsoft-backed bill had been introduced by Assemblyman Ed Chau, who argued it would regulate the use of the tech by commercial and public entities. But the ACLU warned that it was an “endorsement of invasive surveillance” that would allow law enforcement agencies and tech firms to self-regulate their use of the tech. [Read: Masks won’t protect you from facial recognition] Chau claimed that the bill would help…

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Snapchat refuses to promote Trump’s account over his controversial tweets


Snapchat, of all things, today joined the debate among social media platforms about the words of President Donald Trump — and it’s taken the side of Twitter, putting the Trump account on notice for his words. Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat parent company Snap, said in a memo to his employees over the weekend (which was published on the company blog on Wednesday) that “we simply cannot promote accounts in America that are linked to people who incite racial violence, whether they do so on or off our platform.” He added that the Discover page on Snapchat is a curated…

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Under duress


Coronavirus in Context is a weekly newsletter where we bring you facts that matter about the COVID-19 pandemic and the technology trying to stop its spread. You can subscribe here. These are dark days for democracy. It hardly feels like the time to address anything other than the brutal murder of George Floyd and the ongoing horrors occurring in the US, but the COVID-19 pandemic is no less dangerous today than it was a week ago. In fact, the selfish actions of impeached US President Donald Trump have surely exacerbated the pandemic and arrested the science and technology world’s ability to address the…

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After Trump, Twitter hides Rep. Matt Gaetz’s tweet for glorifying violence


Last week, Twitter hid US President Donald Trump’s tweet over threatening Minnesota protestors with military action. The social network has taken similar action to Rep. Matt Gaetz’s tweet that classified “Antifa as terrorists” and asked to “hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East” Several politicians and policy advocates asked the company to take the tweet down immediately. Before Twitter marked the tweet, it was retweeted over 12,000 times. Just like Trump’s tweet, this tweet hasn’t been removed from the platform because of its newsworthiness. In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson said the tweet was in violation of the…

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Protesters flood Dallas Police app with K-Pop videos


While protesters are using social media to expose the abuses of police officers in multiple cities during the George Floyd protests, at least one police department is attempting to leverage apps the other direction — and it’s receiving a scathing backlash for doing so. The Dallas Police Twitter account asked anyone who had footage of illegal activity during protests to share it anonymously with the police department via its iWatch Dallas app. The app in question is a tipster app those who live in the city can use to send information to law enforcement. You can submit photos, videos, or…

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Citizens use police tracking apps and social media to expose US attacks on peaceful protesters


Impeached US President Donald Trump, in response to civil unrest surrounding the killing of George Floyd, over the weekend ordered US military and police forces to attack citizen protesters. President Trump appears to have seen footage of police officers throwing women to the curb, speeding cars into crowds, firing rubber bullets at reporters, and pushing a man with a cane to the ground — and has said: “Yes. We need more of that.” — Matt Viser (@mviser) June 1, 2020 During the protests, violent criminals taking advantage of the chaos clashed with vigilantes encouraged by the president’s reckless tweets causing…

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Twitter hides Trump’s Minnesota tweet, saying it ‘glorifies violence’


Twitter has just hidden US President Donald Trump‘s tweet about the situation in Minnesota, saying it “glorified violence.” The company didn’t delete the tweet as it thought “it may be in the public interest for the tweet to remain accessible.” In the tweet, Trump was addressing civil unrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and threatened that law enforcement would open fire in response. This comes hours after Trump signed an executive order that holds social media companies liable for content hosted on their platform. The order aims to remove Section 230, which provides a safe harbor to social media companies; it relieves them from the responsibility for…

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US joins G7 AI alliance to counter China’s influence


The US is joining the rest of the G7 in the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, in an effort to contain China‘s influence on AI. The initiative was launched in 2019 to build a consensus on AI ethics, but has made little impact since — partly because the US initially refused to join. White House officials feared the group would damage US tech firms, even though its recommendations aren’t legally binding and it can’t regulate private companies. Cédric O, France’s digital affairs minister, had warned the US that its decision would help China export its authoritarian approach to AI. “If you don’t want a Chinese model…

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US bans companies from selling chips to Huawei


The Trump administration plans to block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei, ramping up tensions between the US and China. The new rules will force foreign semiconductor manufacturers that use US technology to get a license from American officials before shipping products to Huawei. That’ll be a big blow to the Chinese tech giant, which needs semiconductors produced overseas for its smartphones and telecoms equipment. The US commerce department said the restrictions were a response to Huawei and its semiconductor subsidiary HiSilicon skirting export controls introduced last year. [Read: Trump extends the Huawei ban to 2021] “This is not how a responsible global corporate…

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The US Senate just voted to let the FBI access your browser history without a warrant


In a major blow to citizens’ privacy, the US Senate voted today to give law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and CIA the power to look into your browser history without a warrant. Thanks, Mitch McConnell. Senators Ron Wyden from Oregan and Senator Steve Daines of Montana led the charge to insert privacy protections into the Patriot Act, which gives law enforcement agencies power for surveillance in order to maintain national security. However, the privacy protection amendment fell short by just one vote, as many senators who may have voted in favor of it didn’t show up. [Read: Using ‘personalized…

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