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2021: Jan-March

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Ethical snooping...

GCHQ discusses the ethics of using AI and mass snooping to analyse people's internet use to detect both serious crime and no doubt political incorrectness


Link Here1st March 2021
Full story: Snooper's Charter Plus...2015 Cameron government expands the Snooper's Charter
The UK snooping agency GCHQ has published a paper discussing the ethics of using AI for analysing internet posts. GCHQ note that the technology will be put at the heart of its operations.

The paper, Ethics of AI: Pioneering a New National Security , comments on the technology as used to assist its analysts in spotting patterns hidden inside large - and fast growing - amounts of data. including:

  • trying to spot fake online messages used by other states spreading disinformation
  • mapping international networks engaged in human or drug trafficking
  • finding child sex abusers hiding their identities online

But it says it cannot predict human behaviour such as moving towards executing a terrorist attack.

GCHQ is now detailin how it will ensure it uses AI fairly and transparently, including:

  • an AI ethical code of practice
  • recruiting more diverse talent to help develop and govern its use

The BBC comments that this maybe a sign the agency wants to avoid a repeat of criticism people were unaware how it used data, following whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations.

GCHQ reports that a growing number of states are using AI to automate the production of false content to affect public debate, including "deepfake" video and audio. The technology can individually target and personalise this content or spread it through chatbots or by interfering with social-media algorithms. But it could also help GCHQ detect and fact-check it and identify "troll farms" and botnet accounts.

GCHQ speaks of capabilities in terms of detecting child abuse, where functionalities include:

  • help analyse evidence of grooming in chat rooms
  • track the disguised identities of offenders across multiple accounts
  • discover hidden people and illegal services on the dark web
  • help police officers infiltrate rings of offenders
  • filter content to prevent analysts from being unnecessarily exposed to disturbing imagery

and on trafficking:

  • mapping the international networks that enable trafficking - identifying individuals, accounts and transactions
  • "following the money" - analysing complex transactions, possibly revealing state sponsors or links to terrorist groups
  • bringing together different types of data - such as imagery and messaging - to track and predict where illegal cargos are being delivered

Now doubt these functionalities will also be used for more mundane reasons.

 

 

Problem snooping...

The Gambling Commission consult on a despicable proposal requiring bookies to investigate the financial standings of their online customers


Link Here6th February 2021
The Gambling Commission has a problem. It holds gambling business in utter contempt and thinks that bookies are suitable private companies to forcibly and invasively snoop into people's financial affairs.

The Racing Post editor explains better than the Gambling Commission how this proposal will pan out:

Nothing to worry about, then. Just a perfectly normal proposal that a non-governmental quango staffed by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats -- not even civil servants -- will determine a loss level at which you and I should be subject to checks on our personal finances. Just a demand that in order to continue betting if a couple of 25 each-way punts go awry, we must share payslips and bank statements with our bookie.

Well! Most punters would tell any betting operator asking for such invasive details of one's financial affairs to go whistle, but imagine for a second that you would subject yourself to such an illiberal and demeaning process. How would your capacity to bet be assessed? The Gambling Commission's consultation document gives some clues, and its suggestions should horrify punters and anyone who cares about the rights of the individual to manage their own affairs without overweening state interference.

First, it is essential to note that while proponents of affordability checks would have you believe these can take place seamlessly and without any inconvenience to punters by utilising information betting operators already hold or can access from credit agencies, the Gambling Commission states this is not the case, noting we would want to be clear that it is still likely that operators will need to collect information directly from customers.

So, let's say you are a daily 10 punter and after a fortnight of middling-to-poor results you hit the prospective 100 threshold for affordability checks. You reluctantly and with grave reservations hand over your most sensitive financial documents for review. How does the operator decide if you are barred from betting for the rest of the month and subject to punting restrictions for evermore?

According to the Gambling Commission, the most relevant way of assessing your capacity to bet before beginning to experience harms is through assessing what it calls discretionary income. This is what you have left each month after spending on essentials like taxes, bills, food and housing. Crucially, however, the commission adds it would not be expected that anyone could spend their entire discretionary income on gambling without experiencing harms.

As such, the Gambling Commission is not just suggesting your financial affairs should be subject to the sort of scrutiny you might find uncomfortable coming from your spouse, never mind Sky Bet, but that the sum of money you have left after meeting all obligations and purchasing all essentials still cannot be used as you see fit. This is a naked admission that this is not about affordability, but about prohibitionism and control.

Meanwhile there as an additional takeout from reading the consultation paper:

  • Bettors should simply never use bookies forums. The bookies are expected to crawl through people's conversations looking clues about people's mental state. So if you comment that you are a bit depressed that your bet failed you may find that you get banned on grounds of clinical depression.
  • Similarly bettors should think very carefully about what they tell bookies via helpline conversations or via messaging services. It is clear that the bookie's staff will be listening to every word wondering if what you say can be interpreted as some sort of clue about personal or financial difficulties.
  • Bettors should also consider whether using self control mechanisms such as staking limits or time outs may be interpreted as some sort of admission that bettors need to be closely surveilled.

 

 

Tracked to jail...

Thai government clarifies threat of jail for not using its covid surveillance app MorChana


Link Here9th January 2021
Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin has apologised on for sparking public uproar with his threat of prison for people who conceal their travel information.

Netizens vented anger after Taweesin announced that people might be jailed for not installing the MorChana contact-tracing app on their phones. Social media users pointed out that many people don't have smartphones capable of running apps.

Taweesin responded by apologising for the confusion on his personal Facebook. He clarified that the legal penalty only applied to Covid-positive individuals in the 28 red provinces who have no records of travel, including on the MorChana app. The penalty -- up to two years in jail and/or a maximum fine of Bt40,000 -- would be strictly applied in the five locked down provinces of Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat, he said.

The MorChana app identifies the Covid status of users according to four colour codes -- from green for low risk to red for high risk -- and tracks their location.

 

 

Offsite Article: Insecure wheels...


Link Here3rd January 2021
Police turn to car data to destroy suspects' alibis Looser privacy standards for vehicle data are a treasure chest of data for law enforcement.

See article from nbcnews.com


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