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China banned millions of people with poor social credit from transportation in 2018

China banned people from buying plane or train tickets 23 million times last year because their social credit scores were too low, according to the Associated Press, which obtained a copy of a government report. The government rolled out the travel ban on people with low social credit scores last May. According to a report from China’s National Public Credit Information Center from last week, people have been blocked 17.5 million times from purchasing airplane tickets, and 5.5 million times from buying high-speed train tickets. These people had become “discredited” for unspecified behavioral crimes. That’s up from only 6.15 million…

New rear 3D cameras could bring “world-facing” facial recognition to iPhones

New iPhones released this year by Apple will include rear-facing 3D depth-sensing cameras, opening up a range of new possible use cases for the applications they enable, such as facial recognition, supplier sources indicate to Fast Company’s Mark Sullivan. The feature’s inclusion was reported a month ago, though supply-chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously reported that it would likely first show up in an iPad later this year. A recent presentation from True Depth camera laser supplier Lumentum suggests the 3D “world-facing” camera will have significant benefits for portrait photos and augmented reality (AR), enabling improved 3D mapping for gaming and…

Home Assistants with ‘Moral AI’ Could Call Police on Owners

The Daily Mail reported that home assistants could soon report their owners to the police for breaking the law based on a “Moral A.I.” system, if the ideas of academics in Europe are implemented. The newspaper reported that academics at the University of Bergen in Norway discussed the idea of a “moral A.I.” for smart home assistants, like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod, during a conference. Moral A.I. would reportedly make home assistants have to “decide whether to report their owners for breaking the law,” or whether to stay silent. “This would let them to weigh-up whether…

Fit to drive? Don’t worry your car will judge you

When you’re sleepy, stressed or have had a few drinks, you’re not in the best position to drive – or even make that decision. But automated cars could soon make that call for you. In Europe, more than 25,000 people lose their lives on the road every year, while another 135,000 are seriously injured. The main culprits are speed, alcohol or drug driving, non-use of seat belts, distraction, and fatigue. Europe is the world’s safest region with 49 deaths per million inhabitants, but given that the EU aims to bring road safety deaths down to almost zero by 2050, there…

How much does your government spy on you? U.N. may rank the snoopers

A U.N. human rights expert has published a draft list of questions to measure countries’ privacy safeguards, a first step toward ranking the governments that are potentially doing the most snooping on their own citizens. Joseph Cannataci, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to privacy, submitted the draft questionnaire – touching on everything from chatrooms to systematic surveillance – to the U.N. Human Rights Council, and invited comments by June 30. Cannataci’s role investigating digital privacy was created by the council in 2015 after Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. surveillance, and he has strongly criticized surveillance activities by the…

2008: Mind Control by Cell Phone

Hospitals and airplanes ban the use of cell phones, because their electromagnetic transmissions can interfere with sensitive electrical devices. Could the brain also fall into that category? Of course, all our thoughts, sensations and actions arise from bioelectricity generated by neurons and transmitted through complex neural circuits inside our skull. Electrical signals between neurons generate electric fields that radiate out of brain tissue as electrical waves that can be picked up by electrodes touching a person’s scalp. Measurements of such brainwaves in EEGs provide powerful insight into brain function and a valuable diagnostic tool for doctors. Indeed, so fundamental are…

Police in Canada Are Tracking People’s ‘Negative’ Behavior In a ‘Risk’ Database

Police, social services, and health workers in Canada are using shared databases to track the behaviour of vulnerable people—including minors and people experiencing homelessness—with little oversight and often without consent. Documents obtained by Motherboard from Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) through an access to information request show that at least two provinces—Ontario and Saskatchewan—maintain a “Risk-driven Tracking Database” that is used to amass highly sensitive information about people’s lives. Information in the database includes whether a person uses drugs, has been the victim of an assault, or lives in a “negative neighborhood.” The Risk-driven Tracking Database…

Forget Face ID, the LG G8 comes with palm-reading “Hand ID” biometrics

I can just imagine a group of Saturday Night Live writers sitting around after the iPhone X launch. “Hey guys,” one of them says, “How can we make fun of Face ID?” ” I know!” says another, “Let’s do ‘Hand ID,’ we’ll say the phone can read your palm like a psychic.” “That sounds great!” says a third. “I’ll cue up a laugh track.” And from there the sketch brainstorming evolves into progressively stupider body parts you could get a smartphone to “ID.” LG is actually doing this, though. On the LG G8 ThinQ, you can stick your hand up for…

Google forced to reveal which products have microphones following privacy backlash

Google has been accused of violating users’ trust after it failed to disclose that its Nest Secure home security and alarm system contained a microphone. The company’s secret was revealed earlier this month when it announced that voice-activated Google Assistant technology could now be used on the Nest device. The existence of a microphone on the Nest Secure has never been mentioned in any product material for the device, which a Google spokesperson said was “an error” on the company’s part. The existence of a microphone on the Nest Secure has never been mentioned in any product material for the…

This App Wants to Track Every Homeless Person in San Francisco

On paper, it looks as if San Francisco shouldn’t have a homelessness problem. There are as many permanent housing beds as people who need them. The city spends hundreds of millions of dollars to help get people off the streets, and last year voters approved a measure to raise $300 million annually to tackle the issue by taxing local companies. Yet there are about 7,500 homeless in the city because of soaring rents and the difficulty of treating substance abuse, mental illness, and other health concerns. Now the world capital of innovation and Big Data is betting that streamlined information…

Are you being scanned? How facial recognition technology follows you, even as you shop

As digital billboards record customers’ reactions to advertisements tailored to them, just who is safeguarding Australians’ privacy? If you shop at Westfield, you’ve probably been scanned and recorded by dozens of hidden cameras built into the centres’ digital advertising billboards. The semi-camouflaged cameras can determine not only your age and gender but your mood, cueing up tailored advertisements within seconds, thanks to facial detection technology. Westfield’s Smartscreen network was developed by the French software firm Quividi back in 2015. Their discreet cameras capture blurry images of shoppers and apply statistical analysis to identify audience demographics. And once the billboards have…

China blocks 17.5 million plane tickets for people without enough ‘social credit’

The Chinese government blocked 17.5 million would-be plane passengers from buying tickets last year as a punishment for offences including the failure to pay fines, it emerged. Some 5.5 million people were also barred from travelling by train under a controversial “social credit” system which the ruling Communist Party claims will improve public behaviour. The penalties are part of efforts by president Xi Jinping‘s government to use data-processing and other technology to tighten control on society. Human rights activists warn the system is too rigid and may lead to people being unfairly blacklisted without their knowledge, while US vice-president Mike Pence last year denounced…

Airlines admit having cameras installed on back of passengers’ seats

Three of the world’s biggest airlines have admitted some of their planes have cameras installed on the backs of passenger seats. American Airlines, United Airlines and Singapore Airlines have new seat-back entertainment systems that include cameras. They could also be on planes used by other carriers. Companies that make the entertainment systems are fitting them with cameras to offer passengers options such as seat-to-seat video conferencing, according to an American Airlines spokesman. But American, United and Singapore all say they have never activated the cameras and have no plans to use them. A passenger on a Singapore flight tweeted a…

Facebook attacked over app that reveals period dates of its users

Facebook is battling fresh controversy on both sides of the Atlantic amid claims that it has been receiving highly personal data from third-party apps. The swirl of bad news around the company comes after its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, was criticised for meeting the culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, having refused to appear before an influential parliamentary committee in Westminster. The meeting came amid speculation that the government may soon publish a white paper potentially paving the way for an independent social media regulator. But the Observer has been told that a row is brewing over how the regulator should be…

Feds share ‘TERROR’ watch list with 1,400 private groups

The federal government has acknowledged that it shares its terrorist watchlist with more than 1,400 private entities, including hospitals and universities, prompting concerns from civil libertarians that those mistakenly placed on the list could face a wide variety of hassles in their daily lives. The government’s admission that it shares the list so broadly comes after years of insistence that the list is generally not shared with the private sector. Gadeir Abbas, a lawyer with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has filed a constitutional challenge to the government’s use of the watchlist, called the government’s admission shocking. “We’ve always…

Google admits error over hidden microphone

Google has acknowledged that it made an error in not disclosing that one of its home alarm products contained a microphone. Product specifications for the Nest Guard, available since 2017, had made no mention of the listening device. But earlier this month, the firm said a software update would make Nest Guard voice-controlled. On Twitter, concerned Nest owners were told the microphone “has not been used up to this point”. Business Insider was first to report the development. The Nest Guard is one component in the Nest Secure range of home security products. The system includes various sensors that can…