China has been leaning on American know-how to build a sprawling surveillance program in Xinjiang province, according to the New York Times. Scientists working with Chinese police have been using equipment from Thermo Fisher, a supplier of biotechnology tools in Massachusetts. They also shared genetic survey data with Kenneth Kidd, a geneticist at Yale University. The genetic data was being used to be able to determine, from a blood sample, if someone had Uighur ancestry. Chinese scientists even filed a patent on the idea.
Google said there’s absolutely, positively nothing to worry about the secret microphone in your Nest Secure smart home hub that it didn’t tell you about. Nope, not at all. Just an oversight, said Google. No need to be alarmed. Everything is just fine.
Facebook deliberately broke privacy and competition law and should urgently be subject to statutory regulation, according to a devastating parliamentary report denouncing the company and its executives as “digital gangsters”. The final report of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee’s 18-month investigation into disinformation and fake news accused Facebook of purposefully obstructing its inquiry and failing to tackle attempts by Russia to manipulate elections.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has set off a flurry of speculation after he said the state's consumers should get a piece of the billions of dollars that technology companies make by capitalizing on personal data they collect. The new governor has asked aides to develop a proposal for a "data dividend" for California residents but provided no hints about whether he might be suggesting a tax on tech companies, an individual refund to their customers or something else.
A massive database for 2,565,724 people -- with names, ID card number, expiration date, home address, date of birth, nationality, gender, photograph, employer and GPS coordinates of locations -- was left online without authentication, according to a report from ZDNet. Security researcher Victor Gevers, who found the database, told ZDNet that over a 24-hour period, a steady stream of nearly 6.7 million GPS coordinates was recorded, which means the database was actively tracking Uyghur Muslims as they moved around Xinjiang province in China.
“Surveillance capitalism has taken human experience, specifically private human experience, and unilaterally claimed it as something to be bought and sold in the marketplace,” Dr. Zuboff told me during a visit to The Times’s office. “This new kind of marketplace trades in behavioral futures. It’s like a form of derivative. But it’s about us.”
It’s a foregone conclusion that app makers will get at least some data on how you use their product. How much data do you really expect, though? Maybe which buttons you tap or the length of sessions? According to TechCrunch and analytics company App Analyst, some popular iPhone apps are getting much more. They basically see everything you do in real time, even sensitive information like passwords and credit card numbers.
A computer scientist who is known as a pioneer in artificial intelligence is sounding the alarm about its potential for misuse by China -- joining privacy advocates and technologists who have expressed similar concerns. Yoshua Bengio, a Canadian computer scientist and co-founder of Montreal-based AI software company Element AI, said he was fearful about the technology being deployed to surveil and control people.
When a bug in FaceTime allows strangers to hear and watch us, we get that, in the same visceral way we can imagine a man snooping outside our window. But your data -- the abstract portrait of who you are, and, more importantly, of who you are compared to other people -- is your real vulnerability when it comes to the companies that make money offering ostensibly free services to millions of people.
A disturbing trend is emerging in modern media and our online communications. Both government and private organizations are collecting personal user data for their own purposes, often without disclosing that fact. Now, social media platforms are banning views that contradict their mainstream views and political opinions.