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Revealing News For a Better World

Privacy Media Articles
Excerpts of Key Privacy Media Articles in Major Media


Below are key excerpts of highly revealing privacy articles reported in the major media. Links are provided to the full articles on major media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These privacy articles are listed by article date. You can also explore the articles listed by order of importance or by date posted. By choosing to educate ourselves on these important issues and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.


Vaccine Passports Are Here to Stay. Why Worry?
2022-01-01, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2022/01/01/covid-vaccine-passports-surveillance/

The digital Covid vaccination certification, or "passport," is a mobile app that instantaneously affirms the vaccinated status, Covid test results, birth date, gender, and/or other identifiers of its holder. The information is usually mosaicked in a QR code, read by a proprietary scanner, and linked to a government registry. Led by New York, California, and Louisiana, as many as 30 states are rolling them out. The Biden administration announced last spring that it would wrangle them under national standards but so far it hasn't. Internationally, the EU and a growing number of countries are adopting them, from repressive regimes like Bahrain to democracies like Denmark. Twenty U.S. states have banned the passes, and hashtags like #NoVaccinePassports are proliferating. "Spoiler alert," tweeted British DJ ... Lange. "They are not planning on removing vax passports once introduced. This is just the first step to get you conditioned to accepting government restrictions in your daily life via your mobile phone. This digital ID is going to expand to all aspects of your life." New York, for one, is not expecting to mothball the technology when Covid wanes. State bureaucrats are "exploring how the platform could be retrofitted to verify other types of records and credentials." The surveillance technologies of the War on Contagion are inherited from the War on Terror, and the software is encoded with the same forever-war mentality: Both fight risk rather than actual threat.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Vaccine Passports Are Here to Stay. Why Worry?
2022-01-01, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2022/01/01/covid-vaccine-passports-surveillance/

The digital Covid vaccination certification, or "passport," is a mobile app that instantaneously affirms the vaccinated status, Covid test results, birth date, gender, and/or other identifiers of its holder. The information is usually mosaicked in a QR code, read by a proprietary scanner, and linked to a government registry. Led by New York, California, and Louisiana, as many as 30 states are rolling them out. The Biden administration announced last spring that it would wrangle them under national standards but so far it hasn't. Internationally, the EU and a growing number of countries are adopting them, from repressive regimes like Bahrain to democracies like Denmark. Twenty U.S. states have banned the passes, and hashtags like #NoVaccinePassports are proliferating on both sides of the Atlantic. "Spoiler alert," tweeted British DJ ... Lange. "They are not planning on removing vax passports once introduced. This is just the first step to get you conditioned to accepting government restrictions in your daily life via your mobile phone. This digital ID is going to expand to all aspects of your life." Evidence supports the detractors' suspicions. Every government introducing a vaccine certification vows that their use is voluntary and no personal information will be held beyond its necessity. But governments are far from unanimous even on such basics as ... how long and by whom our intimate information will be held, owned, or overseen. New York, for one, is not expecting to mothball the technology when Covid wanes.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


China Is Watching You
2021-10-18, The Atlantic
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/10/china-america-surveillance-...

Even if you have never set foot in China, Hikvision's cameras have likely seen you. By 2017, Hikvision had captured 12 percent of the North American market. Its cameras watched over apartment buildings in New York City, public recreation centers in Philadelphia, and hotels in Los Angeles. Police departments used them to monitor streets in Memphis, Tennessee, and in Lawrence, Massachusetts. London and more than half of Britain's 20 next-largest cities have deployed them. A recent search for the company's cameras, using Shodan, a tool that locates internet-connected devices, yielded nearly 5 million results, including more than 750,000 devices in the United States. Among the policies that Hikvision's products have supported is China's wide-ranging crackdown against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other minority groups in the western province of Xinjiang. Far from being appalled by Hikvision's role in China's atrocities, however, plenty of foreign leaders are intrigued. They see an opportunity to acquire tools that could reduce crime and spur growth. Of course, the authoritarian-leaning among them also see a chance to monitor their domestic challengers and cement their control. The use of military language ... heightens the sense that these tools can easily become weapons. Cameras can be set to "patrol." "Intrusion detection" sounds like a method for defending a bank or a military base. Hikvision's cameras do not check identities. They "capture" faces.

Note: For more, see this Bloomberg article titled "Blacklisted Chinese Tech Found Inside Top Secret UK Lab." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Australia's Two Largest States Trial Facial Recognition Software to Police Pandemic Rules
2021-09-16, U.S. News & World Report/Reuters
https://www.usnews.com/news/technology/articles/2021-09-16/australias-two-lar...

Australia's two most populous states are trialling facial recognition software that lets police check people are home during COVID-19 quarantine, expanding trials that have sparked controversy to the vast majority of the country's population. Little-known tech firm Genvis Pty Ltd said on a website for its software that New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, home to Sydney, Melbourne and more than half of Australia's 25 million population, were trialling its facial recognition products. The Perth, Western Australia-based startup developed the software in 2020 with WA state police to help enforce pandemic movement restrictions. South Australia state began trialling a similar, non-Genvis technology last month, sparking warnings from privacy advocates around the world about potential surveillance overreach. The involvement of New South Wales and Victoria, which have not disclosed that they are trialling facial recognition technology, may amplify those concerns. Under the system being trialled, people respond to random check-in requests by taking a 'selfie' at their designated home quarantine address. If the software, which also collects location data, does not verify the image against a "facial signature", police may follow up with a visit to the location to confirm the person's whereabouts. While the recognition technology has been used in countries like China, no other democracy has been reported as considering its use in connection with coronavirus containment procedures.

Note: On Sept. 21st, thousands of citizens took to the streets to protest policies like this in Melbourne alone, as shown in this revealing video. The police are responding almost like they are at war, as show in this video. Yet the major media outside of Australia are largely ignoring all of this, while the Australian press is highly biased against the protesters. Are we moving towards a police state? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


How the N.Y.P.D. Is Using Post-9/11 Tools on Everyday New Yorkers
2021-09-08, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/08/nyregion/nypd-9-11-police-surveillance.html

It was an unusual forearm tattoo that the police said led them to Luis Reyes, a 35-year-old man who was accused of stealing packages from a Manhattan building's mailroom in 2019. But the truth was more complicated: Mr. Reyes had first been identified by the New York Police Department's powerful facial recognition software as it analyzed surveillance video of the crime. His guilty plea this year ... was part of the sprawling legacy of one of the city's darkest days. Since the fall of the World Trade Center, the security apparatus born from the Sept. 11 attack on the city has fundamentally changed the way the country's largest police department operates, altering its approach to finding and foiling terrorist threats, but also to cracking minor cases like Mr. Reyes's. New Yorkers simply going about their daily lives routinely encounter post-9/11 digital surveillance tools like facial recognition software, license plate readers or mobile X-ray vans that can see through car doors. Surveillance drones hover above mass demonstrations and protesters say they have been questioned by antiterrorism officers after marches. The department's Intelligence Division, redesigned in 2002 to confront Al Qaeda operatives, now uses antiterror tactics to fight gang violence and street crime. The department's budget for intelligence and counterterrorism has more than quadrupled, spending more than $3 billion since 2006, and more through funding streams that are difficult to quantify, including federal grants and the secretive Police Foundation.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


On the list: Ten prime ministers, three presidents and a king
2021-07-20, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/07/20/heads-of-state-pegasus-spyware/

Spies for centuries have trained their sights on those who shape destinies of nations: presidents, prime ministers, kings. And in the 21st century, most of them carry smartphones. Such is the underlying logic for some of the most tantalizing discoveries for an international investigation that in recent months scrutinized a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that included – according to forensic analyses of dozens of iPhones – at least some people targeted by Pegasus spyware licensed to governments worldwide. The list contained the numbers of politicians and government officials by the hundreds. But what of heads of state and governments, arguably the most coveted of targets? Fourteen. Or more specifically: three presidents, 10 prime ministers and a king. Forensic testing that might have revealed infection by NSO's signature spyware, Pegasus, was not possible. Nor was it possible to determine whether any NSO client attempted to deliver Pegasus to the phones of these country leaders – much less whether any succeeded in turning these highly personal devices into pocket spies capable of tracking a national leader's nearly every movement, communication and personal relationship. According to NSO marketing materials and security researchers, Pegasus is designed to collect files, photos, call logs, location records, communications and other private data from smartphones, and can activate cameras and microphones as well for real-time surveillance at key moments.

Note: Read how this Pegasus spyware was used to target activists and journalists in Mexico. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Revealed: leak uncovers global abuse of cyber-surveillance weapon
2021-07-18, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/18/revealed-leak-uncovers-global-a...

Human rights activists, journalists and lawyers across the world have been targeted by authoritarian governments using hacking software sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group, according to an investigation into a massive data leak. The investigation by the Guardian and 16 other media organisations suggests widespread and continuing abuse of NSO's hacking spyware, Pegasus. Pegasus is a malware that infects iPhones and Android devices to enable operators of the tool to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones. The leak contains a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that, it is believed, have been identified as those of people of interest by clients of NSO since 2016. The numbers of more than 180 journalists are listed in the data, including reporters, editors and executives at the Financial Times, CNN, the New York Times, France 24, the Economist, Associated Press and Reuters. The phone number of a freelance Mexican reporter, Cecilio Pineda Birto, was found in the list, apparently of interest to a Mexican client in the weeks leading up to his murder, when his killers were able to locate him at a carwash. He was among at least 25 Mexican journalists apparently selected as candidates for surveillance. The broad array of numbers in the list belonging to people who seemingly have no connection to criminality suggests some NSO clients are breaching their contracts with the company, spying on pro-democracy activists and journalists.

Note: Read more about how NSO Group spyware was used against journalists and activists by the Mexican government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Huge data leak shatters the lie that the innocent need not fear surveillance
2021-07-18, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/jul/18/huge-data-leak-shatters-lie-inno...

Few pause to think that their phones can be transformed into surveillance devices, with someone thousands of miles away silently extracting their messages, photos and location, activating their microphone to record them in real time. Such are the capabilities of Pegasus, the spyware manufactured by NSO Group, the Israeli purveyor of weapons of mass surveillance. The Guardian will be revealing the identities of many innocent people who have been identified as candidates for possible surveillance by NSO clients in a massive leak of data. Without forensics on their devices, we cannot know whether governments successfully targeted these people. But the presence of their names on this list indicates the lengths to which governments may go to spy on critics, rivals and opponents. Journalists across the world were selected as potential targets by these clients prior to a possible hack using NSO surveillance tools. People whose phone numbers appear in the leak ... include lawyers, human rights defenders, religious figures, academics, businesspeople, diplomats, senior government officials and heads of state. One phone that has contained signs of Pegasus activity belonged to our esteemed Mexican colleague Carmen Aristegui, whose number was in the data leak and who was targeted following her exposÄ‚© of a corruption scandal involving her country's former president Enrique PeÄ‚±a Nieto. At least four of her journalist colleagues appear in the leak

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Yes, your phone is taking ‘invisible' pictures of you
2021-05-15, ABC News (Utah affiliate)
https://www.abc4.com/news/tech-social-media/yes-your-iphone-is-taking-invisib...

A video showing a mobile device snapping infrared images of an iPhone user is circulating around the internet. In the Tik Tok shared by user Brie Thomason, a digital camera using an infrared lens is seen filming an iPhone user observing their home screen. As the iPhone user stares blatantly at the device, Thomason's digital camera captures the iPhone snapping multiple infrared images every 5-10 seconds. While this discovery may cause some users to panic, Apple claims this is actually just an aspect of the iPhone that allows users to control their face ID and Animoji (the animated emoji function). According to Apple, this feature was first debuted as the iPhone X's most groundbreaking function; since it is not even discernible at first glance, even though it literally stares you in the face. The company calls this feature: the new TrueDepth IR camera. This camera, housed in the black notch at the top of the display, includes a number of high-tech components such as a "flood illuminator," infrared (IR) camera, and an infrared emitter. Officials say as an iPhone is used, the latter emits 30,000 infrared dots in a known pattern when a face is detected, enabling the iPhone X to generate a 3D map of a user's face. According to the team, this TrueDepth IR camera can also do this fast enough to support the creation of 3D motion data as well. So, yes, your iPhone is essentially taking "invisible" photos of you, but not for the reasons you would think.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Court Chides F.B.I., but Re-Approves Warrantless Surveillance Program
2021-04-26, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/26/us/politics/fbi-fisa-surveillance.html

For a second year, the nation's surveillance court has pointed with concern to "widespread violations" by the F.B.I. of rules intended to protect Americans' privacy when analysts search emails gathered without a warrant. In a 67-page ruling ... James E. Boasberg, the presiding judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, recounted several episodes uncovered by an F.B.I. audit where the bureau's analysts improperly searched for Americans' information in emails that the National Security Agency collected without warrants. Still, Judge Boasberg said he was willing to issue a legally required certification for the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program to operate for another year. [The program] grew out of the once-secret Stellarwind project, which President George W. Bush started after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In 2008, Congress legalized the practice. The surveillance is carried out by the National Security Agency, but three other entities – the C.I.A., the National Counterterrorism Center and the F.B.I. – also receive access to streams of "raw" messages. The F.B.I. receives only a small portion of the messages that the National Security Agency vacuums up: The bureau gets copies of intercepts to and from targets who are deemed relevant to a full and active F.B.I. national security investigation. In 2019, the most recent year for which data is public, the program had more than 200,000 targets.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


F.B.I. Secretly Bought Israeli Spyware and Explored Hacking U.S. Phones
2021-01-28, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/world/middleeast/israel-pegasus-spyware.html

It is widely regarded as the world's most potent spyware, capable of reliably cracking the encrypted communications of iPhone and Android smartphones. The software, Pegasus, made by an Israeli company, NSO Group, has been able to track terrorists and drug cartels. It has also been used against human rights activists, journalists and dissidents. Now, an investigation published Friday by The New York Times Magazine has found that Israel, which controls the export of the spyware ... has made Pegasus a key component of its national security strategy, using it to advance its interests around the world. The F.B.I. bought and tested NSO software for years with plans to use it for domestic surveillance until the agency finally decided last year not to deploy the tools. The F.B.I., in a deal never previously reported, bought the spyware in 2019. It also spent two years discussing whether to deploy a newer product, called Phantom, inside the United States. The discussions at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. continued until last summer. But Pegasus equipment is still in a New Jersey building used by the F.B.I. And the company also gave the agency a demonstration of Phantom, which could hack American phone numbers. A brochure ... says that Phantom allows American law enforcement and spy agencies to "turn your target's smartphone into an intelligence gold mine." In 2018 ... the C.I.A. bought Pegasus to help Djibouti, an American ally, fight terrorism, despite longstanding concerns about human rights abuses there.

Note: Read about how NSO Group spyware was used against journalists and activists by the Mexican government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The Great Reset Conspiracy Smoothie
2020-12-08, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2020/12/08/great-reset-conspiracy/

Back in June, the World Economic Forum, best known for its annual Davos summit, kicked off a lunge for organizational relevance. The effort was called ... the Great Reset. And through articles, videos, webinars, podcasts, and a book by WEF founder Klaus Schwab, it provided a coronavirus-themed rebranding of all the things Davos does anyway, now hastily repackaged as a blueprint for reviving the global economy post-pandemic by "seeking a better form of capitalism." The Great Reset was a place to hawk for-profit technofixes to complex social problems; to hear heads of transnational oil giants opine about the urgent need to tackle climate change; to listen to politicians say the things they say during crises: that this is a tragedy but also an opportunity. In short, the Great Reset encompasses some good stuff that won't happen and some bad stuff that certainly will and, frankly, nothing out of the ordinary in our era of "green" billionaires readying rockets for Mars. None of this is to say that Schwab's Reset push is benign and unworthy of scrutiny. All kinds of dangerous ideas are lurking under its wide brim, from a reckless push toward more automation in the midst of a joblessness crisis, to the steady move to normalize mass surveillance and biometric tracking tools, to the very real (though not new) problem of Bill Gates's singular power over global health policy.

Note: The author of this article is courageous journalist Naomi Klein, who wrote the seminal book "The Shock Doctrine." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.


The Captain of Operation Warp Speed
2020-10-19, Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-captain-of-operation-warp-speed-11602278486

Previous vaccines have taken a decade or more to develop, and more than half of the past 20 years have failed in clinical trials. However, four [COVID-19] vaccine candidates have entered the final phase of clinical trials prior to approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Operation Warp Speed ... organized government agencies and private companies with the goal of developing, manufacturing and distributing hundreds of millions of vaccine doses, with starting doses to be available by early 2021. At the head of the operation is Moncef Slaoui, a Moroccan-born Belgian-American scientist. Operation Warp Speed … has invested in six vaccine candidates (Moderna, Pfizer / BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Sanofi / GSK) with the hope that at least one ... will prove safe and effective in clinical trials. Four of the six vaccine candidates have already been shown to be safe and effective in the first two test phases, which test whether the vaccinations produce so-called neutralizing antibodies. Serious health problems regularly arise during vaccination attempts. "We know how to distribute vaccines to any location in the US," says Slaoui. "It happens every year for flu and shingles." Tracking systems need to be "incredibly precise" to ensure that patients are each given two doses of the same vaccine and to monitor them for adverse health effects. Operation Warp Speed … has selected medical distributor McKesson and cloud operators Google and Oracle to collect and track vaccine data.

Note: The above article is also available here. Don't miss this excellent article which raises many important questions about this operation. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and vaccines from reliable major media sources.


Why The Social Dilemma is the most important documentary of our times
2020-09-18, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/social-dilemm...

Netflix’s brilliant new 90-minute docu-drama, The Social Dilemma ... might be the most important watch of recent years. The film, which debuted at Sundance Film Festival in January, takes a premise that’s unlikely to set the world alight ... ie that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al aren’t exactly creating a utopia. Its masterstroke is in recruiting the very Silicon Valley insiders that built these platforms to explain their terrifying pitfalls – which they’ve realised belatedly. You don’t get a much clearer statement of social media’s dangers than an ex-Facebook executive’s claim that: “In the shortest time horizon I’m most worried about civil war.” The commonly held belief that social media companies sell users’ data is quickly cast aside – the data is actually used to create a sophisticated psychological profile of you. What they’re selling is their ability to manipulate you, or as one interviewee puts it: “It’s the gradual, slight, imperceptible change in your own behaviour and perception. It’s the only thing for them to make money from: changing what you do, how you think, who you are.” Despite it being public knowledge that Vote Leave and Trump’s 2016 election campaign harvested voters’ Facebook data on a gigantic scale, The Social Dilemma still manages to find fresh and vital tales of how these platforms destabilise modern politics. Russia’s Facebook hack to influence the 2016 US election? “The Russians didn’t hack Facebook. They used the tools that Facebook made for legitimate advertisers,” laments one of the company’s ex-investors.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.


U.S. Court: Mass Surveillance Program Exposed by Snowden Was Illegal
2020-09-02, US News & World Report/Reuters
https://www.usnews.com/news/top-news/articles/2020-09-02/us-court-mass-survei...

Seven years after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the mass surveillance of Americans' telephone records, an appeals court has found the program was unlawful. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said the warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans' telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and may well have been unconstitutional. Snowden, who fled to Russia in the aftermath of the 2013 disclosures and still faces U.S. espionage charges, said on Twitter that the ruling was a vindication of his decision to go public with evidence of the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping operation. "I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA's activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them," Snowden said. Evidence that the NSA was secretly building a vast database of U.S. telephone records ... was the first and arguably the most explosive of the Snowden revelations published by the Guardian newspaper in 2013. Up until that moment, top intelligence officials publicly insisted the NSA never knowingly collected information on Americans at all. After the program's exposure, U.S. officials fell back on the argument that the spying had played a crucial role in fighting domestic extremism. But the Ninth Circuit ruled Wednesday that those claims were "inconsistent with the contents of the classified record."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


How Cops Can Secretly Track Your Phone
2020-07-31, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2020/07/31/protests-surveillance-stingrays-dirtboxes...

As protesters around the country have marched against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, activists have spotted a recurring presence in the skies: mysterious planes and helicopters hovering overhead, apparently conducting surveillance on protesters. A press release ... revealed that the Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Marshals Service were asked by the Justice Department to provide unspecified support to law enforcement during protests. A few days later, a memo obtained by BuzzFeed News ... revealed that shortly after protests began in various cities, the DEA had sought special authority from the Justice Department to covertly spy on Black Lives Matter protesters on behalf of law enforcement. Both the DEA and the Marshals possess airplanes outfitted with so-called stingrays or dirtboxes: powerful technologies capable of tracking mobile phones or, depending on how they’re configured, collecting data and communications from mobile phones in bulk. That data can be used to identify people — protesters, for example — and track their movements during and after demonstrations, as well as to identify others who associate with them. They also can inject spying software onto specific phones. Stingrays are routinely used to target suspects in drug and other criminal investigations, but activists also believe the devices were used during protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, and against Black Lives Matter protesters over the last three months.

Note: Read more about invasive "stingray" technology and the secrecy surrounding its use. Learn how Google is siphoning all information about you it can get. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Inside TikTok owner’s dystopian Chinese censorship machine
2020-07-12, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/07/12/inside-tiktoks-dystopian-ch...

It's a fairly ordinary evening on TikTok, the video-sharing app. Things do not seem so different on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, where a live streaming boom has minted new social media millionaires. Behind the scenes, however, Chinese streamers are subject to an elaborate regime of automated surveillance and censorship. One system can use facial recognition to scan live streamers' broadcasts and guess their age. Another checks whether users' faces match their state ID cards. Another system assigns streamers, who are expected to uphold "public order and good customs", a "safety rating", similar to a "credit score". If the score dips below a certain level, they are punished automatically. Meanwhile, speech and text recognition is used to ferret out sins such as "feudal superstition" [and] defamation of the Communist Party. These methods are laid bare in a little-known document from TikTok and Douyin's parent company, ByteDance, and unearthed by New York City journalist Izzy Niu, which explains how the apps have adapted China's strict internet censorship laws to the unprecedented speed and chaos of live streaming. The document raises difficult questions for TikTok, which faces privacy probes in the US and UK and has already been banned in India. Some of these methods are common in the West, too. Both Facebook and YouTube use AI to police their services, and have massively expanded their censorship during the pandemic.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Apple's iOS update is here – and it includes coronavirus contact tracing
2020-05-21, NBC News/Associated Press
https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/apple-s-ios-update-here-it-includes-co...

Apple and Google on Wednesday released long-awaited smartphone technology to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus. The companies said 22 countries and several U.S. states are already planning to build voluntary phone apps using their software. It relies on Bluetooth wireless technology to detect when someone who downloaded the app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus. Many governments have already tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to roll out their own phone apps to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of those apps have encountered technical problems on Apple and Android phones and haven't been widely adopted. They often use GPS to track people's location, which Apple and Google are banning from their new tool because of privacy and accuracy concerns. Public health agencies from Germany to the states of Alabama and South Carolina have been waiting to use the Apple-Google model, while other governments have said the tech giants' privacy restrictions will be a hindrance because public health workers will have no access to the data. The companies said they're not trying to replace contact tracing, a pillar of infection control that involves trained public health workers reaching out to people who may have been exposed to an infected person. But they said their automatic "exposure notification" system can augment that process and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Note: Watch an excellent video explanation of the dangers of contract tracing by a woman who applied to do this work. She shows how the claims of it being voluntary are far from the truth. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Federal Government Buys Riot Gear, Increases Security Funding, Citing Coronavirus Pandemic
2020-05-17, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2020/05/17/veterans-affairs-coronavirus-security-pol...

The federal government has ramped up security and police-related spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including issuing contracts for riot gear, disclosures show. The purchase orders include requests for disposable cuffs, gas masks, ballistic helmets, and riot gloves, along with law enforcement protective equipment for federal police assigned to protect Veterans Affairs facilities. The orders were expedited under a special authorization “in response to Covid-19 outbreak.” “Between 2005 and 2014, VA police departments acquired millions of dollars’ worth of body armor, chemical agents, night vision equipment, and other weapons and tactical gear,” The Intercept reported last year. But an Inspector General report in December 2018 found there was little oversight. The CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus legislation passed in late March, also authorized $850 million for the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, a federal grant program to prepare law enforcement, correctional officers, and police for the crisis. The funds have been dispensed to local governments to pay for overtime costs, purchase protective supplies, and defray expenses related to emergency policing. The grants may also be used for the purchase of unmanned aerial aircraft and video security cameras for law enforcement. Motorola Solutions, a major supplier of police technology, has encouraged local governments to use the new money to buy a range of command center software and video analytics systems.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


9/11 saw much of our privacy swept aside. Coronavirus could end it altogether
2020-05-16, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/16/tech/surveillance-privacy-coronavirus-npw-intl...

Spit into a cup when you land in an airport, and your DNA is stored. Every phone in every city talks to every other nearby device. Cross-border travel is enabled only by governments sharing data about millions of private movements. These are all possible visions of a future that the coronavirus pandemic has rushed on us. But a lurch into an even more intense era of mass data-collection - the vast hoovering up of who went near whom and when, who is healthy to travel, and even scraps of personal DNA languishing in databases - appears to be on the verge of becoming the new reality. It took the attacks of September 11, 2001 to shove aside the previous decade's phobia of mass surveillance ... in exchange for keeping us safe from terror. Over the next 15 years, billions of people agreed to a tacit deal where Facebook or Google were permitted to learn a staggering amount about them. But the challenge presented by Covid-19 - and the urgent need to trace contacts and movements - is of another scale of intimacy. South Korea located over 10,000 cellphones near the latest outbreak and texted them. The UK government has toyed with a centralized database of movements and health records, secured by government cyber-spies, able potentially to see who has been sick and who they have been near. Russia and many others have issued QR codes. China is putting surveillance cameras right outside people's doors. Will we look back at 2020 as the moment privacy finally evaporated?

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