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Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

Imagine this: you sit down at your home desk, palms still perspiring over the stress of your upcoming test. You’ve studied and planned and drilled your brain into oblivion, but finally the moment has come to measure your academic worth. Only now, rather than squirm among peers in a college auditorium or fill a gymnasium, you are working in your own room, on your own laptop. Yet another unexpected reality of a socially distanced world.

But you’re not really alone. Beyond your gaze cameras precisely track your eyeballs as you skim the test. Facial recognition scans your face and the contents of your room and measures it against a database. Microphones monitor your muffled breaths. …


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Photo by Jonas Elia on Unsplash

What is your privacy worth? That’s a broad, general question that underpins the heartbeat of this newsletter. Worth, in that sense can be answered through the traditional capitalist lens (how much are you willing to spend on “privacy’), and it can also be answered on moral grounds, of how much should you care when the concept of privacy comes under attack.Then again, if you’re to believe the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world, the questions isn’t a question at all. Privacy, after all, according to them, is dead.

But there’s another way the “worth” of privacy is measured; not as a single value of itself, but rather of its value in relationship to something else. If you’ve read this newsletter before, this type of of value will sound familiar. Time and time again, governments around the world have sold the idea of privacy as sitting on one end of a weighted scale with “national security” staring it down across the seesaw. …


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By Scott Webb for Pexels

As the dust settles and the hordes of chanting protesters slowly disentangle themselves from the streets of major cities, the world is preparing to enter a new, and pivotal stage of a historic demonstration. Now, post burning Target’s and crowd filled bridges is when legislators and societal leaders are tasked with the job of implementing codified, long-lasting change through laws and reform. It’s this part of the “protest” movement that has for so long alienated people like myself who exist within the “younger generation.”

We are a generation (this protest consisted primarily of young people) who have become accustomed to grand proclamations of solidarity with little result. Occupy Wall Street, the 2014 Black Lives Matter protests, and the women’s march all happened within my lifetime, and yet none of them produced any meaningful long term reform. …


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Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

This post was originally featured in my newsletter, The State of Surveillance, which you can subscribe to below.

On Tuesday I felt the Earth shake. It rumbled, not from a sudden shifting of tectonic plates, but from the mass chorus of thousands of masked men and women shouting words of protest, cries of rage, and pleas for justice and peace. All around me, sharpie splattered cardboard boxes bobbed up and down amid a sea of protestors shouting through the swampy Manhattan summer head, their mouths shielded by an ensemble of technicolored masks.

These protests, in the wake of brutal police killing, continue on across the country and even beyond the nation’s borders. In some cases, as the sun sets, its warm embrace has been replaced by a furious fiery frustration engulfing buildings, vehicles, and police precincts in flames. Via passing whispers I’ve heard members of older generations compare the current mass protests to those of 1968, where America reeled from the assassination of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. In many ways they are similar, but in at least one way, the stakes have changed. Now, in 2020, just about every protestor is under state surveillance. …


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Photo by Thom on Unsplash

If you’ve been following the news much this week, one story, in particular, may have inspired a sense of deja vu. William Barr, President Donald Trump’s current Attorney General appeared in front of cameras alongside FBI Director Christopher Wray to explain how after several months of tinkering, they had managed to successfully crack the phone of the shooter and apparent Al-Qaeda affiliate Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani.

A quick recap of that shooting. Back in December of last year, Alshamrani walked onto a naval air station in Pensacola, Florida at around 7:00 am. Armed with a 9mm Glock handgun and several magazines of ammunition, Alshamrani roamed two floors of the building and opened fire, killing three and injuring eight more. …


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Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Several weeks ago I asked what seemed a provocative question: Will the Coronvirus Normalize Surveillance? Two weeks have passed since then and the answer, more and more, is a resounding yes.

I’m currently typing this from an apartment in New York City, an area that has become the beating heart of a rapidly expanding global pandemic. The numbers are bleak: over 89,000 confirmed cases in New York, with 40,000 in the city alone. Over 1,000 New Yorkers have died, some of their piling bodies reserved to the frozen coffins of vans and trucks.

It’s in this context, one of unprecedented fear and uncertainty, that governments and private businesses have stepped in to monitor your location data, but not necessarily in the ways you might have expected. …


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Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

This post originally appeared in my bi-weekly newsletter, The State of Surveillance. You can sign up for that here.

For most people living in Europe and North America, the past two weeks have been a whirlwind. City shutdowns, stock market collapses, quarantines, empty sports stadiums, canceled music tours, mass panic buying, and tragic tales of suffering are fast becoming the norm. And it seems the most aggressive rollouts of social distancing may indeed work to stop the societal bleeding, but the virus and its fallout will almost certainly get much worse before it gets better.

It’s in this bleak context, one mired by despair and laced with anxiety, where people will be forced to make some tough choices. One of those revolves around whether not to use surveillance technologies to stem the tide of new COVID-19 cases. …


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Image by Min An for Pexels.com

This post originally appeared in my bi-weekly newsletter, The State of Surveillance. You can sign up for that here.

Smart Cities. Odds are you’ve probably heard the term thrown around over the course of the last decade in newspaper articles or by some bright-eyed aspiring start-up founder claiming he could revolutionize your home town. …


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Image by Zach Stern for Flick.

This post originally appeared in my bi-weekly newsletter, The State of Surveillance. You can sign up for that here.

Coronavirus. It’s that nagging, just below the surface pull on everyone’s mind, and with good reason. With confirmed cases of the Coronavirus sprawling over 70 countries (as of the time I’m writing this on March 4) and over 90,000 confirmed cases worldwide, much of the world is just now waking up to some of the tough uncomfortable decisions faced by lawmakers when posed with containing a pandemic. …


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Photo courtesy of EFF Photos on Flickr.

This post originally appeared in my bi-weekly newsletter, The State of Surveillance. You can sign up for that here.

Clearview AI, the world’s creepiest facial recognition startup, just lost its entire clients list in a breach. The shady surveillance company that gained nationwide notoriety following a January New York Times investigation made a name for itself by scrapping over three billion photos from social media sites to its develop facial recognition program. …

About

Mack DeGeurin

Texas expat, freelance journalist. Work has been featured in New York Magazine, Motherboard and Medium. I’m on Twitter @mackdegeurin

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