AOC Blasts NYPD’s New “Robo-Surveillance Ground Drones” For Poor Neighborhoods

For a couple of decades, police forces across the country have been militarized. Stepping into a new decade, police forces, like NYPD, are seeking to deploy automation and artificial intelligence systems to combat crime. 

NYPD first received the robot dog, called “Digidog,” a couple of months ago. At the time, NYPD Technical Assistance Response Unit Inspector (TARU) Frank Digiacomo told ABC7 that the four-legged robotic dog “will save lives, protect people, and protect officers and that’s our goal.” 

Digidog is like any Boston Dynamics Spot robot – though this one is equipped with lights, two-way communication, and video cameras.

The latest video shows the 70-pound robot being tested in the Bronx. The department also deployed the robotic dog back in October to a Brooklyn shooting. 

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Judge “Disturbed” To Learn Google Tracks “Incognito” Users, Demands Answers

A US District Judge in San Jose, California says she was “disturbed” over Google’s data collection practices, after learning that the company still collects and uses data from users in its Chrome browser’s so-called ‘incognito’ mode – and has demanded an explanation “about what exactly Google does,” according to Bloomberg.

In a class-action lawsuit that describes the company’s private browsing claims as a “ruse” – and “seeks $5,000 in damages for each of the millions of people whose privacy has been compromised since June of 2016,” US District Judge Lucy Koh said she finds it “unusual” that the company would make the “extra effort” to gather user data if it doesn’t actually use the information for targeted advertising or to build user profiles.

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So Long as You Carry a Cellphone, the Government Can Track You

Cell phones are convenient devices, handily connecting us with loved ones, paying bills, accessing information—and treacherously reporting on our every move. Worse, even after the Supreme Court weighed in, many government agencies still insist that they have the right to pull up that tracking data to see our whereabouts. It’s increasingly apparent that, if you have your phone in your pocket, you may as well have a GPS beacon strapped to your ankle. If you want anonymity from the government, leave the gadget at home.

That point was illustrated in the wake of the Capitol riot, when the authorities pulled cell phone records to see who was present.

“In the hours and days after the Capitol riot, the FBI relied in some cases on emergency orders that do not require court authorization in order to quickly secure actual communications from people who were identified at the crime scene,” The Intercept reported this week. “Investigators have also relied on data ‘dumps’ from cellphone towers in the area to provide a map of who was there, allowing them to trace call records — but not content — from the phones.”

The data collected by people’s phones and the apps they use, often compiled by marketing firms, is amazingly detailed. An individual “outraged by the events of Jan. 6” supplied data on participants in the day’s events to The New York Times, whose writers were thoroughly creeped out by the information.

“While there were no names or phone numbers in the data, we were once again able to connect dozens of devices to their owners, tying anonymous locations back to names, home addresses, social networks and phone numbers of people in attendance,” Charlie Warzel and Stuart A. Thompson wrote.

Marketing databases have become a favorite resource for government agencies, which purchase the information as an attempted end-run around Fourth Amendment protections. The theory has been that, since the data is “voluntarily” provided to a third party there’s no privacy from the government required.

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WITHIN HOURS OF the storming of the Capitol on January 6, the FBI began securing thousands of phone and electronic records connected to people at the scene of the rioting — including some related to members of Congress, raising potentially thorny legal questions.

Using special emergency powers and other measures, the FBI has collected reams of private cellphone data and communications that go beyond the videos that rioters shared widely on social media, according to two sources with knowledge of the collection effort.

In the hours and days after the Capitol riot, the FBI relied in some cases on emergency orders that do not require court authorization in order to quickly secure actual communications from people who were identified at the crime scene. Investigators have also relied on data “dumps” from cellphone towers in the area to provide a map of who was there, allowing them to trace call records — but not content — from the phones.

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There Are Spying Eyes Everywhere—and Now They Share a Brain

Citigraf was conceived in 2016, when the Chicago Police Department hired Genetec to solve a surveillance conundrum. Like other large law enforcement organizations around the country, the department had built up such an impressive arsenal of technologies for keeping tabs on citizens that it had reached the point of surveillance overload. To get a clear picture of an emergency in progress, officers often had to bushwhack through dozens of byzantine databases and feeds from far-flung sensors, including gunshot detectors, license plate readers, and public and private security cameras. This process of braiding together strands of information—“multi-intelligence fusion” is the technical term—was becoming too difficult. As one Chicago official put it, echoing a well-worn aphorism in surveillance circles, the city was “data-rich but information-poor.” What investigators needed was a tool that could cut a clean line through the labyrinth. What they needed was automated fusion.

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Spotify Wants to Eavesdrop on Your Life to Pick the Next Song to Play

Music streaming service Spotify has reportedly filed a patent for new personality tracking technology that analyzes a user’s emotional state and suggests music based on it. The patent, titled “Identification of taste attributes from an audio signal,” details constantly monitoring “speech content and background noise” to provide song suggestions.

Music Business Worldwide reports that in October 2020, Spotify filed a patent for personality tracking technology that could determine a user’s emotional state in order to suggest the perfect song for them to listen to.

The filing explained that behavioral variables such as a user’s mood, their favorite genre of music, or their demographic could all “correspond to different personality traits of a user.” Spotify suggested that this could be used to promote personalized content to users based on the personality traits it detected.

Now a new U.S. Spotify patent shows that the company wants to use the technology to analyze users even further by using speech recognition to determine their “emotional state, gender, age, or accent.” These attributes can then be used to recommend content.

The new patent is titled “Identification of taste attributes from an audio signal” and was filed in February 2018 and granted on January 12, 2021. The patent can be read in full here.

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TikTok Is Watching You – Even If You Don’t Have an Account

2020 was TikTok’s year. Although the social media platform was already popular by late-2018, nothing could have boosted its user base faster than our thirst for distraction from the imminent collapse of society. And if all press is good press, TikTok certainly benefited from media attention in 2020, taking centre stage in the geopolitical struggle between China and the US. 

Suddenly, everyone cared about what data was being collected by TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. But despite the Trump administration’s claims that China might be spying on you via your favourite entertainment app, there is no evidence that your data is less safe in the hands of a Chinese company than in those of the US-based “usual suspects”, like Facebook and Amazon. In fact, in July of 2020, the European Court of Justice struck down the EU-US privacy agreement known as Privacy Shield, on the grounds that US national security laws endangered EU citizens’ data.Life

In light of all this, I wanted some clarity. Taking advantage of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), I asked TikTok to send me all the data they had on me. Anyone in the EU can do this – here is the template I used, and the email address you should send it to.

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