November 21, 2020

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Amber Heard: Are we All Celebrities Now? 

By Amber Heard 

Since before I even had access to the internet, I was told that anything you post or share, or anywhere you appear online, stays there forever. Amber Heard, American actress and activist experienced non consensual “revenge porn” in 2014, along with numerous other people, mostly females. Intimate photos of her and other celebrities were posted on an online message board, and from there spread all over the internet. These photos were stolen by people that hacked the Apple accounts of these women. Over 50 of Heard’s photos were shared with people online, which she said was “humiliating, degrading, and life-altering.” The release of intimate photos unfairly forces women out of positions of power and deter women from being able to advance in their careers: according to Heard, Representative Katie Hill of California was forced to resign from office after nude pictures of her were shared without consent. Revenge porn, as defined in this OpEd, means that the sharing of these photos is focused on internet rather than consent. It shouldn’t matter why the perpetrator shared the images, it matters that the victim did not give consent for it to happen. In 2013, the first model statue to criminalizing nonconsensual pornography was drafted: only three states had laws against this. Now, forty-six states have laws against it. In Alaska, revenge porn is only a misdemeanor. Legislative reform will be what brings an end to revenge porn, and there are several organizations–Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, or C.C.R.I–that continue to work with the governments in states that have no law against sharing images. These states are: Wyoming, Maine, Mississippi, and South Carolina. 

The fact that revenge porn happens–and isn’t illegal in some states–is disgusting. What photos you choose to take and share should be your business and your business only. Not only is it humiliating to have your photos shared, it can cause depression and major anxiety, and in some cases have contributed to women killing themselves over it. I know many people who have had intimate photos of them shared around: in fact, an alarming amount of teenagers pass around others nudes with intent to humiliate or gain respect. It’s atrocious, and I would never wish that on anyone. Hopefully, stronger laws can be enacted against revenge porn. It’s up to the government to protect the privacy of people online, and ensure consequences are severe when those privacy rights are violated. This is an enlightening article, and shared a lot of points and facts I hadn’t thought about. Please, whether or not you send photos or could be affected by this, read this article.

November 21, 2020

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      In the op-ed, “How Your Phone Betrays Democracy”, Charli Warzel and Stuart Thompson explore how our phones contribute to destabilizing our democracy. They begin with images of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and the precautions protesters took in order to stay safe, “While protesters have rebelled by wearing masks, blocking government cameras with lasers and even tearing down lampposts they suspected were outfitted with beacons and surveillance equipment, their efforts are being quietly undermined by the spies in their pockets.” Any protester who brings their phone to a demonstration can be tracked and tied to the event. In the past, demonstrators have been able to stay anonymous, but in the era of iPhones, this is no longer possible. This isn’t just true in China, your data is also being sold without regulation. Although this may sound harmless, it has serious implications. Groups can easily get ahold of this data to intimate, coerce, mislead, or target people. Political campaigns already use this data for ad-targeting, but who’s to say what the future use could look like, especially with the lack of regulation in the United States.

      One thing that stuck out to me about this article was the list of nightmare scenarios for the use of people’s data. Some of these included, “Governments using location data to identify political enemies at major protests. Prosecutors or the police using location information to intimidate criminal defendants into taking plea deals. A rogue employee at an ad-tech location company sharing raw data with a politically motivated group. A white supremacist group breaching the insecure servers of a small location startup and learning the home addresses of potential targets.” In our increasingly digital and polarized world, the flaws pre-existing flaws in our systems will begin to take on new shapes. 

November 21, 2020

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As of June 7, 2015, there has been a show on Hulu called Love Island; this show consists of a group of men and women that come together in a villa for six to eight weeks to find love in order to win $62,000.  In this villa they are not allowed to leave, have no access to the internet, must be wearing swimsuits throughout the day, share a giant room together, and are being watched everywhere they go. There are about 72 cameras throughout the villa and although they sign a large pile of legal consent forms, most say that they completely forget that the cameras are even there or that they have microphones around their necks.

I have seen a few seasons of this show and it is beyond drama filled due to being locked in a villa for so long – which is what the producers are striving for. It is pretty concerning to see that they are being watched and listened to in every little corner, even as they sleep. Not a moment goes by where someone is not being watched, yet they forget that it is even happening. Yes, they signed consent forms but do the producers have to go as far as watching them go in the shower? It is simply a privacy issue that is a “norm” just because it is a show. It is a form of entertainment so even viewers don’t question what is being done because there is always someone – not something – to watch. This show started up in Britain and slowly made its way into the US and in Australia because of how many viewers it was getting. In today’s world, we are so used to the idea of being listened to through our phones, or Alexa that we simply turn a blind eye to it. This just makes the technology companies feel they have this right to violate our privacy and are going to continue to push to see how far they can go with it.

November 21, 2020

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Smile, Your City Is Watching You by Ben Green talks about the use of technology to watch and track people in urban areas. When walking through a big city like New York, people think that they can be easily lost in the crowd. Little do they know, many urban places like New York are “smart cities”, meaning they use many sensors and technology to watch and track people across the city. An example of smart city technology is the LinkNYC kiosks installed across New York City. These kiosks provide public Wi-Fi, free phone calls, and USB charging ports. However, it’s not just a useful public service, it’s built with sensors and cameras that track people’s every move and once they are connected with kiosks, the network will record their location every time they come within 150 feet of a kiosk. It also runs a type of data for every device that can allow access to personal information. These types of smart city technology also increases corporate profits, it’s a good way for companies to make lots of money and take information from people. If more of these technologies were installed, it would increase social control and it will be almost impossible for anyone to avoid being tracked. To prevent this from happening, the article suggests, “The way to create cities that everyone can traverse without fear… is to  democratize the development and control of smart city technology.”

I agree with this suggestion because if more smart city technology will be installed in cities, it will create public fear and increase power over the public rather than making the public feel like their city is protecting them. I am not suggesting that surveillance should fully be cut off, but it also shouldn’t be so excessive that it creates fear in the city. For example, the article gives an example of when Chicago installed sensors throughout the city to track environmental conditions like air quality, vehicle traffic, and temperature. Chicago held numerous public meetings to prompt discussions on how to protect privacy, and these discussions led to a reduction of surveillance around the city. Other cities like Chicago should respect the public’s privacy so that citizens can enjoy living in their city rather than living in constant fear. 

November 21, 2020

dundjtre Week 11

Link to Article

The article I read focused on how bodycams can be used to distort the truth when worn by police officers and how they also can invade our privacy. Psychologically, the body cams cause us to more likely alter our perspective when viewed from first person compared to a neutral third person view. The bodycams are supposed to keep the actions of police professional and accountable but as they are a technological solution to a human problem they don’t work as well as they should in theory. The control over the video footage from police bodycams is used to distort the truth because, “The New York Police Department failed to release bodycam footage in 40 percent of cases where it was requested by the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Yet when the footage is favorable to the police, it is often released or privately leaked within a matter of hours.” The theory for police body cams is sound but in actuality people are flawed and they can be misused for person benefit. Another topic this article covered was how people’s privacy can be invaded using body cams especially if facial recognition is incorporated into them. Police officers would be able to track where people went and who they associated with and all without needing a warrant.

I disagree with the way the article puts bodycams in a bad light because I think they really help remind police officers that they need to act professionally when on duty because of the power they are given. They are responsible for enforcing the laws and have been given the power to do so and it is only right that if they act out from what is necessary they should be accountable for their actions. I agree that bodycams are a great way to monitor police actions but I draw the line with facial recognition being added to the bodycams because it violates people’s rights to privacy and with how imperfect humans are there is guaranteed to be incidents when this technology is misused.

November 21, 2020

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The Flawed Humanity of Silicon Valley
The faults of big tech are not, as we would like to believe, all caused by singular businessmen. Like every other pressing issue, the overreach of big tech largely involves people who are “just following orders.” In “The Flawed Humanity of Silicon Valley” Charlie Warzel discusses “Uncanny Valley”, the memoir of former tech employee Anna Wiener. The book makes the point that data theft is only made possible by the “neutral” people in the middle; employees who don’t think about what they do and who’s uncritical thinking allows for blind spots. They think they’re “just allowing product managers to run better A/B tests” or “just helping developers make better apps,” they view themselves as “just a neutral platform.” Wiener also brings up the issue that there are only so many people working to monitor and keep the internet safe, and loopholes are usually caused by short staffing. Another problem is that since the internet is so young, the tech industry can quickly thrust ordinary people into positions of power “without qualifications or a how-to guide.”
I agree with Warzel. Even though many times big tech is malevolent, it is because there are people down the line who let it happen and don’t ask themselves Where is this all going? or What am I building? In that way, it relates to Future Problem Solving, where the objective is to think critically to find a problem then generate solutions for it. “Uncanny Valley” proves that not enough people have the capacity for thinking beyond themselves. This article can best be summed up with this quote: “What looks from the outside like a conspiracy or nefarious techno-authoritarianism is often just confusion caused by poor management, poor communication and dizzying growth.”

November 21, 2020

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Cities across the United States are banning facial recognition. San Francisco, Oakland, and San Diego are some of the many examples that have banned it. Activists, as well as a number of Democratic presidential candidates, have demanded for the ban of the technology. The aim of the ban is to stop it from creating bias against people of color, which is a reasonable cause, but not an ideal way to fight the surveillance system. Facial recognition requires the use of cameras to identify people without their knowledge or consent. Our fingerprints, phone numbers, credit card numbers, and license plates also identify us, and China uses these along with other systems to reinforce its surveillance. When we go about our lives, our data is collected and analyzed by data brokers, who then sell it to different companies. This is so that companies, as well as governments, can treat individuals differently through showing the viewer a variety of ads based on their information. It does not matter which identification system is used on us, but what does matter is that over time, we are identified. The main issue about facial recognition is that we are being identified without our knowledge or consent. There needs to be rules on the collecting and selling of our data, as well as the discrimination based on certain characteristics, such as race and gender. We are aware that companies and governments are spying on us via facial recognition and other methods of identification. What we can do about this is to discuss it with each other

November 21, 2020

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Article:https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/15/opinion/andrew-yang-privacy-internet.html

In the article, I read “We Talked to Andrew Yang. Here’s How He’d Fix the Internet” an interesting interview with presidential candidate Andrew Yang revealed his plans for fixing problems regarding online security and data management. Yang first explains how big online companies trick people into trading cost and convenience in return for their data, without giving it too much thought. Yang also points out that these privacy problems have been around for many years now but society is just now realizing how serious this whole issue really is. Yang then goes into the details of his plan to create what he calls the Data Dividend. This proposed dividend would force big tech companies to share a little bit of the economic value of people’s information back to the people. In the interview, yang says, “It’s only fair that we receive a portion of the money in exchange for our information.” This idea of a Data Dividend then sparks some questions about how this dividend might encourage people to give companies their information in return for money but Yang counters this argument with his idea of freedom dividends($1000 monthly dividends given to everybody in the U.S.) which would make it so that people don’t feel like they are pressured into giving companies their information to help pay bills. Yang also states that the Government needs to “be a counterweight to the massive power and information inequities between us and the technology companies.” He then proposes that in his ideal system people could see what’s happening to their data, have the option to delete their data, and be able to see a record or log of all the times it trades hands. Then the companies would do their thing and people would live with greater confidence that, if there are abuses, they’ll be made aware of that and can always pull the plug. In my coverage of this interview, I am just giving a general overview of Yang’s plan but I was not able to cover lots of details that make his argument more coherent and effective. In his interview, Yang presents some pretty far-out solutions to these privacy problems, but if you really think about it it will probably take a complete rework of the system to properly solve this complex issue.

November 21, 2020

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As the technological advancement of mankind further increases, more tools have become available for governments to use for superior control and surveillance of their citizens or the citizens of other countries. The possibly most powerful and widespread tool that has recently appeared over the past three decades is the smartphone. The smartphone first started out as Phones. Phones were first used as tools of communication but as the advancement of technology continued forward they would soon turn into smartphones allowing them access to the internet. This would evolve phones into something more convenient and powerful. This newfound convenience would also allow governments to gather data about everything the people did on their phones. This would include texts, calls, and emails. Along with the addition of GPS and the advancement of ai it would further push the government’s ability to watch its citizens through smartphones even turning off GPS and being extremely secure can’t stop it from happening as the phone still needs to connect to the cellphone tower. This is how smartphones are able to betray people’s freedom of expression and assembly. This is shown in China where they often have many protests as the people push for a more democratic system of government, but the government often uses the smartphones in their pocket as a tool against them. These smartphones allow them to see through the chaos of protests and figure out the identities of everyone there no matter how wary or secure they were. They then collect their information of the people who participate in the protesting events by releasing their personal information online. If people don’t start to focus on fixing the privacy of their electronic devices the ability of the government to manipulate the people will only increase making it considerably harder for people to make their voices heard.

November 21, 2020

Hambame Week 11

You Should Be Freaking Out About Privacy makes some excellent points about how we should fight for our privacy. We are constantly being watched and never really have privacy. Electronics have become a huge part of our society and make it extremely easy for us to be tracked and watched with the click of a button. Our “private” information can be sold online among people like an auction. They can make a profile all about you and use your information in scary ways. The video in the article asks where you draw the line for how much access people can have. Facial recognition, ad tracking, and government surveillance are just a few of the ways that your privacy is invaded. Not many people realize or think about the fact that they are being watched. It is a scary thing to think about and something needs to be done so that the government and others can not push the limits to the point of no return and create a dystopian future similar to 1984. There are good uses for this technology that help the police catch bad guys and such, but is it worth sacrificing our privacy over? We do not even know if all our ideas or likes are our own or if it was just pitched to us in an ad on Youtube. If we do not do something to protect our privacy now, then we could not be too far from becoming a mindless and thoughtless dystopian society.