Best of the Checklist
The Checklist is taking a short break as we gear up for WWDC 2020 — but we’ll be back with all new episodes very soon. To tide you over while you wait, we’re sharing several classic Checklists which provide essential background to the week’s news. We’ll cover:
ACLU sues Clearview AI
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against Clearview AI this week in an Illinois court. Clearview AI is a facial recognition startup that has amassed an enormous database of everyday people’s photos. The 3-billion image database was created from publicly available photos which Clearview scraped from social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. The company sells access to its database — and its facial recognition search technology — to private companies and law enforcement agencies. Clearview has always maintained that their actions are protected by the First Amendment, but the ACLU suit challenges this reasoning, arguing that the practice of turning people’s photos into biometric data without their consent goes well beyond free speech.
Listeners of The Checklist may recognize the name Clearview AI from a past episode; we covered the story when it first began to attract national attention. For more background on Clearview AI — and some insight into why the ACLU may have chosen Illinois as its legal venue — have a listen to the first segment of Checklist 176.
Amazon bans face recognition for police
Amazon announced this week that it would be suspending the use of its facial recognition technology by law enforcement for one year. The move comes in the midst of the ongoing protests against police brutality and racism in the United States. Amazon says that it wants to give U.S. lawmakers time to enact regulations governing the ethical use of the technology, and has offered its assistance in the process.
The problems with face recognition technology — and Amazon’s involvement with the tech in particular — is a topic we’ve discussed before on The Checklist. For some more background on the issue, including why critics say face recognition tech has racial justice implications, check out the second segment of Checklist 154.
Honda struck by ransomware
This week, Honda became the latest major corporation to fall victim to a ransomware attack. The Japanese conglomerate suffered serious disruptions to its operations, halting production at plants around the world. The culprit appears to be Snake ransomware, a type of ransomware that targets files and processes used in industrial control systems (ICS).
Whenever a huge international company is digitally compromised — whether we’re talking about a ransomware infection, a data breach, or some other kind of intrusion — it underscores the fact that anyone can be affected by cybersecurity threats.
The good news is that there are some basic steps you can take to protect yourself, and to respond effectively to an attack if one does happen. As luck would have it, we’ve talked about this before on The Checklist! So be sure to take a look at segment two of Checklist 163 if you want a “ransomware refresher”.
The Checklist will return very soon. If you want to get in touch with us in the meantime — either to ask a security question or make a suggestion for a future show — feel free to write to us at Checklist@SecureMac.com.