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ACLU sues for records on facial recognition at the border

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US-POLITICS-TRANSPORT-SECURITY Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued for information about the Trump administration’s controversial facial recognition programs. The ACLU’s suit demands more detail on how border control agents scan travelers’ faces at the US border as well as plans to expand face recognition capabilities, which enable “undetectable, persistent government surveillance on a massive scale.”

The ACLU has filed public records requests with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), all part of the Department of Homeland Security. It’s looking for communications around the Traveler Verification Service, a system that matches photographs of travelers’ faces...

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mrobold
24 days ago
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Orange County, California
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Firefox is showing the way back to a world that’s private by default

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

One of the nice things about looking at the full scope of tech news for the day is that two stories that you otherwise wouldn’t think to connect end up playing off each other perfectly. So it was today with the following pieces of news.

First, Firefox is turning on a controversial new encryption methodology by default in the US. Second, Amazon is expanding its cashierless Go model into a full-blown grocery store.

Here’s where I see the connection: both are about companies tracking your activities in order to gather data they could monetize later. Let’s take them one by one, starting with Amazon.

You likely already know the story with Amazon Go stores: you can walk in and browse around, putting stuff in your cart as you like. Instead of...

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mrobold
39 days ago
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Except you can't run things like Pihole and other infrastructure based tracking blockers with this enabled. This could make website trackers MORE ubiquitous
Orange County, California
freeAgent
38 days ago
Look into NextDNS, which is basically Pi-Hole in the cloud. And (making it better than a Pi-Hole that only works on your local network), you can always change Firefox's default DNS settings. I think this is a good thing on balance.
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You Don’t Need a Face Mask for Coronavirus

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The coronavirus is coming. Federal officials confirmed this week that SARS-CoV-2’s stateside spread is no longer a question of “if” but of “when.” Take a deep breath: There are a few things you can do to prepare. First, wash your hands often. Second, if you haven’t already, get a flu shot. Third, to prepare for a scenario in which a worst-case outbreak occurs, refresh your supply of food, medicines, and essential household supplies (which is also a smart way to prepare for any potential emergency).

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mrobold
39 days ago
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Orange County, California
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Uber and Lyft generate 70 percent more pollution than trips they displace: study

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Traffic jam in Cologne Photo by Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Images

Uber and Lyft have weathered criticism about pollution and traffic congestion for years, but it’s been difficult to get an exact gauge about how much ride-hailing contributes to daily emissions. A new study released today claims to have a more precise answer to this question.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, ride-hailing trips today result in an estimated 69 percent more climate pollution on average than the trips they displace. In cities, ride-hailing trips typically displace low-carbon trips, such as public transportation, biking, or walking. Uber and Lyft could reduce these emissions with a more concerted effort to electrify its fleet of vehicles or by incentivizing customers to take pooled rides, the group recommends....

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mrobold
43 days ago
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Orange County, California
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Removing a GPS tracking device from your car isn’t theft, court rules

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A woman in judicial robes pontificates.

Enlarge / Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush. (credit: Indiana Supreme Court)

An Indiana man may beat a drug prosecution after the state's highest court threw out a search warrant against him late last week. The search warrant was based on the idea that the man had "stolen" a GPS tracking device belonging to the government. But Indiana's Supreme Court concluded that he'd done no such thing—and the cops should have known it.

Last November, we wrote about the case of Derek Heuring, an Indiana man the Warrick County Sheriff's Office suspected of selling meth. Authorities got a warrant to put a GPS tracker on Heuring's car, getting a stream of data on his location for six days. But then the data stopped.

Officers suspected Heuring had discovered and removed the tracking device. After waiting for a few more days, they got a warrant to search his home and a barn belonging to his father. They argued the disappearance of the tracking device was evidence that Heuring had stolen it.

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mrobold
44 days ago
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Orange County, California
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Surprise! Audit finds automated license plate reader programs are a privacy nightmare

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Automated license plate readers, ALPRs, would be controversial even if they were responsibly employed by the governments that run them. Unfortunately, and to no one’s surprise, the way they actually operate is “deeply disturbing and confirm[s] our worst fears about the misuse of this data,” according to an audit of the programs instigated by a Californian legislator.

What we’ve learned today is that many law enforcement agencies are violating state law, are retaining personal data for lengthy periods of time, and are disseminating this personal data broadly. This state of affairs is totally unacceptable,” said California State Senator Scott Weiner (D-SF), who called for the audit of these programs. The four agencies audited were the LAPD, Fresno PD and the Marin and Sacramento County Sheriffs Departments.

The inquiry revealed that the programs can barely justify their existence and do not seem to have, let alone follow, best practices for security and privacy:

  • Los Angeles alone stores 320 million license plate images, 99.9% of which were not being sought by law enforcement at the time of collection.
  • Those images were shared with “hundreds” of other agencies but there was no record of how this was justified legally or accomplished properly.
  • None of the agencies has a privacy policy in line with requirements established in 2016. Three could not adequately explain access and oversight permissions, or how and when data would or could be destroyed, “and the remaining agency has not developed a policy at all.”
  • There were almost no policies or protections regarding account creation and use and have never audited their own systems.
  • Three of the agencies store their images and data with a cloud vendor, the contract for which had inadequate if any protections for that data.

In other words, “there is significant cause for alarm,” the press release stated. As the programs appear to violate state law they may be prosecuted, and as existing law appears to be inadequate to the task of regulating them, new ones must be proposed, Wiener said, and he is working on it.

The full report can be read here.

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mrobold
52 days ago
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Orange County, California
freeAgent
54 days ago
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Los Angeles, CA
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