All Surveillance stories

AI surveillance goes to school

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new breed of intelligent video surveillance is being installed in schools around the country — tech that follows people around campus and detects unusual behaviors.

Why it matters: This new phase in campus surveillance responds to high-profile school shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida, last February. School administrators are now reaching for security tech that keeps a constant, increasingly sophisticated eye on halls and classrooms. One drawback: a major blow to student privacy.

Sep 20, 2018 - Technology

When governments turn spyware on citizens

Protesters in Cairo use cell phones to photograph a tear gas container in 2011. Photo: Karimphoto via Getty Images

A new report shows that a military contractor has likely sold spyware to repressive regimes. But the study's authors and other experts differ on how to stop the problem.

The big picture: That study, released Tuesday by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, found that 36 surveillance networks used commercial militarized spyware made by the Israeli NSO Group.

Sep 17, 2018 - Technology

Unpatched security problem affects surveillance video recorders

Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via getty

Researchers at Tenable announced Monday a security flaw in the firmware of network video recorders made by NUUO that could allow hackers to delete or modify surveillance videos or turn off surveillance entirely. It is not yet patched, although Tenable claims a patch might be available tomorrow.

Why it matters: NUUO makes hardware that records and manages security camera footage. The company's product integrates with more than 100 different camera brands.

Schools turn to AI to monitor students' mental health

Sixth graders at Flint Hill School in Oakton, Va. Photo: Katherine Frey/Washington Post/Getty

Jolted by rising suicide and self-injury among young Americans, schools are using software to monitor student browsing history and logs for signs of distress, in what they hope will curb the problem.

What's going on: Kids and teens increasingly rely on the internet to answer their mental-health questions, creating browsing patterns that schools hope could identify potential harm before it happens. But that requires sweeping online surveillance that critics say could leave a lasting mark on students.

Jul 29, 2018 - Technology

A secret TSA surveillance program targets ordinary Americans

TSA agents at the security checkpoint at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

"Federal air marshals have begun following ordinary US citizens not suspected of a crime or on any terrorist watch list and collecting extensive information about their movements and behavior," reports Jana Winter, a Boston Globe Spotlight fellow.

Why it matters: Some air marshals say it's "a time-consuming and costly assignment...which saps their ability to do more vital law enforcement work."

Updated Jul 27, 2018 - World

How U.S. tech powers China's surveillance state

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American companies eager to enter China’s massive market brace themselves for potential intellectual property theft or forced technology transfers. But there’s another threat at play: their technology is being used for surveillance.

The big picture: China has sophisticated systems of state surveillance, and elements of these systems have long been powered by technologies developed by American companies. Beijing has used U.S. tech to surveil its citizens, violate human rights and even modernize its military.

Facial recognition in the U.K. faces legal challenge

Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A British privacy watchdog is preparing to mount a legal challenge to the use of AI-based facial recognition technology in the U.K.

Why it matters: Law enforcement around the world is increasingly using real-time facial recognition. The technology is already widespread in China and is used by some police departments in the U.S.

NSA got more than 530 million U.S. phone records last year

Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

The National Security Agency collected more than three times as many phone call records in 2017 as they did in 2016, Reuters reports. These records do not contain content of the calls, only the time and phone numbers.

Why it matters: The increase comes two years after a surveillance system was put into place that "sought to limit its ability to collect such records in bulk," per Reuters. But the NSA still gathered 534 million phone records from American citizens. An NSA spokesman told Reuters that the government hasn't "altered the manner in which it uses its authority to obtain call detail records."

DOJ watchdog to investigate FBI's handling of FISA warrants

Michael Horowitz, Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty

The Justice Department's Inspector General announced Wednesday that it will be conducting an investigation into how the FBI handles Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications in response to requests from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and members of Congress.

Why it matters: Back in February, Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked the DOJ's watchdog to look into GOP Congressman Devin Nunes' memo that alleged the FBI deceivingly obtained a FISA warrant in order to surveil Trump's foreign policy aide Carter Page. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff also released a memo last month, defending the FBI's actions.

DOJ eyeing tool to allow access to encrypted data on smartphones

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Justice Department is in "a preliminary stage" of discussions about requiring tech companies building "tools into smartphones and other devices" that would allow law enforcement investigators to access encrypted data, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: This has been on the FBI's mind since 2010, and last month the White House "circulated a memo...outlining ways to think about solving the problem," officials told the NYT. Both FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, support finding ways for law enforcement to access data without compromising devices security.