Tech companies have shown themselves to be increasingly cavalier with our personal data. Are we handing over too much information? Frank Rose reviews “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” by Shoshana Zuboff.
According to Google’s Ngram Viewer, which measures the appearance in books of a given phrase over time, the word “surveillance”—from the French sur + veiller, “to watch over”—saw relatively little use until about 1960. At that point, sparked perhaps by the Cold War, it started turning up more and more frequently, a trend that continues to this day. Expect that trend to kick into overdrive now that Shoshana Zuboff’s “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” is out, for hers is the rare volume that puts a name on a problem just as it becomes critical—in this case, the quandary raised by Google and Facebook when they figured…
For months now, the Department of Justice (DOJ) quietly has been working on a revision to its guidelines governing how, when and why prosecutors can obtain the records of journalists, particularly in leak cases.
The effort has the potential to touch off a First Amendment debate with a press corps that already has high degrees of distrust of and disfunction with the Trump administration.
Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker is aware of the effort but has not been given a final recommendation. Sources close to Whitaker say he will await final judgment but, in recent days, has developed reservations about proceeding with the plan.
“After a lengthy period of turmoil and regular criticism from President Trump, DOJ has enjoyed a period of calm normalcy that has put employees’ focus back on their work and not the next tweet. Matt doesn’t want to disrupt that unless a strong legal case can be made,” a source close to the acting AG told me.
The current guidelines have their origins back to a time when Bill Clintonwas president and Janet Reno was attorney general, long before WikiLeaks was a twinkle in Julian Assange’s eye. They were designed to strike a balance between law enforcement’s investigative interests and the First Amendment rights of reporters.
In layman’s terms, the current system requires prosecutors in most cases to exhaust all obvious investigative methods for identifying leaks before seeking to intrude on a journalist’s free-speech rights.
In addition, the rules generally have required DOJ to alert news organizations in advance of a possible subpoena, giving both sides a chance to negotiate before the subpoena — viewed as a nuclear button by most journalists — gets pushed.
A California judge has ruled that American cops can’t force people to unlock a mobile phone with their face or finger. The ruling goes further to protect people’s private lives from government searches than any before and is being hailed as a potentially landmark decision.
Previously, U.S. judges had ruled that police were allowed to force unlock devices like Apple’s iPhone with biometrics, such as fingerprints, faces or irises. That was despite the fact feds weren’t permitted to force a suspect to divulge a passcode. But according to a ruling uncovered by Forbes, all logins are equal.
The order came from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in the denial of a search warrant for an unspecified property in Oakland. The warrant was filed as part of an investigation into a Facebook extortion crime, in which a victim was asked to pay up or have an “embarassing” video of them publicly released. The cops had some suspects in mind and wanted to raid their property. In doing so, the feds also wanted to open up any phone on the premises via facial recognition, a fingerprint or an iris.
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