Wired: Protests Renew Scrutiny of Tech’s Ties to Law Enforcement. “THE COLLECTIVE OUTRAGE over the murder of George Floyd has led to nationwide protests, renewed calls for police reform, and uncharacteristically swift support for racial equity from Silicon Valley leaders. The backlash has been swift as well. Critics are calling out many companies now pledging support for Black Lives Matter, accusing them of failing to stop racist language on their platforms and, in some cases, enabling the over-policing and surveillance that protesters now march against.”
The Next Web: Algorithms associating appearance with criminality have a dark past. “‘Phrenology’ has an old-fashioned ring to it. It sounds like it belongs in a history book, filed somewhere between bloodletting and velocipedes. We’d like to think that judging people’s worth based on the size and shape of their skull is a practice that’s well behind us. However, phrenology is once again rearing its lumpy head. In recent years, machine-learning algorithms have promised governments and private companies the power to glean all sorts of information from people’s appearance.”
Motherboard: This Secretive Surveillance Company Is Selling Cops Cameras Hidden in Gravestones . “Special Services Group, the vendor behind the brochure, does not advertise its products publicly. Its logo is the floating-eye-in-pyramid logo seen on the back of the $1 bill, which conspiracy theorists associate with the Illuminati, and the company’s slogan is ‘Constant Vigilance.’ The company is so secretive that, when asked for comment for this story, it threatened VICE with legal action if we published this article.” Mad-Eye Moody jokes go in that bin over there.
Fast Company: San Diego’s massive, 7-year experiment with facial recognition technology appears to be a flop. “Since 2012, the city’s law enforcement agencies have compiled over 65,000 face scans and tried to match them against a massive mugshot database. But it’s almost completely unclear how effective the initiative was, with one spokesperson saying they’re unaware of a single arrest or prosecution that stemmed from the program.”
Trib Live: CMU researchers develop tool to pinpoint source of gunshots using smartphone videos. “A tool developed at Carnegie Mellon University to determine the location of gunshots correctly pinpointed where the shots came from in the 2017 mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, CMU researchers said.”
University of Nebraska Omaha: UNO Faculty, Students Develop Database to Provide Real-Time Data Analysis for 911 Calls. “The new Law Enforcement Database gathers basic information, such as location, date and times related to the calls as well as number of calls received and related response times. The dashboard allows law enforcement personnel to filter for various information such as period of time, type of incident, or if there was an injury. The dashboard includes a heatmap, allowing users to drill-down on specific districts and see what trends are happening in any given area at any given time.” Hope they share it, sounds like a great idea…
Phys .org: Here’s what police know about digital evidence. “In today’s criminal justice system, a Play Station and iPhone are just as important pieces of evidence as eyewitness accounts. Yet, there isn’t a strong understanding as to how police officers identify digital evidence—everything from a laptop to a smart television—in the field.”
Techdirt: Amazon: Cops Can Get Recordings From Ring, Keep Them Forever, And Share Them With Whoever They Want. “Since its introduction, Ring has been steadily increasing its market share — both with homeowners and their public servants. At the beginning of August, this partnership included 200 law enforcement agencies. Three months later, that number has increased to 630.”
EurekAlert: Carnegie Mellon system locates shooters using smartphone video. “Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a system that can accurately locate a shooter based on video recordings from as few as three smartphones. When demonstrated using three video recordings from the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and hundreds wounded, the system correctly estimated the shooter’s actual location — the north wing of the Mandalay Bay hotel.”
PBS NewsHour: Genetic genealogy can help solve cold cases. It can also accuse the wrong person.. “From a law enforcement perspective, the case for using genetic genealogy is strong. But experts are also flagging concerns about what the method means for people’s legal and DNA privacy.” Deep dive, good reading.
Phys .org: New insect database to help with forensic investigations . “Researchers at Cranfield University are using blowflies and other insects to develop a database which will provide a complementary method of estimating time since death in forensic investigations.”
The Intercept: Google Continues Investments In Military And Police AI Technology Through Venture Capital Arm. “Rather than directly engage in controversial contracts, Google is providing financial, technological, and engineering support to a range of startups through Gradient Ventures, a venture capital arm that Google launched in 2017 to nurture companies deploying AI in a range of fields. Google promises interested firms access to its own AI training data and sometimes places Google engineers within the companies as a resource. The firms it supports include companies that provide AI technology to military and law enforcement.”