All Surveillance stories

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.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jun 2, 2020 - Technology

Twitter acts against violent messages

Screenshot: Axios

As Facebook employees criticized the company for not moving against Trump's posts, Twitter took more action Monday against those using its platform to promote violence.

Driving the news: The company suspended a fake Antifa account linked to a white nationalist group and also flagged a tweet from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) that it said glorified violence.

Border Patrol recalls drone from Minneapolis protests

Police and State Patrol officers in Minnesota, Minneapolis on May 29. Photo: Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Customs and Border Protection sent a drone into Minneapolis on Friday to take live footage of protestors at the request of federal law enforcement, a CBP spokesperson told Axios.

What's happening: Demonstrations have surged in the city for three days as people protest and mourn the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after at least one police officer knelt on his neck on Monday. Protestors set fire to a Minneapolis police station on Thursday night.

Mike Allen, author of AM
May 26, 2020 - Economy & Business

Palantir CEO hits Silicon Valley "monoculture," may leave California

Palantir is "getting close" to a decision on whether to move the company out of California, CEO Alex Karp said in an interview for "Axios on HBO."

The state of play: "We haven't picked a place yet, but it's going to be closer to the East Coast than the West Coast. ... If I had to guess, I would guess something like Colorado."

Mike Allen, author of AM
May 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Palantir CEO reflects on work with ICE

Palantir CEO Alex Karp told "Axios on HBO" that there have "absolutely" been moments he wished the company hadn't taken a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

  • "Did I suffer? ... I've had some of my favorite employees leave," Karp told "Axios on HBO."
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
May 13, 2020 - Technology

The brave new world of digital coronavirus screening

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Employers emerging from lockdown are looking to new COVID-19 screening tools to help workers get back on the job.

Why it matters: Neither employees nor customers are likely to return to businesses if they fear infection, so there needs to be some way to separate the sick from the well. But many new screening services are untested, and could open the door to intrusive health surveillance.