All Surveillance stories

Feb 12, 2020 - World

Podcast: The intelligence coup of the century

A bombshell Washington Post report revealed that a communications tech company used by dozens of countries was secretly owned by the CIA, thus allowing the U.S. to spy on conversations with both allies and enemies. Dan digs in with Washington Post reporter Greg Miller.

Go deeper: Huawei equipment has secret "back doors," U.S. officials claim

Tech giants hammer facial recognition startup

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Venmo and LinkedIn have sent Clearview AI cease-and-desist letters in the wake of a blockbuster report that the facial recognition startup has scraped billions of people's faces from their websites, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Clearview's app is used to identify suspected criminals by over 600 law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, per the Times.

Jan 25, 2020 - Technology

How AI, surveillance and biometrics could converge in a tech arms race

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Visual China Group via Getty Images

DAVOS, Switzerland — Historian and philosopher Yuval Harari urged the U.S. and China to stop AI, surveillance and biometrics from converging before it is too late.

The big picture: Harari passionately warned his Davos audience that humanity could become entirely subject to AI and biometrics, with risks including "data colonialism" and "digital dictatorships" that could imprison someone if, for example, their biological data suggests they are not sufficiently loyal.

Dec 31, 2019 - Technology

FAA proposes new drone-tracking regulations

Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images.

The Federal Aviation Administration wants to require the vast majority of drones to broadcast identifying and location information so authorities can spot rogue drones and generally keep tabs on the rest.

Why it matters: Drone makers have been waiting on the FAA to propose the Remote ID regulation to ease security concerns about potentially hostile drone operators that could, for example, wreak havoc at an airport — similar to the incident that shut down the U.K.'s Gatwick Airport last year.

Dec 24, 2019 - Technology

Baltimore revives controversial "spy plane" surveillance pilot

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios.

Baltimore will become the first city in the U.S. to pilot aerial surveillance, funded by philanthropists, to understand its impact on crime, per the Baltimore Sun.

Driving the news: Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, who's been skeptical of the effectiveness of surveillance planes, has reversed course and said he supports a pilot program to let three private planes monitor the city from above.

Updated Dec 15, 2019 - Technology

Comey defends FBI but admits FISA failures: "I was wrong"

In a wide-ranging interview on "Fox News Sunday," former FBI director James Comey argued that the bureau was "vindicated" by the Justice Department inspector general's findings on the origins of the Russia investigation, but admitted that he was "wrong" about serious failures the watchdog found in the FBI's surveillance process.

Dec 11, 2019 - Technology

The other report blowing up D.C.

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's testimony on Capitol Hill today painted a vivid illustration of how political actors frequently cherry-pick facts for their own partisan gain.

Why it matters: The dueling narratives aren't mutually exclusive, but it takes some nuance to sort through the partisan hyperbole.

Dec 11, 2019 - Technology

DOJ inspector general: No one who touched FISA process should feel "vindicated"

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said at a hearing Wednesday that the irregularities uncovered in his investigation of surveillance activities during the FBI's Russia probe do not "vindicate" anyone, as former FBI Director James Comey and others claimed upon release of his report.

Dec 5, 2019 - World

China's move on face-recognition standards

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chinese tech companies have ramped up efforts to set technical standards for facial recognition, raising concerns among business competitors, political observers and humanitarian advocates.

Why it matters: China has long made a systematic effort to set international standards on data and hardware compatibility across brands so that the standards reflect how Chinese products already work — giving its domestic industries a leg up in engineering races.

Report: NYC police illegally kept log of juveniles' fingerprints

Photo: Sergi Reboredo/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

New York City police until recently illegally kept a database of fingerprints from juveniles who'd been taken into custody, AP reports.

What we know: The Legal Aid Society says the repository contained tens of thousands of youths' fingerprints. Bulletins have also been issued to the Department's 36,000 officers notifying them of the procedural change.