Tag Archives: bulk data collection

Consumer Advocates Blast ‘Dangerous’ Amazon Bid to Buy Maker of Roomba

“From a privacy perspective, this is a nightmare,” said one anti-monopoly critic. “From an antitrust perspective, this is one of the most powerful data collection companies on Earth acquiring another vast and intrusive set of data.”

By Julia Conley  Published 8-5-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns/flickr/CC

Amazon on Friday expanded its capacity to connect to and collect information about consumers’ homes and private lives, announcing its plan to purchase of iRobot Corp., the maker of the popular Roomba vacuum.

The e-commerce giant announced it will acquire the company for $1.7 billion in an all-cash deal, taking control of one of its competitors following Amazon’s release last year of Astro, its own “smart” home assistant, which can move between rooms in a home and recognize faces. Continue reading

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Surveillance is pervasive: Yes, you are being watched, even if no one is looking for you

Video cameras on city streets are only the most visible way your movements can be tracked.
AP Photo/Mel Evans

Peter Krapp, University of California, Irvine

The U.S. has the largest number of surveillance cameras per person in the world. Cameras are omnipresent on city streets and in hotels, restaurants, malls and offices. They’re also used to screen passengers for the Transportation Security Administration. And then there are smart doorbells and other home security cameras.

Most Americans are aware of video surveillance of public spaces. Likewise, most people know about online tracking – and want Congress to do something about it. But as a researcher who studies digital culture and secret communications, I believe that to understand how pervasive surveillance is, it’s important to recognize how physical and digital tracking work together. Continue reading

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Study Reveals Sweeping Extent of ICE’s Secret Surveillance Dragnet

“In its efforts to arrest and deport, ICE has—without any judicial, legislative or public oversight—reached into datasets containing personal information about the vast majority of people living in the U.S.”

By Brett Wilkins   Published 5-10-2022 by Common Dreams

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is operating a digital surveillance dragnet through which the agency is able to access information about nearly every person in the United States, a two-year investigation by researchers from the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law revealed Tuesday.

The study—entitled American Dragnet: Data-Driven Deportation in the 21st Century—found that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “has built its dragnet surveillance system by crossing legal and ethical lines, leveraging the trust that people place in state agencies and essential service providers, and exploiting the vulnerability of people who volunteer their information to reunite with their families.” Continue reading

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With Roe Under Threat, Sale of Location Data on Abortion Clinic Patients Raises Alarm

“Companies that traffic in personal, geolocation, advertising, or other data could become digital crime scenes for eager prosecutors armed with subpoenas,” said one expert on technology and gender.

By Julia Conley   Published 5-4-2022 by Common Dreams

A buffer zone around Planned Parenthood in Burlington, VT Photo: Adam Fagan/flickr/CC

A location data firm said Wednesday that it would no longer sell information about people who visit abortion clinics after reporting on the company’s sales raised alarm, but privacy advocates warned that strict regulation is needed to protect patients from such sales—particularly in light of news that abortion rights are likely to be rolled back by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Vice reported Tuesday that data firm SafeGraph has sold sets of aggregated location data regarding people who have visited abortion clinics including Planned Parenthood, showing where patients travel from, how much time they spend at the healthcare centers, and where they go afterwards. Continue reading

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School surveillance of students via laptops may do more harm than good

School laptop surveillance systems monitor students even when they’re not in school.
Jacques Julien/Getty Images

Nir Kshetri, University of North Carolina – Greensboro

Ever since the start of the pandemic, more and more public school students are using laptops, tablets or similar devices issued by their schools.

The percentage of teachers who reported their schools had provided their students with such devices doubled from 43% before the pandemic to 86% during the pandemic, a September 2021 report shows.

In one sense, it might be tempting to celebrate how schools are doing more to keep their students digitally connected during the pandemic. The problem is, schools are not just providing kids with computers to keep up with their schoolwork. Instead – in a trend that could easily be described as Orwellian – the vast majority of schools are also using those devices to keep tabs on what students are doing in their personal lives. Continue reading

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Privacy Champions Urge Passage of ‘Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale’ Act

“Intelligence and law enforcement agencies must come to understand that the American people are off limits to warrantless mass surveillance, no matter how it is done.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-21-2021

Phpto: Microsiervos/flickr/CC

Federal agencies have taken advantage of legal loopholes to collect massive amounts of personal information from cell phone and internet users without congressional or judicial authorization for years, but that practice is being challenged by a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers who introduced legislation on Wednesday that would prevent the U.S. government from buying individuals’ information from data brokers without a court order.

Led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a group of 20 senators introduced the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act (pdf) in the upper chamber of Congress. Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) also unveiled an equivalent bill in the House. Continue reading

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‘We Need Answers’: House Dems Demand Probe Into US Military Purchases of Location Data From Muslim-Focused Apps

“We cannot pick and choose who the Constitution applies to,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib. “Our government cannot continue to violate the privacy of Americans.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-18-2021

More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers concerned about possible violations of civil liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Bill of Rights asked Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Thursday for more information about how and why the U.S. military is buying “access to large quantities of personal data” collected from cellphone applications targeted toward Muslim users.

The letter (pdf) requesting an investigation into U.S. military purchases of private location data was led by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Continue reading

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Rights Advocates Alarmed by US Spy Agency’s Purchase of Warrantless Phone Location Data

“Congress must end this lawless practice and require the government to get a warrant for our location data, regardless of its source.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-22-2021

Image: Free Press

Digital rights advocates reacted with alarm to a report published Friday detailing how Defense Intelligence Agency analysts in recent years bought databases of U.S. smartphone location data without first obtaining warrants.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is part of the Department of Defense and is tasked with informing military and civilian policymakers about the activities and intentions of foreign governments and nonstate actors. Continue reading

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What If Jesus Had Been Born in the American Police State?

Today, Jesus’ anti-government views would certainly have resulted in him being labeled a domestic extremist by law enforcement agencies.

By John Whitehead. Published 12-22-2020 by MintPress News

A church is Southern California put up a nativity display that shows Jesus, Mary, and Joseph being detained at the border.

The Christmas story of a baby born in a manger is a familiar one. The Roman Empire, a police state in its own right, had ordered that a census be conducted. Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary traveled to the little town of Bethlehem so that they could be counted. There being no room for the couple at any of the inns, they stayed in a stable (a barn), where Mary gave birth to a baby boy, Jesus. Warned that the government planned to kill the baby, Jesus’ family fled with him to Egypt until it was safe to return to their native land

Yet what if Jesus had been born 2,000 years later? Continue reading

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Director of National Intelligence Admits Government Used Section 215 to Track Browsing History

After initially denying the practice, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe admitted the government engaged in activity “that could be characterized” as tracking website visits.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-3-2020

Protesters march in a demonstration demanding an end to government mass surveillance in Washington, D.C. on October 26, 2013. (Photo: Susan Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

The Trump administration recently used one of the most controversial surveillance provisions in U.S. history to record an unidentified person or group’s visit to an unspecified website, the New York Times revealed Thursday.

The Times reports Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe wrote to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on November 6 to inform him that Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act had not been used to collect internet search terms, and that none of the 61 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders issued in 2019 involved “web browsing” records. Continue reading

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