All Surveillance stories

The U.S. is now playing by China's internet rules

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's crackdown on TikTok suggests that the U.S. government is starting to see the internet more like China does — as a network that countries can and should control within their borders.

The big picture: Today's global internet has split into three zones, according to many observers: The EU's privacy-focused network; China's government-dominated network; and the U.S.-led network dominated by a handful of American companies. TikTok's fate suggests China's model has U.S. fans as well.

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.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Jul 7, 2020 - Economy & Business

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

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As companies continue to prepare for the return of their employees to the workplace, they're weighing new types of surveillance in the name of safety.

Why it matters: Just as the coronavirus pandemic has acted as an accelerant for the adoption of remote work, it has also normalized increased surveillance and data collection. In the post-pandemic workplace, our bosses will know a lot more about us than they used to.

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.

NYT: Black Lives Matter protests in over 15 cities were under surveillance by DHS

Protestors march across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan on June 19. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security monitored Black Lives Matters protests in more than 15 cities with airplanes, drones and helicopters, according to Customs and Border Protection data obtained by the New York Times.

Driving the news: The Air Force inspector general said on Thursday it plans to investigate the use of a military reconnaissance plane used to surveil demonstrations in multiple cities held in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Amazon to halt police use of its facial recognition technology for one year

Amazon logistics center on April 21 in Bretigny-sur-Orge, France. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Amazon announced on Wednesday it would stop supplying U.S. police officers with its facial recognition technology for one year amid a nationwide push for police reform.

What they're saying: "We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge. We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested."

Protest responses raise domestic surveillance concerns

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The sometimes militarized government response to nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd has shone a light on the scope of the surveillance and enforcement apparatus that can be mobilized quickly against U.S. civilians.

The state of play: Since the protests began, extraordinary emergency authorities have been granted to the Drug Enforcement Agency to police demonstrators, including through “covert surveillance,” according to a DEA memo leaked to BuzzFeed.

House Democrats call for investigation into DEA protester surveillance

Protesters walk across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan on June 6. Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats on the Oversight Committee called Saturday for the Department of Homeland Security to explain how it has surveilled people protesting the killing of George Floyd.

Driving the news: The committee's probe follows a Drug Enforcement Administration memo, first obtained by BuzzFeed News, that granted the agency temporary heightened powers to "enforce federal criminal laws in the wake of protests arising from the death of George Floyd."

Lawmakers want to encrypt Congress' network

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

In a letter released last month, an ideologically diverse group of senators and congressmen, led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), wrote to the Senate’s sergeant at arms and the House’s chief administrative officer requesting that all calls on unclassified lines between the House and Senate be encrypted, in order to prevent foreign spying.

Why it matters: According to the letter, first reported by The Verge, calls within the Senate were not encrypted until August 2018, making them “vulnerable to interception by any hacker or foreign government that gained access to the Senate’s internal network.”

Jun 3, 2020 - Technology

The slippery slope of protest surveillance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's call to treat antifa supporters like terrorists could be a green light for high-tech surveillance of dissidents.

Why it matters: It's unlikely the Trump administration can designate antifa as a terrorist group in any legally meaningful way, but the declaration gives law enforcement tacit approval to use a plethora of tech tools to monitor protesters and left-leaning activists.