George Joseph: Iris Recognition Technology and the U.S. Border Patrol (Ep. 108)

Iris Recognition Technology_Tech Policy Podcast_WashingTech_George Joseph

Iris Recognition Technology and the U.S. Border Patrol

One of Donald Trump’s main campaign promises was to build a border wall on the U.S./Mexican border. But can iris recognition technology be used instead?

Bio

George Joseph (@GeorgeJoseph94) is a reporting fellow at Demos focusing on surveillance, immigration, law enforcement, and the entry of big data in criminal justice systems. His work has appeared in outlets such as The Guardian, NPR, The Atlantic, The Nation, The Verge, Slate, and CityLab.

Resources

Demos

“Show Me Your Papers” Becomes “Show Me Your Eyes” as Border Sheriffs Expand Iris Surveillance by George Joseph

Migra!: A History of the U.S. Border Patrol by Kelly Lytle Hernandez

News Roundup

Trump attacks Zuckerberg, Zuckerberg fires back

President Trump attacked Mark Zuckerberg last week. The president complained on Twitter that “Facebook was always anti-Trump … The Networks were always anti-Trump.” He continued, ” hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?” So Zuckerberg fired back “Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.” Further, UNC Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci wrote an op-ed for the New York Times. In it, she denounced Zuckerberg’s rebuttal as more “both sides” false equivalency, pointing out Facebook’s record ad revenues last year.

Senate digs into social media’s ties to Russia

The Senate has called Twitter and Facebook to testify regarding Russian election interference. Facebook reports that 10 million users saw Russia-linked ads around the time of last year’s election. One of the ads reportedly showed an image of a black woman shooting a rifle. In the meantime, Russia is threatening to ban Facebook unless the company stores Russian users’ data on servers within Russia. Additionally, a new Oxford study has found that Twitter users shared more fake news, than real news, during the 2016 election.

Senate confirms FCC’s Pai to 5-year term

On Monday, the Senate confirmed Republican Ajit Pai to a five-year term as FCC Chairman. The vote was 52-41 along party lines.

Conservatives are railing against YouTube

Conservatives are railing against YouTube for taking down ads appearing on content YouTube deemed to violate its terms of service. YouTube says the move was part of an effort to remove hate speech. But those on the right say YouTube is just discriminating against them. Ali Breland reports in the Hill.

Senate unveiled driverless car bill

The Senate unveiled a driverless car bill. However, it doesn’t address driverless trucks. The bill places safety oversight with the federal government instead of the current patchwork of state laws. Moreover, the bill includes language on cybersecurity standards. Harper Neidig reports in theHill.

Trump and tech sector team up on $500 million education plan

Vindu Goel of the New York Times reports that a third of IBM’s workforce is now based in India–more than any other countryIvanka Trump last week announced a $200 million in Education Department grants to boost science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Further, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Salesforce are kicking in about $300 million. Cecilia Kang reports for the New York Times.

U.S. intrudes into social media accounts

Ron Nixon of the New York Times reports that he U.S. government will require all immigrants to turn over their social media data. Their social media data will become part of their immigration file. The order is set to take effect on October 18th. However, U.S. citizens are not immune from government scrutiny of their social media data. Zoe Tillman reports in Buzzfeed that the Department of Justice is seeking identifying information and data from three Facebook users. The users are now challenging the warrants. The Trump administration seeks to identify Facebook users who helped organize inauguration day protests.

Apple reports spike in secret national security orders

Apple reported an uptick in secret National Security orders in the first half of this year. Zack Whittaker at ZDNet reports that there was a threefold increase in secret orders issued against Apple users compared to the same period last year.

TechNet backs Trump tax plan

TechNet president Linda Moore wrote an op-ed piece for the San Francisco Chronicle in support of the the Trump administrations tax plan. Moore wrote that the current tax code is outdated and that the Trump proposal would clear the way for jobs and investment.

Securities and Exchange Commission charges two crytocurrency scammers

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is charging two scammers in connection with their sale of cryptocurrencies. ReCoin Group Foundation and DRC world allegedly told investors they could expect huge returns for their investments in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The problem is that the companies weren’t actually in operation.  Ali Breland reports in the Hill.

FCC’s has lackluster response to Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican victims of Hurricane Maria are stranded on the island without water, food, electricity or access to the Internet. What is Ajit Pai’s only proposed solution? Telling Apple to open up iPhones to receive FM signals. FCC Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called out the FCC on its non-response in Puerto Rico. She tweeted that during hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the FCC held network recovery hearings. But the FCC hasn’t held network recovery hearings in response to hurricanse Irma, Harvey, or Maria. Ali Breland reports for the Hill.

Senate confirms Makan Delrahim to DOJ Antitrust division

The Senate has confirmed Makan Delrahim to lead the DOJ’s antirust division. Previously, Delrahim worked in the White House counsel’s office. Harper Neidig reports for the Hill that Delrahim will head up the review of the $85.4 billion AT&T/Time Warner Merger.

EU threatens social media companies with fines for hate speech

Ivana Kottasová at CNN reports that the European Union has issued a final warning against Facebook and Twitter regarding hate speech. Mariya Gabriel, the EU’s top digital economy and society official, says flagged hate speech needs to come down quickly. Gabriel says that in almost a third of cases, it’s taking more than a week.   Some European countries are cracking down on hate speech with or without the EU. Germany, for example, is instituting $59 million fines for failing to remove hate speech within 24 hours.

 Dems propose $40 billion for rural broadband

Democrats are proposing $40 billion to boost rural broadband. Democrats released the recommendation as part of their “Better Deal” agenda released in July. Harper Neidig reports in The Hill.

Google separates shopping from search

Google acted last week to separate its online shopping unit from its traditional search. Some experts see the move as a concession to European officials who fined Google $2.7 billion over the summer. The European Commission had found that Google had prioritized its shopping results over rivals. The new structure will allow officials to directly regulate Google shopping. James Kanter has the story in The New York Times.

Equifax adds 2.5 million to data breach count

Ali Breland reports in the Hill that Equifax as raised its estimate of the number of people affected by its massive data breach by 2.5 million. Equifax has now brought the total estimate of affected customers up to 145.5 million.