Privacy, Security, Artificial Intelligence, 5G and the Internet

Updated 4/16/22

Internet Privacy and Security Risks Rising

The internet and social media have provided unimaginable convenience, however, the price appears to be steep, a loss in  privacy and security, as well as democracy. The more we are connected, the greater the risks. Regulation unfortunately is a very late afterthought with many barriers and loopholes preventing meaningful oversight. There is much denial about the true risks of high tech. Instead of enabling our society it is disrupting, distorting and disabling it. Marc Goodman who wrote in an article about technology and synthetic biology  in Wired Magazine, “The internet was built for redundancy, not security. As a result, we have the omnipresent spectre of cybercrime looming over us. Before we enter the age of programmable biology, we must contemplate what we might do differently to avoid the mistakes we made in our development of silicon-based computing. DNA is the common thread that runs through all living things. Without it, there is no life. As such, we have no alternative to seriously considering how we will protect the world’s original operating system.”

5G and Cybersecurity Concerns

Experts at Brookings (2019) have noted the increased vulnerabilities of 5G to cyberattacks. There are 5 ways 5G networks are more vulnerable.

  • The network has moved away from centralized hardware-based systems with hardware choke points where cyber hygiene can be practiced.
  • 5G uses primarily software functions i.e. standardized Internet Protocol, which are more vulnerable
  • The network is managed by software which again is more vulnerable
  • The expansion of bandwidth and multiple small cells which wirelessly transmit makes 5G more vulnerable
  • Multiple small IoT devices (mini computers) are each uniquely vulnerable

Blockchain Threats to Privacy

Social Impact Bonds, “Pay for Success, Results-Based Contracting and Blockchain Digital Identity Systems. Scoop-it.

Blockchain Threats to Digital Privacy. Scoop-it.

New York Times Privacy Project Raising Eyebrows and Alarms

The New York Times published  their comprehensive report on privacy and cell phone use and well an in interactive site that shows the activities of millions of Americans who are constantly surveilled, not just governments or cell phone companies, but third party agents who sell this data to other companies. In their article they mention how easy it is to track everyone from celebrities to school kids. They state, “One search turned up more than a dozen people visiting the Playboy Mansion, some overnight. Without much effort we spotted visitors to the estates of Johnny Depp, Tiger Woods and Arnold Schwarzenegger, connecting the devices’ owners to the residences indefinitely.”   One nation Tracked: An investigation into the Smartphone Tacking, provides a disturbing view of just how far Big Telecom, Big Wireless, Big Tech and cottage data collecting industries have gone for profit. The Wild West is back, but not with guns, it is with cell phones and cell towers.

The Facial Recognition Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

The New York Times published an article on 1/18/22 , The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It: A little-known start-up helps law enforcement match photos of unknown people to their online images — and “might lead to a dystopian future or something,” a backer says. Most already know that facial recognition technology has been developed and is being used in some fashion around the world but many may not know that there is an exponential growth for use by  law enforcement. That makes sense, especially considering the need to identify criminals on videos  or photos. Law enforcement has used facial recognition in their own data base for over 20 years but with the company Clearview AI now selling facial images across the internet and social media there is now a vast directory of faces to choose from. There is a concern among those in academics and in human rights groups that unintended and dangerous consequences could arise without ethical and robust oversight or regulation of this “Big Brother” technology.  Facial recognition technology can be used against the innocent and certainly could be “weaponized” in marginalized communities.   It is well known that facial recognition does not work well in those of color with a high proportion of false positive identifications.   The ACLU considers this invasion of privacy a violation of civil rights.  In their recent commentary “A Scary Demonstration of What Unchecked Face Recognition Could Look Like”, the author shows a company executive searching  “through a month’s worth of video footage captured by around 10 fixed cameras, plus body cameras, in a transit center in San Jose, California. He feeds the system with the photograph of a male subject, and the system does a face recognition search through all the stored video from that month and produces 23 snapshots of the man from the center’s cameras. Clicking on any of the snapshots plays the video in which he was captured.”

The Atlantic Monthy published a piece, Defund Facial Recognition: I’m a second-generation Black activist, and I’m tired of being spied on by the police. The author points our that unchecked facial recognition is used against protestors, especially those that are black. The suthor states, “in the 21st century, police violence is not limited to the overtly physical kind. Although we may never know its full extent, there is real evidence that covert, high-tech surveillance of Black activists and journalists helps drive brutal policing.

Cameras in the Classroom- University of Michigan Study

The University of Michigan study, Cameras in the Classroom, recommended banning facial recognition in schools. An 8/10/2020 article describes the research,U-M study finds facial recognition technology in schools presents many problems, recommends ban: Research reveals inaccuracy, racial inequity and increased surveillance are the touchstones of a flawed technology. The article notes, “The study, “Cameras in the Classroom,” led by Shobita Parthasarathy, asserts that not only is the technology not suited to security purposes, but it also creates a web of serious problems beyond racial discrimination, including normalizing surveillance and eroding privacy, institutionalizing inaccuracy and creating false data on school life, commodifying data and marginalizing nonconforming students.”

AI Robots in a Brave New World- 60 minutes 

Robots with AI capability are being constructed ad sold to foreign governments with no ethical standards, safety standards or regulation. Boston Dynamics: Inside the workshop where robots of the future are being built.

China Now Using AI Technology for News and Movie Industry

CNBC reported  that the Worlds first AI News anchor was used in a Chinese broadcast in 2018.  This is now going mainstream in China.  In January 2022 China announced is will be regularly using Artificial Intelligence to broadcast news. They have created a virtual twin of both a female and male live news anchor to deliver the “AI Business Daily” news 24 hours a day. Biztoc reports, ” The Xiaoice Framework uses data collected from the two real-life anchors to train its AI models. Meanwhile, Xiaoice Neural Rendering (XNR) technology makes the virtual humans’ facial expressions and body movements look real and natural.

AI anchors have appeared in China’s TV programs in the past, but they could be identified immediately back then. Since the test launch of AI Business Daily on Oct. 11, 2021, N Xiaohei’s Douyin account—the Chinese version of TikTok—has accumulated over 3 million fans despite the real person not appearing on air for 70 days. Xiaoice, in collaboration with NBD, has demonstrated its ability to develop virtual replicas that are almost indistinguishable from real humans through advanced AI learning and rendering technologies..”

China has already used AI  Jan 28, 2019, creating cohosts for a Chinese New Year event for their annual China Central Television (CCTV) Network Spring Festival Gala. The BusinessWire article notes,”ObEN’s technology is particularly well-suited for the entertainment space, as celebrities and studios look for new ways to engage viewers and fans in more personalized and unique experiences. The PAIs that ObEN creates can be made to look and sound like anyone in the world. Powered by AI, these avatars can sing in your voice, mimic the latest viral dance, and even let celebrities interact with fans through mobile devices and have conversations that can mimic real-life exchanges.”

While the AI company boasts, “ObEN is an artificial intelligence (AI) company developing Personal AI technology that revolutionizes personal digital interaction, enabling never before possible social and virtual interactions.” , there are serious concerns about the totalitarian nature of this communication. The Chinese  have a state-controlled media and could use AI technology to program whatever information, false or real, to their entire population and beyond, preventing any differing opinions from real humans. On the horizon are robots being created to look like real humans  which will now have effective speech that sounds real. These acrobatic and strong robots are poised to physically control humans as well.

The Five Scariest Predictions of AI

Apple, Google  and the military may not be far behind adding additional worries about jobs and discrimination.

The five scariest predictions are:

  • Massive unemployment
  • AI enhanced war
  • Robo Doctors
  • Mass Surveillance
  • Discrimination and Cyberbullying


Headlines Privacy and Hacking

Privacy at School


The Student Data Privacy Project works to protect private student data from exploitation and misuse. They issued a press release July 7, 2021 stating,   “On July 9, 2021, parents of school-age children from Maryland to Alaska, in collaboration with the Student Data Privacy Project (SDPP), will file over a dozen complaints with the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) demanding accountability for the student data that schools share with Educational Technology (EdTech) vendors.Formed during the pandemic, SDPP is comprised of parents concerned about how their children’s personally identifiable information (PII) is increasingly being mined by EdTech vendors, with the consent of our schools, and without parental consent or school oversight. With assistance and support from SDPP, 14 parents from 9 states filed requests with their school districts under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) seeking access to the PII collected about their children by EdTech vendors. No SDPP parents were able to obtain all of the requested PII held by EdTech vendors, a clear violation of FERPA.”  FERPA is a 1974 Act which states that parents have a right to know what information is being collected about their children, and how that data is being used.

Parents coalition MC, Maryland

Predictive AI Algorithm Software Labels Students of Color

Over 500 universities in the U.S. have been using predictive AI software that may exacerbate racial disparities by labeling  students of color as a higher risk for failure and placing them in easier classes. An article in the Markup discusses how this can change the academic and professional trajectory of student without their knowing it. Ruha Benjamin, author of “Race After Technology” and a professor of African American studies at Princeton stated in the article, “This opens the door to even more educational steering. College advisors tell Black, Latinx, and indigenous students not to aim for certain majors. But now these gatekeepers are armed with ‘complex’ math.”

Coded Bias: The Threat of Artificial Intelligence

This film looks at the inaccurate technology of facial recognition and how this is a threat to democracy. Researcher Joy Buolamwini of MIT, found that Facial  recognition incorrectly identifies non-white and women’s faces 10 times that of people of color. Inherent bias flaws can be used for mass surveillance.  In China this technology is being used to track Muslim minority. This technology can lead to mistaken identity and false arrest and accusations and is more than an inconvenience she notes.

Coded Bias: New Film Looks at Fight Against Racial Bias in Facial Recognition and AI Technology.

The Social Dilemma

The new Netflix movie, “The Social Dilemma”,  reveals the deliberate manipulation of our psychology by social media companies to harvest our data and change our minds.  With interviews of leaders in Google, Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest this movie shows us a disturbing reality about a technology that generations are addicted to.  This is reprogramming our civilization, threatening our democracy and more importantly reshaping our future…and not all for good.  A Guardian article on the movie notes Professor Shoshana Zuboff coined the term  “Surveillance  Capitalism” and goes on to sate,” Most people seem to have twigged the “surveillance” part of the term, but overlooked the second word. Which is a pity because the business model of social media is not really a mutant version of capitalism: it’s just capitalism doing its thing – finding and exploiting resources from which profit can be extracted. Having looted, plundered and denuded the natural world, it has now turned to extracting and exploiting what’s inside our heads. And the great mystery is why we continue to allow it to do so.”

The Social Dilemma Official Trailer 

New York Times Reports Wireless Carriers Violated Federal Law by Selling Data

On Feb 1, 2020, the New York Times reported  that the FCC plans to take action over the unauthorized sale of user wireless phone data, allowing customers to be tracked.  U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said he was, “eager to see whether the FCC will truly hold wireless companies accountable, or let them off with a slap on the wrist.”

Reuters reported a similar story on May 18, 2018, FCC investigating website flaw that exposed mobile phone locations. The report stated “A security researcher said earlier this week that data from LocationSmart, a California-based tech firm, could have been used to track AT&T Inc (T.N), Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), Sprint Corp (S.N) and T-Mobile US (TMUS.O) mobile consumers within a few hundred yards of their location and without their consent.”  Senator Ron Wyden noted then that a , “hacker could have used this site to know when you were in your house so they would know when to rob it. A predator could have tracked your child’s cell phone to know when they were alone.”

The AP News reported, a Missouri sheriff pleads guilty to cellphone tracking charges, after he used the cellphones of a judge and other law enforcement officers to track their whereabouts. He used a company called Securus Technologies Inc., which was providing law enforcement services to the sheriff’s department. The New York Times noted the same company could track you.

The European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR regulation-3246979_1280

The European Union GDPR is the most comprehensive data protection regulation in the world. This was approved by the European Parliament April 2016.

Its objectives are to

  • Harmonize data privacy laws across Europe,
  • Protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy
  • Reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy

The United States has no such regulation.

California Privacy Law Helpful but Not Strong Enough

The California Consumer Privacy is the first major internet privacy law in the United States but the battle to get this passed left some casualties, including the bill itself.  Mary Stone Ross who was instrumental in drafting the legislation write in her article, I helped draft California’s new privacy law. Here’s why it doesn’t go far enough, that it was watered down, largely toothless and still under attack by industry.

“Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe”.

One of the leaders in bringing the issue of internet manipulation forward is Roger McNamee, who discusses the history of Silicon Valley in his new book “Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe”.  He describes how the development of  this technological wonderland appears to be taking us down a rabbit hole that keeps us addicted, distracted and exposed to threats of privacy and democracy. In an Oct 23, 2019  interview  on Democracy Now, he highlights the downsides to Big Tech that were not foreseen.

Zucked: Early Facebook Investor Roger McNamee on How the Company Became a Threat to Democracy. 

Early tech investor Roger McNamee  describes his new insights about the high tech industry on Democracy Now.

The Great Hack

The true workings of Cambridge Analytica and its role in the 2016 election are becoming more transparent with a new documentary, The Great Hack.  Democracy Now interviewed former Cambridge Analytica employee and whistleblower Brittany Kaiser as well as the producers of The Great Hack, who clearly present the Orwellian nature of the current internet and wireless communications industry.

The Great Hack Official Trailer

The Great Hack uncovers the dark world of data exploitation through the compelling personal journeys of players on different sides of the explosive Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data scandal.

Democracy Now Interviews Brittany Kaiser, Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower

An interview with Brittany Kaiser, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower featured in “The Great Hack” and author of “Targeted: The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower’s Inside Story of How Big Data, Trump, and Facebook Broke Democracy and How It Can Happen Again”.

The Disinformation Machine

Journalists from Investigate Europe have created this short video, The Disinformation Machine, about Facebook’s involvement in elections.

Investigate Europe highlights how bots spread fake news and hate speech on the internet by acting as real people. Social media platforms amplify the fake messages with click bait headlines, spinning these viral.  Ultimately no one knows how or what news is filtered. These large internet media platforms (Google, Facebook and Twitter),  have turned into gatekeepers of information, true “Ministries of Truth”.

They have also created a short video on the 5G  Mass Experiment: Big Promises, Unknown Risks. 

5G High Security Risk

In an article by Harvard Kennedy School lecturer Bruce Schneier, China Isn’t the Only Problem With 5G, the author notes that while there have been improvements in in 5G with encryption, authentication, integrity protection, privacy, and network availability, this is not enough. 5G Geopolitics is complicated and not getting any simpler.

Why 5G is inherently insecure

  • 5G is too complex and actually increases points of vulnerability with so many devices connected to the internet. 11 design weaknesses of 5G have been identified.
  • 5G depends on 4G – thus 5G will inherit the old vulnerabilities
  • 5G security measures are optional – similar to 4G- with development, cost, time to market prioritized over security – an afterthought
  • Law Enforcement Needs these Backdoor Openings – U.S. Intelligence Agencies like the NSA as well as law enforcement depend on inadvertent insecurities for their own data collection

Mr Schneier ends on a concerning note, “The technology will quickly become critical national infrastructure, and security problems will become life-threatening. Both criminal attacks and government cyber-operations will become more common and more damaging. Eventually, Washington will have do so something. That something will be difficult and expensive—let’s hope it won’t also be too late.”

He has also authored Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World.

 ACLU Attorney DiscussesSecurity Risks of 5G  and The Internet of Things

ACLU Attorney in Houston, Texas warning that 5G Smart Grid Could be a “Wolf in Sheep’s clothing”.

Boris Johnson on Smart Technology and Digital Authoritarianism as an Emerging Reality

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives an impassioned speech at the United Nations about the unintended consequences of the digital age. He calls this “the gathering force reshaping the world”.  He notes the internet is a scientific breakthrough like nuclear power which can be used for good or bad. He underscores that we have used technology for our advantage in the past but in this digital age this technology can be used for invasive surveillance. Alexa will be pretending to take orders but she will be stamping her foot for you to march. Your mattress will monitor your nightmares, your refrigerator will beep for more cheese, your front door will sweep wide when you approach the door. Everyone will be transcribing your every habit in some great cloud of data oppressively over the human race. We have no control when the precipitation take place. Humans are now a resource of data , which is the crude oil of the modern age. Who should own the data and how should it be used? Are we doomed to a cold future with computer algorithms as the emperor.  “Do we bequeath an Orwellian world designed for censorship, repression and control or emancipation, debate and learning?” He points out that the UN Joint Declaration upholds freedom of opinion and expression,  the privacy of home and correspondence and the right to seek and impart information and ideas.”  The mission of the UK and all who share our values must be to ensure that emerging technology are designed at the have the right safeguards….Industry is writing the rulebooks of the future…New advances must reflect our values.”

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