Surveillance

The big picture

The coronavirus is ushering in a new era of surveillance at work

The pandemic is normalizing increased surveillance and data collection at work.

Jul 7, 2020 - Economy & Business
Protest responses raise domestic surveillance concerns

Federal law enforcement agencies were deployed to police demonstrations throughout the U.S.

Jun 10, 2020 - Technology
China's move on face-recognition standards

China will likely use technical standards to claim a UN seal of approval for its use of its products.

Dec 5, 2019 - World
Deep Dive: The end of anonymity

Data that might once have gone unnoticed can now be detected, analyzed and logged in real time.

Sep 7, 2019 - Technology
The steady erosion of privacy at home

IoT devices can pick up your voice, interests, habits, TV preferences, meals and all sorts of other sensitive data.

Jun 24, 2019 - Technology
AI is "awakening" surveillance cameras

New technology can constantly watch for "anomalies" in live feeds.

Jun 14, 2019 - Technology

All Surveillance stories

Report: Swiss government long in dark over CIA front company

Photo by: Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Image

The Swiss intelligence service has known since at least 1993 that Switzerland-based encryption device maker Crypto AG was actually a front for the CIA and its German counterpart, according to a new report released by the Swiss Parliament, but Swiss leaders were in the dark until last year.

Why it matters: Switzerland’s intra-governmental information gap is unlikely to be welcome news in Europe, which already looks warily upon the U.S.’ expansive surveillance practices. Still, Crypto AG provided information of incalculable value to U.S. policymakers over many decades.

Oct 14, 2020 - Technology

COVID is worsening global internet freedom, report finds

Singapore's TraceTogether contact-tracing app. Photo: Catherine Lai/AFP via Getty Images

Governments around the world have seized on the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to expand digital surveillance and harvest more data on their citizens, according to a report out Wednesday from Freedom House, a democracy and human rights research group.

Why it matters: Privacy advocates have warned since early in the pandemic that the tech behind efforts to conduct contact tracing and enforce quarantines and other public safety protocols could be abused and made permanent, particularly in authoritarian countries like China.

FBI says Virginia governor was a potential target for militia kidnapping plot

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) speaks during a news conference. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The militia groups who had allegedly plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) also discussed kidnapping Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) during a June meeting in Ohio, an FBI agent testified in court on Tuesday.

The big picture: FBI agent Richard Trask was part of the investigation that thwarted an extremist plot last week to kidnap Whitmer and overthrow state governments and law enforcement. Six Michigan residents were arrested in connection with the plot, while seven others linked to the militia group Wolverine Watchmen were arrested for allegedly planning to attack the Michigan Capitol.

FCC: 5G could eventually help cities predict and prevent wildfires

Axios' Erica Pandey, (left) with Jessica Rosenworcel (right), Federal Communications Commissioner. Photo: Axios.

Jessica Rosenworcel, a Federal Communications Commissioner, said Tuesday that she hopes smart cities and 5G could eventually predict and ensure the safety of its residents, even from natural disasters like wildfires.

What she's saying: "Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we knew those kind of things well in advance, if we had a predictive ability that exceeds what we have today because we are looking at patterns at a scale that previously we haven’t been able to do? I think that those things are real and they are not so in the far-off future," she told Axios' Erica Pandey at a virtual event.

Iranian cyber group "Pioneer Kitten" sold access to hacked networks

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A hacker group associated with the Iranian government is selling “access to compromised networks on an underground forum,” likely without Tehran’s blessing, according to research by threat intelligence firm CrowdStrike.

Why it matters: That these Iranian hackers were apparently caught trying to make money on the side may show the dangers of relying on likely underpaid contractors to conduct sensitive offensive cyber operations.

Federal court deems NSA phone data collection program illegal

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the National Security Agency's surveillance program that collected data from Americans' phone calls was illegal.

What they found: The court concluded that "bulk collection" of phone data violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Wednesday's ruling came seven years after Basaaly Moalin and three other Somali immigrants were found guilty on charges of fundraising for the terror group al-Shabab.

TikTok sale drama clouds the app's genuine security concerns

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Political and economic motivations behind a sale or shutdown of TikTok in the U.S. are obscuring sincere security concerns raised by the rise of the Chinese-owned social video app.

The big picture: U.S. intelligence officials evince deep worry over Chinese companies’ ability to resist Beijing’s demands for data.

Why the U.S. needs better cyber deterrence

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The U.S. lacks a well-formulated policy of cyber deterrence, one that ensures adversarial states will anticipate the consequences of their own cyber operations and online influence campaigns against the U.S., according to a U.S. senator who is a prominent voice in the cybersecurity field.

Why it matters: With elections looming in November, hacks afflicting Twitter and other services, and misinformation rampant on social media platforms, the U.S. remains a vulnerable target for state-backed cyber operations.

Indian government bans 59 Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok

Rickshaw driver in New Delhi wearing a TikTok sweatshirt. Photo: Nasir Kachroo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Indian government announced Monday it would ban 59 apps developed by Chinese firms, citing national security and privacy concerns.

Why it matters: The applications blocked include ByteDance’s TikTok, a massively popular short-form video app that has come under scrutiny in the U.S. and elsewhere amid growing concerns about Chinese technological threats. India is TikTok's largest market, according to TechCrunch.

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