A Dubious Apple and Believing the Impossible

A Dubious Apple and Believing the Impossible

While it’s not a yet a win, and no time to relax, the fact that Apple are pausing their move into on-device mass surveillance is a good indicator of how activism and protests can make a difference.

That said, it’s important to acknowledge that activism isn’t something everyone can readily participate in. As Emily Atkin wisely notes in HEATED, a newsletter for people who are pissed off about the climate crisis:

The ability to participate in activism is a privilege. Many simply do not have the time, money, or emotional bandwidth to take on a global cause.

This made me reflect on how thankful I am that you are finding the time to read this and perhaps even sharing some of the stories and insights with others. It’s one potential path to reaching those with the time and resources to take on the powerful.

This week you will also find som mythbusting information on China’s social credit system and become acquainted with the dawn of a new market where people sell their faces to be used for… anything.

Some stories in this issue may be hard to believe, such as a listening device that fits in an iPhone charging cable. As it turns out, digital ethics asks of us to believe in many things we can not see.

Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.*


*Yes, that quote is from Alice in Wonderland.

Top news item

Apple Backs Down on Its Controversial Photo-Scanning Plans | WIRED
A sustained backlash against a new system to look for child sexual abuse materials on user devices has led the company to hit pause.

Perspective on grading humans

China's Social Credit System in 2021
There are many preconceptions and myths underlying most western understanding of the social credit system that provides up-to-date information on the behavior of individuals and corporations across China. Learn more here on similarities between the Chinese system and corresponding western systems that put scores on human beings.

EU agency advises against using search & browsing history for credit scores - The Record by Recorded Future
The European Union’s lead data protection supervisor has recommended on Thursday that personal data such as search queries & internet browsing history should not be used for the assessment of credit scores and creditworthiness.

State-sponsored deception

Home Office set up fake website to deter asylum seekers from crossing Channel
The UK Home Office set up a fake organisation called On The Move, complete with a logo and glossy branding. The aim was crystal clear: to dissuade migrants using deceptive information.

Deepfake/biometric abuse

People are hiring out their faces to become deepfake-style marketing clones
AI-powered characters based on real people can star in thousands of videos and say anything, in any language. Would you sell your likeness and allow it to spread any message?

The Taliban Have Seized U.S. Military Biometrics Devices
“While billed by the U.S. military as a means of tracking terrorists and other insurgents, biometric data on Afghans who assisted the U.S. was also widely collected and used in identification cards, sources said.”

AI and Machine Learning

Contractual terms for algorithms
The City of Amsterdam has developed contractual terms for the algorithms they purchase from suppliers and are sharing their insights. Hat tip: Peter Krantz.

Deleting unethical data sets isn’t good enough
“The AI research community has tried to scrub away its past. But the internet is forever.” Putting together datasets for research comes with a good chunk of responsibility, because relying on the option of retracting unethical datasets in the future is proving very difficult.


10 Things Only Privacy People Know about Email Aliases
Using burner e-mail addresses is a good tactic for protecting privacy. This is a good walkthrough from Fastmail on why. There are several services that you may want to check out, including burnermail, tempmail, guerillamail and throwawaymail. They all work in slightly different ways.

Privacy scare of the week

Emil Stenström (@EmilStenstrom)
It’s now possible to buy a Apple charging cable with a hidden computer in it that has WiFi and a web server. Good luck finding that one if planted in your office... https://shop.hak5.org/products/o-mg-cable-usb-a

Free event

Inclusive Design 24 (#id24) on September 23, 2021
A free 24-hour online community event on accessibility and inclusion. No sign-up. No registration. All sessions are streamed live and publicly on the Inclusive Design 24 YouTube channel.

Svenska / In Swedish

Nya polisbilarna mäter mötande bilars hastighet: ”Inte oproblematiskt”
Jag uttalar mig i Ny Teknik om vikten av att förutse riskerna med en framtid där polisbilar filmar i 360 grader och läser av omgivningen, innan misstanke om brott finns.

Umeåbo spred drönarfilmer på internet – åtalas vid Umeå tingsrätt
En man i 50-års åldern åtalas för att ha spridit drönarbilder på internet. Mannen misstänks ha spridit filmer vid ett 20-tal tillfällen utan att söka tillstånd. Detta är första prövningen av den nya lagen från 2016.

IMY fick rätt om ansikts­igenkänning
För två år sedan utfärdade Integritetsskyddsmyndigheten en sanktionsavgift på 200 000 kronor för en skola som på prov använde ansiktsigenkänning via kamera för att registrera elevers närvaro. Beslutet överklagades till kammarrätten som nu gått på IMY:s linje.

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