Two items of note in the world of spooky panoptical perception, including a nasty bit of corporate spyware that targets your kids.
First, from the Intercept, news of a bill that would give the FBI the right to look at your email data and more, all without a warrant or even eventual disclosure to the target of their snooping:
A provision snuck into the still-secret text of the Senate’s annual intelligence authorization would give the FBI the ability to demand individuals’ email data and possibly web-surfing history from their service providers without a warrant and in complete secrecy.
If passed, the change would expand the reach of the FBI’s already highly controversial national security letters. The FBI is currently allowed to get certain types of information with NSLs—most commonly information about the name, address, and call information associated with a phone number or details about a bank account.
Since a 2008 Justice Department legal opinion, the FBI has not been allowed to use NSLs to demand “electronic communication transaction records” such as email subject lines and other metadata, or URLs visited.
The spy bill passed the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, with the provision in it. The lone no vote came from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who wrote in a statement that one of its provisions “would allow any FBI field office to demand email records without a court order, a major expansion of federal surveillance powers.”
And then there’s this, a little corporate cyber-pedophilia — except this time it isn’t your child’s body they’re lusting for, but her thoughts.
From the Guardian:
In a promotional video for Amazon’s Echo virtual assistant device, a young girl no older than 12 asks excitedly: “Is it for me?”. The voice-controlled speaker can search the web for information, answer questions and even tell kids’ jokes. “It’s for everyone,” enthuses her on-screen dad.
Except that it isn’t. An investigation by the Guardian has found that despite Amazon marketing the Echo to families with young children, the device is likely to contravene the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), set up to regulate the collection and use of personal information from anyone younger than 13.
Along with Google, Apple and others promoting voice-activated artificial intelligence systems to young children, the company could now face multimillion-dollar fines.
“This is part of the initial wave of marketing to children using the internet of things,” says Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy advocacy group that helped write the law. “It is exactly why the law was enacted in the first place, to protect young people from pervasive data collection.”