Daily Digest (8/18)

DHS Signs $224K ICE Deal With Clearview AI; Census Bureau Under Fire for Missing Laptops; Australians Could Lose Search Services, Google Warns; Canadian Revenue Accounts Breached in Cyberattacks; Click “Continue reading” below.

DHS Signs $224K ICE Deal With Clearview AI

The Department of Homeland Security has signed an agreement Clearview AI to give U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) access to the company’s facial-recognition technology.

Under the deal, signed Wednesday, ICE spent $224,000 on the licenses, ZD Net reports. 

Tech Inquiry, the nonprofit watchdog, disclosed the documents, revealing that the contract would last until Sept. 4, 2021.

The combination of facial-recognition searches with ICE could be an explosive combination, ZD Net reports.

But this would not be the first time ICE has used this technology. Both ICE and the FBI have used state DMV records to search for undocumented immigrants. 

But Clearview claimed the service was only for “identifying perpetrators and victims of crimes.”

“Clearview AI is not a surveillance system,” company officials told ZD Net. “Analysts upload images from crime scenes and compare them to publicly available images.”

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Census Bureau Under Fire for Missing Laptops

The U.S. Census Bureau’s watchdog said the company was missing more than a dozen laptops containing personal information protected by federal law, The Associated Press reports. 

A management alert by the bureau’s inspector general said Census was unaware of the missing laptops from last year’s address-verification process.

The agency proceeded to start its once-a-decade count before the watchdog alerted them of the missing machines, according to AP. 

The laptops were among 55,000 that were to be shipped to a contractor for information-scrubbing last October, AP reports.

While the laptops were encrypted, officials were not certain the missing computers were wiped clean. 

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Australians Could Lose Search Services, Google Warns 

Google warned Monday in an “open letter to Australians” that the Australian government’s plan to make digital giants pay for news content threatened users’ free services. 

This could result in data being given to media organizations, The Associated Press reports. 

The company’s warning came a week before the public-consultation period closed on draft laws making Google and Facebook pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. 

Both companies have condemned the proposed legislation. 

“The proposed law would force us to provide a poor Google search, which could lead to data being handed over to big news businesses, putting free services at risk,” wrote Mel Silva, Google’s managing director, according to AP. 

The Australian government hopes the legislation will succeed where other countries have failed, making companies compensate media businesses for news content.

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Canadian Revenue Accounts Breached in Cyberattacks

Online services were suspended over the weekend by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) after accounts were hit in a third wave of credential-stuffing attacks. 

Canadian authorities said almost 15,000 online government accounts were targeted, with hackers gaining access to tax-benefits information, coronavirus-relief applications and more, Threat Post reports. 

Attackers also targeted GCKey accounts, gaining access to portals used by 30 federal departments and 12 million Canadians. 

Credential-stuffing attacks occur when hackers access usernames and passwords from previous breaches — and since early August, CRA officials have dealt with multiple hacks, according to Threat Post.

“Access to all affected accounts have been disabled to maintain the safety and security of taxpayers’ information,” the Canadian government said in a news release. “The agency is contacting all affected individuals.” 

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— By DPN Staff