US State Department issues guidance on implementing UN Guiding Principles for transactions linked to foreign government end-users for surveillance technology

source: business-humanrights.org

 

 

“U.S. Department of State Guidance on Implementing the ‘UN Guiding Principles’ for Transactions Linked to Foreign Government End-Users for Products or Services with Surveillance Capabilities”, 30 September 2020

The U.S. Department of State is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. In that spirit, U.S. businesses should carefully review this voluntary guidance and consider whether to participate in, or continue to participate in, transactions if they identify a risk that the end-user will likely misuse the product or service to carry out human rights violations or abuses. The responsibility of U.S. businesses to respect human rights does not depend on the size, sector, operational context, ownership, or structure of the business…

U.S. businesses are encouraged to integrate human rights due diligence into compliance programs, including export compliance programs…

Review the capabilities of the product or service in question to determine potential for misuse to commit human rights violations or abuses by foreign government end-users or private end-users that have close relationships with a foreign government…

Review the human rights record of the foreign government agency end-user of the country intended to receive the product or service…

Review, including through in-house or outside counsel, whether the foreign government end-user’s laws, regulations, and policies that implicate products and services with surveillance capabilities are consistent with the UDHR…

How to ‘Disappear’ on Happiness Avenue in Beijing

On a busy Monday afternoon in late October, a line of people in reflective vests stood on Happiness Avenue, in downtown Beijing.


Moving slowly and carefully along the pavement, some crouched, others tilted their heads towards the ground, as curious onlookers snapped photos.

It was a performance staged by the artist Deng Yufeng, who was trying to demonstrate how difficult it was to dodge CCTV cameras in the Chinese capital.

As governments and companies around the world boost their investments in security networks, hundreds of millions more surveillance cameras are expected to be installed in 2021 – and most of them will be in China, according to industry analysts IHS Markit.

By 2018, there were already about 200 million surveillance cameras in China.

And by 2021 this number is expected to reach 560 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, roughly one for every 2.4 citizens.

China says the cameras prevent crime.

And in 2018, the number of victims of intentional homicide per head of population in China was 10 times lower than in the US, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

But a growing number of Chinese citizens are questioning the effect on their privacy.

They also wonder what would happen if their personal data was compromised.

‘Recruited volunteers’

It is rare for Chinese citizens to stage protests against government surveillance.

And it is not without risk.

But creative types such as Deng are coming up with innovative ways to bring the issue out into the open.

Before the performance, he measured the length and width of Happiness Avenue with a ruler.

He then recorded the brands of the 89 CCTV cameras alongside it and mapped out their distributions and ranges.

Sci-fi Surveillance: Europe’s Secretive Push Into Biometric Technology

source: theguardian.com

 

 

 

surveillance illustration
EU science funding is being spent on developing new tools for policing and security. But who decides how far we need to submit to artificial intelligence?.

atrick Breyer didn’t expect to have to take the European commission to court. The softly spoken German MEP was startled when in July 2019 he read about a new technology to detect from facial “micro-expressions” when somebody is lying while answering questions.

Even more startling was that the EU was funding research into this virtual mindreader through a project called iBorderCtrl, for potential use in policing Europe’s borders. In the article that Breyer read, a reporter described taking a test on the border between Serbia and Hungary. She told the truth, but the AI border guard said she had lied.

A member of the European parliament’s civil liberties committee and one of four MEPs for the Pirate party, Breyer realised that iBorderCtrl’s ethical and privacy implications were immense. He feared that if such technology – or as he now calls it, “pseudo-scientific security hocus pocus” – was available to those in charge of policing borders, then people of colour, women, elderly people, children and people with disabilities could be more likely than others to be falsely reported as liars.

Using EU transparency laws, he requested more information from the European commission on the ethics and legality of the project. Its response was jarring: access denied, in the name of protecting trade secrets.

So Breyer sued. He wants the European court of justice to rule that there is an overriding public interest in releasing the documents. “The European Union is funding illegal technology that violates fundamental rights and is unethical,” Breyer claimed.

Breyer’s case, which is expected to come before the court in the new year, has far-reaching implications. Billions of euros in public funding flow annually to researching controversial security technologies, and at least €1.3bn more will be released over the next seven years.

Continue reading “Sci-fi Surveillance: Europe’s Secretive Push Into Biometric Technology”

surveillance illustration

U.S.-made technologies are aiding China’s surveillance of Uighurs. How should Washington respond?

source: washingtonpost.com & wvnews.com


The sweeping surveillance China has brought to bear against its Uighur Muslim minority is staggering. An overwhelming number of cameras generate an overwhelming amount of footage. Until recently, it was unclear how authorities sifted through it to serve their repressive ends. Now, the New York Times has provided an answer: with the help of U.S.-made technologies.

 

An investigation published this month reveals how supercomputers chug away inside a cloud computing complex in the Xinjiang region. Purportedly, these computers can analyze 1,000 video feeds simultaneously and search more than 100 million photos in a single second. The aim is to monitor cars, phones and faces — putting together patterns of behavior for “predictive policing” that justifies snatching people off the street for imprisonment or so-called reeducation. This complex opened four years ago, and it operates on the power of chips manufactured by U.S. supercomputer companies Intel and Nvidia.

Continue reading “U.S.-Made Technologies Are Aiding China’s Surveillance”

 

All the Ways Slack Tracks You—and How to Stop It

source: wired.com

 

From changing privacy settings to putting limits on those infuriating notifications, here’s how to take control of Slack.

THE GLOBAL REMOTE work experiment shows no sign of ending anytime soon. As Europe struggles to contain a deadly second wave of Covid-19, many forward-looking companies have confirmed that their employees will largely be working from home for at least the first quarter of 2021. That means that Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom will continue to dominate the lives of office workers.

As you settle down for a long, cold winter of trying to ignore Slack, it’s important to get things in order. From changing privacy settings to putting some limits on those infuriating notifications, here’s how to get some control over Slack.

Slack’s Data Collection

Slack’s business model is very different from the tracking- and advertising-heavy setups of Google and Facebook. Slack makes money by selling premium-tier subscriptions, though there are also free accounts that have limits placed upon them.

 

 

The world’s largest surveillance system is growing—and so is the backlash

source: fortune.com

 

China already has the world’s largest surveillance network; it deploys over half of all surveillance cameras in use around the world. Now, a new report shows just how fast that system is expanding.

ChinaFile, which operates as a nonprofit organization and works with a network of China-focused analysts and researchers, published the stand-alone State of Surveillance report after reviewing 76,000 publicly available government procurement orders of surveillance technologies from 2004 to May 2020. The report provides a comprehensive look at the scale of China’s surveillance program; Beijing does not widely publicize such information through other means.

The report showcases China’s yearslong push to become a global surveillance superpower.

Continue reading “The world’s largest surveillance system”

source:  sciencedaily.com

image - cell phone tracking

Calls via the LTE mobile network, also known as 4G, are encrypted and should therefore be tap-proof. However, researchers from the Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security (HGI) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have shown that this is not always the case. They were able to decrypt the contents of telephone calls if they were in the same radio cell as their target, whose mobile phone they then called immediately following the call they wanted to intercept. They exploit a flaw that some manufacturers had made in implementing the base stations.

The results were published by the HGI team David Rupprecht, Dr. Katharina Kohls, and Professor Thorsten Holz from the Chair of Systems Security together with Professor Christina Pöpper from the New York University Abu Dhabi at the 29th Usenix Security Symposium, which takes place as an online conference from 12 to 14 August 2020. The relevant providers and manufacturers were contacted prior to the publication; by now the vulnerability should be fixed.

Continue reading “Security Gap Allows Eavesdropping On Mobile Phone Calls”

source:  independent.co.uk

 

surveillance illustration

Researchers in China have developed an ultra-powerful camera capable of identifying a single person among stadium crowds of tens of thousands of people.

The 500-megapixel camera was developed by scientists at Fudan University, in conjunction with Changchun Institute of Optics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Its resolution is five-times more detailed than the human eye but it is not the most high-resolution camera ever developed. A 570-megapixel camera was put to work at an observatory in Chile in 2018, however its purpose is to point skywards in the hope of observing distant galaxies.

The camera is instead built for surveillance, with Chinese state media praising the camera’s “military, national defence and public security applications”.

Continue reading “CHINA INVENTS SUPER SURVEILLANCE CAMERA”

source: cnet.com

App developers are creating tools to monitor people when they shop and work, despite lacking proof that it works or has safeguards to protect your data.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways we interact and has everyone thinking more about our health and well-being. But that shift in mindset means that daily activities like going grocery shopping or simple things like standing in an elevator will come with even more surveillance strings attached. 

The response by governments and the tech industry to the coronavirus outbreak has already raised many concerns about privacy from contact tracing apps, mobile location data tracking and police surveillance drones. The outbreak has also brought new privacy issues, as companies beef up surveillance with tech like thermal cameras and facial recognition in preparation for when people return to their everyday lives. 

 

Surveillance technology has slowly integrated into our daily lives, with facial recognition getting added as a “convenience” feature for casinos and ordering food. The coronavirus has sped up that process, in the name of public health. Shopping centers have long used Bluetooth trackers to determine crowd sizes and whereabouts, and the pandemic has shifted its use to enable contact tracing

Vantiq, a software company that builds a platform for developers and businesses to roll out their apps, has been repurposing its tools to focus on technology tied to tracing COVID-19. Since March, the company has built tools to enable the tracking of COVID-19 through facial recognition and thermal cameras being used by private companies. Its tools have been used in social distancing programs like an app to reserve a spot at a food market. 

Continue reading “COVID-19 COULD SET A NEW NORM FOR SURVEILLANCE AND PRIVACY”

source: securityweek.com

The hovering drone emits a mechanical buzz reminiscent of a wasp and shouts down instructions in a tinny voice.

“Attention! You are in a prohibited area. Get out immediately,” commands the drone, about the size of a loaf of bread.

A heat sensor takes the offender’s temperature and sends the information to a drone operator, who stares at a thermal map on his hand-held screen — shining orange and purple blobs.

“Violations of the regulations result in administrative and criminal penalties,” the drone says.

Italy’s coronavirus epicentre in the northern province of Bergamo, in Lombardy region, has had enough of people spreading COVID-19.

Continue reading “DRONES TAKE ITALIANS’ TEMPERATURE AND ISSUE FINES”