SASN Administrator's Posts (13)

Mona Wang & Gennie Gebhart | EFF Deeplinks Blog |Source URL

A school district in New York recently adopted facial recognition technology to monitor students, and it is now one of a growing number of schools across the country conducting mass privacy violations of kids in the name of “safety.” The invasive use of surveillance technologies in schools has grown exponentially, often without oversight or recourse for concerned students or their parents.

Not only that, but schools are experimenting with the very same surveillance technologies that totalitarian governments use to surveil and abuse the rights of their citizens everywhere: online, offline, and on their phones. What does that mean? We are surveilling our students as if they were dissidents under an authoritarian regime.

Schools must stop using these invasive technologies. Americans are already overwhelmingly uneasy with governments’ and corporations’ constant infringements on our personal privacy. Privacy invasions on students in educational environments should be no exception.

Schools are operating as testbeds for mass surveillance with no evidence, and no way to opt out

In recent years, school districts across the country have ramped up efforts to surveil students. In physical spaces, some schools are installing microphones equipped with algorithms that often misinterpret coughs and higher-pitched voices with “aggression.” School districts’ ongoing experiments with facial recognition technology mirror other law enforcement and government programsaround the world.

Schools are also watching students online, and on their phones. Social media monitoring company Social Sentinel offers software to monitor students’ social media accounts, not unlike what the Department of Homeland Security regularly does to immigrants and Americans. School and workplace surveillance vendors like Bark, Qustodio, and AirWatch encourage schools and families to install spyware on their children's phones—software that can work similarly to surreptitiously-installed stalkerware or government-sponsored malware campaigns. Qustodio, one of many companies marketing to both schools and parents, earnestly encourages parents to “monitor your kid’s Internet use NSA-style.”

Many of these technologies compromise not only students’ privacy, but also their security. Web filtering services Securly, and ContentKeeper (which partners with the notorious student surveillance service Gaggle) compel students to install root certificates so administrators can comprehensively monitor students’ Internet activity and effectively compromise the security protocolsthat encrypt over 80% of web sessions worldwide. Just last year, the government of Kazakhstan tried to deploy a similar program to surveil their citizens. Administrators, and potentially third parties (if this filtering is done via “the cloud”), can decrypt and gain complete access to students’ web browsing sessions: what they’re reading, what they’re typing, and even sensitive information like passwords.

Schools refer to these technologies as “student safety” measures, but this label doesn’t change the fact that these are surveillance technologies. Surveillance is surveillance is surveillance.

Pervasive and invasive surveillance is not an effective “safety” measure

What’s more, there is no evidence that surveilling students will lead to better safety outcomes in general. In fact, the few studies that exist show that more cameras inside school buildings decrease students’ perceptions of safety, equity, and support. Additionally, more stringent surveillance ecosystems could have a chilling effecton students’ development. These effects, in turn, tend to impact minority groups and women disproportionately more.

For instance, social media filters that are employed by some districts will send automated alerts to school administrators, and in some cases, local police. The breadth of filtering typically employed by school districts can be staggering. Some flag terms and sites relating to drugs and violence, as well as terms about mental and sexual health. Students may feel less safe researching help online under these surveillance measures.

Schools with larger populations of students of color are also more likely to adopt stricter surveillance policies. The spread of pervasive surveillance also threatens to further entrench the disturbing school-to-prison pipeline where students of color are especially vulnerable to discriminatory over-policing. And deploying pervasive, high-tech surveillance is still expensive—which means administrators are investing in oppressive panopticons instead of other more empirically supported measures, like investing in education or improving mental health support for students. These funds would be better spent on fixing crumbling school infrastructure and investing in students than spying on them through unproven technological panopticons that will fall hardest on students that are already vulnerable to systemic injustice.

Surveillance technologies are often marketed to prevent bullying (both online and offline) and self-harm, but it’s not clear how they purport to do so. Companies that market their surveillance technologies as useful for preventing school shootings are especially guilty of trying to sell digital snake oil. It is not possible to predict, let alone prevent, these tragedies with surveillance and tracking tools like facial recognition. One vendor of facial recognition technology for schools even admits that it can’t prevent school shootings.

Surveillance does not equal safety; it undermines student trust in their learning environments, isn’t effective at keeping them safe, and reinforces systemic injustice. Schools need to slam the brakes and think about what kind of dystopia they’re creating for their students. 

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ZeroHedge |Source URL

A Manhattan-based facial recognition company that uses artificial intelligence to collect data from unsuspecting social media users has reported that its entire client list has been stolen.

The company, Clearview AI, has developed an app which allows anyone to snap a picture of someone which is then compared to a database of more than 3 billion photos that the company has scraped off Facebook, Venmo, YouTube and other sites, before serving up matches along with links to the sites where the database photos originally appeared.

Clearview AI has partnered with law enforcement agencies around the country, however it was unknown exactly how many or who they were. That may not be the case for much longer, after an intruder "gained unauthorized access" to its customer list - along with data on the number of searches its customers have conducted, as well as how many user accounts have been set up, according to the Daily Beast.

The company raised concerns among privacy advocates after a New York Timesarticle described their work with law enforcement agencies, with over 40 organizations signing a letter calling for an independent watchdog to recommend a ban on government use of facial recognition technology.

The company claims that there was "no compromise of Clearview’s systems or network," and that the vulnerability has been breached. Specific search histories were not obtained.

"Security is Clearview’s top priority," said company attorney Tor Ekeland. "Unfortunately, data breaches are part of life in the 21st century. Our servers were never accessed. We patched the flaw, and continue to work to strengthen our security."

The firm drew national attention when The New York Times ran a front-page story about its work with law-enforcement agencies. The Times reported that the company scraped 3 billion images from the internet, including from Facebook, YouTube, and Venmo. That process violated Facebook’s terms of service, according to the paper. It also created a resource that drew the attention of hundreds of law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, according to that report. In a follow-up story, the Times reported that law-enforcement officials have used the tools to identify children who are victims of sexual abuse. One anonymous Canadian law-enforcement official told the paper that Clearview was “the biggest breakthrough in the last decade” for investigations of those crimes. Daily Beast

David Forscey, managing director of the non-profit Aspen Cybersecurity Group said that the breach is concerning.

"If you’re a law-enforcement agency, it’s a big deal, because you depend on Clearview as a service provider to have good security, and it seems like they don’t."

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Aaron Mackey | EFF Deeplinks Blog |Source URL

Federal law enforcement in Seattle sought an average of one court order a day to disclose people’s sensitive information such as calling history in the first half of 2019, according to a report released this year.

The report, the first of its kind by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, shows that officials sought 182 applications and orders for electronic surveillance between January and June 2019. These types of surveillance orders do not require law enforcement to get a warrant and are directed to third parties like phone companies, email providers, and other online services to demand private and revealing information about their users

Although the report does not provide specifics on the services or individuals targeted by the surveillance orders, it does detail how federal law enforcement in the region are using various forms of surveillance. The report is a result of a lawsuit by EFF’s client The Stranger.

EFF’s review of the report shows that the officials sought the vast majority of the orders—89—under the Pen Register Act, a law that allows investigators to collect details about who people communicate with via phone and Internet services. Another 69 orders sought information under the Stored Communications Act, which can be used to disclose user account information and other non-content records from a communications service provider.

Investigators also sought 24 so-called “hybrid” orders in which the applications rely on both the Pen Register Act and Stored Communications Act to obtain information. Although the report does not provide details about what records the hybrid orders sought, these requests are inherently questionable because they are not explicitly authorized by federal law.

Around 2005, creative lawyers at the Department of Justice devised the concept of a hybrid order as a novel legal theory to track people’s real-time locations without a warrant, though a many federal magistrate judges ultimately rejected them. Moreover, the legal basis for using hybrid orders to obtain real-time location data is undercut by the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Carpenter, which required police to obtain a warrant before obtaining historic cell-site location data.

Although we do not know for certain what sort of information the hybrid orders in the Seattle report sought, it’s possible that they were used to map a target’s communications network by recording data about who they contact and obtaining basic information about those individuals, an invasive practice sometimes called contact chaining.

Another interesting facet of the newly released report is that, by EFF’s count, 46 of the orders law enforcement sought were in support of criminal investigations under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The reports states that one of the SCA orders used as part of CFAA investigation targeted 39 accounts and another targeted 44 accounts.

EFF has long advocated for fixing the CFAA because its undefined terms and onerous penalties can be used to target behavior that law enforcement and civil litigants do not like, rather than going after malicious hacking. So, the prevalence of CFAA investigations piqued our interest and we look forward to seeing whether a similar trend occurs in future reports released by the court.

The  information disclosed in the report represents a crucial first step toward greater transparency about these types of non-warrant surveillance orders. Prior to EFF representing The Stranger in a 2017 lawsuit that sought to make these orders public, law enforcement was filing the requests in secret and no one, not even the court, could say how many applications had been filed.

As a result of The Stranger’s suit, federal prosecutors and the court agreed to start a two-year pilot program that changed how the court docketed these surveillance applications and orders so that they could be tracked. The agreement also required the court to publish a report every six months that provided basic information about the applications.

EFF thanks the court and federal prosecutors for creating greater transparency and we look forward to comparing this first report with the others that will be coming soon. We would also like to thank The Stranger for its efforts, as well as our co-counsel Geoffrey M. Godfrey, Nathan T. Alexander, David H. Tseng of Dorsey Whitney LLP’s Seattle, Washington office.

 
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FOX News |Source URL

A group of experts wants to study the brain waves and eye movements of people playing a video game in order to build an advanced AI that could coordinate the actions of military robots.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, awarded a team from the University at Buffalo's Artificial Intelligence Institute a $316,000 grant for the study.

Although swarm robotics is inspired by many things, including ant colonies, researchers believe that humans have a lot of potential to improve AI learning systems. The study of 25 video game players will include real-time strategy games such as StarCraft, Stellaris and Company of Heroes.

“The idea is to eventually scale up to 250 aerial and ground robots, working in highly complex situations. For example, there may be a sudden loss of visibility due to smoke during an emergency. The robots need to be able to effectively communicate and adapt to challenges like that,” the grant’s principal investigator, Souma Chowdhury, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, told UBNow.

As students are playing the game, researchers will record the decisions they make, track their eye movements with high-speed cameras and watch their brain activity through electroencephalograms.

That data will then be used to build artificial intelligence algorithms that guide the behavior of autonomous air and ground robots.

“We don’t want the AI system just to mimic human behavior; we want it to form a deeper understanding of what motivates human actions. That’s what will lead to more advanced AI,” Chowdhury told UBNow.

 

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Source URL

WASHINGTON — Surveillance authorities used by the FBI to fight terrorism are in danger of lapsing next month as both Democrats and Republicans concerned about government overreach negotiate possible reforms.

Liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans want to overhaul the surveillance powers to ensure that the U.S. doesn’t unfairly target private citizens. And Republicans angry over the FBI’s investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia want to use the looming March 15 deadline to force their own changes.

The biggest unknown is Trump himself. Some Republicans are privately pushing the president — long suspicious of the nation’s intelligence community — to demand immediate reforms.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have both said they don’t want the surveillance authorities to expire, each has to overcome significant rifts within their caucuses to move forward.

“It’s a work in progress and it’s a critically important issue, but one we should try to resolve in a manner that results in substantial reform and is done in a bipartisan way to ensure that it gets over the finish line,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.

Attorney General William Barr is pushing Congress to quickly renew the surveillance tools, calling them essential for law enforcement.

Barr and some other Republicans have suggested renewing the powers and letting the Justice Department work on changes to the programs that wouldn’t require congressional approval. Lawmakers would also have more time to work on reform legislation. But it’s unclear if Trump will go along.

Jeffries, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and also party leadership, said it’s an “open question” if they’ll be able to reach an accord, “but people are working feverishly.”

At issue are three surveillance provisions, including one that permits the FBI to obtain court orders to collect business records on subjects in national security investigations. Another, known as the “roving wiretap” provision, permits surveillance on subjects even after they’ve changed phones; and to monitor subjects who don’t have ties to international terrorism organizations.

The FBI calls the provisions vital in the fight against terrorism and stresses that none are tied to the surveillance problems identified by the Justice Department inspector general during the Russia investigation. The inspector general said in a report last year that the FBI made serious mistakes and omissions during four applications to eavesdrop on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, including omitting information that did not support their suspicions that Page was an asset of a foreign government.

The FBI has since committed to a series of reforms aimed at ensuring that wiretap applications to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are more accurate and thorough.

But the concerns over the Russia investigation, amplified by Trump, have given leverage to those members of Congress in both parties who see a window to push for more oversight of government surveillance.

Democrats concerned about civil liberties are agitating for changes. In the House, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren has so far thwarted the House Judiciary Committee’s compromise bill on the surveillance provisions by saying she’ll offer a series of amendments backed by some of the panel’s more liberal Democrats. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler canceled the vote rather than allow Democrats to argue in public over the provisions.

Lofgren would not reveal her amendments but has pushed to prohibit warrantless collection of web browsing data and strengthen oversight of surveillance measures she and other Democrats say are overreach.

Nadler’s bill, written with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, makes similar, but more modest, changes in an effort to ensure passage. Nadler said Friday that he is opposed to a short-term extension similar to what is being floated by some Senate Republicans. But he said that he and Lofgren are still “quite far” apart about a solution.

Nadler said he is involved in the leadership talks to build a package, but that it would first be considered in his committee.

The GOP leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, said he spoke Friday morning with Barr, and has also spoken recently to Trump, about a package of reforms. McCarthy expressed optimism that the authorities wouldn’t expire and said he is working on the details with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

“We’re working on it now, we should be able to get it done by next week,” McCarthy said.

In the Senate, though, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a longtime skeptic of surveillance laws, has been pushing Trump not to accept a renewal unless the surveillance is curbed.

“Spoke with @realDonaldTrump,” Paul tweeted Thursday. “He agrees that the secret FISA court (intended to be used on foreign spies) should be forbidden from ever spying on or investigating Americans, and that Congress should act NOW to make sure of that!”

Trump has not said whether he believes such reforms should happen now, or later. If he does demand immediate changes, he would be breaking with Barr, who urged quick renewal when he met with Senate Republicans Tuesday.

After that meeting, Paul said a simple extension would be “a big mistake.”

“The time is right, the iron is hot,” Paul said.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee, agreed, saying that they are “looking for some reforms that will protect the interests of citizens, American citizens, in front of the FISA court, and make sure what happened to the president doesn’t happen again.”

While surveillance authorities have long had bipartisan support, there is concern on Capitol Hill that the two sides won’t be able to find common ground. Many are still nursing the wounds of impeachment, and the divisions on intelligence issues are deep.

“This is the first time I am aware of anything being so highly politicized” with regard to the FISA process, said David Gomez, a retired FBI counterterrorism supervisor.

“You’ve got a lot of very conservative Republicans who don’t want to see it change too radically but they don’t want to get crosswise with the president,” Gomez said.

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“1984” Has Come to China

Jim Rickards | The Daily Reckoning | Source URL

You’re probably familiar with George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four; (it’s often published as 1984). It was written in 1948; the title comes from reversing the last two digits in 1948.

The novel describes a world of three global empires, Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia, in a constant state of war.

Orwell created an original vocabulary for his book, much of which is in common, if sardonic, usage today. Terms such as Thought Police, Big Brother, doublethink, Newspeak and memory hole all come from Nineteen Eight-Four.

Orwell intended it as a warning about how certain countries might evolve in the aftermath of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. He was certainly concerned about Stalinism, but his warnings applied to Western democracies also.

When the calendar year 1984 came and went, many breathed a sigh of relief that Orwell’s prophesy had not come true. But that sigh of relief was premature. Orwell’s nightmare society is here today in the form of Communist China…

China has most of the apparatus of the totalitarian societies described in Orwell’s book. China uses facial recognition software and ubiquitous digital surveillance to keep track of its citizens. The internet is censored and monitored. Real-life thought police will arrest you for expressing opinions opposed to the government or its policies.

Millions of Chinese have been arrested and sent to “reeducation” camps for brainwashing (the lucky ones) or involuntary organ removal without anesthetic (the unlucky ones who die in excruciating pain and are swiftly cremated as a result).

While these atrocities are not going to happen in the U.S. or what passes for the West these days, the less extreme aspects of China’s surveillance state could well be. And while you might not be arrested for expressing unpopular opinions or challenging prevailing dogmas (at least not yet), you could face other sanctions. You could even lose your job and find it nearly impossible to find another.

You can certainly be banned from social media…

Anything seems to go on social media (primarily Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and a few other platforms) — unless you’re a conservative personality or politico. That’s where the censorship begins.

Many conservative social media participants have had their acco‌unts closed or suspended, not for threats or vulgarity but for criticism of “progressive” views (albeit criticism with some sharp edges).

Meanwhile, those with progressive views can say almost anything on social media, including the implicit endorsement of violence. But nothing happens.

Other conservatives report being the targets of “shadow banning.” That’s where your acco‌unt is open and seems to operate normally, but unbeknownst to you, much of the network is being blocked from seeing your posts and popular features such as “likes” and “retweets” are being truncated and not distributed.

It’s like being a pro athlete who finds out the stadium is empty and no tickets are being sold. That’s bad enough. But Twitter took the war on conservatives a step further.

Well, one of the most widely followed acco‌unts on Twitter is none other than Donald J. Trump’s, with 68 million followers. President Trump uses Twitter to announce policy initiatives and personnel changes and to offer pointed criticism of political opponents. It’s a major platform for him.

Last month Trump issued a tweet that identified the so-called “whistleblower” of the Ukraine phone call that led to his impeachment. That’s not as big a deal as it sounds because everyone in Washington knew who the whistleblower was (you can look his name up on the web), and he wasn’t even a real whistleblower because he didn’t meet statutory requirements.

Still, Twitter blocked Trump’s tweet. Twitter blamed a temporary system “outage,” but that claim was highly suspicious. Later, Trump’s tweet was restored, but the original acco‌unt that Trump linked to had been deleted. No one ever said that politics was fair.

But Twitter’s blatant interference in the election could have adverse consequences for the company in Trump’s second term.

And a few social media companies are now de facto censors, taking over the job from the government. Given their massive media footprint, they wield extraordinary influence over the American public.

They’re in essence becoming propaganda outfits.

It’s not just here of course. Canada, for example, is actively pursuing digital surveillance to track the activities of law-abiding citizens.

A report for the Bank of Canada says that financial information gathered from digital transaction records could be used for “sharing information with police and tax authorities.”

If all transactions are digital (including credit and debit cards), authorities can track your whereabouts, buying habits, restaurant choices and much more. They could also reveal your political orientation and personal associations.

It’s not difficult to imagine the police and tax authorities using that power to make life extremely difficult for those who criticize the government or sacred ideologies like “climate change.” If you think that sounds extreme, some have actually advocated jailing climate change “deniers.”

Do you think I’m making that up?

Well, the executive director of an outfit called Climate Hawks Vote said “Put officials who reject science in jail.”

The Nation also ran an article called, “Climate Denialism Is Literally Killing Us: The victims of Hurricane Harvey have a murderer — and it’s not the storm.”

“How long,” its author asked, “before we hold the ultimate authors of such climate catastrophes accountable for the miseries they inflict?”

And Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said the Koch brothers “should be in jail,” “with all the other war criminals.”

Well, David Koch has since died, so he’ll escape Kennedy’s justice.

But their “war crimes” consisted of funding organizations that question the climate change alarmism the media  is constantly feeding us.

But guess what? There’s plenty of hard scientific evidence that refutes the alarmist view. This article isn’t the venue to get into it, but the scientific case against climate alarmism is much stronger than the case for it.

But if you dissent against the official view, today’s tech censors will silence or marginalize you, no matter how valid your point.

The problem is, the trend is moving very quickly in this direction and it’s difficult to stop. And sophisticated surveillance technology to monitor citizens is already in place…

For example, cameras with the latest surveillance technology can spot and match millions of faces in real time with an accuracy rate of over 99%. They’re touted as anti-terrorism and anti-crime tools, which they certainly are.

But as Stalin’s ruthless secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria said, “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.” It’s easy to see that power being abused to target everyday citizens.

(By the way, Beria would ultimately prove his own point, as he was later arrested and executed for treason).

And actually, many people welcome intrusive surveillance technology on the grounds of convenience. As an example, look at microchipping, where people are injected with a small microchips beneath their skin. Microchipping has been associated with an Orwellian nightmare in which Big Brother constantly monitors your every move.

Well, over 4,000 Swedes have already happily volunteered to have it done.

In addition to acco‌unt information that negates the need to carry cash or credit cards to pay for goods, these chips can contain personal information. It’s all happened fairly quickly. Just a few years ago, the very idea of it would have sent chills down the spines of most people.

But that’s how fast Big Brother can go from nightmare to reality, and appear benign or even beneficial.

Big Brother’s on full display in China right now, but he could be on his way here before too long.

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Elizabeth Findell | Wall Street Journal | Source URL

Escalating his feud with Austin city leaders over how to address the Texas capital’s problem of homelessness, Gov. Greg Abbott is planning to begin housing homeless people on state land.

The announcement comes just days after state officials began clearing people out from underpasses (Link) Monday, a move taken in opposition to the policy the city council adopted this summer allowing camping in public, which raised the visibility of the city's homeless population (Link).

Mr. Abbott’s office said Thursday that it will begin allowing people to camp on a 5-acre plot of state-owned land in southeastern Austin. The property will have portable restrooms, hand-washing stations and an agreement from local charities to service meals there, said John Wittman, a spokesman for the Republican.

“This is the governor following through on his commitment,” Mr. Wittman said. “He said he would clean up downtown.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he appreciated any assistance in responding to homelessness in Austin, but said the city’s efforts will remain on finding permanent housing for people. City staff members over the summer recommended against putting resources toward designated camps, saying they often end up becoming permanent and taking effort away from permanent solutions.

“Ultimately, we don’t want people camping anywhere,” Mr. Adler said.

Before Monday’s clearing out of the state-controlled underpasses, Mr. Abbott had for months threatened state intervention and encouraged constituents to tweet videos of homeless people behaving badly in Austin, signaling his displeasure with the city’s policies. Austin council members and advocates for the homeless criticized him for pushing people with nowhere else to go into hiding.

The plan announced Thursday provides a new option, Mr. Wittman said, though he emphasized it is a short-term solution.

Austin Chamber of Commerce representatives, meanwhile, announced a longer-term effort Thursday to address homelessness. The chamber said it is forming a coalition with faith-based partners to try to raise $14 million to build and operate one or more shelters that can hold about 150 bunk beds.

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Both new efforts could have political implications on an issue where Mr. Abbott and other Republican leaders have accused the liberal city government of failing in leadership. Conservative state leaders have in recent years railed against Texas’ left-leaning major cities, focusing legislative efforts on overturning local ordinances.

On homelessness, Mr. Abbott has found increasing support from some city residents who say they are frustrated with the growing impact of homeless people.

Austin’s debate mirrors others around the country. President Donald Trump has threatened federal action against California cities (Link) for their high homelessness numbers. In Las Vegas, an ordinance passed Wednesday evening to outlaw public camping—the opposite of what Austin did—drew opposition this week from Democratic presidential contenders including South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro.

 

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Darren Boyle | The Daily Mail | Source URL

Technology giants Google, Apple and Facebook have been accused of facilitating an online slavery market. 

An undercover investigation by BBC News Arabic found smartphone apps in Kuwait where potential buyers can scroll through the details of thousands of women available for domestic service. 

The women can be 'bought' for as little as £3,000. 

UN special rapporteur on modern slavery Urmila Bhoola told the BBC: 'What they are doing is promoting an online slave market.

'If Google, Apple, Facebook or any other companies are hosting apps like these, they have to be held accountable.' 

The investigation found that one market operates on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. It is reported that sales are conducted through private messages. 

The tech giants told the BBC they are working with app developers to stop the illegal activity. 

They also suggest selling people online is against their terms and conditions. 

However, the BBC sent a couple under cover claiming they were newly arrived in Kuwait and were seeking domestic servants. 

They visited one site where women were filtered by race - with some people worth more than others.  

One advert claimed an African worker was 'clean and smiley', while a second warned the Nepalese person for sale 'dares to ask for a day off'. 

Some of the adverts are from people looking to sell their own domestic staff. 

Even one police officer was trying to sell his domestic worker who he described as 'very nice' and with a 'smiley face' and never complains. 

The officer claimed it was possible to buy a maid and sell her on for a profit. 

Although he warned that you should keep your maid's passport. 

The BBC team even received the opportunity to buy a 16-year-old girl who had been trafficked in from Guinea, West Africa. 

The owner said the girl, was not allowed any time off and did not have any access to her passport or mobile phone.  

Nearly 25 million people worldwide are estimated to be victims of forced labour, while about 25,000 human trafficking cases were recorded globally in 2016 - marking a 13-year-high - according to the latest available data from two U.N. agencies. 

The number of informal workers globally is set to swell as low-skilled labourers lose out to automation and others take short-term jobs offered through digital platforms, say labour activists who warn of the increased risk of modern slavery.

Two billion people - more than 60 per cent of the world's workers - are in informal employment, where they are not covered by formal arrangements, such as a contract, or lack protections including sick pay, U.N. International Labour Organisation data shows.  

Across much of the Gulf, most domestic workers are supplied by agencies who initially register them with the applicable government. 

The agencies then supply the staff to families who sponsor the worker and pay a large fee. 

However, the maid cannot quit and is not allowed to leave the country without the permission of their employer. 

According to the BBC, the new online marketplaces are bypassing the traditional agencies and undermining the conditions of domestic staff. 

The informal online trading leaves the women at risk of abuse. 

The 16-year-old girl from Guinea was sent home by Kuwaiti authorities. She told the BBC: 'They used to shout at me and call me an animal. It hurt, it made me sad, but there was nothing I could do. 

'Even now, talking about it, I'm still happy. My life is better now. I feel like I'm coming back from slavery.' 

Kuwaiti authorities said they have rules to prevent exploitation and trafficking. 

 

 

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10292019%20Directed%20energy.jpg

The US military has doubled its spending on directed energy weapons over the past two years, and the investment is bearing fruit. Earlier this month, the Air Force successfully tested five prototype systems and is preparing to deploy at least two of them overseas by the end of 2020.

“We’ve seen a doubling of the [DOD] budget for DE from FY17 to FY19,” from $535 million to $1.1 billion, Mark Neice, executive director of the Directed Energy Professional Society, said Oct. 29 at the Association of Old Crows’ annual symposium. The funding is divided between the three military services and a number of program offices across the Defense Department, including the Missile Defense Agency, the DE Joint Transition Office, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Frank Peterkin, a directed energy-focused scientist and engineer within the Office of Naval Research, noted that fiscal 2019 marked the first time the Navy overtook the Air Force in defense appropriations for DE, $259 million to $235 million.

DE technology “has matured significantly in the last five years or so,” added Kelly Hammett, who runs the Directed Energy Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory. “Directed energy weapons are emerging in the battlespace for all three services. You’re going to see them in your battlespace, whether you like it or not. They may be aimed at you.”

Hammett said that during the week of Oct. 20 at Fort Sill, Okla., the Air Force conducted tests of five DE systems—four high-energy lasers and one high-power microwave—as counter-drone weapons. The tests were part of an ongoing directed energy effort run by AFRL’s Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office.

They were “knocking drones out of the sky. … It looked like a very successful exercise,” he said, adding that the organizers are preparing more detailed results for public release.

Laser weapons work by heating an object until it catches fire, melts, or explodes. The microwave weapons work differently, destroying or disabling the target’s electronics with a short burst of extremely high powered microwave radiation. Unlike a laser’s tight beam, the microwaves propagate in a cone shape, meaning it can engage many targets at once. This makes it ideal for defending against swarms of large numbers of drones.

The Air Force has publicly announced plans to buy two laser weapons and one microwave from Raytheon. The first high-energy laser weapon system was delivered this month, the company recently said. It is mounted on a small ATV and works with the company’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System.

The microwave weapon, which the company dubs Phaser, comes in a shipping container-sized box, is C-130 transportable, and can be deployed within a couple of hours.

A Raytheon spokeswoman told Air Force Magazine the company plans to deliver the $16.2 million Phaser later this year, for deployment at the beginning of 2020.

Both Phaser and a laser weapon will be deployed overseas to try downing drones, as Air Force Magazine reported earlier this year.

“We have made it through acceptance testing [in the continental US] for the first laser system,” Michael Jirjis, who oversees DE experimentation within SDPE, said in an Oct. 29 email. “It performed better than we expected, and [we] are currently packing everything up to be shipped out in the next month or two. The first microwave system is to go through acceptance testing next month and will follow suit (packed up and shipped).”

USAF officials declined to say where the systems will go, but last month’s drone attack on a Saudi oil installation—which was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels but blamed on Iran by US and allied officials—highlights the dangers in the Arabian Gulf. Service leaders have pointed to instances of armed, small unmanned aircraft near US assets overseas, or those that they fear could surveil bases or get sucked up into larger aircraft.

But it’s not just the threat from low-cost drones operated by nonstate actors that’s stirred the recent growing interest in DE technology, according to Hammett.

“One of the reasons [for the] significant increase in funding ... is that our near-peer adversaries are acting,” he said. “They are moving forward in a whole bunch of technology areas, [including] directed energy, that are alarming.”

It wasn’t that the US was being overtaken on the technology front, he said, but rather that America’s adversaries were more willing to deploy emerging technology before it was mature.

“We still preserve in many areas … a research and development advantage [over them],” he concluded. “What we don’t have is the risk-accepting culture … that will take a minimum viable product and field it.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct Michael Jirjis' role within SDPE and to remove an erroneous reference to the Phaser system.


Air Force Magazine | Source URL

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We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe

Scientific American |  Source URL

The technology is coming, but contrary to what some people say, there could be health risks

C52E7548-476B-44ED-9FEB282BAC265F3B_source.jpg?w=590&h=800&F0EA5895-FE85-4565-9E931CC3A384E357

The telecommunications industry and their experts have accused many scientists who have researched the effects of cell phone radiation of "fear mongering" over the advent of wireless technology's 5G. Since much of our research is publicly-funded, we believe it is our ethical responsibility to inform the public about what the peer-reviewed scientific literature tells us about the health risks from wireless radiation.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced through a press release that the commission will soon reaffirm the radio frequency radiation (RFR) exposure limits that the FCC adopted in the late 1990s. These limits are based upon a behavioral change in rats exposed to microwave radiation and were designed to protect us from short-term heating risks due to RFR exposure.  

Yet, since the FCC adopted these limits based largely on research from the 1980s, the preponderance of peer-reviewed research, more than 500 studies, have found harmful biologic or health effects from exposure to RFR at intensities too low to cause significant heating.

Citing this large body of research, more than 240 scientists who have published peer-reviewed research on the biologic and health effects of nonionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF) signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal, which calls for stronger exposure limits. The appeal makes the following assertions:

“Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans. Damage goes well beyond the human race, as there is growing evidence of harmful effects to both plant and animal life.”

The scientists who signed this appeal arguably constitute the majority of experts on the effects of nonionizing radiation. They have published more than 2,000 papers and letters on EMF in professional journals.

The FCC’s RFR exposure limits regulate the intensity of exposure, taking into account the frequency of the carrier waves, but ignore the signaling properties of the RFR. Along with the patterning and duration of exposures, certain characteristics of the signal (e.g., pulsing, polarization) increase the biologic and health impacts of the exposure. New exposure limits are needed which account for these differential effects. Moreover, these limits should be based on a biological effect, not a change in a laboratory rat’s behavior.

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified RFR as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" in 2011. Last year, a $30 million study conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) found “clear evidence” that two years of exposure to cell phone RFR increased cancer in male rats and damaged DNA in rats and mice of both sexes. The Ramazzini Institute in Italy replicated the key finding of the NTP using a different carrier frequency and much weaker exposure to cell phone radiation over the life of the rats.

Based upon the research published since 2011, including human and animal studies and mechanistic data, the IARC has recently prioritized RFR to be reviewed again in the next five years. Since many EMF scientists believe we now have sufficient evidence to consider RFR as either a probable or known human carcinogen, the IARC will likely upgrade the carcinogenic potential of RFR in the near future.

Nonetheless, without conducting a formal risk assessment or a systematic review of the research on RFR health effects, the FDA recently reaffirmed the FCC’s 1996 exposure limits in a letter to the FCC, stating that the agency had “concluded that no changes to the current standards are warranted at this time,” and that “NTP’s experimental findings should not be applied to human cell phone usage.” The letter stated that “the available scientific evidence to date does not support adverse health effects in humans due to exposures at or under the current limits.”

The latest cellular technology, 5G, will employ millimeter waves for the first time in addition to microwaves that have been in use for older cellular technologies, 2G through 4G. Given limited reach, 5G will require cell antennas every 100 to 200 meters, exposing many people to millimeter wave radiation. 5G also employs new technologies (e.g., active antennas capable of beam-forming; phased arrays; massive multiple inputs and outputs, known as massive MIMO) which pose unique challenges for measuring exposures.

Millimeter waves are mostly absorbed within a few millimeters of human skin and in the surface layers of the cornea. Short-term exposure can have adverse physiological effects in the peripheral nervous system, the immune system and the cardiovascular system. The research suggests that long-term exposure may pose health risks to the skin (e.g., melanoma), the eyes (e.g., ocular melanoma) and the testes (e.g., sterility).

Since 5G is a new technology, there is no research on health effects, so we are “flying blind” to quote a U.S. senator. However, we have considerable evidence about the harmful effects of 2G and 3G. Little is known the effects of exposure to 4G, a 10-year-old technology, because governments have been remiss in funding this research. Meanwhile, we are seeing increases in certain types of head and neck tumors in tumor registries, which may be at least partially attributable to the proliferation of cell phone radiation. These increases are consistent with results from case-control studies of tumor risk in heavy cell phone users.

5G will not replace 4G; it will accompany 4G for the near future and possibly over the long term. If there are synergistic effects from simultaneous exposures to multiple types of RFR, our overall risk of harm from RFR may increase substantially. Cancer is not the only risk as there is considerable evidence that RFR causes neurological disorders and reproductive harm, likely due to oxidative stress.

As a society, should we invest hundreds of billions of dollars deploying 5G, a cellular technology that requires the installation of 800,000 or more new cell antenna sites in the U.S. close to where we live, work and play?

Instead, we should support the recommendations of the 250 scientists and medical doctors who signed the 5G Appeal that calls for an immediate moratorium on the deployment of 5G and demand that our government fund the research needed to adopt biologically based exposure limits that protect our health and safety.

Read more…

UPS-truck-drone.png

United Parcel Service Inc on Tuesday said it won the U.S. government’s first full approval to operate a drone airline, which gave it a lead in the nascent U.S. drone delivery business over rivals Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted UPS’ Flight Forward drone subsidiary a Part 135 Standard certification on Friday. The company said the certificate allows it to expand its delivery service in campus settings such as hospitals and universities, but added that residential deliveries are years away.

The certification allows UPS pilots to fly drones beyond their line of sight and opens the door for the delivery company to expand Flight Forward. The fledgling unit is immediately doubling the number of drone flights it does for its flagship customer, Raleigh, North Carolina’s WakeMed Health & Hospitals.

“We’ll easily get to 20-plus flights per day, per drone,” said Scott Price, UPS’ chief strategy and transformation officer.

“It’s a business, it’s not a prototype or a test,” Price said of Flight Forward, which is paid to ferry blood and tissue samples to WakeMed’s central laboratory from points around its main hospital campus.

UPS said its latest certification clears the way for Flight Forward to add other campus delivery projects without seeking government approvals for each one.

“There are hundreds of campuses in the United States,” said Price, who added that UPS is eyeing drone deliveries on hospital, corporate and university campuses as it builds Flight Forward.

“This is a big step forward in safely integrating unmanned aircraft systems into our airspace,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in a statement.

Under the new FAA approval, UPS Flight Forward pilots may now operate multiple drones under one certificate.

Earlier this year, Alphabet’s Wing, the sister unit of search engine Google, was the first company to get U.S. air carrier certification for a single-pilot drone operation. It is testing home deliveries in a rural area around Blacksburg, Virginia.

Amazon, known for its splashy drone delivery tests, also has won experimental certifications to test its drones.

The FAA is writing rules for drone operations, including guidelines for sharing airspace with passenger planes and flying over populated areas.

Residential deliveries, Price said, are “years out.”

https://www.thedailysheeple.com/ups-gets-government-approval-to-become-a-drone-airline/

Read more…

We just witnessed the worst month for U.S. manufacturers in more than 10 years, and nobody seems optimistic that things are going to get much better anytime soon.  In fact, one expert is warning that “more damage” is coming if the trade war is not resolved; and, unfortunately, it does not appear that a resolution will be possible for the foreseeable future.

As I have been detailing for months, the entire global economy has been steadily slowing down, but some shocking new numbers that we just got indicate that our economic problems are really starting to accelerate.  So hold on to your hats, because it looks like things are about to get really crazy.  According to CNBC, September was the worst month for U.S. factories in more than a decade

The U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index from the Institute for Supply Management came in at 47.8% in September, the lowest since June 2009, marking the second consecutive month of contraction. Any figure below 50% signals a contraction.

The new export orders index was only 41%, the lowest level since March 2009, down from the August reading of 43.3%, ISM data showed.

 

Those numbers are absolutely abysmal, and they were far worse than analysts were expecting.

Since December 2009, I have published more than 2,000 articles on The Economic Collapse Blog, and in all that time we have never seen manufacturing numbers this bad.

According to Peter Boockvar, the chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, we have “now tariffed our way into a manufacturing recession in the U.S. and globally”.  So those that have been waiting for a “manufacturing recession” to arrive can now stop waiting.  It is here, and it is going to be very painful.

All over America factories are starting to close down at an alarming pace.  This week, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards blamed the “sudden shutdown” of a steel plant in his state on the ongoing trade war

In Louisiana, meanwhile, Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday blamed the sudden shutdown of a steel plant on tariffs. “While Bayou Steel has not given any specific reason for the closure, we know that this company, which uses recycled scrap metal that is largely imported, is particularly vulnerable to tariffs,” he said.

The closure of LaPlace, Louisiana-based of Bayou Steel will cost 376 employees their jobs.

All over the globe, manufacturing numbers are plunging at an alarming pace thanks to the trade war.  For a long time I warned my readers that the level of economic pain that this trade war would inflict upon all of us would steadily rise as long as this trade war persisted, and now the experts being quoted by the mainstream media are saying the exact same thing.  Here is just one example

“The manufacturing side is telling us something. It’s a combination of global growth and we’ve got a trade war that’s been going on for a year and a half,” said Christian Fromhertz, CEO of The Tribeca Trade Group. “That’s been freezing things up. The longer this trade war keeps going, the more damage it does.

Of course it isn’t just the U.S. that is being hit extremely hard.

Overall, we haven’t seen a slowdown in global trade like this since the last recession, and at this point container shipping rates are down a whopping 34 percent since the beginning of 2019…

Container shipping rates continue to move lower into the fourth quarter of 2019, according to FreightWaves. The drop in price comes as a result of the most recent round of tariffs discouraging U.S. importers from front loading orders. As a result, ocean carriers are looking to cut even more shipping capacity in hopes of meeting tepid demand into the back end of the year.

Spot rates on the Freightos Baltic Daily Index for China-North America West Coast were down 8% from last week, falling to $1,327 per forty-foot equivalent unit. Container rates are down 34% since the beginning of the year, despite the industry now being in peak season. 

For months, I have been sharing numbers that indicate that the entire global economy is heading into a recession.  But now the numbers are absolutely screaming that major trouble is imminent.

Winter is coming, and it will not be pleasant.

After the horrifying U.S. manufacturing numbers were released on Tuesday, U.S. stock prices immediately began falling, and the Dow ended the day down more than 340 points

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 343.79 points lower, or 1.3% at 26,573.04 after rallying more than 100 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 slid 1.2% close at 2,940.25. The Nasdaq Composite was down 1.1% at 7,908.68.

Tuesday marked the worst one-day performance for the Dow and S&P 500 since Aug. 23.

Meanwhile, as is usually the case when economic doom erupts, the price of gold is soaring once again

Gloom for the economy is a boom for safe havens. A 10-year-low in a reading of U.S. manufacturing activity sent investors flocking back to the safety of gold on Tuesday, just after they let the yellow metal flounder to two-month lows.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled up $16.10, or 1%, at $1,489 per ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The threat of impeachment looms over Washington, and it could potentially unleash political chaos like we haven’t seen in the United States in decades.

And at the same time, the global economy is deteriorating to a degree that we have not seen since the last recession, and many believe that what is coming will be even worse than what we experienced a decade ago.

Dark storm clouds have gathered over America, and we stand on the precipice of one of the most critical moments in the history of our nation.

Unfortunately, most Americans are still dead asleep, and many of them have absolutely no idea what is about to happen.

https://www.activistpost.com/2019/10/a-u-s-economic-slowdown-has-been-confirmed-and-we-are-being-warned-that-more-damage-is-ahead.html

Read more…

We just witnessed the worst month for U.S. manufacturers in more than 10 years, and nobody seems optimistic that things are going to get much better anytime soon.  In fact, one expert is warning that “more damage” is coming if the trade war is not resolved; and, unfortunately, it does not appear that a resolution will be possible for the foreseeable future.

As I have been detailing for months, the entire global economy has been steadily slowing down, but some shocking new numbers that we just got indicate that our economic problems are really starting to accelerate.  So hold on to your hats, because it looks like things are about to get really crazy.  According to CNBC, September was the worst month for U.S. factories in more than a decade

The U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index from the Institute for Supply Management came in at 47.8% in September, the lowest since June 2009, marking the second consecutive month of contraction. Any figure below 50% signals a contraction.

The new export orders index was only 41%, the lowest level since March 2009, down from the August reading of 43.3%, ISM data showed.

 

Those numbers are absolutely abysmal, and they were far worse than analysts were expecting.

Since December 2009, I have published more than 2,000 articles on The Economic Collapse Blog, and in all that time we have never seen manufacturing numbers this bad.

According to Peter Boockvar, the chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, we have “now tariffed our way into a manufacturing recession in the U.S. and globally”.  So those that have been waiting for a “manufacturing recession” to arrive can now stop waiting.  It is here, and it is going to be very painful.

All over America factories are starting to close down at an alarming pace.  This week, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards blamed the “sudden shutdown” of a steel plant in his state on the ongoing trade war

In Louisiana, meanwhile, Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday blamed the sudden shutdown of a steel plant on tariffs. “While Bayou Steel has not given any specific reason for the closure, we know that this company, which uses recycled scrap metal that is largely imported, is particularly vulnerable to tariffs,” he said.

The closure of LaPlace, Louisiana-based of Bayou Steel will cost 376 employees their jobs.

All over the globe, manufacturing numbers are plunging at an alarming pace thanks to the trade war.  For a long time I warned my readers that the level of economic pain that this trade war would inflict upon all of us would steadily rise as long as this trade war persisted, and now the experts being quoted by the mainstream media are saying the exact same thing.  Here is just one example

“The manufacturing side is telling us something. It’s a combination of global growth and we’ve got a trade war that’s been going on for a year and a half,” said Christian Fromhertz, CEO of The Tribeca Trade Group. “That’s been freezing things up. The longer this trade war keeps going, the more damage it does.

Of course it isn’t just the U.S. that is being hit extremely hard.

Overall, we haven’t seen a slowdown in global trade like this since the last recession, and at this point container shipping rates are down a whopping 34 percent since the beginning of 2019…

Container shipping rates continue to move lower into the fourth quarter of 2019, according to FreightWaves. The drop in price comes as a result of the most recent round of tariffs discouraging U.S. importers from front loading orders. As a result, ocean carriers are looking to cut even more shipping capacity in hopes of meeting tepid demand into the back end of the year.

Spot rates on the Freightos Baltic Daily Index for China-North America West Coast were down 8% from last week, falling to $1,327 per forty-foot equivalent unit. Container rates are down 34% since the beginning of the year, despite the industry now being in peak season. 

For months, I have been sharing numbers that indicate that the entire global economy is heading into a recession.  But now the numbers are absolutely screaming that major trouble is imminent.

Winter is coming, and it will not be pleasant.

After the horrifying U.S. manufacturing numbers were released on Tuesday, U.S. stock prices immediately began falling, and the Dow ended the day down more than 340 points

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 343.79 points lower, or 1.3% at 26,573.04 after rallying more than 100 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 slid 1.2% close at 2,940.25. The Nasdaq Composite was down 1.1% at 7,908.68.

Tuesday marked the worst one-day performance for the Dow and S&P 500 since Aug. 23.

Meanwhile, as is usually the case when economic doom erupts, the price of gold is soaring once again

Gloom for the economy is a boom for safe havens. A 10-year-low in a reading of U.S. manufacturing activity sent investors flocking back to the safety of gold on Tuesday, just after they let the yellow metal flounder to two-month lows.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled up $16.10, or 1%, at $1,489 per ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The threat of impeachment looms over Washington, and it could potentially unleash political chaos like we haven’t seen in the United States in decades.

And at the same time, the global economy is deteriorating to a degree that we have not seen since the last recession, and many believe that what is coming will be even worse than what we experienced a decade ago.

Dark storm clouds have gathered over America, and we stand on the precipice of one of the most critical moments in the history of our nation.

Unfortunately, most Americans are still dead asleep, and many of them have absolutely no idea what is about to happen.

https://www.activistpost.com/2019/10/a-u-s-economic-slowdown-has-been-confirmed-and-we-are-being-warned-that-more-damage-is-ahead.html

Read more…
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