Pocket App: Surveillance Technology

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Zoe Tabary, a Tech and Society Editor for Context, a news platform powered by the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in London, prepared a list on surveillance technology for the Pockets App collections.

We live in an age of unprecedented digitization. But with the ease of paying for a sandwich with your phone comes greater surveillance and the ability for authorities and corporations to track your every move—and limit access to services instantly, if they so choose..

Countries around the world are deploying technologies—like digital IDs, facial recognition systems, GPS devices, and spyware—that are meant to improve governance and reduce crime. But there has been little evidence to back these claims, all while introducing a high risk of exclusion, bias, misidentification, and privacy violations.

– Zoe Tabary in Pockets App Collections

The following list of Pocket collections with Zoe’s quotes in verbatim is reproduced here:

  • Surveillance Tech Makes U.S.-Mexico Border Even Deadlier by Avi Asher-Schapiro | Context. “Hi-tech surveillance like cameras, sensors, and drones on the U.S.-Mexico border is pushing migrants toward more dangerous routes, resulting in more deaths. For this story, which was part of our series on surveillance of refugees and migrants, reporter Avi Asher-Schapiro visited the Arizona-Mexico border to get a fuller picture of the impact.”
  • Mahsa Amini: Facial Recognition to Hunt Down Hijab Rebels in Iran by Sanam Mahoozi | Context. “Last year, we saw mass protests in Iran after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested over the country’s strict new hijab policy. During the protests, authorities used facial recognition technology to spot women who didn’t adhere to the hijab law, as Sanam Mahoozi reports.”
  • Surveillance Nation: India Spies on World’s Largest Population by Rina Chandran | Context. “India is the world’s most populous nation, and its 1.4 billion people are tracked constantly, through the biometric national ID Aadhaar. It’s linked to dozens of databases including bank accounts, SIM cards, and voters’ lists, as well as CCTV and facial recognition systems. Will a recent death—caused by wrongful arrest based on CCTV footage—bring on a turning point?”
  • Xinjiang to London: Chinese Surveillance Tech in the UK by Cormac O’Brian | Context. ““Over half of London’s councils have bought surveillance tech made by Chinese companies Hikvision and Dahua, both of which have been linked to Uighur persecution in Xinjiang province. We went looking for some of their cameras.”
  • Brazil Turns Facial Recognition on Rioters Despite Racism Fears by Leonardo Coelho | Context. ““When thousands of protesters vandalized Brazil’s Supreme Court, Congress, and presidential offices in Brasilia, police said they would use facial recognition—which is deployed widely in the country—to identify the rioters, despite evidence that the technology often misidentifies those with darker skin.”
  • “Digital IDs and biometric data systems were introduced in Afghanistan by aid agencies and donors to improve efficiency and check corruption. But these systems were not secured when the Taliban took charge in August 2021, leaving hundreds of former government officials, judges, police, and human rights activists fearful of being tracked by the militants. The bottom line: Even well-intentioned technologies can be turned into surveillance tools.”
  • AI Surveillance Takes U.S. Prisons by Storm by David Sherfinski and Avi Asher-Schapiro | Context. ““Dozens of U.S. prisons use AI to monitor inmates’ calls, ostensibly to keep prisons safe and curb crime. But critics say such systems violate the privacy of prisoners and other people, like family members, on the outside. Elsewhere in Asia and in Australia, facial recognition technology is being used in prisons for headcount checks and behavior detection, raising the risk of abuse of political prisoners and profiling of minorities who have disproportionately high incarceration rates.”
  • Migrants in UK Face ‘Degrading’ Surveillance Ankle Tags by Lin Taylor | Context. “Britain has stepped up its use of electronic tags on people detained
    over their immigration status so that the police and courts can monitor
    their location and keep them from absconding. But the devices generate
    huge amounts of data that violate privacy—on top of being degrading and
    stigmatizing, reporter Lin Taylor found.”
  • Saudi ‘Surveillance City’: Would You Sell Your Data to the Line? by Menna Farouk | Context. “In Saudi Arabia’s futuristic NEOM, residents will be paid for sharing their data from their smartphones, their homes, facial recognition cameras, and other sensors. It’s an innovation that could be the model for other smart cities—and a potential privacy nightmare, as Menna Farouk reports.”