December 4, 2020

Facebook Says It Will Remove Coronavirus Vaccine Misinformation. New York Times reported:

“Facebook on Thursday said it would remove posts that contain claims about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, as the social network acts more aggressively to bat down coronavirus misinformation while falsehoods run rampant.

“The move goes a step beyond how Facebook had handled misinformation about other kinds of vaccines. The company had previously made it more difficult to find vaccine misinformation that was not related to the coronavirus by “downranking” it, essentially making it less visible in people’s news feeds.”

Time To Rein In Government’s Pandemic Overreach — Starting With CDC’s Eviction Ban. The Hill reported:

“When the history of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 is written, it will need a section on the most counterproductive and overreaching government responses. That list should include the nationwide ban on residential rental evictions imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in September.

“That’s right, public health officials have decided to claim regulatory authority over the residential real estate market. The CDC doesn’t have the authority for such a sweeping declaration, which goes far beyond the agency’s statutory mission to fight infectious diseases.”

‘Immunity Cards’ to Be Issued to All Americans; Enable CDC to Track COVID-19 Vaxx Status In Database. ZeroHedge reported:

“On Wednesday the Department of Defense released the first images of a COVID-19 vaccination record card as well as vaccination kits, according to CNN.

“’Everyone will be issued a written card that they can put in their wallet that will tell them what they had and when their next dose is due,’ says Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director of the Immunization Action Coalition. ‘Let’s do the simple, easy thing first. Everyone’s going to get that.’”

Mexico: López Obrador Says Pandemic Lockdowns Are the Tactic of Dictators. Guardian reported:

“Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador suggested on Wednesday that politicians who impose lockdowns or curfews to limit Covid-19 are acting like dictators.

“The comments came as López Obrador once again fended off questions about why he almost never wears a face mask, saying it was a question of liberty.”

Supreme Court Backs California Ministry on COVID Restrictions, Returns Case to Lower Court. National Review reported:

“The Supreme Court sided with a California ministry against Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday in a dispute over coronavirus restrictions.

“The Harvest Rock International Ministry had alleged that Newsom’s restrictions on church capacity were “draconian and unconscionable,” challenging those restrictions in a lawsuit. California attorney general Xavier Becerra stated in court papers that “temporary interference is justified by the State’s interest in limiting the transmission of COVID-19 through tailored, evidence-based policies.”

A New Technology That Will Dangerously Expand Government Spying on Citizens. Counterpunch reported:

“If you’re worried about the capability of government to conduct surveillance of citizens engaged in political assembly and protest, or even just personal activity, then you should be aware the technological capability of government surveillance is about to expand exponentially.

“The US Air Force’s Research Lab (yes, it has its own lab) has recently signed a contract to test new software of a company called SignalFrame, a Washington DC wireless tech company. The company’s new software is able to access smartphones, and from your phone jump off to access any other wireless or bluetooth device in the near vicinity.”

Delta Partners with CDC for International Traveler Contact Tracing. USA Today reported:

“Delta Air Lines has announced that it will begin coronavirus contact tracing for travelers arriving in the United States.

“The airline, which announced the news Thursday in a press release, is partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the launch, which is aimed at keeping ‘international customers informed of potential COVID-19 exposure.’

“‘Along with our nine global airline partners, we are working with government agencies, health officials and aviation authorities to offer safer travel at every point in your journey,’ the news release said.”

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December 2, 2020

Microsoft’s Creepy New ‘Productivity Score’ Gamifies Workplace Surveillance. Gizmodo reported:

“Microsoft rolled out its new “Productivity Score” feature this month, which lets bosses track how their employees use Microsoft’s suite of tools. If that sounds like an Orwellian nightmare in the making to you, you’re not alone — privacy experts are criticizing the company for essentially gamifying workplace surveillance.”

Vaccine Minister Suggests Those Who Don’t Get COVID Jabs Could Face Restrictions From Sports Events and Cinemas. Evening Standard reported:

“Health minister Nadhim Zahawi, who is responsible for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in the UK, said jabs will not be compulsory.

“But he told BBC Radio 4’s the World At One that service providers will likely want people to prove that they have been vaccinated.”

Give the Coronavirus App Bonus Benefits to Increase Downloads, German State Says. Thomson Reuters Foundation reported:

“Many in privacy-conscious Germany are wary of the app, with critics warning that it could become effectively compulsory if shops and restaurants insisted on seeing it for entry, while some regard the storing of location data to establish where contacts took place and trace infection chains as intrusive.

“By offering incentives, [North Rhine-Westphalia] aims to reverse that logic in the hope that more people can be encouraged to install it.”

EFF Urges Federal Appeals Court to Rehear Case Involving Unconstitutional Baltimore Aerial Surveillance Program. Electronic Frontier Foundation reported:

“In May, the Baltimore Police Department launched its Aerial Investigation Research (AIR) Pilot Program. For six months, three surveillance aircrafts operated by a private company called Persistent Surveillance Systems flew over Baltimore — covering about 90 percent of the city — for 12 hours every day. The planes produced images that even at a resolution of “one pixel per person” allowed the police to track individual’s movements over multi-day periods, especially when combined with the police’s networks of more than 800 ground-based surveillance cameras and automated license plate readers.”

Privacy Rights Groups Criticize EU Aid in Developing Countries, Claiming Funds Pay for Government Surveillance. CPO Magazine reported:

“The European Union provides annual financial aid to many different developing countries around the world. Various privacy groups, chief among them Privacy International, are raising alarms about some of these EU aid programs. Funds, equipment and training are reportedly going to the intelligence agencies of repressive governments and being used explicitly for domestic surveillance; examples include training seminars that taught participants how to perform “man in the middle” WiFi attacks and monitor dissidents on social media.”

Police in Jackson, Mississippi, Want Access to Live Home Security Video, Alarming Privacy Advocates. NBC News reported:

“Strapped for cash and facing a sharp rise in homicides, city leaders here are expanding police surveillance powers to allow residents and business owners to send live feeds from many types of security cameras — including popular doorbell cameras — directly to the city’s real-time command center.

“The new use of this livestreaming technology by police, which is undergoing a final legal review in Jackson, is drawing interest from other small cities that don’t have the resources to build their own surveillance systems. But some have opted out, citing concerns about privacy violations. Civil liberties advocates say those concerns are valid, warning that the technology could lead to increased police scrutiny of people’s everyday activities and more arrests for low-level offenses.”

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November 25, 2020

Secret Amazon Reports Expose the Company’s Surveillance of Labor and Environmental Groups. Vice reported:

“A trove of more than two dozen internal Amazon reports reveal in stark detail the company’s obsessive monitoring of organized labor and social and environmental movements in Europe, particularly during Amazon’s “peak season” between Black Friday and Christmas.

“The reports, obtained by Motherboard, were written in 2019 by Amazon intelligence analysts who work for the Global Security Operations Center, the company’s security division tasked with protecting Amazon employees, vendors, and assets at Amazon facilities around the world.”

We Should Be Able to Use a Dating App Without Fear of Winding Up in a Military Database. New York Times reported:

“This is the ultimate example of what’s broken in digital life: The locations of people who used apps to pray and hang their shelves wound up in U.S. military databases.

“Vice’s Motherboard publication this week reported that data on people’s movements collected by seemingly innocuous apps passed through multiple hands before being bought by U.S. defense contractors and military agencies. It’s not clear what the military is doing with the information.”

Qantas Airways Moves to Require COVID-19 Vaccine for Air Travel. Forbes reported:

“A widespread vaccine for COVID-19 hasn’t reached the public yet, but already, airlines are planning for how to handle travelers with and without immunity. On Monday, Alan Joyce, the CEO of Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways, shared that his airline would eventually only allow for vaccinated travelers to board its flights. The move would essentially lock down the spread of the virus through air travel and allow for travelers to move around the globe unhindered by quarantines, though it would only open up the carrier to the select population that had received the vaccine.”

Stars Ridicule Californian ‘Emperor’ Gov. Newsom’s ‘Ridiculous’ Thanksgiving Crackdown That Bans Singing and Limits the Holiday to a Two-Hour Outdoor Event. The Daily Mail reported:

“Celebrities have taken to social media to slam California Governor Gavin Newsom’s ‘ridiculously unenforceable’ Thanksgiving crackdown that bans singing and shouting and limits the holiday to a two-hour outdoor event.

“’If my Aunt comes over, can I throw her a slice of turkey from the window?’ mocked actor Rob Schneider as he blasted the ‘Emperor Newsom.’

“Newsom announced new safety guidelines earlier this month for all private gatherings just as Californians were gearing up for the Thanksgiving holiday.”

China’s Surveillance State Sucks Up Data. U.S. Tech Is Key to Sorting It. New York Times reported:

“The computers inside the complex, known as the Urumqi Cloud Computing Center, are among the world’s most powerful. They can watch more surveillance footage in a day than one person could in a year. They look for faces and patterns of human behavior. They track cars. They monitor phones.

“The Chinese government uses these computers to watch untold numbers of people in Xinjiang, a western region of China where Beijing has unleashed a campaign of surveillance and suppression in the name of combating terrorism.

“Chips made by Intel and Nvidia, the American semiconductor companies, have powered the complex since it opened in 2016.”

Britons Who Test Negative for COVID Twice in a Week Set to Receive ‘Freedom Pass’ Under Government Scheme to Allow Them to Live Normal Life. Daily Mail reported:

“The details of the scheme are still being ironed out by officials in Whitehall, who hope it will allow the country to get back to normal next year.

“To earn the freedom pass, people will need to be tested regularly and, provided the results come back negative, they will then be given a letter, card or document they can show to people as they move around.”

Airlines Push for ‘COVID-Free Passports’ as Vaccine Race Heats Up. Axios reported:

Per a statement from Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president of airport, passenger, cargo and security, the app would ‘get people traveling again safely,’ as the airline industry seeks to recover from the pandemic.

“’In the immediate term, that means giving governments confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements,’ Careen said. “And that will eventually develop into a vaccine program.”

State, Federal Antitrust Lawsuits Likely to Challenge Facebook for Buying Rivals and Weaponizing Data. The Washington Post reported:

“As the state and federal probes enter their final phases, investigators have explored how Instagram and WhatsApp changed in the years after Facebook purchased them, according to the three people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a law enforcement proceeding. Government antitrust watchdogs have weighed whether to contend in lawsuits that these transactions have left users with worse services — and fewer privacy protections — than they might have had if the companies had remained independent, the sources said.”

Local Company Plays Part in Georgia Tech’s COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Program. Georgia Tech News Center reported:

“A saliva-based COVID-19 surveillance testing program developed by Georgia Tech’s researchers and aided by the ingenuity of a local company, has helped stem transmission of the virus on the Institute’s Atlanta campus.

“Omni International, a Kennesaw-based manufacturer and distributor of laboratory homogenizers, DNA purification kits, and other products used in the pharmaceutical, food, and forensics industries, has been instrumental in helping Tech implement the ambitious testing program.”

Forget Bias, the Real Danger Is Big Tech’s Overwhelming Control Over Speech. CNN reported:

Too much control over the marketplace of ideas is antithetical to democracy. That’s why America has long had rules that limit such power, like media ownership limits that prohibit the same corporation from owning a TV station and newspaper in the same place. (Trump’s Federal Communications Commission, incidentally, is currently trying to roll back those rules.) The government failed to limit consolidation and allowed Facebook and Google to morph into monopoly monsters. Big Tech didn’t simply grow by being the best; the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee’s recent 450-page report details just how extensive their anticompetitive behavior has been.”

China Wants Passenger Tracking System for Global Travel Coronavirus Reset. Breitbart reported:

“Chinese Communist President Xi Jinping wants travelers to adopt a global QR code system to help determine their health status and travel “permissions” in a post-coronavirus pandemic travel reset.

“During the virtual G20 summit on Saturday, Xi called for a coronavirus “global mechanism” which involves international recognition of health certificates in the form of QR codes to allow people to travel freely, according to state media.”

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November 18, 2020

Klaus Schwab: Great Reset Will ‘Lead To Fusion Of Our Physical, Digital, & Biological Identity.’  ZeroHedge reported:

“The globalist hails the arrival of ‘implanted devices (that) will likely also help to communicate thoughts normally expressed verbally through a ‘built-in’ smartphone, and potentially unexpressed thoughts or moods by reading brain waves and other signals.’

“So in other words, the ‘fusion of our physical, digital and biological identity’ relates to the transhumanist singularity and a future where people have their every movement tracked and every thought read by an implantable microchip.”

Sen. Hawley Presses Zuckerberg on Whistleblower Complaint Alleging Facebook Coordination With Twitter, Google. Fox News reported:

“Hawley said a former Facebook employee ‘with direct knowledge of the company’s content moderation practices” contacted his office about an “internal platform called Tasks that Facebook uses to coordinate projects, including censorship.’

“’The platform reflects censorship input from Google and Twitter, as well,’ Hawley alleged. ‘ …Facebook censorship teams communicate with their counterparts at Twitter and Google and then enter those companies’ suggestions for censorship onto the Task platform so that Facebook can follow up with them and effectively coordinate their censorship efforts.’”

Don’t Blame Section 230 for Big Tech’s Failures. Blame Big Tech. Electronic Frontier Foundation reported:

If lawmakers are concerned about large social media platforms’ outsized influence on the world of online speech, they ought to confront the lack of meaningful competition among those platforms and the ways in which those platforms fail to let users control or even see how they’re using our data. Undermining Section 230 won’t fix Twitter and Facebook; in fact, it risks making matters worse by further insulating big players from competition and disruption.”

Coronavirus Vaccine Rollout Could Benefit From ‘Hyperlocal Surveillance System,’ Expert Says. Fox News reported:

“A solid surveillance system at the local level would ease a distribution process that sets out to prioritize those at highest risk and most vulnerable, though, as previously mentioned, this has yet to be definitely determined.

“‘You want to make sure you have good hyperlocal surveillance systems in place where you can see, where are the areas that have a higher burden of disease and then [the] highest prevalence of COVID-19,’ she continued.”

How Cities Are Defining the Rules of Engagement for Emerging Technology. Cities Today reported:

“Technology offers great benefits to cities and citizens and will remain critical to helping tackle other challenges such as economic recovery and climate change. However, the use of algorithms, contact-tracing apps and video surveillance during the coronavirus crisis has also brought important debates into focus about not only the balance between public health/benefits and privacy but also how these systems actually work. Further, COVID-19 has laid bare the digital divide and inequalities in who benefits from – and can be disadvantaged by – technology.”

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November 13, 2020

‘Unfair Surveillance’? Online Exam Software Sparks Global Student Revolt. Thomson Reuters Foundation News reported:

“As COVID-19 restrictions force students to take remote exams, universities around the world are relying on proctoring software like Examplify. But many students are wary of the technology, including mass data collection and bias in facial recognition.”

The Post Covid World, The WEF’s Diabolical Project: ‘Resetting the Future of Work Agenda’ — After ‘The Great Reset.’ A Horrifying Future. Global Research reported:

“They call ‘Resetting the Future’ a White Paper, meaning it’s not quite a final version. It is a draft of sorts, a trial balloon, to measure people’s reactions. It reads indeed like an executioner’s tale. Many people may not read it — have no awareness of its existence. If they did, they would go up in arms and fight this latest totalitarian blueprint, offered to the world by the WEF.

“It promises a horrifying future to some 80%-plus of the (surviving) population. George Orwell’s “1984” reads like a benign fantasy, as compared to what the WEF has in mind for humanity.”

How Artificial Intelligence May Be Making You Buy Things. BBC News reported:

“‘Our AI system tracks people’s behaviour patterns rather than their purchases, and the more you shop the more the AI knows about what kinds of products you like,’ he says.

“’The AI module is designed not only to do the obvious stuff, but it learns as it goes along and becomes anticipatory. It can start to build a picture of how likely you are to try a different brand, or to buy chocolate on a Saturday.’”

On U.S. Digital Rights, Biden Presidency Could Be ‘a Real Opportunity.’ Thomson Reuters Foundation News reported:

“U.S. President-elect Joe Biden should move fast to protect digital rights by curbing the use of facial recognition and surveillance, regulating big tech and tackling discrimination perpetuated by algorithms, campaigners said this week.

“As the Democratic former vice president lays the groundwork for his administration, 10 U.S.-based digital rights and racial justice groups signed a statement setting out their policy proposals for his first 100 days in office.”

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November 12, 2020

How Ticketmaster Plans to Check Your Vaccine Status for Concerts. Billboard reported:

“Here’s how it would work, if approved: After purchasing a ticket for a concert, fans would need to verify that they have already been vaccinated (which would provide approximately one year of COVID-19 protection) or test negative for coronavirus approximately 24 to 72 hours prior to the concert. The length of coverage a test would provide would be governed by regional health authorities — if attendees of a Friday night concert had to be tested 48 hours in advance, most could start the testing process the day before the event. If it was a 24-hour window, most people would likely be tested the same day of the event at a lab or a health clinic.”

San Diego City Council backs surveillance technology ordinances. Cities Today reported:

“The move comes after San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer recently ordered sensors and cameras on the city’s 3,200 smart streetlights to be deactivated until an ordinance is in place. The Smart Streetlight Program, which originally aimed to save costs and use data to improve mobility, public safety and more, faced mounting criticism over privacy and surveillance and additional controversy recently relating to San Diego police accessing video footage from streetlights to help solve crimes.”

Contact Tracing Apps Were Big Tech’s Best Idea for Fighting COVID. Why Haven’t They Helped? Time reported:

“‘Concern about privacy is one of the things that’s suppressing adoption,” says Christian Sandvig, director of the Center for Ethics, Society, and Computing at the University of Michigan. That’s despite the fact that the Google-Apple protocol — which doesn’t track or share users’ locations or identities — represents the ‘gold standard’ for privacy protection, Sandvig says . . .

“But many users may not see it that way, especially in an era when Americans’ trust in Big Tech is eroding and technology firms are catching flak from all sides of the political spectrum. In some instances, privacy concerns are even killing contact-tracing apps in the cradle — South Carolina, for instance, announced plans in May to deploy a Google-Apple powered contact-tracing app, only to shelve the plan the next month after lawmakers banned such software over privacy concerns.”

Video Greatly Enhances Contact Tracing at Chicago Juvenile Detention Center. Infection Control Today reported:

“Video surveillance isn’t available in most healthcare settings, at least not the sort of video surveillance employed at a juvenile detention center. The use of video surveillance greatly increased the ability of administrators and medical personnel to contact trace at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) in Chicago, according to a preprint study in the American Journal of Infection Control.”

Compliance Revolution: Digital ID Apps to Exceed 6.2 Billion By 2025 Says Research. Finance Feeds reported:

“A new study from Juniper Research has found that the number of digital identity apps in use will exceed 6.2 billion in 2025, from just over 1 billion in 2020. The research found that civic identity apps, where government-issued identities are held in an app, will account for almost 90% of digital identity apps installed globally in 2025; driven by the increasing use of civic identity in emerging markets and the lasting impact of the pandemic.”