Workers Get Sonic ‘Dog Collars’ To Enforce Social Distancing
The French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT), the largest union representing workers at Essity, a Swedish global hygiene and health company, compared the device to a dog collar, saying it is “a system comparable to that which deters dogs from barking.”
The CFDT said according to the French newspaper Le Monde, that the necklaces emit a sound of 85 decibels as soon as “social distancing is no longer respected.”
CFDT union representative Christine Duguet said that “the idea is to discipline employees and call them to order,” going on to say that the implementation of the system represents “an attack on individual freedoms.”
“Since the start of the pandemic, we have scrupulously respected distancing and wearing masks. We wear them all day, we are responsible people!” she protested.
Germany to Repurpose Refugee Camps to Detain People Who Repeatedly Flout COVID Rules by Going Out When They Should Be Quarantining
Germans who refuse to quarantine after being exposed to COVID will be held in detention centres under new rules prepared by regional authorities.
The eastern state of Saxony has confirmed plans to hold quarantine-flouters in a fenced-off section of a refugee camp set to be built next week.
The regional state claimed that the facility will only be used for people who have repeatedly flouted lockdown rules around self-isolation.
New Research Could Enable Direct Data Transfer From Computers to Living Cells
The main complication lies in finding a way to interface the digital world of computers and data with the biochemical world of genetics. At present this relies on synthesizing DNA in the lab, and while costs are falling rapidly, this is still a complicated and expensive business. Once synthesized, the sequences then have to be carefully stored in vitro until they’re ready to be accessed again, or they can be spliced into living cells using CRISPR gene editing technology.
Now though, researchers from Columbia University have demonstrated a new approach that can directly convert digital electronic signals into genetic data stored in the genomes of living cells. That could lead to a host of applications both for data storage and beyond, says Harris Wang, who led the research published in Nature Chemical Biology.
“Imagine having cellular hard-drives that can compute and physically reconfigure in real time,” he wrote in an email to Singularity Hub. “We feel that the first step is to be able to directly encode binary data into cells, without having to do in vitro DNA synthesis.
Octopus of Big Tech Is Strangling America
Over a century ago, the oil, railroad, telegraph, and power industries created huge monopolies. They set up vertically integrated cartels. And they used their enormous profits to lavish gifts on politicians, control information, and destroy competition.
Some people likened these huge trusts to octopuses whose tentacles strangled freedom. In reaction, angry workers and farmers, muckraking journalists and novelists, and crusading populist and progressive politicians passed antitrust laws.
And so they broke up the monopolies.
Today, however, progressive politicians, Wall Street, the media, academia, Hollywood and professional sports are all on the side of the mega-rich tech cartels. Partnering with Big Tech is both politically useful and financially lucrative.
Peer-Reviewed Study Shows Lockdowns Didn’t Work
A Stanford University, peer-reviewed study led by one of Stanford’s associate professors of medicine shows no evidence that the U.S. lockdowns that destroyed people’s lives for the past year were effective.
Not only that, the study found that extreme measures taken to force everyone to stay home and for businesses to close were not effective in ANY country in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
To determine their conclusions, the study looked at eight countries — the U.S. and seven in Europe — and compared them to South Korea and Sweden, which didn’t mandate lockdowns.
After You Die, Microsoft Wants to Resurrect You as a Chatbot
According to the new Microsoft patent, images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages, and written letters can all be used to “create or modify a specific index in the theme of the specific person’s personality.” From there, engineers can use the index to train a chatbot to converse like that person—yes, even if they’re already dead.
Even creepier: The application could also don the likeness of your dead loved one in a “2D or 3D model,” and utilize their voice while talking to you.
Millions Flock to Telegram and Signal as Fears Grow Over Big Tech
Over the past week, tens of millions of people have downloaded Signal and Telegram, making them the two hottest apps in the world. Signal allows messages to be sent with “end-to-end encryption,” meaning no one but the sender and receiver can read its contents. Telegram offers some encrypted messaging options, but is largely popular for its group-based chat rooms where people can discuss a variety of subjects.
Their sudden jump in popularity was spurred by a series of events last week that stoked growing anxiety over some of the big tech companies and their communication apps, like WhatsApp, which Facebook owns. Tech companies including Facebook and Twitter removed thousands of far-right accounts — including President Trump’s — after the storming of the Capitol. Amazon, Apple and Google also cut off support for Parler, a social network popular with Mr. Trump’s fans. In response, conservatives sought out new apps where they could communicate.
Israel Trades Pfizer Doses for Medical Data in Vaccine Blitz
After sprinting ahead in the race to inoculate its population against the coronavirus, Israel has struck a deal with Pfizer, promising to share vast troves of medical data with the international drug giant in exchange for the continued flow of its hard-to-get vaccine.
Proponents say the deal could allow Israel to become the first country to vaccinate most of its population, while providing valuable research that could help the rest of the world. But critics say the deal raises major ethical concerns, including possible privacy violations and a deepening of the global divide that enables wealthy countries to stockpile vaccines as poorer populations, including Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza, have to wait longer to be inoculated.
Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans
Mexico’s president vowed Thursday to lead an international effort to combat what he considers censorship by social media companies that have blocked or suspended the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration is reaching out to other government to form a common front on the issue.
“I can tell you that at the first G20 meeting we have, I am going to make a proposal on this issue,” López Obrador said. “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.”
Trump’s Been Deleted From Internet, and Any One of Us Could Be Next
We’ve been told, in very clear terms, who has the power. And it is certainly not us, nor is it our elected representatives.
In fact, it’s not anyone with either democratic mandate or legal accountability, but rather a series of nameless executives, faceless bureaucrats and a succession of tech-billionaires forming a new breed of royalty.
Why Big Tech Wants Your Body
Some companies will identify you by your body movement. Some will use body information to sell you things or to combine that data with other information that places you in helpful sales categories — for example, a fit, active 20-year-old will receive different sales pitches than a heavy, sedentary 50-year old. And we will only ever see the tip of the iceberg. For example, Microsoft has applied for a patent that would use body movement and facial expressions to evaluate the success of business meetings. The possibilities are endless. And, as discussed in my blog posts from the past two weeks, body data provided to Amazon, Target or other companies can be used by that company for almost any reason.
Your body may belong to you, but the story it tells belongs to big tech.
U.S. to Require Negative Virus Tests From International Air Passengers
The new policy requires all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, to get a test for current infection within the three days before their flight to the United States departs, and to provide written documentation of their test results or proof of having recovered from COVID-19.
Proof of immunization will not be sufficient, because the vaccines have only been shown to prevent serious illness, said Jason McDonald, a spokesman for the CDC. Vaccinated people may still become infected, in theory, and transmit the virus on a flight.
The agency will not require further testing in the three months after a positive test, so long as the traveler has not had any symptoms. In this situation, a passenger may travel with documentation of the positive test result and a letter from a health care provider or a public health official stating that the traveler now has been cleared for travel.
IMF Calls for Credit Score to Be Tied to Internet Search History
Presenting their findings from a paper they wrote, the researchers argue that by using non-financial data, specifically “the history of online searches and purchases,” we can solve the problem of “certain kinds of people not having enough hard data (income, employment time, assets and debts) available.”
The authors of the piece claim that this move is a necessary innovation in order to compete with the rise of corporate cryptocurrencies such as the one in development by Facebook, who hope to launch next year. While Facebook is a monopoly that has engaged in political censorship, their power pales in comparison to that of the IMF. The International Monetary Fund is a veritable superpower with ties to the World Bank, and they oversee the entire global economy.
Humans Won’t Be Able to Control Artificial Intelligence, Scientists Warn
An international group of researchers warned of the potential risks of creating overly powerful and standalone software. Using a series of theoretical calculations, the scientists explored how artificial intelligence could be kept in check. His conclusion is that it would be impossible, according to the study published by the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research portal.
“A super-intelligent machine that controls the world sounds like science fiction. But there are already machines that carry out certain important tasks independently without the programmers fully understanding how they learned it […], a situation that could at some point become uncontrollable and dangerous for humanity, ” said Manuel Cebrian, co-author of the study, to the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.
Kicking Trump Off Social Media Won’t Save Democracy, Say Antitrust Experts
“Whatever one thinks of stopping Trump fomenting violence by limiting his ability to communicate, the ability of democratically unaccountable monopolies with extraordinary control over communications infrastructure, like Facebook and Google, YouTube’s parent company, to silence political speech is exceptionally dangerous,” wrote Matt Stoller and Sarah Miller in a Guardian editorial published Monday. “It also sidesteps the underlying problem—that it’s their dominance and business model that promotes conspiratorial, fake, and violent content to millions.”
Stoller and Miller, both of American Economic Liberties Project, note that companies including Facebook and Google make billions of dollars by fostering the “ecosystem of disinformation, extremism, rage, and bigotry” that “won’t go away by banning Trump or his supporters.”
Health and Tech Groups Aim to Create Digital Covid ‘Vaccination Passport’
The Vaccination Credential Initiative, a coalition of organisations including Microsoft, Oracle and the U.S. healthcare non-profit Mayo Clinic, aims to establish standards to verify whether a person has had their shot and prevent people falsely claiming to be protected against the disease. The coalition builds on work done by one of its members, The Commons Project, to develop an internationally accepted digital certificate to prove travellers have tested negative for COVID-19. The pass developed by the non-profit, established with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, is now being used by all three major airline alliances.
Why We Should Be Frightened by Tech Companies’ Censoring of Conservatives
Companies have every legal and moral right to do what they wish with their property, of course. But one can acknowledge that while also asking whether what they do is wise, or good for America, or even good for the companies themselves. A handful of executives made another business go away, while signaling that corporate America has chosen a political side and that it’s not afraid to go further than our government. That’s unprecedented, and I’m frightened of setting that precedent now.
As with the “War on Terror,” short-term victories seem certain, and enticing; Big Tech made it harder for Trump to disrupt the inauguration, which is great. But in the longer term, we may radicalize people who were previously neutral, and thereby empower even worse foes than the ones we vanquished. The other day I heard from a never-Trump friend, a Biden voter, who is convinced that eventually, after we all get comfortable with what Big Tech has done, it will come for conservatives like him. If that happens, he — and others like him — are not going to ally with their censors, public or private.
Surveillance Tech Is Not Accomplishing the Things It’s Supposed to
Alvaro Bedoya: Historically, surveillance technology has tracked our technology — our phone calls, our cars, our computers. And increasingly, surveillance technology tracks our bodies — who we are physically in the flesh, fingerprint, iris, DNA. But really, the big area of growth is face recognition. And so you have a [Department of Homeland Security] biometric system with a heavy reliance on face, you have an FBI face-recognition network that taps into many state driver’s-license databases. And you have, right now, a focus on tracking immigrants. That, I think, is something that we need to start to reckon with after what happened at the Capitol.
Molly Wood: Well, it’s been interesting to see, too, that there’s a debate about whether to refer to those events of January 6 as terrorism, because that activates this very specific infrastructure that has very little to do with domestic white nationalism.
What We Know About the Spread of Covid Among Children — and Whether Shutting Schools Reduces the Risk
The polarizing issue of whether schools should stay open is far from clear cut, with the World Health Organization urging policymakers to be guided by a risk-based approach to maximize the benefit for the population.
School closures have a clear negative impact on children’s health, the United Nations health agency has warned, citing setbacks to children’s education and development, family income and the overall economy.
At present, the exact timing of how long schools will need to remain at least partially closed, and when they may be able to fully reopen, remains to be seen.
Denmark Developing Digital COVID-19 ‘Vaccine Passport’
Denmark is developing a digital “vaccine passport” for people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine, a move that may enable them to travel to countries where such documentation is required during the pandemic.
“It is expected that there may be requirements from other countries to present vaccine documentation upon entry. A Danish vaccine passport can be used here,” the Health Ministry said in an emailed statement on Friday.
The passport may be rolled out in the first months of this year to be accessed through the Danish public health website, the ministry said. It was not clear whether the passport would be available via an app.
Trump Was Dangerous But the Solution is Not to Give More Political Power to Unrivalled TechGiants
That every tech company could work together to effectively block the President of the United States, however much of a dangerous person he has become (or always was) is not something to take lightly. Real power today is not with politicians or the banks, it’s with these new media and big data organisations who have fundamentally transformed lived conditions on earth. I appreciate technology has always been with us. But today it’s different. Technology has become a new religion, the unmediated power that promises to save us from ourselves. The pandemic already provided these companies with such a momentous condition of possibility for changing the lived reality of life on this planet. That we now see even the most “radical” of thinkers and activists cheer them on when they assume for themselves the ultimate political power – the ability to take command of the circulation of thoughts and ideas, however threatening, demands serious critical attention.
This is not just about joining the “free speech” debates, which have also been complicit in creating highly reductive with us or against us narratives. It’s to ask deeper questions about who ultimately decides and who has the power to effectively say a person has no use. For let’s be clear too, Trump was both useful and then utterly disposable for these firms, which will continue to profit from divisions.
California Legislation Targets Police Use of License Plate Readers
The bill’s introduction comes after alarm has grown among privacy advocates over the technology, which is used by hundreds of local police forces across the country, as well as by federal government agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (Ice).
ALPRs use cameras mounted on police vehicles or a stationary location such as a highway overpass to collect images of license plates, documenting the image accompanied by the date, time and location of that vehicle and in some cases photographs of drivers and their passengers.
Who Should Make the Online Rules?
I can think all these tech companies made the right decision in the last few days but still feel extremely uncomfortable that they are in the position of acting as a Supreme Court — deciding for billions of people what is appropriate or legal expression and behavior.
My McDonald’s example above isn’t really equivalent. Facebook and Twitter have become so influential that the choices they make about appropriate public discourse matter far more than whom McDonald’s lets in to buy a burger.
And while these companies’ rules are extensive, they are also capriciously applied and revised solely at their whim.
On Factory Floors, a Chime and Flashing Light to Maintain Distance
The league was able to evade the virus by requiring teams to live and play their games in an isolated area known as the Bubble, at the closed Disney World resort in Florida.
But a small piece of technology also played a role: a wristband that players, coaches and trainers could wear off the court, and that was required for reporters covering the teams. A tiny digital chip in the band enforces social distancing by issuing a warning — by light and sound — when wearers get too close to one another for too long off. The bands have been picked up by the National Football League, the Pacific-12 college football conference and other sports leagues around the world.
The Munich start-up behind the N.B.A.’s wristbands, Kinexon, is happy with the publicity of helping prevent top athletes from catching the virus, even as such devices raise privacy concerns. Now it is looking toward broader arenas: factory production lines, warehouses and logistics centers where millions of people continue to work despite the pandemic.
COVID-19 Fuelling Education’s Tech Disruption, Deepening Digital Divide
Thomson Reuters Foundation reported:
The COVID-19 pandemic deepened inequities in accessing and benefiting from education but the future of learning could be a more equal one, participants told Reuters Next panels on Monday.
The pandemic hastened a rise in virtual learning and a disruption of the status quo already under way but probably won’t eliminate in-person instruction for good, they said.COVID-19 forced the University of Oxford and myriad other schools online amid COVID lockdowns. “We surprised even ourselves” in their ability to do it, Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson said.
January 11, 2021
The Capitol Attack Doesn’t Justify Expanding Surveillance. Wired reported:
They took our Capitol, stormed the halls, pilfered our documents, and shattered the norms of our democracy. The lasting damage from Wednesday’s attack will not come from the mob itself, but from how we respond. Right now, a growing chorus is demanding we use facial recognition, cellphone tower data, and every manner of invasive surveillance to punish the mob. In the days since the attack, the airwaves have been full of former law enforcement officials claiming that surveillance is the answer, such retired FBI special agents Danny Coulson and Doug Kouns. Even many who are normally critical of policing have jumped on the surveillance bandwagon in the desire to find justice. As understandable as it feels to give police even more powers in this crisis, this would be a gigantic mistake.
We don’t need a cutting-edge surveillance dragnet to find the perpetrators of this attack: They tracked themselves. They livestreamed their felonies from the halls of Congress, recording each crime in full HD. We don’t need facial recognition, geofence, and cell tower data to find those responsible, we need police officers willing to do their job.
Defense Department Further Accelerating 5G Development. National Defense reported:
The Pentagon plans to enhance 5G technology and invest in future “Next-G” systems to support all war-fighting functions including fires, command and control, intelligence, movement and maneuver, protection, sustainment and information, Lord said in November during remarks at MITRE’s 5G Summit.
“Ubiquitous high-speed connectivity will transform the way the military operates,” she said. “Tomorrow’s warfighters will use local and expeditionary 5G networks to move massive amounts of data to connect distant sensors and weapons into a dense, resilient battlefield network.”
WhatsApp Gives Users an Ultimatum: Share Data With Facebook or Stop Using the App. Ars Technica reported:
- User phone numbers
- Other people’s phone numbers stored in address books
- Profile names
- Profile pictures and
- Status message including when a user was last online
- Diagnostic data collected from app logs
Under the new terms, Facebook reserves the right to share collected data with its family of companies.
Dr. Mercola Defamed by Digital ‘Anti-Hate’ Group. Mercola reported:
In a December 22, 2020, article, The Hill claims the “anti-vaccination movement sees COVID-19 as an opportunity” to strengthen its position, stating that “As public health officials seek to reassure Americans on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, anti-vaccine efforts could prevent the country from reaching herd immunity.”
According to a November 9, 2020, report in The Times, the British “government regards tackling false information about COVID-19 vaccination as a rising priority,” ostensibly for the same reason. But does concern for implementation of public health policy really justify the use of cyberwarfare against those who raise questions about vaccine safety?
Wouldn’t vaccine safety be part and parcel of a successful public health campaign? Doesn’t public trust play a significant part as well? The fact that they’re trying to shut down any and all conversations about vaccines — using warfare tactics no less — suggests that the planned mass vaccination campaign has very little to do with keeping the public healthy and safe. It’s about controlling the public, for some undisclosed purpose.
Sweden’s health agency says open schools did not spur pandemic spread among children. Reuters reported:
Sweden’s decision to keep schools open during the pandemic resulted in no higher rate of infection among its schoolchildren than in neighbouring Finland, where schools did temporarily close, their public health agencies said in a joint report.’
Sweden decided to forego a hard lockdown and keep most schools and businesses open throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, a divisive strategy that set it apart from most of Europe.
Its Public Health Agency has maintained that the negative consequences of a shutdown on the economy and society outweigh the benefits, and says this also applies to schools.
Bans on Parler and Trump Show Big Tech’s Power Over Web Conversation. Bloomberg reported:
The Parler restrictions underscore how technology companies have increasingly been held accountable for the potential consequences of what happens on their services, where they have greater visibility than governments do — and the ability to take quicker action. For years, large tech companies avoided such debates by claiming to be content-neutral. Meddling and misinformation campaigns in the 2016 presidential election made it clear that these companies, and their software algorithms and content moderation, had real-world impact.
Now, pressured by lawmakers, civil rights advocates and even their own workers, the big tech companies are realizing just how much power and responsibility they have over public conversation — including over apps they didn’t create.
Such monopoly-like powers are already under scrutiny by U.S. regulators, with Google and Facebook battling government antitrust lawsuits. At the same time, the companies have come under fire for their lackadaisical practices on content moderation, when being too permissive on incendiary speech can lead to real-world violence or illegal activity.
Civil Society Groups Warn Against Anti-Protest Legislation Following Siege of U.S. Capital. Common Dreams reported:
The proposed legislation in Florida is a continuation of a national trend to attempt to criminalize Black Lives Matter, indigenous and other civil rights protest movements. The proposed Florida legislation aims to punish municipalities that reduce funding to police departments, protect Confederate monuments, legalize forms of vigilante violence against protesters, and heighten “riot” charges. Democratic State Rep. Omari Hardy called it “bad legislation that is fundamentally un-American,” and “unconstitutional.”
Across the nation, dozens of sister anti-protest bills have been passed and proposed over the past few years, many at the behest of law enforcement lobbies and unions and influential corporate lobbies.
Fight Over Closing Schools Reignites as N.Y.C. Positive Rate Tops 9%. New York Times reported:
The renewed tension over opening schools makes it even less likely that the city’s middle and high schools will reopen in the next few months. Those schools were open for just a few weeks last fall before the mayor closed them again. The city does not yet have the testing capacity to open those schools, officials have said, and the teachers’ union has said it would oppose plans to reopen middle and high schools this winter.
Since reopening in December, the city has conducted weekly testing inside the roughly 850 public schools buildings that are open, as well as at early education centers.
Facial Recognition and Beyond: Journalist Ventures Inside China’s ‘Surveillance State’. NPR reported:
Strittmatter’s new book, “We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State,” examines the role of surveillance in China’s authoritarian state. He warns that Chinese President Xi Jinping, who came to power in 2012, has embraced an ideological rigidity unknown since the days of Mao Zedong.
Strittmatter says the Chinese state has amassed an astonishing amount of data about its citizens, which it uses to punish people for even minor deviations from expected norms.
“People sometimes ask me, ‘Do we need to fear China?'” Strittmatter says. “My answer really is, in the end, we don’t need to fear China. What we need to fear — if we need to fear anything — is actually ourselves. It’s our fatalism, our resignation. We need to get up and we need to fight for our values and for our system, because I do believe it’s still the best we’ve got.”
Vaccinating the World Against COVID is Off to a Slow Start. These Firms Think A.I. and Blockchain Could Help. Fortune reported:
Once people have received inoculations, the vaccine makers and government health agencies will need to monitor these people for signs of unusual side effects or rare complications. While the vaccines have been tested on tens of thousands of people during clinical trials, there may be side effects or safety issues that only become apparent when millions receive injections. Many governments require doctors and pharmaceutical companies to file reports for any unusual symptoms patients experience after being given a drug. Even for medicines given to far smaller numbers of people, these rules can result in a large number of “adverse event” reports being submitted. The vast majority of these usually end up being false alarms, with the symptoms either unrelated to the drug in question or not an indication of any danger. But sometimes they do point to a critical safety issue that wasn’t picked up previously. Because the COVID-19 vaccine is being given to so many people, the volume of these reports is likely to be massive—far too many for humans to review fast enough to pick up any signs of a serious problem before it’s too late.
That’s why some governments are turning to A.I. to help. The British health regulator has contracted with Genpact to deploy machine learning software that can screen its official “yellow card” reports—which doctors and patients use to report unusual side effects that could be a cause for concern. The system Genpact built, which went live in December, takes in plain text and automatically codifies it, and searches for patterns that could be indicative of an emerging safety issue, flagging this to the regulator for further investigation, Sandor says.
January 5, 2021
NY Bill Says Governor Could ‘Order the Removal’ of People With ‘Contagious Disease.’ DailyWire reported:
A bill introduced by a member of the New York State Assembly would amend the public health law, permitting the governor of the state to order the removal and/or detention of a person deemed to be a “suspected case, contact or carrier of a contagious disease” who would “pose an imminent and significant threat to the public health.” The person in question then would be “detained in a medical facility or other appropriate facility or premises designated by the governor.”
Instagram’s New Shopping Feature Exploits Users, Promotes Surveillance Capitalism. The Defender reported:
Instagram users can be as young as 13, the age required to open an account. How does personalization work for children? How does this feature affect the experience of individuals with low socioeconomic status? What principles and values is the platform adhering to in designing these recommendation algorithms, “Staff Picks” and other means of presenting products?
A major consideration is when people get recommendations to purchase items during vulnerable moments. Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience — which might or might not be accurate — is problematic.
Big Brother In Disguise: The Rise of a New, Technological World Order. Eurasia Review reported:
In our case, the blue pill — a one-way ticket to a life sentence in an electronic concentration camp — has been honey-coated to hide the bitter aftertaste, sold to us in the name of expediency and delivered by way of blazingly fast Internet, cell phone signals that never drop a call, thermostats that keep us at the perfect temperature without our having to raise a finger, and entertainment that can be simultaneously streamed to our TVs, tablets and cell phones.
Yet we are not merely in thrall with these technologies that were intended to make our lives easier. We have become enslaved by them.
Third National Lockdown Announced in England Amid Coronavirus Surge Driven by Variant Strain. Washington Post reported:
Under the new lockdown, everyone in England will be asked to stay at home except in special circumstances. Schools and universities will close for in-class learning with immediate effect.
In his televised address, Johnson said: “I want to stress that the problem is not that schools are unsafe for children — children are still very unlikely to be severely affected by even the new variant of COVID.
“The problem is that schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.”
French Bill Could Ban the Unvaccinated From Public Transport. France24 reported:
Prime Minister Jean Castex on Monday got his cabinet’s backing for a bill that is designed to provide a legal framework for dealing with health crises, including the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the text, which will now be submitted to parliament, a negative COVID test or proof of a “preventative treatment, including the administration of a vaccine” could be required for people to be granted “access to transport or to some locations, as well as certain activities.”
According to opinion polls, 55 percent of French people say they will not get a COVID shot, one of the highest rates in the European Union.
Italian Doctors Are Disciplined for Anti-Vaccination Propaganda. The BMJ reported:
Antonio Magi, president of the Ordine dei Medici di Roma (Rome Doctors Guild), said that inquiries into 10 medics accused of unwarranted criticism of vaccinations had been completed, with punishments ranging from warnings to two month suspensions. The other three investigations were ongoing, he told the Ansa news agency. The disciplinary procedures followed complaints from other doctors and members of the public.
The three medics still under investigation will be asked to justify claims they have made online, on television, and on radio, to a special commission of the guild.
One of the three is Mariano Amici, who practices in Ardea, 30 km south of Rome. He describes himself as a practitioner of general medicine. He says that he is not against vaccinations as such, despite having some misgivings about the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine that is now being given in Italy. On his website he says that he is “perplexed” about the health risks from such mRNA vaccines and questions whether they are appropriate for fighting a disease that he claims has a death rate of only one in 2000.1 Most estimates put the mortality rate 10 times higher.
How Vaccine Passports Will Actually Work. MSN reported:
As we turn the corner into 2021, “the role of digital health credentials will be key to enable cross-border travel at scale,” says Christoph Wolff, head of mobility at the World Economic Forum, which has partnered with Swiss-based nonprofit the Commons Project to develop a digital health pass called CommonPass.
CommonPass is among several tech-enabled solutions that have emerged during the pandemic that will likely serve as a “vaccine passport” of sorts once proof of a COVID-19 vaccine becomes a requirement for entry into countries, onto planes, or into events.
Germany to Extend Curbs Amid Criticism Over Vaccine Rollout. Bloomberg reported:
Chancellor Angela Merkel is consulting with regional officials and health experts on Monday and Tuesday to decide on prolonging the restrictions, which include closing schools and non-essential stores. She will announce the outcome of the talks at a news conference likely sometime on Tuesday afternoon in Berlin.
Authorities have agreed to extend the curbs until Jan. 31, Bild newspaper reported, without identifying the source of the information.
Guess where Professor Lockdown Got His Ideas … China’s Police State. Daily Mail reported:
Every country that has locked down has failed to control the disease and keeps doing the same thing over and over again in the hope of getting a different result.
If lockdown is an effective policy, then the guillotine is a good cure for a headache (except that the guillotine probably does cure a headache).
The shame of it is that the lockdown fanatics did ‘get away with it’, and continue to do so. That is, quite simply, because most of the responsible people in our society did not stand up for wisdom and freedom but allowed themselves to be swept away in a flood of State-sponsored fear, like so many pawns.
Facts — Not Fear — Will Stop the Pandemic. The Hill reported:
The media relish negative news. “If it bleeds it leads” still holds, and perhaps it’s never been truer than in the COVID-19 era. Every day the news highlights the spread of the virus and tells the sad stories of some of its victims.
And yet, much of the media does not pay sufficient attention to the good news regarding improved treatments and survival of patients with the coronavirus. In contrast with the international media, the American press has been unrelentingly negative in its COVID coverage, even when there is good news to tell. That negativity is part of what fuels a culture of fear that affects local, state and federal politicians and the decisions they make.
The World of Surveillance: Who Does ‘Big Brother’ Answer to? Al Jazeera reported:
In this episode of “UpFront,” we discuss the surveillance industry and how it is operating unchecked with Ron Deibert, the director of Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity watchdog group in Canada and Luis Fernando Garcia, the director of R3D, a digital rights organisation in Mexico.
December 22, 2020
Proof of Vaccination Will Be Very Valuable — and Easy to Abuse. Washington Post reported:
“Since the coronavirus pandemic began, bioethicists have warned about the dangers of “immunity passports”: documents attesting that a person has contracted the coronavirus in the past and therefore might carry antibodies that make them immune. The risk is that a system of passports would lead employers and others to discriminate against people who lack them — and that their value would produce perverse incentives (to contract the virus to get a job, for example). No such formal passport system has yet arisen. But the arrival of coronavirus vaccines under emergency authorization in Europe and the United States raise the issue anew.
“Until a vaccine is fully approved and widely available, we should not — except in the rarest of cases — make participation in society depend on immunity status. And yet the vaccination cards that will be issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies worldwide will make enforcing that norm a challenge.”
Eric Clapton and Van Morrison Release Their Anti-Mask Anthem. Vanity Fair reported:
“’Stand and Deliver,’” written by Morrison and sung by Clapton, includes couplets like ‘Do you wanna be a free man / Or do you wanna be a slave? / Do you wanna wear these chains / Until you’re lying in the grave?’
“It continues ‘Magna Carta, Bill of Rights/The constitution, what’s it worth?/You know they’re gonna grind us down/Until it really hurts/Is this a sovereign nation/Or just a police state?/You better look out, people/Before it gets too late.’”
Federal Prosecutors Accuse Zoom Executive of Working With Chinese Government to Surveil Users and Suppress Video Calls. Washington Post reported:
“The case is a stunning blow for Zoom, one of the most popular new titans of American tech, which during the pandemic became one of the main ways people work, socialize and share ideas around the world. The California-based company is now worth more than $100 billion.
“But the executive’s work with the Chinese government, as alleged by FBI agents in a criminal complaint unsealed Friday in a Brooklyn federal court, highlights the often-hidden threats of censorship on a forum promoted as a platform for free speech. It also raises questions about how Zoom is protecting users’ data from governments that seek to surveil and suppress people inside their borders and abroad.”
American Teen Was Sentenced To 4 Months In Prison For Breaking COVID-19 Quarantine In The Cayman Islands. Buzzfeed News reported:
“Mack flew to Grand Cayman on Nov. 27 to visit her boyfriend, Vanjae Ramgeet, a 24-year-old resident who was participating in a Jet Ski competition, their attorney, Jonathon Hughes, told BuzzFeed News. She tested negative for COVID-19 on arrival, according to a Cayman Islands Government press release.
“As per the Caribbean nation’s regulations, Mack was required to self-isolate for 14 days at a residential address upon her arrival. She was fitted with a geofencing wristband and issued a cellphone to monitor her movements during the isolation period, Hughes said. She also signed a document that forbade her from removing her wristband and leaving her residence during the 14-day period.
“But two days after she arrived, Mack removed her geofencing bracelet and left her residence to watch Ramgeet compete at the crowded Jet Ski event.”
What Big Tech and Big Tobacco Research Funding Have in Common. VentureBeat reported:
“Amid declining sales and evidence that smoking causes lung cancer, in the 1950s tobacco companies undertook PR campaigns to reinvent themselves as socially responsible and to shape public opinions. They also started funding research into the relationship between health and tobacco. Now, Big Tech companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google are following the same playbook to fund AI ethics research in academia, according to a recently published paper by University of Toronto Center for Ethics Ph.D. student Mohamed Abdalla and Harvard Medical School student Moustafa Abdalla.
“The co-authors conclude that effective solutions to the problem will need to come from institutional institutional or governmental policy changes. The Abdalla brothers argue Big Tech companies aren’t just involved with, but are leading, ethics discussions in academic settings.”
December 18, 2020
Ex-Facebook Exec Suggests Everyone Who Gets Vaccinated Should Wear a Certain Color Mask. Fox Business reported:
“Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya suggested in a tweet on Friday that everyone who gets vaccinated should ‘all wear a mask of a special design or color’ in order to let other people around them know that they have been vaccinated.
“The idea did not sit well with many on social media, who quickly blasted the idea, comparing it to Nazi Germany’s use of the Star of David.”
Here’s why some McDonald’s restaurants are putting cameras in their dumpsters. CNN reported:
“’We’ve found that most businesses and people have the right intentions about recycling, but oftentimes they just don’t know what the proper way to recycle is,’” Gates, CEO of Compology, told CNN Business’ Rachel Crane.
“To help them do it correctly, Compology puts trash-monitoring cameras and sensors inside industrial waste containers. The cameras take photos several times each day and when the container is lifted for dumping. An accelerometer helps trigger the camera on garbage day.”
United Launches Contact Tracing Initiative With CDC. Travel + Leisure reported:
“Beginning Dec. 15, Delta will ask passengers flying to the U.S. from abroad to voluntarily provide their full name, email address, address in the U.S., and two phone numbers to aid in contact tracing and public health follow-up efforts.
“The airline will then pass the information onto the CDC via U.S. Customs and Border Protection, allowing the CDC to quickly access the information and cut down the amount of time it takes to alert a passenger they may have been exposed to the virus. The reduced time could help reduce further cases of potential exposure.”
Vaccinated Israelis Will Get ‘Green Passports’ Waiving Lockdown Constraints. The Times of Israel reported:
“Among the rights for holders will be access to cultural events and eating at restaurants, and the right to not quarantine after exposure to a diagnosed virus-carrier, they said. It will be issued two weeks after a person gets the second of the two shots required for the coronavirus.
“Polls have shown that anywhere from 50 percent and 75% of Israelis say they will refuse to get the coronavirus vaccine shot, apparently out of fears that the rush to produce an inoculation may have compromised its safety. Israel is readying to begin a mass inoculation program next week, with the first vaccinations reportedly to be administered this coming Sunday, December 20.”
Why Big Tech Wants (Some) Facial Recognition Rules. Bloomberg reported:
“The world’s biggest technology companies can usually be counted on to oppose rules reining in new products, but some are making an exception for facial recognition software. The European Union and cities and states across the U.S. are taking up a wide range of ideas for restrictions or outright bans on this branch of the rapidly expanding field of artificial intelligence, including many that go further than the tech companies want. One question is whether regulation can protect innovation while preventing what Microsoft Corp. calls “a commercial race to the bottom.” Another is whose vision of privacy and security will prevail, as China pushes to export facial recognition systems capable of tracking citizens through much of their waking hours.”
Vaccine-Tracking Dashboard Launches in Ohio. Mercola reported:
“Since the vaccines are administered in two separate doses a few weeks apart, states will use various electronic tracking systems and digital registries to monitor individuals who take the shots, to make sure they get the second, and that their second dose is from the same manufacturer as the first. Some states may also choose to hand out vaccination cards to help patients keep track of their status.”
Will I Need Proof of Vaccination if I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine? WKOW27 reported:
“Anit Mukherjee of the Center for Global Development, a Washington, DC-based think tank, said ID requirements will almost certainly be needed for a return to normal, according to WISN-TV.
“’There would be gatekeepers as I call them, at different places, be it at your workplace or your office when you go in, or a stadium to watch the Bucks play, they would require some form of assurance that you have been vaccinated,’ Mukherjee told WISN.”
Big Brother is Watching; Nanjing’s Ultimate Street Surveillance. Nanjing News reported:
“Watch your step, Nanjingers! Our city has become first in China to roll out the ultimate in street surveillance; a monitoring system that gives warnings to traffic-law violators, everyone from jaywalking pedestrians to e-bike riders not wearing a helmet.“Making its recent debut in Jianye District on the streets around the Nanjing International Youth Culture Centre, the 5G-powered system’s impressive capabilities are well demonstrated in a promotional video published yesterday by the Yangtze Evening News.”
December 14, 2020
Amazon’s New Health Band Is Most Invasive Tech We’ve Ever Tested. Washington Post reported:
“The Halo collects the most intimate information we’ve seen from a consumer health gadget — and makes the absolute least use of it. This wearable is much better at helping Amazon gather data than at helping you get healthy and happy.”
Google to Add COVID-19 Vaccine Information Panels to Search. TechCrunch reported:
“Google announced today it’s introducing a new search feature that will surface a list of authorized vaccines in users’ locations, as well as informational panels about each individual vaccine. The feature is first being launched in the U.K., which earlier this month gave emergency authorization to the BioNTech/Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. The company says the feature will roll out to other countries as their local health authorities authorize vaccines.
“The feature itself will appear at the top of Google .com searches for COVID-19 vaccines and will present the authoritative information in a box above the search results, linking to the health authority as the source. The panel will also have two tabs. One will be the overview of the vaccine, which appears above Top Stories and links to Local and National resources, like government websites. The other will organize news related to the vaccine under a separate section.”
Huawei Worked on Several Surveillance Systems Promoted to Identify Ethnicity, Documents Show. Washington Post reported:
“Huawei has worked with dozens of security contractors to develop surveillance products, some of which were touted as being able to identify a person’s ethnicity or to help suppress potential protests, according to company marketing documents that shed light on a little-publicized corner of one of China’s most valuable tech empires.
“The revelation this week of Huawei’s role in testing artificial-intelligence surveillance technology — including a face-scanning camera system that could send a ‘Uighur alarm’ to police if it detected a member of the minority group — has sparked an international backlash against the tech giant, including from a French soccer star who publicly ended his work as a Huawei brand ambassador and urged the company to ‘condemn this mass repression.’
Federal Database for COVID-19 Vaccination Info Raises Concerns About Privacy and Vaccine Uptake. CNN reported:
“As Operation Warp Speed prepares to give the first Americans the coronavirus vaccine, states are set to turn over varying levels of non-identifiable information about vaccine recipients in order to help the federal government track the effort to eradicate the virus.
Google Launches Health Research App. TheVerge reported:
“Google announced Wednesday that it is launching a new research app for Android phones, which would allow anyone with a device to participate in medical studies. The first study run through the app, called Google Health Studies, will look at respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19.
“Participants in the study will use the app to report any respiratory symptoms, the precautions they’re taking to prevent disease, and whether they’ve been tested for COVID-19 or the flu. The app will collect demographic data, like age, gender, and race as well. “Researchers in this study can examine trends to understand the link between mobility (such as the number of daily trips a person makes outside the home) and the spread of COVID-19,” Google wrote in a press release.”
Sci-Fi Surveillance: Europe’s Secretive Push Into Biometric Technology. The Guardian reported:
“Patrick Breyer didn’t expect to have to take the European commission to court. The softly spoken German MEP was startled when in July 2019 he read about a new technology to detect from facial “micro-expressions” when somebody is lying while answering questions.
“Even more startling was that the EU was funding research into this virtual mindreader through a project called iBorderCtrl, for potential use in policing Europe’s borders. In the article that Breyer read, a reporter described taking a test on the border between Serbia and Hungary. She told the truth, but the AI border guard said she had lied.
“A member of the European parliament’s civil liberties committee and one of four MEPs for the Pirate party, Breyer realised that iBorderCtrl’s ethical and privacy implications were immense. He feared that if such technology – or as he now calls it, “pseudo-scientific security hocus pocus” – was available to those in charge of policing borders, then people of colour, women, elderly people, children and people with disabilities could be more likely than others to be falsely reported as liars.”
What Is a ‘COVID-19 Passport’? Concept Raises Both Hope and Concern. NBC Today reported:
“People who get the two required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine may be given a “WHO-CDC type of card” through their clinic to serve as proof of vaccination — very similar to the paper “yellow card” currently issued after someone receives the yellow fever vaccine, Adalja said.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has so far unveiled a vaccine record card meant to serve as a reminder when the second shot is due, but is not intended to be used as a “vaccine passport.”
Coronavirus: NHS COVID-19 App Starts Offering Self-Isolate Payments. BBC reported:
“’People are not isolating because they can’t afford to or because they don’t realise that they have to – the whole system is not working,’ Paul Hunter, professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“’I think there is ample evidence that many people who should be isolating don’t feel they can for whatever reason, and I think that has to be fixed if this is going to be effectively controlled until we’ve had adequate rollout of the vaccine.’”
Paper Beats App: Vaccine Verification Will Likely Be Proven Offline. Here’s Why. NBC News reported:
“It’s an intuitive idea: an app that provides proof that a person has received a coronavirus vaccine.
“Plenty of technologists are working to make it a reality. Companies of all sizes have been pouring in resources: Microsoft, major airlines, Ticketmaster, prominent nonprofits, security companies, tech startups and blockchain companies are all taking hacks at what some call vaccine passports. Apple and Google have participated in discussions about how to create digital COVID-19 vaccine certificates, experts said, but they haven’t announced plans.
“But behind the scenes, the realities of medical records, privacy concerns and the virus itself mean such products are unlikely to be widely available in the coming months, experts said.”
December 9, 2020
CDC Call for Data on Vaccine Recipients Raises Alarm Over Privacy. New York Times reported:
“The Trump administration is requiring states to submit personal information of people vaccinated against COVID-19 — including names, birth dates, ethnicities and addresses, raising alarms among state officials who fear that a federal vaccine registry could be misused.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is instructing states to sign so-called data use agreements that commit them for the first time to sharing personal information in existing registries with the federal government. Some states, such as New York, are pushing back, either refusing to sign or signing while refusing to share the information.
New Smartphone Tool to Track COVID Vaccine Side Effects Vulnerable to Manipulation. Washington Post reported:
“A new smartphone technology designed to provide real-time warnings of side effects in the first Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus may be vulnerable to manipulation, raising concerns malicious actors could gain access to the system to undermine confidence in the shots, federal and state health officials say.
“The text-messaging system, called v-safe, is intended to provide early indications about possible adverse reactions from the vaccines. Using the messaging program, people who have received the shots can report symptoms and other health effects, such as missed work. Their responses could prompt phone calls from a team of safety professionals.”
‘Immunity Passports’ Are Already Here. But They Come With Warnings. CNN reported:
“The World Health Organization advised against immunity passports in April. ‘There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,’ read its scientific brief.
“On Thursday, the WHO confirmed it has not changed its position, but Regional Advisor Dr. Siddhartha Sankar Datta said it was looking to help countries implement electronic vaccination certificates. Other experts have also raised concerns about immunity passports.”
Big Brother Is Watching and Will Profit From Mexicans Personal Data. The Yucatan Times reported:
“This new service is based on an amendment to Article 17-F of the Federal Fiscal Code that hurts fundamental rights, such as the right to protect personal data, and therefore, unconstitutional. Taxpayers submitted their biometric data to the SAT as an obligation to pay taxes, without the option to refuse or exercise the right to oppose the processing of their personal information. The design of a different treatment based on the commercial exploitation of such personal data sounds like extortion, is unfair, and lacking in responsibility.
“The service would open the door to an indiscriminate and more intense treatment of personal data protected by SAT. It would create new risks for the protection and responsible handling of information susceptible to be used for identity theft and other crimes with a strong impact on the moral and patrimonial rights of taxpayers.”
Orange County Business Can Be Fined for Not Following CDC Guidelines. Fox News reported:
“A new executive order went into effect over the weekend. It will fine businesses for not following CDC guidelines. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said that it is his way to get businesses to follow CDC guidelines and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
China’s Big Brother Camera Network Complete, Computer Vision Growth to Come From Business. Biometric Update reported:
“It is a sobering development not for the fact that the West continues to debate the ethics and merits of digital surveillance and public face biometrics. China’s authoritarian surveillance model is reason enough to avoid rushing things, even in troubled democracies like the United States.
“More amazing is that a population of 1.4 billion is surveilled — not in segments, demographics or regions, but in total.
Big Brother Is Watching You; Actually Your Face. Down to Earth reported:
“Even more awe-inspiring are the technological interventions that are trying to replicate this biological process. And as it usually happens with many other technologies, these are being deployed to create and sustain a surveillance system that has never been seen before.
Our facial features — scanned through every possible source — are being converted into a gigantic data pool. Using algorithms, millions of these faces can be compared and assessed to identify or verify a person if s/he is a culprit, a dreaded terrorist under disguise, a visitor in a protected area or a rioter. At our individual level, this technology has already been deployed to connect us better with our wider virtual world.”
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:
“’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.”
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:
“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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”