Category: Privacy

Chinese city’s health-tracking surveillance tech set to outlast the pandemic


A Chinese city plans to turn its contact-tracing app into a permanent health tracker, deepening fears that surveillance tech introduced to fight COVID-19 will outlast the pandemic. Authorities in the eastern city of Hangzhou have proposed combining medical records, physical exam results, and data on lifestyle choices to create a healthcare score for citizens. Officials said the system would be a “firewall to enhance people’s health and immunity,” the Guardian reports. They aim to launch the app by the end of next month. Each of the city’s 10 million residents would be given a colored health badge based on a collation of this data, and a…

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What advocates for internet privacy can learn from Greta Thunberg


The fight to defend our privacy is a lot like the fight against climate change — almost everyone has come to recognize that it’s a crisis, but collectively we seem to be losing in what feels like an insurmountable battle. Hardly a week goes by without news of yet another big tech company caught misusing consumer data, greeted seemingly with more resigned shrugs than outrage. When The Economist called data the new oil, they were thinking of antitrust abuse. They might just have missed a more central concern: The unfettered consumption of data, like oil, may benefit businesses and even…

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The coronavirus pandemic shouldn’t legitimize permanent surveillance after the crisis


In Shoshana Zuboff’s 2019 book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, she recalls the response to the launch of Google Glass in 2012. Zuboff describes public horror, as well as loud protestations from privacy advocates who were deeply concerned that the product’s undetectable recording of people and places threatened to eliminate “a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy and/or anonymity.” Zuboff describes the product: Google Glass combined computation, communication, photography, GPS tracking, data retrieval, and audio and video recording capabilities in a wearable format patterned on eyeglasses. The data it gathered — location, audio, video, photos, and other personal information — moved from the device…

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How to track COVID-19 without invading privacy


The past few months have taught us an important lesson: We’re bad at handling highly contagious diseases. The Earth’s growing population and the ease with which we can travel long distances have contributed to the fast spread of the novel coronavirus to more than 200 countries. For the moment, the main question is, how do we stop the spread of the virus? For states, the choice is between health and the economy. They must either shut down their economies and impose nationwide quarantines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, or continue business as usual and risk infecting millions of people…

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Research: How location-tracking apps could stop the spread of coronavirus


Nearly half of the world’s population is now locked down in their homes to avoid spreading the coronavirus. With a vaccine likely still many months away, many countries are looking for ways they can get their people and economies moving again without risking further deaths. New research suggests that using an app to track people’s movements and identify and isolate anyone who has come into contact with an infected person could be critical in avoiding or leaving lockdown. This kind of contact-tracing technology has already been used with some success in countries such as China and South Korea. But there…

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Pardon the Intrusion #14: There is some honor among thieves


Subscribe to this bi-weekly newsletter here! Welcome to the latest edition of Pardon The Intrusion, TNW’s bi-weekly newsletter in which we explore the wild world of security. If you own a smartphone, you’re probably being tracked as part of a surveillance system. As the coronavirus pandemic accelerates, governments worldwide have turned to technology such as phone tracking and facial recognition to battle the virus and contain the outbreak. These are unprecedented times we live in. But is it worth sacrificing personal privacy for the collective public good? Let’s go through how each country is handling it — strap in, this…

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How cameras in public spaces might change how we think


Facial recognition is increasingly being used in many countries around the world. In some cases, the take up has been dramatic. As a result, people are being observed by cameras more than ever, whether in stores, on public transit, or at their workplaces. Using this technology may seem justified when it helps law enforcement track down criminals and make the lives of ordinary citizens safer. But how does the constant observation affect the citizens it is supposed to protect from criminals? It’s easy to imagine that pervasive camera observation will change people’s behavior. Often, such changes are for the better.…

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Why are the NBA and Walmart using Clearview AI?


A leaked list of Clearview AI’s clients shows that the controversial company’s facial recognition software has spread way beyond law enforcement, into household names ranging from the NBA to Walmart. Clearview claims to have scraped more than three billion images from websites and social media platforms into a database that police can use to match with photos of suspects. Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That that the software is “strictly for law enforcement,” but the client list obtained by BuzzFeed shows that the software is also being by some of the world’s biggest companies. They include retailers (Walmart, Kohl’s, BestBuy and Macy’s); banks (Wells Fargo and Bank of…

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Scientists propose new regulatory framework to make AI safer


Scientists from Imperial College London have proposed a new regulatory framework for assessing the impact of AI, called the Human Impact Assessment for Technology (HIAT). The researchers believe the HIAT could identify the ethical, psychological and social risks of technological progress, which are already being exposed in a growing range of applications, from voter manipulation to algorithmic sentencing. They based their idea on the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), which has been used to evaluate the environmental effects of proposed developments for 50 years. Like environmental impact, the human impact of AI is difficult to model and often produces unforeseen results. Software is often easy to…

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Mozilla launches a VPN app for Android and Windows


Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox browser, is bringing its VPN (Virtual Private Network) service to Android and Windows 10 through a dedicated app. The app is currently in the beta phase, and you need an invite to sign up. Once you get an invite, you need to pay $4.99 a month, because privacy is not a free lunch. In return, Mozilla vows not to log your network traffic or your browsing history. The VPN uses a new Wireguard protocol, which is supposed to be faster and more secure than other standards such as OpenVPN. Mozilla said with the app, you’ll…

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