The Pandemic Is No Excuse to Surveil Students

from The Atlantic In Michigan, a small liberal-arts college is requiring students to install an app called Aura, which tracks their location in real time, before they come to campus. Oakland University, also in Michigan, announced a mandatory wearable that would track symptoms, but, facing a student-led petition, then said it would be optional. The University of Missouri, too, has an app that tracks when students enter and exit classrooms. This practice is spreading: In an attempt to open during the pandemic, many universities and colleges around the country are forcing students to download location-tracking apps, sometimes as a condition […]

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Revolutionary Quantum Breakthrough Paves Way For Safer Online Communication

from PHYS.ORG The world is one step closer to having a totally secure internet and an answer to the growing threat of cyber-attacks, thanks to a team of international scientists who have created a unique prototype which could transform how we communicate online. The invention led by the University of Bristol, revealed today in the journal Science Advances, has the potential to serve millions of users, is understood to be the largest-ever quantum network of its kind, and could be used to secure people’s online communication, particularly in these internet-led times accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By deploying a new […]

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Some Shirts Hide You From Cameras—But Will Anyone Wear Them?

from ars technica Right now, you’re more than likely spending the vast majority of your time at home. Someday, however, we will all be able to leave the house once again and emerge, blinking, into society to work, travel, eat, play, and congregate in all of humanity’s many bustling crowds. The world, when we eventually enter it again, is waiting for us with millions of digital eyes—cameras, everywhere, owned by governments and private entities alike. Pretty much every state out there has some entity collecting license plate data from millions of cars—parked or on the road—every day. Meanwhile all kinds […]

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Zoombombing Is A Crime, Not A Prank, Prosecutors Warn

from ars technica Coronavirus-related social distancing measures have given a big popularity boost to Zoom, a video conferencing platform that’s known for its ease of use but not necessarily strong security or privacy protections. Internet trolls and other troublemakers have responded with “Zoombombing”: joining Zoom meetings uninvited and disrupting them. Zoombombers have exposed themselves to schoolchildren and shouted racial slurs. In a Friday statement, federal prosecutors in Michigan warned the public that Zoombombing isn’t a harmless prank; it’s a crime. “Hackers are disrupting conferences and online classrooms with pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language,” wrote the US Attorney’s Office […]

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Think You Can’t Escape Google? You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet

from Fast Company More than any designer this side of Cupertino, Matias Duarte has made phones easy to use. During his tenure at Google — first overseeing the design of Android — the vice president of design watched Google’s operating system capture more than 85% of the global smartphone market. Duarte has likened his own work in mainstreaming these addictive devices to that of an arms dealer — “I just make the guns! I didn’t make you guys shoot each other!” — but he’s also not slowing down. After pioneering Material Design — a user interface metaphor that’s helped de-uglify […]

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Hacker Eva Galperin Has a Plan to Eradicate Stalkerware

from Wired Over the last year, Eva Galperin says she’s learned the signs: the survivors of domestic abuse who come to her describing how their tormentors seem to know everyone they’ve called, texted, and even what they discussed in their most private conversations. How their abusers seem to know where they’ve been and sometimes even turn up at those locations to menace them. How they flaunt photos mysteriously obtained from the victim’s phone, sometimes using them for harassment or blackmail. And how none of the usual remedies to suspected hacking—changing passwords, setting up two-factor authentication—seem to help. The reason those […]

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Signal Is Finally Bringing Its Secure Messaging to the Masses

from Wired Last month, the cryptographer and coder known as Moxie Marlinspike was getting settled on an airplane when his seatmate, a Midwestern-looking man in his sixties, asked for help. He couldn’t figure out how to enable airplane mode on his aging Android phone. But when Marlinspike saw the screen, he wondered for a moment if he was being trolled: Among just a handful of apps installed on the phone was Signal. Marlinspike launched Signal, widely considered the world’s most secure end-to-end encrypted messaging app, nearly five years ago, and today heads the nonprofit Signal Foundation that maintains it. But […]

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Facial Recognition Moves Into a New Front: Schools

from NYTs Jim Shultz tried everything he could think of to stop facial recognition technology from entering the public schools in Lockport, a small city 20 miles east of Niagara Falls. He posted about the issue in a Facebook group called Lockportians. He wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times. He filed a petition with the superintendent of the district, where his daughter is in high school. But a few weeks ago, he lost. The Lockport City School District turned on the technology to monitor who’s on the property at its eight schools, becoming the first known public school […]

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We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point.

from NYTs Communities across the United States are starting to ban facial recognition technologies. In May of last year, San Francisco banned facial recognition; the neighboring city of Oakland soon followed, as did Somerville and Brookline in Massachusetts (a statewide banmay follow). In December, San Diego suspended a facial recognition program in advance of a new statewide law, which declared it illegal, coming into effect. Forty major music festivals pledged not to use the technology, and activists are calling for a nationwide ban. Many Democratic presidential candidates support at least a partial ban on the technology. These efforts are well […]

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Spot the Surveillance: A VR Experience for Keeping an Eye on Big Brother

from EFF Spot the Surveillance is a virtual reality (VR) experience that teaches people how to identify the various spying technologies that police may deploy in communities. The user is placed in a 360-degree scene in the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco, where a young resident is in the middle of a police encounter. By looking up, down, and all around, you must identify a variety of surveillance technologies in the environment, including a body-worn camera, automated license plate readers, a drone, a mobile biometric device, and pan-tilt-zoom cameras. More here.

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Nothing Lasts Forever— Not Even On The Internet.

from NYTs Social media is broken. It has poisoned the way we communicate with each other and undermined the democratic process. Many of us just want to get away from it, but we can’t imagine a world without it. Though we talk about reforming and regulating it, “fixing” it, those of us who grew up on the internet know there’s no such thing as a social network that lasts forever. Facebook and Twitter are slowly imploding. And before they’re finally dead, we need to think about what the future will be like after social media so we can prepare for […]

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Building a World Where Data Privacy Exists Online

from NYTs Data is valuable — something that companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon realized far earlier than most consumers did. But computer scientists have been working on alternative models, even as the public has grown weary of having their data used and abused. Dawn Song, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the world’s foremost experts in computer security and trustworthy artificial intelligence, envisions a new paradigm in which people control their data and are compensated for its use by corporations. While there have been many proposals for such a system, Professor Song is one […]

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China’s TikTok Blazes New Ground. That Could Doom It.

from NYTs American leaders have effectively thrown Huawei and a handful of Chinese surveillance technology companies out of the country, warning darkly of the national security and privacy threats of installing Made-in-China products into sensitive parts of the nation’s electronic infrastructure. Now they have cast their fearful gaze on a new Chinese target: the dancing and singing teens and tweens of TikTok. A secretive federal panel with a national security focus is reviewing the purchase of TikTok two years ago by a Chinese company called Bytedance, The New York Times and othersreported last week. Three senators have asked the Trump […]

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Whatsapp ‘Hack’ Is Serious Rights Violation, Say Alleged Victims

from The Guardian More than a dozen pro-democracy activists, journalists and academics have spoken out after WhatsApp privately warned them they had allegedly been the victims of cyber-attacks designed to secretly infiltrate their mobile phones. The individuals received alerts saying they were among more than 100 human rights campaigners whose phones were believed to have been hacked using malware sold by NSO Group, an Israeli cyberweapons company. WhatsApp launched an unprecedented lawsuit against the surveillance company earlier this week, claiming it had discovered more than 1,400 of its users were targeted by NSO technology in a two-week period in May. […]

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Mapping Metaphors To Fight Surveillance

from PEN America How do we use language to describe surveillance? As an organization that promotes literature and defends freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, PEN is especially concerned about the effect of mass surveillance on creative freedom. We fought U.S. government surveillance all the way to the Supreme Court in the case Amnesty v. Clapper, and our report Chilling Effects documented that U.S. government surveillance is causing one out of six writers to self-censor their research and writing. We may never know how many ideas are being lost every day because of these programs. Judges and legislators are increasingly […]

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Baltimore Officials Pitched On Putting Three Surveillance Planes In The Sky At Once, Covering Most Of City

from The Baltimore Sun The head of an aerial surveillance company is pitching Baltimore officials on flying not one but three camera-laden planes above the city simultaneously, covering most of the city and its violent crime, he said in emails obtained by The Baltimore Sun. A pair of Texas donors have stepped forward to help fund three planes and extra police, 40 local analysts and oversight personnel if there is city buy-in, the records and interviews show. The effort aims to “demonstrate the effectiveness” of such an all-seeing surveillance system in fighting crime in the city. The enlarged scope of […]

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There’s Another Big Reason Why You Should Ditch Chrome For Firefox

from Fast Company It’s not paranoia: You are being followed. Marketers are embedding dozens of trackers per website to follow your online wanderings and build up ad-targeting profiles. While the dominant browser, Google Chrome, takes a timid approach to these trackers, Apple and now Mozilla are attacking them head on. Firefox first started blocking all trackers by default in its experimental browsers in July and in a wide release in September. Since then, Firefox has blocked 450 billion tracking attempts, says Selena Deckelmann, the senior director of Firefox browser engineering at Mozilla. That comes out to 175 trackers per Firefox […]

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China’s New Cybersecurity Program: NO Place to Hide

from China Law Blog The Chinese government has been working for several years on a comprehensive Internet security/surveillance program.  This program is based on the Cybersecurity Law adopted on 2016. The plan is vast and includes a number of subsidiary laws and regulations. On December 1, 2018, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security announced it will finally roll-out the full plan. The core of the plan is for China’s Ministry of Security to fully access the massive amounts of raw data transmitted across Chinese networks and housed on servers in China. Since raw data has little value, the key to […]

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The Ringification of Suburban Life

from Wired Across the US, consumers are canvassing their communities with a new type of device that’s changing civic life. Camera-equipped doorbells and other home surveillance devices, made by companies like Ring, are documenting facets of suburban existence that once went unnoticed. For years, citizens have used smartphones to monitor their neighborhoods, especially instances of police misconduct or abuse. But pointing a smartphone at authorities is an active choice. Homeowners use cameras and their ilk to passively monitor their neighborhoods and each other. Instead of capturing the moments citizens intentionally choose to record, Ring cameras log whatever may happen in […]

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