Daily Digest (8/19)

Privacy Apps Help Belarus Protesters Resist Internet Shutdown; Clearview AI Names Top First Amendment Lawyer to Legal Team; Secret Service Gains Access to Location Data With ‘Locate X’; Oracle Wants to Buy TikTok Amid Ties To CIA, NSA. Click “Continue reading” below.

Privacy Apps Help Belarus Protesters Resist Internet Shutdown

Amid the presidential election in Belarus earlier this month, protesters clashed with police — and internet service was down across the country. 

Rights groups have accused the government of internet censorship, but protesters used the privacy apps Telegram and Psiphon to skirt around restrictions during the Aug. 9 election, Deutsche Welle reports.

The networks’ connectivity was down 20% experts said, according to DW. 

Search engines, social-media platforms and most websites were offline. Even online taxi services were inaccessible for three days. 

Authorities blamed unknown international attackers for the disruption, but Belarusians believed the government tried to hinder the protests, DW reports. 

In a letter to the Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, more than 50 human-rights organizations accused the government of violating freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly. 

Sources (all external links):

Clearview AI Names Top First Amendment Lawyer to Legal Team

Floyd Abrams, a noted First Amendment lawyer, has been hired by Clearview AI to battle claims that the company has violated various privacy laws.

The facial-recognition company has been accused of selling data to law-enforcement agencies, The New York Times reports. 

Clearview AI has gathered billions of photos from various social-media platforms to sell a database it subsequently created to police agencies.

The company’s actions represent a threat to privacy, the Times reports, with critics saying that they make it possible for corporate clients to identify people through photographs.

“Litigation against Clearview AI might lead to a major decision about the interrelationship between privacy claims and First Amendment defenses in the 21st century,” Abrams told the Times.

Abrams added that the legal questions surrounding Clearview’s actions could eventually reach the Supreme Court. 


Secret Service Gains Access to Location Data With ‘Locate X’

The U.S. Secret Service has paid for Locate X, a product from the company Babel Street, to gain access to location data generated by phone apps. 

This sale, confirmed in an internal agency document, highlights the issue with law-enforcement agencies buying location information, Vice reports. 

Protocol, a tech publication, reported in March that multiple government agencies signed million-dollar deals with Babel Street, which launched Locate X in 2017, according to Vice. 

The product tracks the location of devices anonymously by using data from popular apps. 

Protocol also found public records showing that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) purchased Locate X. 

Both the Secret Service and Babel Street declined to comment on the sale.  


Oracle Wants to Buy TikTok Amid Ties To CIA, NSA

Oracle, the California-based computer company, said it was interested in buying TikTok from Chinese-based tech company ByteDance, according to the blog Gizmodo. 

Oracle sells database software and technology. The Gizmodo report was disclosed by The Financial Times.

But Oracle not only wants TikTok’s U.S. operations, but the company’s offices in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Gizmodo reports. 

Oracle’s ties to the CIA and U.S. Border Patrol run deep, with the CIA backing the company when Larry Ellison started it in 1977, Gizmodo reports.  

The federal government accounted for a quarter of Oracle’s billions in revenue in 2003, and Ellison repeatedly has defended the intelligence community’s tactics, according to the blog.  


— By DPN Staff