#12 In Your Face

Amazon Teams Up With Police In Surveillance Tech Battle

Ad Hominem is a newsletter about the Advertising Data Economy and Surveillance Capitalism and how these forces engage with Humanity. This newsletter is one response among many to the data crisis we face as a society.


🌎 Here in America 🇺🇸

The contest over facial recognition is just beginning…

At present, the Federal Government of the United States is barely capable of uttering the word policy, but that is likely to change soon. In lieu of clear rules from Congress, state and local municipalities are beginning to take it upon themselves to provide basic protections for their citizens against facial recognition software. At the city level, Portland, Maine has passed a ballot initiative blocking facial recognition by police and city agencies (The Verge). At the State level, Massachusetts has now passed, through both chambers, legislation which bans the use of facial surveillance by police across the state (TechCrunch).

Police agencies are working in the other direction for more control and capability. In an unprecedented step forward in police surveillance access, the Jackson, Mississippi police will trial a program allowing them to livestream the Ring cameras of participating residents (EFF). The LAPD has ended its contract with ClearView AI, but is continuing to use facial surveillance systems with their primary contractor, DataWorks Plus (Medium/OneZero). In Ontario, the police were recently accused by the CCLA and CCF of improperly and illegally using a Covid-19 database (CBC).

Doubts are setting in…

People are tiring of the bleeding edge of technological life, and some are even stepping back to using “dumb” phones, like the author of this think-piece reminiscing on his first year back to basics without an iPhone (Medium/Forge). Facial recognition researchers, too, are having second thoughts about the results of all their innovation (Nature). The world is certainly changing faster than we can manage it. Lots of people are reconsidering their personal relationship to technology, as well as its relationship to humanity as a whole.


🌍 Around the World 🌏

  • 🇨🇳 A report from Amnesty International accuses three producers of facial surveillance software in the EU of failing to do due diligence to prevent human rights abuses resulting from use of their software by international regimes like China (Amnesty)

  • 🇻🇳 The government of Vietnam has threatened to block Facebook entirely if the company doesn’t comply with its wishes for tighter censorship controls (Reuters)


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- S