In the months prior to the most ferocious stock market crash in history and the eruption of the biggest public health crisis of our generation, we witnessed the biggest exodus of corporate CEOs that we have ever seen. And as you will see below, corporate insiders also sold off billions of dollars worth of shares in their own companies just before the stock market imploded. In life, timing can be everything, and sometimes people simply get lucky. But it does seem odd that so many among the corporate elite would be so exceedingly “lucky” all at the same time. In this article I am not claiming to know the motivations of any of these individuals, but I am pointing out certain patterns that I believe are worth investigating.
The Customs and Border Protection agency has been collecting vehicle information at the border using license plate readers for years. Now, the agency will begin incorporating third-party license plate reader data collected from local governments, law enforcement and the private sector and maintained by a commercial vendor.
A privacy impact assessment published July 7 outlines the agency’s plan to incorporate datasets maintained by third-party vendors as part of its investigations. The latest update is the first since December 2017, when CBP authorized the use of license plate readers for data collection.
“To meet its vast mission requirements, CBP relies on a variety of law enforcement tools and techniques for law enforcement and border security,” the PIA states. “One such tool is license plate reader (LPR) technology, which consists of high-speed cameras and related equipment mounted on vehicles or in fixed locations that automatically and without direct human control locate, focus on, and photograph license plates and vehicles that come into range of the device.”
Each data collection—or “read”—gathers the vehicle’s license plate number; an image of the vehicle, including make and model; where it is registered; the location and owner of the camera; and any associated location information, including GPS coordinates. “LPR technology may also capture—within the image—the environment surrounding a vehicle, which may include drivers and passengers,” the impact assessment notes.
NATIONWIDE PROTESTS AGAINST racist policing have brought new scrutiny onto big tech companies like Facebook, which is under boycott by advertisers over hate speech directed at people of color, and Amazon, called out for aiding police surveillance. But Microsoft, which has largely escaped criticism, is knee-deep in services for law enforcement, fostering an ecosystem of companies that provide police with software using Microsoft’s cloud and other platforms. The full story of these ties highlights how the tech sector is increasingly entangled in intimate, ongoing relationships with police departments.
Microsoft’s links to law enforcement agencies have been obscured by the company, whose public response to the outrage that followed the murder of George Floyd has focused on facial recognition software. This misdirects attention away from Microsoft’s own mass surveillance platform for cops, the Domain Awareness System, built for the New York Police Department and later expanded to Atlanta, Brazil, and Singapore. It also obscures that Microsoft has partnered with scores of police surveillance vendors who run their products on a “Government Cloud” supplied by the company’s Azure division and that it is pushing platforms to wire police field operations, including drones, robots, and other devices.
Nike, Adidas, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung are among 83 multinationals that have been linked to forced labor by Uighurs in factories across China, according to a new study by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). According to the researchers, Uighurs, a persecuted ethnic minority from China’s western Xinjiang region, have been funneled to work in factories in other provinces under conditions “that strongly suggest forced labour.”
The report estimates that more than 80,000 Uighurs were transferred to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019. The period coincides with China’s campaign of mass internment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, which the government says is needed to root out terrorism and separatism. Some Uighurs have allegedly been placed in these factories straight from the internment camps in Xinjiang, where experts estimate more than 1.5 million members of ethnic minorities are being held.
Although journalists have in the past linked Western companies to forced Uighur labor, this is the first time the problem is made apparent on such a large scale, enveloping factories and supply chains across the country. The 83 foreign and Chinese companies that ASPI has identified as directly or indirectly benefiting from the potentially abusive transfer programs for Uighurs include clothing brands such as Adidas, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger and Uniqlo; carmakers such as BMW, General Motors, Jaguar and Mercedes Benz; and tech giants such as Apple, Google, Huawei and Microsoft.