DHS kicks off second phase of facial recognition for international travelers

(Aug 20, 2018) The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is starting the next phase of its facial-recognition partnership with the Customs and Border Patrol and Transportation Security Administration aimed to identify international travelers, FedScoop reports. The Traveler Verification Service’s second phase will have the CBP and TSA collect previously acquired images of passengers traveling on specific international flights and match them up against pictures taken at TSA checkpoints. DHS released its privacy i... Read More

DOJ asks Facebook to bypass Messenger encryption for investigation

(Aug 20, 2018) Facebook has received a request from the U.S. Department of Justice asking the tech company to bypass the encryption in its Messenger app for a law enforcement investigation, Reuters reports. A San Francisco federal court judge heard arguments in the case as the DOJ seeks the voice conversations of a suspect with alleged ties to the MS-13 gang. Facebook is reportedly contesting the agency’s demand, according to three individuals briefed on the case. Meanwhile, Facebook is saying users suing over... Read More

Schools using AI to track student computer use

(Aug 20, 2018) As children get ready to go back to school, Quartz reports on the use of artificial intelligence systems for tracking students using school-issued computers and other digital devices. These safety management platforms leverage natural-language processing to scan words that are typed into the school's computers to identify potential bullying, self-harm, or other threats to the safety of the students. The technology, however, "also raises ethical concerns about the line between protecting students... Read More

Use of facial recognition in retail stores on the rise

(Aug 20, 2018) BuzzFeed News reports on the rise of facial-recognition systems in retail stores. FaceFirst CEO Peter Trepp said "hundreds of [retail] locations, growing to thousands very soon" have been equipped with his company's systems. "If you think about the top 40 or top 80 companies you know, almost all of them are thinking about facial recognition or they’ve all at least looked into it," he added. The trend, however, is raising privacy concerns. "We don't want to live in a world where government bureau... Read More

Privacy council president calls for regulation of vehicle GPS devices

(Aug 17, 2018) Privacy and Access Council of Canada President Sharon Polsky is calling for legislation to regulate GPS-starter-interrupt-devices, CBC News reports. The devices are used to track the location of vehicles normally belonging to individuals who have bad credit. Companies can activate the devices to sound an alarm or even shut down the car entirely if a customer is late on payments. "Things have to change or we're really going to be a surveillance society," she said. "You know, ‘1984’ wasn't meant a... Read More

Saskatoon mall also using cameras to track patrons

(Aug 17, 2018) Another mall in Canada has been found to be using cameras to track patrons, CBC News reports. Centre Mall in Saskatoon is equipped with cameras owned by Cineplex Odeon, with a spokesperson for the company confirming it uses the cameras to gather demographic information for marketing purposes. Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner Ron Kruzeniski said the province’s legislation only covers public bodies, giving citizens no avenue to pursue a case against the mall for any potential viol... Read More

Vkontakte implements new privacy measures

(Aug 16, 2018) Russian social media platform Vkontakte is implementing new privacy measures, The Moscow Times reports. The changes come following activists claiming the social media network has aided law enforcement investigations of users for the content they post on the platform. “We are resolutely against unjustified persecution for publications on the internet,” Vkontakte CEO Andrei Rogozov said in a public post on his profile. “Within the month … we will introduce the option to make your profile entirely ... Read More

Default location tracking in connected cars raises concern

(Aug 16, 2018) Motherboard reports on growing privacy concerns surrounding the use of location tracking in internet-connected cars. As more cars are equipped with GPS tracking as an automatic feature, some have raised the issue that abusers are able to leverage the technology for misuse. While a Ford spokesperson explained a car owner can erase location history by implementing a “master reset” to restore factory settings, others argue that is not enough. Cindy Southworth, executive vice president of the Nation... Read More

Los Angeles subway to install body scanners

(Aug 16, 2018) Officials confirmed that the Los Angeles subway will become the first mass transit system in the U.S. to install body scanners that screen for weapons and explosives, The Associated Press reports. Transportation Security Administration Administrator David Pekoske explained the devices target weapons that have the ability to inflict “mass casualties” rather than smaller weapons. Signs will be posted to alert passengers that they are subject to body-scanner screening, and while the process is volu... Read More

Researchers find way to hack Echo devices

(Aug 15, 2018) After months of crafting their technique, a group of Chinese hackers has developed a method to hijack the Echo, Amazon’s voice assistant device, Wired reports. Researchers presented their findings at the Def Con hacking conference. While the process for remote eavesdropping was difficult, it provides a demonstration that the devices might be accessed for surveillance purposes. A spokesperson for Amazon said, "customers do not need to take any action as their devices have been automatically updat... Read More