Free Future

The Privacy-Invading Potential of Eye Tracking Technology

The Privacy-Invading Potential of Eye Tracking Technology

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:42am
Eye tracking technology received new attention recently due to its inclusion in the Samsung Galaxy IV phone, where it can (with mixed results, according to reviewers) let users scroll the screen with their eyes or dim the screen when they look away. Clearly this is a technology that has the potential for a lot of clever applications. But what are the privacy implications?
"Ag-Gag" Not Just About Animal Welfare

"Ag-Gag" Not Just About Animal Welfare

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 9:54am

A story out of Utah this week neatly showcased the rising concerns among civil liberties and press freedom groups around so-called "ag-gag" laws, which, in various ways, make it illegal to document animal abuse on factory farms and other agricultural…

Chertoff on Google Glass

Chertoff on Google Glass

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:56pm

We’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking about the implications of consumer wearable cameras like Google Glass, and I’m sure we’ll have more to say in this space on the subject. But meanwhile, we’re pleasantly surprised to report a very trenchant analysis of the technology’s implications for our privacy by none other than Michael Chertoff. Writing on CNN’s web page, the former DHS chief writes,

So, who owns and what happens to the user's [video] data? Can the entire database be mined and analyzed for commercial purposes? What rules will apply when law enforcement seeks access to the data for a criminal or national security investigation? For how long will the data be retained? ….

Even those who might be willing to forgo some degree of privacy to enhance national security should be concerned about a corporate America that will have an unrestricted continuous video record of millions.

What is to prevent a corporation from targeting a particular individual, using face recognition technology to assemble all uploaded videos in which he appears, and effectively constructing a surveillance record that can be used to analyze his life?

Chertoff says he’s inclined to think that government regulation may be needed. I haven’t seen Chertoff say anything about the threat of pervasive government surveillance, which would make him a kind of anti-libertarian on privacy—in favor of restricting corporations, but not the government. For the average, relatively powerless person trying to live their life, the threat comes from both directions.

Voices on Human Gene Patents: It's Time to Free Our Genes

Voices on Human Gene Patents: It's Time to Free Our Genes

By Christopher E. Mason, Assistant Professor of Computational Genomics, Weill Cornell Medical College, Affiliate Fellow, Information Society Project of Yale Law School & Jeffrey Rosenfeld, Assistant Professor of Medicine, New Jersey Medical School at 12:29pm

Even though they’ve been in our families since the dawn of man, our genes do not belong to us. They’ve been claimed by companies that hold patents on the DNA from our cells. Over the past 20 years, at least 41 percent of our genes have become the…

Remembering the Real Purpose of Patents

Remembering the Real Purpose of Patents

By James Evans, Bryson Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Medicine, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill School of Medicine at 10:44am

James Evans, MD, PhD is the Bryson Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Medicine at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine. He was a member of the advisory committee to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services on…

Report Details Government’s Ability to Analyze Massive Aerial Surveillance Video Streams

Report Details Government’s Ability to Analyze Massive Aerial Surveillance Video Streams

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:15am

Yesterday I wrote about Dayton Ohio’s plan for an aerial surveillance system similar to the “nightmare scenario” ARGUS wide-area surveillance technology. Actually, ARGUS is just the most advanced of a number of such “persistent wide-area surveillance”…

SimCity and the Digital Divide

SimCity and the Digital Divide

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:14pm

I grew up in a non-Nintendo household, and so was weaned on PC games. One of my favorites was the mayor-simulator SimCity. Launched in 1989, the addictive and soon-to-be venerable title became the first name in sleepless nights for kids with limited…

Drone ‘Nightmare Scenario’ Now Has A Name: ARGUS

Drone ‘Nightmare Scenario’ Now Has A Name: ARGUS

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:06am

The PBS series NOVA, “Rise of the Drones,” recently aired a segment detailing the capabilities of a powerful aerial surveillance system known as ARGUS-IS, which is basically a super-high, 1.8 gigapixel resolution camera that can be mounted on a drone. As demonstrated in this clip, the system is capable of high-resolution monitoring and recording of an entire city. (The clip was written about in DefenseTech and in Slate.)

In the clip, the developer explains how the technology (which he also refers to with the apt name “Wide Area Persistent Stare”) is “equivalent to having up to a hundred Predators look at an area the size of a medium-sized city at once.”

Twitter Subpoenas Chill Free Speech; Latest Example is in San Francisco

Twitter Subpoenas Chill Free Speech; Latest Example is in San Francisco

By Linda Lye, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California at 4:52pm

In a disturbing trend that can have a chilling effect on free speech, law enforcement agencies around the country are seeking wide-ranging information about the social networking activity of political activists. The San Francisco District Attorney…

Open Source Intelligence and Crime Prevention

Open Source Intelligence and Crime Prevention

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:00pm

Buried on page A25 of Thursday’s New York Times is a tiny story on what’s likely to become a big problem after the recent horrific mass shooting. According to the report, top intelligence officials in the New York City Police Department…