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Vaccine Passports Are Poised to Serve Private Sector Interests
In typical American fashion, the U.S. government is relegating the creation of digital vaccination certifications (i.e. proof of one’s vaccination status) to the private sector. Working groups to create vaccine passports are now forming to unite public entities and privacy corporations with individuals working in healthcare information technology, information security, and digital identity software engineering.
According to the COVID Credentials Initiative, a vaccination credentials initiative created by the Linux Foundation, many of their collaborators come from early-stage verifiable credentials start-ups. Conversely, the Vaccination Credentials Initiative, tasked with developing a single Smart Health Card, involves big tech companies such as Oracle and Microsoft, and health IT companies like Mayo Clinic.
Can Colleges and Employers Legally Require You to Get Vaccinated? It’s Complicated.
Meanwhile, a look at job postings across the country reveals many employers are requiring job candidates to get vaccinated, or promise to get vaccinated within 30 days of hire.
Whether you’re a job hunter or a college student, you may soon face the prospect that your future plans could hinge on your willingness to get the COVID vaccine. But can colleges and employers legally require it? The answer is … complicated.
The ‘Dark Side’ of Corporate America’s Voice-Profiling Revolution
You decide to call a store that sells some hiking boots you’re thinking of buying. As you dial in, the computer of an artificial intelligence company hired by the store is activated. It retrieves its analysis of the speaking style you used when you phoned other companies the software firm services. The computer has concluded you are “friendly and talkative.”
Using predictive routing, it connects you to a customer service agent who company research has identified as being especially good at getting friendly and talkative customers to buy more expensive versions of the goods they’re considering.
This hypothetical situation may sound as if it’s from some distant future. But automated voice-guided marketing activities like this are happening all the time.
Russell Brand: Facebook Wants to ‘Control, Curate and Obscure’ Your Reality
When Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talks about the social media giant’s plan to get the remaining 5 billion people in the world onto its platform — by offering free services — she frames the strategy as “doing good” for the world.
But in the video below, Russell Brand says Facebook’s plan is more nefarious than that — it’s really about “digital colonization.”
“It’s about billions of people’s experience of reality being controlled by, obscured by and presented through massive tech giants,” Brand says.
Coalition Calls on Biden to Form Disinformation Task Force
A coalition of groups is calling on President Biden to create a task force that can explore ways to crack down on deliberate disinformation campaigns in ways that don’t unduly limit free expression.
The spread of false information around elections, health, climate and other pivotal issues has had a huge impact on American institutions, but civil liberties groups say it is critical to find solutions that maintain free speech protections.
NYPD Puts Down Its Godforesaken Robot Dog
The New York City Police Department’s contract with the robot dog that spawned countless Black Mirror memes has been mercifully cut short. On Wednesday, an NYPD deputy commissioner confirmed to the New York Times that in response to the pretty universal backlash stirred up by the so-called Digidog — along with a hefty subpoena from city council officials — the Department terminated its $94,000 contract with the robot’s creators, Boston Dynamics, earlier this month.
John Miller, the Department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, told the Times that while the contract was supposed to run through mid-August — a full year after the pup was first procured. Instead, the Department quietly cut its ties on April 22nd, apparently having only been used in the field about six times before being shipped back to Boston Dynamics.
“People had figured out the catchphrases and the language to somehow make this evil,” Miller said, noting that the tech had become a “target” in arguments about race, surveillance, and general dystopian horror.
EU Parliament: COVID-19 Pass Should Guarantee Free Movement
European lawmakers said Thursday that COVID-19 certificates aimed at facilitating travel across the European Union should be enough to move freely this summer, a position likely to clash with member states’ prerogatives in their upcoming negotiations.
EU legislators said Thursday in their negotiating position on the European Commission’s proposal that EU governments shouldn’t impose quarantines, tests or self-isolation measures on certificate holders.
The EU’s executive arm proposed last month that the certificates would be delivered to EU residents who can prove they have been vaccinated, and also to those who tested negative for the virus or have proof they recovered from it.
Can Mobile Phone Users Really Protect Themselves From Privacy Violations?
For internet and technology companies, collecting user data remains one of their main sources of income. But this business model includes a security risk for users, as demonstrated by recurring cases of undisclosed commercial use, massive leaks, and hacking incidents. Is there a credible solution for strengthening users’ privacy?
Companies such as Google and Apple focus on collecting daily user data, mostly via mobile phones, and combining information from the applications running over time: the user’s calendar and agenda, for example. A multitude of apps track the user’s location in real time, while health and sports apps dig deep into their biometric information. This data is collected and analyzed, allegedly to offer more tailored and sophisticated services. In fact, most users do not realize they are offering a wealth of data to service providers and platform owners, free of charge.
Dutch Government Pauses Coronavirus App Over Data Leak Fears
The Dutch government has temporarily disabled its coronavirus warning app amid data privacy concerns for people who have the app installed on phones using the Android operating system.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge announced late Wednesday that the CoronaMelder app will stop sending warnings for 48 hours while the government checks if users’ data is secure.
The Dutch app uses “exposure notification” technology developed by Google and Apple that generates random codes that can be exchanged by phones whose users are close to one another for long enough to possibly transmit the virus.
Josh Hawley Rails at Big Tech Firms but Records Show He Has Invested in Them
Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri accuses the US’s biggest tech companies of committing the “gravest threat to American liberty since the monopolies of the Gilded Age” in his upcoming book. He rails that tech giants Amazon, Google and Facebook “have become a techno-oligarchy with overwhelming economic and political power.”
Hawley has also invested potentially tens of thousands of dollars in the very companies he denounces, according to public financial disclosure records examined by the Guardian.
Hawley’s new book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, is published next week by Regnery Publishing. Simon & Schuster, its original publisher, dropped the book following the Missouri senator’s involvement in the 6 January electoral college vote certifying Joe Biden’s election.
From Bioweapons to Super Soldiers: How the UK Is Joining the Genomic Technology Arms Race
The UK government recently announced an £800 million, taxpayer-funded Advanced Research and Invention Agency (Aria). The brainchild of the British prime minister’s former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings and modelled on the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Darpa, the organisation will focus partly on genomic research.
Genome technology is becoming an increasingly important part of military research. So given that the UK boasts some of the best genomic research centres in the world, how will its new agency affect the wider genome technology warfare race?
In 2019, Darpa announced that it wishes to explore genetically editing soldiers. It has also invested over US$65 million (£45 million) to improve the safety and accuracy of genome-editing technologies. These include the famous Nobel prize-winning Crispr-Cas molecular scissor — a tool that can edit DNA by cutting and pasting sections of it.