An Investigation

No, not that one.

Senator Lyndsey Graham (R, SC) said on Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo that he’s going to investigate [the whole program is interesting, but skip ahead to 15:28 for the Graham interview, which lasts for a bit in its own right] who “destroyed Dr Ford’s trust” by outing her after she had requested anonymity when communicating her charge to her Congresswoman, Anna Eshoo (D, CA), and her Senator, Dianne Feinstein (D, CA).  Graham pointed out, too, that there were only three groups of people who knew about Dr Ford’s letter: Feinstein and her staff, Eshoo and her staff, and Dr Ford’s lawyers.  Someone or some ones from those groups are the only ones who could have leaked Dr Ford’s letter and outed her.  Yes, I’m omitting the obvious fourth—that Dr Ford outed herself.

Promise

The People’s Republic of China has been rolling out its system for spying on surveilling its citizens for a while now.  This is the system that develops social scores for every PRC citizen, and the system has bennies for achieving high scores:

…waived deposits on hotels and rental cars, VIP treatment at airports, discounted loans, priority job applications, and fast-tracking to the most prestigious universities.

Things that can detract from those high scores include

[j]aywalking, late payments on bills or taxes, buying too much alcohol, or speaking out against the government….
Other mooted punishable offences include spending too long playing video games, wasting money on frivolous purchases, and posting on social media….

Abuse and Disinformation

Facebook is claiming to be adding a new tool for fighting these on its platform.

The Ad Archive API will allow researchers, journalists, publishers, and watchdog groups to efficiently analyze and search for ads to determine if anything untoward is happening.

Who, though, are going to be authorized access to the databases—which researchers, journalists, publishers, and watchdog groups, and what selection criteria will be used?  We’ve already seen how Facebook, under the guise of identifying what it’s pleased to call fake news, has selected “fact checkers” almost exclusively from the Left (a few tokens from the right have been invited)—Associated Press, Snopes.com, ABC News, and Politifact—as a mechanism for making the identification and then deleting the allegedly fake material.

Business Models Don’t Create Business Rights

There’s a lot about which to criticize California, but in one case, early though it is, the State appears to be on the right track.  California passed a consumer privacy law, and businesses everywhere are in an uproar over it.  The bill

requires [businesses] to offer consumers options to opt out of sharing personal information, and it gives Californians the right to prohibit the sale of their personal data.

Business’ objections center on their premise that it

risked far-reaching damage to everything from retailers’ customer-loyalty programs to data gathering by Silicon Valley tech giants.

The Supremes Get One Right

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that authorities generally need a search warrant before they can obtain broad access to data that shows the location of cellphone users, a decision that sets privacy boundaries in the digital age.
The court, in a 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, cited the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee to be free from unreasonable government searches.

And

We decline to grant the state unrestricted access to a wireless carrier’s database of physical location information[.]

Yewbetcha.

Privacy!?

You ain’t got no privacy.  You don’t need any stinking privacy!

Using facial recognition software in combination with image storage houses like drivers license databases can be highly useful in tracking down criminal suspects.

But the combination can be highly dangerous, too, as this attitude by Joseph Michael, Washington County Deputy State’s Attorney in Maryland, demonstrates:

the expectation of privacy ends when you sit down and smile at the government desk.

Pinellas County (FL) Sheriff Bob Gualtieri argued

Another Facebook Fail

Chinese firms Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL were among numerous handset makers that were given access to Facebook data in what the US company said was “a controlled operation.”

The social media giant’s vice president of mobile partnerships, Francisco Varela, confirmed a report in The New York Times Tuesday that Facebook had given Chinese device makers deep access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent.

A “controlled operation.”  Meaning the accesses were deliberately granted, consents were deliberately not requested in advance.  Which raises the question: were any consents actively withheld and those denials ignored by Facebook?

A Concept of Privacy

Personal privacy and protections against warrantless searches got a boost from the Supreme Court earlier this week.

The Supreme Court said Tuesday that police need a warrant to search vehicles parked at private homes, the second time this month the justices rejected government arguments for expanding the “automobile exception” to Fourth Amendment rules against unreasonable searches.

The case at hand involved a stolen motorcycle parked in the driveway of a private residence and protected from the elements (and perhaps (even probably) from being seen by police) by a tarp.  A police officer recognized from Facebook postings the residence, saw the fact of a motorcycle under the tarp, entered the property, lifted the tarp, and looked over the motorcycle—all without a warrant.

The FBI and Backdoors

Recall that the FBI has long wanted government-accessible backdoors into our personal but encrypted communications.  “Trust us,” FBI leadership assures us, “we wouldn’t misuse that access; we’ll only use for ‘criminal’ investigations, and only with government authorization.”  And they’ve claimed in support of that wide-eyed innocence that they can’t break into over 7,000 cell phones in the pursuit of criminal investigations.  Current FBI Director Christopher Wray even put the number at over 7,700.

However.

On Tuesday, the FBI told PCMag that a programming error resulted in a “significant overcounting” of the encrypted devices. “The FBI is currently conducting an in-depth review of how this over-counting previously occurred,” the agency said in a statement.

AI Surveillance

Police forces around the nation are on the verge of getting Artificial Intelligence assistance in identifying folks of interest to them in real time on our cities’ streets.  The image below and its caption illustrate the thing.

I’m all for assisting the police, especially regarding the subject of that cynically tear-jerking caption.  But this sort of thing needs to be looked at with a very jaundiced eye.  It isn’t too far away from what the People’s Republic of China already is doing in terms of routine surveillance and tracking of everyone.