The PRC and Facial Recognition

The People’s Republic of China is moving “beyond” the use of smart phones for making on-the-spot retail payments, starting to supplant that with facial recognition—with personal images tied to personal financial accounts.

Ant Financial Services Group and Tencent Holdings Ltd, rivals that operate, respectively, Alipay and WeChat Pay, China’s two largest mobile-payments networks, are competing for dominance in the next stage of China’s cashless society. Each is racing to install its own branded facial-recognition screens at retail points-of-sale all over the country, marketing the screens as a way to speed up sales and improve efficiency.

Abortion “Rights”

Senator and Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D, CA) wants to further erode Federalism in our nation’s structure and have the central government pass on certain kinds of State laws before those laws can be…permitted…to take effect.  Harris’ position and proposal is well summarized in the sub-headline of the article at the link:

The Democratic presidential hopeful wants the Justice Department to review state laws restricting abortion before they would take effect

Blowing Up Settlements

The one being sabotaged here is between Facebook and the FTC over the FTC’s proposed settlement of Facebook’s “mishandling” of consumer privacy data, including surrendering millions of consumers’ personal information to Cambridge Analytica.

FTC Chairman Joseph Simons has the (Republican) votes he need to impose the settlement, from the FTC’s perspective, on a 3-2 partisan vote.  He’s quite rightly trying to get at least one of the Progressive-Democrats on the board to vote with him, but they’re bleating that a $5 billion fine and other controls don’t go far enough.

This is naked obstruction, though, based on a cynically manufactured beef.

A Misunderstanding

Senator Cory “Spartacus” Booker (D, NJ) has one in spades. The article at the link was centered on Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate Robert Francis O’Rourke’s mild disagreement with Booker’s position on gun control, but one of the false premises that inform Booker’s misunderstanding was exposed.

Booker argued that just as a driver’s license demonstrates a person’s eligibility and proficiency to drive a car, “a gun license demonstrates that a person is eligible and can meet certain safety and training standards necessary to own a gun.”

Banning Violence and Extremism from Social Media

That’s what France and New Zealand want to do and want others to join them in doing, all in response to the terrorist murders in New Zealand.  The two intend to host a conference involving G-7 members’ IT chiefs and a separate “technology summit” aimed at getting commitments

to end the use of social media to organize and promote terrorism and extremist violence.

But whose definition of violence? Whose definition of extremism? We’re already seeing, in our nation, the Progressive-Democratic Party and their violence-oriented arms, Antifa and BLM, and their university management team associates, defining conservative speech as triggering, dangerous to mental health, violent.

Privacy in a Technological World

In a ruling rejecting an application for a search warrant, Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore, operating in the Northern District of California, had this remark in particular.

Citizens do not contemplate waiving their civil rights when using new technology, and the Supreme Court has concluded that, to find otherwise, would leave individuals “at the mercy of advancing technology.”

Encouragingly, this remark also cited (via the quote in the remark above) a Supreme Court ruling, Carpenter v United States [citations omitted]:

A Magistrate Judge Gets One Right

Of course, the Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore’s ruling can be overturned on appeal by a District judge in the Northern District of California in which she operates, or on appeal on the ruling’s way up the appellate chain.  Nevertheless, her ruling stands, for now.

In its essence Westmore ruled that, even with an otherwise valid search warrant, a person cannot be compelled to unlock a digital device like a cell phone with that person’s biometrics—a fingerprint, a face, or an iris, for example.

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.