All Surveillance stories

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.

Go deeperArrowDec 11, 2019

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.

Go deeperArrowDec 11, 2019

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.

Go deeperArrowDec 5, 2019 - World

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.

Go deeperArrowNov 14, 2019

Edward Snowden tells "Axios on HBO" what he gave up to become a whistleblower

Former National Security Agency subcontractor Edward Snowden told "Axios on HBO" that "it was a difficult thing to come forward" and release top-secret documents about U.S. intelligence agencies' surveillance of American citizens to journalists in 2013.

Why it matters: The U.S. government does not considered Snowden a whistleblower because he did not raise his concerns through the legal process that had been established. As a result, he has lived in exile in Russia for more than six years.

Go deeperArrowNov 11, 2019

China touts dubious emotion recognition tech

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China touted emotion recognition systems as a means of crime prevention at its 2019 Public Security Expo, Financial Times reports (subscription), although experts say the tech doesn't work as advertised.

Reality check: "The science on emotion recognition is pretty bogus," ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley tells Axios. A July study found that it is not possible to confidently assign emotional states to facial expressions "regardless of context, person, and culture" — "as much of current technology tries to do."

Go deeperArrowNov 2, 2019

Automating humans with AI

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Most jobs are still out of reach of robots, which lack the dexterity required on an assembly line or the social grace needed on a customer service call. But in some cases, the humans doing this work are themselves being automated as if they were machines.

What's happening: Even the most vigilant supervisor can only watch over a few workers at one time. But now, increasingly cheap AI systems can monitor every employee in a store, at a call center or on a factory floor, flagging their failures in real time and learning from their triumphs to optimize an entire workforce.

Go deeperArrowOct 12, 2019

U.S. sues Edward Snowden for profits from new memoir

Photo: Barton Gellman/Getty Images

The United States filed a lawsuit Tuesday against former CIA employee and NSA contractor Edward Snowden alleging his memoir violates non-disclosure disagreements.

  • The lawsuit argues Snowden did not allow the agencies to review his book before publication, as had been required by a signed agreement. While the lawsuit will not attempt to stop publication of Snowden's book book, Permanent Record, it does seek to recover all proceeds earned by Snowden because of the violation.
Go deeperArrowSep 17, 2019

Spyware's human rights dilemma

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An announcement this week by a major spyware vendor that it aims to embrace human rights is forcing the industry, governments and civil society groups to consider whether the concepts of "human rights" and "spyware" can ever be reconciled.

The big picture: Government-grade spyware has always been abused. In June, David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, determined that commercial spyware had become so vast a problem that the world needs a moratorium on it, for companies and governments to figure out how to protect human rights.

Go deeperArrowSep 12, 2019

Deep Dive: The end of anonymity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Until now, the vast majority of information collected about us has remained untouched — there was just too much to make sense of it all.

What's happening: Artificial intelligence allows data that might once have gone unnoticed to now be detected, analyzed and logged in real time. It's already started supercharging surveillance at work, in schools and in cities.