April 10th, 2014

Privacy concerns surround new local surveillance tech

For many, rapid changes in law enforcement technology – and the huge amount of data now collected and stored by local police, private companies and governments – raise troubling questions. 

Reporter Ali Winston looks at emerging tools for local surveillance and the privacy concerns they raise on KQED.

(Photo: Officer Rob Halverson of the Chula Vista police verifies the identity of a woman just arrested for possession of narcotics with facial recognition software.)

March 15th, 2014
We found that phone metadata is unambiguously sensitive, even in a small population and over a short time window.

Stanford researchers Jonathan Mayer and Patrick Mutchler on the information that can be inferred from your phone’s metadata. 

Read their new study here.

March 5th, 2014
February 19th, 2014
November 7th, 2013

Hey Tumblr, how concerned are you about this? 

In the future, your face could be the only ID you need.

A little-known pilot program is putting facial recognition technology in the hands of law enforcement. For some, it represents a radical milestone in militarization on U.S. soil. 

Read our latest investigation to find out how it’s playing out in San Diego

October 1st, 2013

It doesn’t take a top-secret government spy agency armed with the latest surveillance gear to gather information about you.

Every day, companies are gathering and sharing information about you, even when you aren’t logged in.

Find out who collects that data and how it can be used against you in our new animated video.

Want to learn more? http://ow.ly/ppdFu

July 22nd, 2013
June 28th, 2013

Worse than the NSA? License-plate scanners are letting police collect millions of records on drivers, even when they’ve done nothing wrong.

Here’s what you need to know about this surveillance technology:

  • A year ago in California, police and lobbyist defeated a privacy bill that would have regulated this practice: http://bit.ly/1ctwmqp 

  • The DEA is also using similar devices near the Southwest border to catch drug smugglers and other illegal activity: http://bit.ly/17GMojX

  • Private companies like Vigilant Video are also hoarding data licence-plate data on US drivers. They argue this technology has been successful in stopping wanted killers, robbers and drug smugglers: http://bit.ly/14BkO1n

January 12th, 2012

Private company hoarding license-plate data on U.S. drivers

Capitalizing on one of the fastest-growing trends in law enforcement, a private California-based company has compiled a database bulging with more than 550 million license-plate records on both innocent and criminal drivers that can be searched by police.

The technology has raised alarms among civil libertarians, who say it threatens the privacy of drivers. It’s also evidence that 21st-century technology may be evolving too quickly for the courts and public opinion to keep up. The U.S. Supreme Court is only now addressing whether investigators can secretly attach a GPS monitoring device to cars without a warrant.

A ruling in that case has yet to be handed down, but a telling exchange occurred during oral arguments. Chief Justice John Roberts asked lawyers for the government if even he and other members of the court could feasibly be tracked by GPS without a warrant. Yes, came the answer. 

Meanwhile, police around the country have been affixing high-tech scanners to the exterior of their patrol cars, snapping a picture of every passing license plate and automatically comparing them to databases of outstanding warrants, stolen cars and wanted bank robbers. Read more.

Photo Courtesy of Steve Reed: Security guards at the Arden Fair mall in Sacramento see this visual interface after digitally scanning a license plate.

September 28th, 2011

Federal records show that Facebook has more than tripled its federal lobbying spending since 2009, from about $200,000 to more than $730,000 this year. Much of Facebook’s recent lobbying activity has focused on net neutrality and privacy issues. Read more.

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