Tag Archives: Security

‘Historic Moment’: EU Approves Call for Sweeping Ban on Facial Recognition Surveillance

“This is a huge win for all European citizens.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 10-6-2021

The European Parliament has overwhelmingly approved a call to ban facial recognition surveillance—a development heralded by the technology’s foes as a “big win for human rights.”

The vote on the resolution was 377-248. While the measure is nonbinding, the EUObserver reported Wednesday that its passsage means “Parliament now has for the first time an official position advocating for a ban on biometric mass surveillance, which sends a strong signal for negotiations of the first-ever EU rules on AI systems.”

“Fundamental rights are unconditional,” MEP Petar Vitanov, a member of the Bulgarian Socialist Party who backed the resolution, said in a statement. Continue reading

Share Button

Warnings of Trump-Like Insurrection Ahead of Bolsonaro Rallies in Brazil

“The people of Brazil have struggled for decades to secure democracy from military rule, Bolsonaro must not be permitted to rob them of it now.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-6-2021

Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil speaking during the Session: “Special Address by Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil“ at the Annual Meeting 2019 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 22, 2018. Photo: World Economic Forum/Flickr/CC

As supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro prepare to take to the streets for orchestrated demonstrations Tuesday, warnings within the country and across the world are growing that the embattled right-wing leader is seeking to foment an insurrection or possibly a military coup with similar undertones to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol incited by former President Donald Trump.

“Right now, President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies—including white supremacist groups, military police, and public officials at every level of government—are preparing a nation-wide march against the Supreme Court and Congress on 7 September, stoking fears of a coup in the world’s third largest democracy,” said over 150 lawmakers, academics, and former government officials in a joint statement issued Monday. Continue reading

Share Button

Feds are increasing use of facial recognition systems – despite calls for a moratorium

Government agencies are increasingly using facial recognition technology, including through security cameras like this one being installed on the Lincoln Memorial in 2019.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

James Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Despite growing opposition, the U.S. government is on track to increase its use of controversial facial recognition technology.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report on Aug. 24, 2021, detailing current and planned use of facial recognition technology by federal agencies. The GAO surveyed 24 departments and agencies – from the Department of Defense to the Small Business Administration – and found that 18 reported using the technology and 10 reported plans to expand their use of it. Continue reading

Share Button

Creative Associates International (CAI): It’s Not Exactly the CIA, But Close Enough

While mercenary armies like Blackwater have at least been subject to inquiry, making the company’s name infamous around the world, Creative Associates International has largely flown under the radar — exactly where the organization’s board wants it to be.

By Alan Macleod   Published 8-13-2021 by MintPress News

Graphic by Antonio Cabrera

You have likely not heard of them, but Creative Associates International (CAI) is one of the largest and most powerful non-governmental organizations operating anywhere in the world. A pillar of soft U.S. power, the group has been an architect in privatizing the Iraqi education system, designed messenger apps meant to overthrow the government of Cuba, served as a front group for the infamous Blackwater mercenary force (now rebranded as Academi), and liaised with Contra death squads in Nicaragua. As such, it has functioned as “both as an instrument of foreign policy and as a manifestation of a broader imperial project,” in the words of Professor Kenneth Saltman of the University of Illinois, Chicago. Continue reading

Share Button

The disturbing rise of the corporate mercenaries

It’s not too late to rein in these unaccountable armed giants, but we need to act fast

By Felip Daza and Nora Miralles  Published 8-6-2021 by openDemocracy

Pre=deployment training at Tier 1 Group. Photo: T1G/Facebook

When the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated by agents of the Saudi government in 2018, it caused an international scandal. Now, it turns out that his killers were trained in the US. In June, The New York Times reported that four Saudis involved in the killing had received paramilitary training from Tier 1 Group, a private security company based in Arkansas.

This was no renegade operation, however. Tier 1 Group, whose training had approval from the US State Department, is part of a burgeoning global industry. Corporate mercenaries – or, more properly, private security and military companies – are increasingly taking over functions that were once carried out by states, with grave implications for human rights and democracy worldwide. It’s big business, too: Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity fund that owns Tier 1 Group, also owns a string of arms manufacturers. In April 2010, Cerberus merged with DynCorp International, one of the world’s largest corporate mercenary companies. Continue reading

Share Button

27 Groups Urge Congress to Close FBI ‘Backdoor Search’ Loophole

“Ending this unconstitutional practice is imperative to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance does not swallow Americans’ privacy rights.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-26-2021

Demonstrators march in protest against government mass surveillance in Washington, D.C. on October 26, 2013. Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/CC

Over two dozen advocacy groups on Monday sent a letter urging members of Congress to back a measure that, if enacted, would close the so-called “backdoor search” loophole that allows warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens’ data by government agencies including the FBI and CIA.

The letter (pdf), led by Demand Progress and signed by 27 groups, calls on House leaders to support an amendment to H.R. 4505—the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022—proposed by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio). Continue reading

Share Button

Reality Winner’s Release From Federal Prison Met With Calls for Full Pardon for the NSA Whistleblower

Winner will serve the rest of her five-year sentence under the supervision of a halfway house.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-14-2021

Screenshot: ABC News

Press freedom advocates were among those celebrating the release of former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner on Monday after her attorney announced Winner had been transferred from federal prison to a halfway house.

Alison Grinter Allen, Winner’s lawyer, said the legal team is continuing to pursue a full pardon from President Joe Biden.
Continue reading
Share Button

Cracks in the Middle East’s stability grow wider as US influence wanes

With the region experiencing social unrest, greater influence of Russia and China, and Israel’s increasing independence, the future is uncertain

By Paul Rogers  Published 5-29-2021 by openDemocracy

A Palestinian making art out of an unexploded Israeli missile. Photo: Wajd/Twitter

The reopening of the US Consulate in East Jerusalem, which reverses one of Trump’s key moves against the Palestinian Authority, was the most significant outcome of the US secretary of state Antony Blinken’s four-state visit to the Middle East this week.

President Joe Biden’s top diplomat also announced immediate support for reconstruction in Gaza, while maintaining strong support for Israel. Yet Blinken has not proposed new peace talks, nor has he engaged with Hamas, which the US and Israel still deem to be a terrorist organisation. Instead, his quick tour through Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Amman was mainly focused on consolidating the ceasefire. If it helps, good, but it still does nothing to address the underlying issues. Continue reading

Share Button

Sheriffs in more militarized counties reap election rewards

When local law enforcement agencies get military surplus equipment, like armored vehicles, local sheriffs are more likely to get reelected. AP Photo/David Goldman

Christos Mavridis, Middlesex University; Maurizio Zanardi, University of Surrey, and Orestis Troumpounis, Lancaster University

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

Sheriffs in counties that get more military surplus equipment from a federal program have a better chance of getting reelected than sheriffs whose counties get less equipment, or less lethal equipment, from the same program, our new research shows.

Through a federal program aimed at fighting drug trafficking and terrorism and improving border security, thousands of law enforcement agencies around the country have gotten billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment, including bulletproof vests, helicopters, robots, firearms and ammunition, and armored vehicles. Continue reading

Share Button

Israeli Bombs Destroy Gaza Media Center; AP, Al-Jazeera, Others Taken Out

Israel destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other media outlets on Saturday, the latest step by Israel to silence reporting.

By Common Dreams  Published 5-15-2021

Photo: Evakatrina/Twitter

Israeli bombs destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other media outlets on Saturday, the latest step by Israel to silence reporting from Gaza amid its military bombardment. The  Israeli air raid totally demolished the structure. Continue reading

Share Button