Leaked Document Shows The EU Countries That Want To Ban Private Messaging

A leaked European Council survey of the views on encryption of member countries showed that Spain strongly supports banning end-to-end encryption, a measure that has been proposed to combat the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), but would end privacy for all citizens.

The proposed law would require tech platforms to scan encrypted communications, something tech experts have warned is not possible without breaking the encryption.

According to the document, which was obtained by Wired, Spain’s position in encryption is the most radical.

“Ideally, in our view, it would be desirable to legislatively prevent EU-based service providers from implementing end-to-end encryption,” representatives from Spain said.

End-to-end encryption ensures that only the sender and receiver can see the content of a message. Even the owner of the platform does not have access to the content.

Of the 20 member countries represented in the survey, 15 support the banning of end-to-end encrypted communications, the report stated.

Poland suggested the introduction of measures that would allow a court to lift encryption and for parents to be allowed to decrypt the communications of their children.

“It is of utmost importance to provide clear wording in the CSA Regulation that end-to-end encryption is not a reason not to report CSA material,” Croatia’s representatives said.

Romania said: “We don’t want E2EE encryption to become a ‘safe haven’ for malicious actors…”

Keep reading

The EARN IT Act, an attack on encrypted communications, to be reintroduced next week

Those behind the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act must be hoping that third time’s a charm for this previously widely-opposed piece of legislation, that is set to be reintroduced next week.

The previous two attempts to make EARN IT into law failed amid outcry from opponents who said that while designed to protect children, the bill would fail to do that – but would still damage online privacy.

Now here’s the third, bipartisan attempt sponsored by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Richard Blumenthal to bring changes to the Communication Decency Act (CDA) Section 230.

Critics say that the amendment as envisaged by EARN IT would harm internet users by removing legal protections Section 230 gives tech companies for third party content.

The consequence would be those companies protecting themselves by engaging in (even more) censorship, and “working” with the government to this end – even more than we are aware they already do.

At the core of EARN IT is to target platforms for violations related to child sexual abuse material (CSAM) rules that exist at the federal and state level.

But allegedly, these platforms are reluctant to “moderate” i.e., censor content in a heavy-handed manner, and for that reason oppose the legislation.

Keep reading

Clearview Facial Recognition: A Perpetual Police Lineup

Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That admitted that the company scraped 30 billion photos from Facebook and other social media platforms and used them in its massive facial recognition database accessible by law enforcement agencies across the U.S. Critics call the company’s database a “perpetual police lineup.” 

This is an example of the growing cooperation between private companies and government agencies in the ever-growing U.S. surveillance state.

The photos were collected from social media platforms without users’ permission or knowledge.

Clearview AI markets its facial recognition database as a tool allowing law enforcement to rapidly generate leads “to help identify suspects, witnesses and victims to close cases faster and keep communities safe.” According to Ton-That, law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have accessed the company’s database over 1 million times since 2017.

According to a CNN report last year, more than 3,100 U.S. agencies use Clearview AI, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

In a statement, Ton-That said, “Clearview AI’s database of publicly available images is lawfully collected, just like any other search engine like Google.”

While photo scraping might be legal, Facebook sent Clearview AI a cease and desist order in 2020 for violation of the platform’s terms of service. In an email to Insider, a Meta spokesperson said, “Clearview AI’s actions invade people’s privacy, which is why we banned their founder from our services and sent them a legal demand to stop accessing any data, photos, or videos from our services.”

Fight for the Future director of campaigns Caitlin Seeley George called Clearview “a total affront to peoples’ rights, full stop,” and said, “Police should not be able to use this tool.”

Keep reading

Italy’s ChatGPT ban fails to deter users due to VPNs

VPN applications have gained a vast amount of new users after Italy’s ChatGPT ban. People are using the apps to access the chatbot.

Recently, the Italian government banned ChatGPT due to privacy reasons. However, this didn’t stop people from reaching OpenAI’s services. PureVPN has noticed an odd increase in traffic coming from Italy on their website after the ban went into effect on April 1. According to a recent blog post from the company, “Italians have been turning to VPN services following the decision of the country’s data protection authority to ban ChatGPT over privacy concerns.”

ChatGPT is one of the most popular topics on the internet. People from all around the globe use it to get their work done easier. However, the Italian government prevented the chatbot from being used in the country. Authorities further alleged that OpenAI failed to verify its users’ ages and enforce prohibitions barring anyone under the age of 13 from using ChatGPT.

“ChatGPT has garnered more than 100 million users since its launch two months ago. The advanced chatbot is just as popular in Italy as in other countries because of its ability to have human-like conversations. However, with Italians unable to access ChatGPT, many of them are turning to VPNs to circumvent the block,” says PureVPN.

VPNs can help users mask their real IP addresses and use a different one from their selected country. Italian people use VPNs and an IP address of another country to access ChatGPT.

Keep reading

In Push To Dismiss Lawsuit, CIA Says Americans Who Visited Assange Had No Privacy Rights

The Central Intelligence Agency and former CIA director Mike Pompeo contend that attorneys and journalists, who visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, had no “legitimate expectation of privacy” when it came to conversations with a “notorious wanted fugitive in a foreign embassy.”

“There is no plausible argument that it would be unreasonable or indiscriminate for the government to surveil Assange, who oversaw WikiLeaks’ publication of large amounts of U.S. national security information,” the CIA and Pompeo additionally contend. “Thus, any alleged surveillance of Assange that incidentally captured his conversations with U.S. citizens such as plaintiffs would not violate the Fourth Amendment [right to privacy] as a matter of law.”

The statements are part of a motion to dismiss [PDF] a lawsuit that was brought by a group of Americans, who allege that they were spied on by the CIA when they met with Assange while he was living under political asylum in the Ecuador embassy.

When one considers that Assange has been held in detention at Belmarsh prison and faces Espionage Act charges for publishing classified documents, the government is essentially arguing that it may spy on any journalist who publishes such documents and “incidentally capture” the communications of anyone communicating with that particular journalist.

Keep reading

Could the RESTRICT Act Criminalize the Use of VPNs?

Would the RESTRICT Act—a.k.a. the TikTok ban bill—criminalize the use of VPNs? That’s the rumor floating around about the legislation, which was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mark Warner (D–Va.) earlier this month. Warner’s office has said his bill wouldn‘t do this… but its broad language leaves room for doubt. And the act is still insanely far-reaching and could have a huge range of deleterious effects, even if it doesn’t criminalize people using a VPN to access TikTok.

VPN stands for virtual private network, and there are several different kinds, but their general aim is the same: keeping your digital activities and location private. Using a VPN with your computer, phone, or another internet-enabled device can do things like mask your I.P. address and encrypt your internet connection. It’s a great way to get around location-based firewalls (a.k.a. geoblocking) and other forms of internet censorship.

For this reason, VPNs are popular in countries that exercise authoritarian control over what their citizens can access online. It’s sad that this contingent could soon include U.S. citizens, but include us it does, as both Republicans and Democrats get more and more gung-ho about banning the popular video platform TikTok.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) introduced one TikTok ban bill back in January. Hawley’s bill would direct the president to use the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to specifically “block and prohibit all transactions” and to “prevent commercial operation of” TikTok parent company ByteDance in the U.S.

The latest legislation is more extensive—and even more invasive.

Keep reading

8 ways your phone is tracking you that you can stop now

You understand that your phone knows where you’re located.

This is how GPS works, how Find My Friends sees your location, and why you get local ads on Facebook and Google.

Like other data on your phone, that location data is a hot commodity for internet marketers in today’s digital economy.

Targeted advertising is one of the biggest enterprises on the web.

Companies are eager to serve you ads for products you’re likely to buy, and that data helps them hit their mark.

Some companies have even made this their primary business model. Tap or click here to see one shocking way Facebook tracks your data.

Thankfully, you don’t have to stand for this kind of data collection if you’re uncomfortable with it.

These tactics are legal because the companies behind them give you a choice to opt in or out, but not everyone knows how to change the settings.

We’ll show you how to stop your phone from tracking you.

Keep reading

The RESTRICT act aims to tackle TikTok. But it’s overly-broad and has major privacy and free speech implications.

Senator Mark Warner’s Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (“RESTRICT”) Act is currently in Senate procedure, as is widely thought to be targeting China‘s TikTok in particular.

However, those who bothered to read the text of the proposed act – which will next be considered by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, are warning that it is not merely about TikTok, but aims to grant wide powers over all forms of domestic and foreign communications to the government – such as enforcing “any” mitigating measure to deal with risks to national security.

We obtained a copy of the bill for you here.

And, observers critical of these legislative activities note, there would be no due process in taking these measures, and not much in terms of safeguards.

Keep reading

OpenAI co-founder creates digital ID protocol

Digital ID company World ID, created by OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman, claims to offer a “privacy-first” solution to the problem of verifiable identification. The project was created by OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman.

However, many remain skeptical about the overall idea of digital ID, and therefore about World ID as well.

The company claims that more than half of the global population lacks legally verifiable identification and wants to be the provider of that.

World ID describes itself as a self-sovereign and decentralized protocol that provides “proof of personhood” without putting any sensitive information of the holder at risk of being compromised.

The platform says it’s powered by zero-knowledge cryptography, an open protocol that provides developers with a software developer kit (SDK) to leverage the innovative digital identity solution.

Moreover, World ID claims it will become the largest network of authentic humans on the internet.

Keep reading

Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles is caught collecting and selling personal data

Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) has been caught selling drivers’ personal information without their consent and without the option to opt out. Last year alone, the BMV made around $25 million from selling personal information, according to WRTV.

Asked if the BMV sells personal information, a BMV employee said to WRTV: “No. Well, you’re not supposed to. Can’t tell you for sure what they do, but they’re not supposed to!”

Though the employees might not be aware of the practice, an investigation by WRTV found that the Indiana BMV does sell personal information and the practice is legal. The BMV can sell personal information like your name, date of birth, past and current addresses, license plate number, make and model of your vehicle, VIN, date of purchase, license type, and your driver’s record.

In the past decade (2012 to 2022) the BMV made over $237 million from selling drivers’ personal information. It sells the personal information to lawyers, bail bond companies, insurance companies, private investigators, debt collection companies, recovery agents, law enforcement agencies, security guards, auto dealers, tow companies, school corporations, and mobile home parks.

The BMV refused an on-camera interview. However, in an emailed statement, a spokesperson said: “Data is only available to qualified entities who meet the eligibility and use requirements in Indiana Code § 9-14-13-7 or § 9-14-13-8.

“Consumers do not have the option to opt out at this time,” they added.

Keep reading