News Briefs
16 October, 2019
China’s digital Little Red Book could access all your data

In China, disinformation and authoritarian tech have created a digital hydra in the form of an app called Study the Great Nation. The app is a propaganda tool that encourages users to play games and keep updated on President Xi Jinping’s ideology. It’s been dubbed the digital version of Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book. But

24 July, 2019
Another US city bans police facial recognition, but it’s an uphill battle

Oakland, California has become the third American city to ban facial recognition. The president of its city council cited “potential abuses of data” and “the invasive nature of the technology” as reasons to do so. The latest ban, which would also prohibit the police, will be seen as a welcome trend by activists. In the

17 April, 2019
Google’s sharing of personal data with law enforcement prompts concerns

Law enforcement officials in the United States seem to have readily obtained information from a Google owned database which stores the location records of hundreds of millions of devices, according to a new investigation. The New York Times reports that police officials have, for years, sent Google warrants seeking location data on user accounts in

15 April, 2019
Microsoft’s AI research project in China prompts criticism

A collaboration between Microsoft researchers and academics linked to a military-backed university in China has raised concerns about the extent of U.S. participation in helping build China’s surveillance and censorship infrastructure. For the past year, researchers working at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing have co-authored at least three papers with academics linked to China’s National

29 March, 2019
Pentagon pilot brings big data to HR

Anyone who has ever worked in government or found employment in a role where access to sensitive data is involved, the painstakingly glacial pace of human resources and security clearances will sound all too familiar. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the U.S. military has struggled to stay on top of security clearances for existing and new personnel. As

27 March, 2019
“Don’t believe newspapers” — controversial surveillance firm CEO defends himself on TV

In an evident effort to rehabilitate its image, Israeli surveillance tech firm NSO gave a tour of its offices to CBS’s 60 Minutes. “Don’t believe newspapers,” NSO’s CEO, Shalev Hulio, told the program. He was referring to articles, like a December 2018 report by the New York Times, that NSO’s Pegasus hacking software may have

9 March, 2019
UK Government Trade Fair Peddles Tech to Authoritarian Regimes

Last week, the British government held its annual “Security & Policing” fair, which promotes European surveillance technology to, among others, authoritarian regimes. A new Vice News investigation shed fresh light on what goes on at the fair. One company, Gamma, allegedly helped the Bahraini government hack the computers of opposition activists. Gamma has used the

5 March, 2019
New U.S. Report Warns of Facial Recognition Dangers

A comprehensive new report by a nonpartisan and independent U.S. watchdog which investigates government corruption and abuse of power warns of the dangers of facial recognition surveillance and says its application should be limited to emergency situations only. As personal information belonging to hundreds of millions of Americans is swept up by private companies as