DHS aims for more airplane facial recognition by 2023

(Apr 19, 2019) The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has laid out a four-year plan to have facial-recognition technology cover 97% of departing airplane passengers, The Hill reports. DHS states in a report U.S. Customs and Border Protection can achieve its 2023 goal through partnerships with airports and airlines and with the expansion of the "Biometric Exit" program that cross-references images of departing passengers with previously stored images from visa and passport applications. While CBP reported the... Read More

Australian company discontinues child-tracking smartwatch

(Apr 18, 2019) BankInfoSecurity reports that iStaySafe will stop manufacturing and servicing its TicTocTrack smartwatches that let parents monitor their children. The shutdown comes after tech researchers found the watch's technology could be hacked. Breaches could involve tracking or spoofing a child's location, allowing hackers to add themselves as a "parent" in order to view private information connected with the account. Pen Test Partners, a U.K. penetration testing and consulting company, reported details... Read More

Electric scooter company aims for privacy compromise

(Apr 18, 2019) Lime, an electric scooter rental company serving cities in the U.S. and Europe, seeks to balance user privacy and the company's access to location-based data. In an interview with The Verge, Lime Co-Founder Brad Bao addressed a recent battle between the city of Los Angeles and fellow scooter companies about access to vehicle- and user-location information. Instead of taking a side, Bao said his company plans to find a way to appease user and company needs. "It is a combination of things and the ... Read More

NYT builds facial-recognition system for $60 for 'The Privacy Project'

(Apr 17, 2019) As part of its recent launch of “The Privacy Project,” The New York Times reports on the facial images it was able to collect through cameras at Bryant Park. For the study, the Times gathered public images captured by three cameras that surveyed a section of the park. One day of footage was run through Amazon’s commercial facial-recognition service, which resulted in 2,750 faces detected over a nine-hour period. The Times reports the total cost of all the work came to $60. In an op-ed for “The P... Read More

Employers continue efforts to monitor staff in the workplace

(Apr 16, 2019) CNBC reports on the continued rise of employers monitoring their staff in the workplace and whether privacy laws offer any protection from the practices. A 2018 Gartner study found 22% of companies around the world use employee-movement data, 17% monitor work-computer use, and 16% examine Microsoft Outlook and calendar data. Amazon recently received a patent to detect warehouse workers’ location, while Walmart patented a system to listen in on their employees and customers. “Employees are in a d... Read More

How law enforcement uses cell data as evidence

(Apr 15, 2019) Pointing to an Arizona case that demonstrated how law enforcement uses location data collected from cellphones as evidence, The New York Times reports on how surveillance technology is being incorporated by law enforcement and the privacy concerns that arise from doing so. Examining Google’s Sensorvault database, the article notes that it is just the latest example of how a person’s personal data is being used in new and unsuspecting ways. According to Google employees, the data includes detaile... Read More

UK Home Office immigration database raises privacy concerns

(Apr 11, 2019) Human rights organization Liberty has voiced its concerns about an immigration database in development by the U.K. Home Office, the Guardian reports. An inspection report from the Home Office states the database would “establish a system that obtains and shares an individual’s immigration status in real time with authorised users, providing proof of entitlement to a range of public and private services.” In a letter to the Home Office, Liberty called the database “deeply sinister” and added it m... Read More

Amazon tunes in to Alexa users

(Apr 11, 2019) Bloomberg reports Amazon employs workers to monitor the use of Alexa to improve the voice assistant's responses and train the product's speech-recognition systems. Prohibiting the use of voice recordings for development purposes is possible in Alexa's privacy settings. “We have strict technical and operational safeguards, and have a zero tolerance policy for the abuse of our system. Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflo... Read More

Pregnancy-tracking app raises privacy concerns

(Apr 10, 2019) Despite the increased popularity of pregnancy-tracking apps, privacy concerns have emerged related to the apps' use of personal data, The Washington Post reports. Pregnancy-tracking app Ovia, for example, allows employers to pay for access to a pregnant employee's de-identified tracking data on all facets of the pregnancy. Privacy and health advocates suggest the ability to access the information may make the apps more beneficial to employers and insurers more than to users. The use of the sensi... Read More

Taser seeks to add facial-recognition products

(Apr 10, 2019) Axon, formerly Taser International, is pushing to add facial-recognition software to its product line, The Financial Times reports. Despite claiming it is not exploring the use of facial recognition, the company is filing three patents for facial-recognition software. Two of the patents are pending, but U.S. patents said the technology can identify individuals and blur out sensitive information in police footage. The software also estimates a person’s age and race as it measures unique physical ... Read More