• Jan 26, 2020
  • Glyn Moody
  • Governments, News, Privacy,

Top EU court’s advisor: bulk surveillance is “disproportionate”, and national security exemptions do not always apply

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the EU’s top court, has played a key role in protecting privacy in the digital age, in Europe and beyond. In 2014, it ruled that a major piece of EU legislation, the Data Retention Directive, was “invalid” – that is, illegal – and should be taken … Continue reading “Top EU court’s advisor: bulk surveillance is “disproportionate”, and national security exemptions do not always apply”

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  • Jan 22, 2020
  • Glyn Moody
  • News, Privacy, Programming, Security,

Can hardware ever be trusted? The Betrusted project aims to find out by going back to basics

As previous posts have noted, the Internet of Things is being widely embraced in the form of so-called “smart speakers” and other devices. That’s despite the fact that few of these hardware systems can be regarded as secure: leaks of personal data can and do occur in multiple ways. Mostly, that is because the software … Continue reading “Can hardware ever be trusted? The Betrusted project aims to find out by going back to basics”

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  • Dec 31, 2019
  • Glyn Moody
  • Governments, News, Privacy,

As public fears mount over online surveillance and lack of control, advertising industry gets privacy religion – sort of…

A new Pew Research Center survey confirms what readers of this blog already know: many people are deeply worried about the routine tracking of their activities online: A majority of Americans believe their online and offline activities are being tracked and monitored by companies and the government with some regularity. It is such a common … Continue reading “As public fears mount over online surveillance and lack of control, advertising industry gets privacy religion – sort of…”

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  • Dec 27, 2019
  • Glyn Moody
  • Governments, News, Privacy,

What do you get if you put DNA and facial recognition together? Today, it’s China; tomorrow, maybe everywhere else

Two themes crop up again and again on this blog: facial recognition and DNA sequencing. Both technologies on their own are powerful, and steadily becoming greater threats to privacy. So what happens when they are put together? A story in the New York Times means we don’t have to guess, because China is already doing … Continue reading “What do you get if you put DNA and facial recognition together? Today, it’s China; tomorrow, maybe everywhere else”

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  • Nov 30, 2019
  • Glyn Moody
  • Governments, News, Privacy,

Google’s “smart city” in Toronto: what it wanted, what it will now get – and why it’s still problematic for privacy

Earlier this year, Privacy News Online wrote about the latest news concerning plans to create a model “smart city” on Toronto’s waterfront. The company involved, Sidewalk Labs, is part of the Alphabet stable, along with Google. In an attempt to quell fears about privacy and other aspects of the plan, Sidewalk Labs released 1500 pages … Continue reading “Google’s “smart city” in Toronto: what it wanted, what it will now get – and why it’s still problematic for privacy”

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  • Nov 1, 2019
  • Glyn Moody
  • Governments, News, Privacy, Programming,

Beyond Aadhaar: India wants to create a giant centralized facial recognition database

Two years ago, Privacy News Online wrote about Aadhaar, India’s billion-person biometric database, used to check identity, and its potential to become the world’s biggest privacy disaster. Barely six months after that post, it emerged that access to the Aadhaar database could be bought very cheaply, as reported here by the Indian newspaper The Tribune: … Continue reading “Beyond Aadhaar: India wants to create a giant centralized facial recognition database”

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  • Aug 20, 2019
  • Glyn Moody
  • Governments, News, Privacy,

The future of privacy is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed

William Gibson is best known for his book “Neuromancer“, which popularized the word and concept of cyberspace. He also came up with the phrase “the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed“. That was a general statement about technology, but it also applies to the technology that threatens our privacy. Around … Continue reading “The future of privacy is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed”

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  • Jul 31, 2019
  • Glyn Moody
  • Governments, News, Privacy,

Eyes in the sky will soon see everything – even what happened in the past; is it too late to worry about privacy?

Earlier this year, Privacy News Online wrote about a new generation of nanosatellites that are starting to fill the sky. The same continuing advances in technology that have made these small but powerful systems possible are also operating at the other of the satellite spectrum. It means that traditional satellites now pack even more power … Continue reading “Eyes in the sky will soon see everything – even what happened in the past; is it too late to worry about privacy?”

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  • Jul 29, 2019
  • Glyn Moody
  • Governments, News, Privacy, Security,

What can we learn from Palantir’s secret user manual for police users of its big data software?

Two years ago, Privacy News Online wrote about the mysterious Palantir Technologies. It describes itself as a company that makes “products for human-driven analysis of real-world data“. It is a data analytics supplier at heart, but one that is working on some of society’s most sensitive data, notably the kind used by law enforcement to … Continue reading “What can we learn from Palantir’s secret user manual for police users of its big data software?”

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  • Jul 20, 2019
  • Glyn Moody
  • Governments, Privacy, Security,

Amazon’s collaborations with local police turn its Ring doorbell cameras into unofficial community surveillance systems

Amazon was founded almost exactly 25 years ago. Initially it sold books, and people saw it as an interesting early example of e-commerce, but probably assumed that it would remain a fairly small player in a relatively unexciting market. Nothing could be further from the truth. Amazon soon started selling goods in other sectors, and … Continue reading “Amazon’s collaborations with local police turn its Ring doorbell cameras into unofficial community surveillance systems”

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  • Jul 12, 2019
  • Glyn Moody
  • Governments, News, Open Source, Privacy,

Here’s why Google thinks you should trust it with unprecedented quantities of your city’s “urban data”

Last October, Privacy News Online wrote about an ambitious project from Google’s sister company, Sidewalk Labs. It aims to take the idea of a “smart city” to the next level, measuring everything that happens in the public sphere so that it can be optimized – and monetized. As that post reported, many people were understandably … Continue reading “Here’s why Google thinks you should trust it with unprecedented quantities of your city’s “urban data””

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A million tiny eyes in the sky: how a new generation of nanosatellites pose a threat to privacy

Everyone knows that surveillance is ubiquitous – on the Internet, in the street, at work, at school, in our homes. What made that constant spying possible was the amazing advance of digital technology. Thanks to powerful computers and massive storage facilities, it is now possible to “collect it all“, as the NSA wanted, and to … Continue reading “A million tiny eyes in the sky: how a new generation of nanosatellites pose a threat to privacy”

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  • Nov 10, 2018
  • Glyn Moody
  • Governments, News, Privacy,

AI-based lie detection system will screen travellers to EU for ‘biomarkers of deceit’

As the borders between nations have become increasingly sensitive from a political point of view, so the threats to privacy there have grown. Privacy News Online has already reported on the use of AI-based facial recognition systems as a way of tightening border controls. As software improves, and hardware becomes faster and cheaper, it’s likely … Continue reading “AI-based lie detection system will screen travellers to EU for ‘biomarkers of deceit’”

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We Need Decoy Operating Systems on Smartphones

Whether it violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or not, it’s an unfortunate fact that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents routinely force travelers entering the country to unlock their phone for inspection under the threat of confiscation or prolonged detainment. Thousands of travelers per year are forced to hand over their cell … Continue reading “We Need Decoy Operating Systems on Smartphones”

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  • Oct 27, 2018
  • Glyn Moody
  • Governments, News, Privacy,

As many feared, Google’s ambitious Sidewalk Toronto “smart city” project turns out to be a “surveillance city”

The idea of “smart cities” – the application of digital technologies to the urban environment – is much in vogue. But as this blog has noted, although potentially powerful, the approach does raise serious issues for privacy. Perhaps the most ambitious “smart city” project so far is one involving a sister company of Google, Sidewalk … Continue reading “As many feared, Google’s ambitious Sidewalk Toronto “smart city” project turns out to be a “surveillance city””

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