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The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

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The Los Angeles Police Department requested footage from Ring doorbell owners after Black Lives Matter protests in the city last year, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and shared with The Intercept.

The LAPD video requests reference that people were injured during the protests and that property damage was being caused, but the requests were not targeted at a specific crime. Multiple requests were made directly to Ring users, but details about which specific events the LAPD was referring to were redacted in the documents obtained by EFF.

“EFF has long warned that Amazon Ring and…


General Intelligence

But will the current bans last?

Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

OneZero’s General Intelligence is a roundup of the most important artificial intelligence and facial recognition news of the week.

The facial recognition industry has been quietly working alongside law enforcement, military organizations, and private companies for years, leveraging 40-year old partnerships originally centered around fingerprint databases.

But in 2020, the industry faced an unexpected reckoning.

February brought an explosive New York Times report on Clearview AI, a facial recognition company that had scraped billions of images from social media to create an all-encompassing database, and quietly gave it to thousands of police departments and companies across the world.

A ubiquitous…


In order to stop a power grab from surveillance companies and tech giants, we need to define what policing is

Officers watch the streets of Camden, NJ on high definition monitors from the city’s police headquarters on May 24, 2017. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

The weeks of uprisings across America in response to the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others have been overshadowed by just one thing: the response to that response. Protests against police brutality and violence have been met with unprecedented police brutality and violence.

As frightening as it has been to watch, the response also provides a glimmer of hope: For perhaps the first time, a serious discussion about defunding the police is taking place in mainstream American politics and media. “Regardless of your view on police power — whether you want to get rid…


‘It’s obvious to me that I’ve lost the trust of the city council,’ police Chief Dave Bertini said during a virtual town hall

A “like” sign at the front of Facebook in Menlo Park. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

One of the key architects of the “Facebook Unit,” a controversial team within the Menlo Park Police Department in California, abruptly stepped down on Friday, citing a loss of community trust. Menlo Park police Chief Dave Bertini announced his sudden, early retirement during a town hall forum about issues with local law enforcement.

Earlier this month, local residents protested the police unit, which is financially supported by millions of dollars from Facebook, the city’s largest employer. They demanded Facebook cease funding the Menlo Park Police Department.

Around 2016, Facebook approached the Menlo Park Police Department about creating a police force…


New research shows tech companies’ police involvement goes way beyond their products

Seattle police stand guard after dispersing a protest against police brutality and the murder of George Floyd outside a precinct in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington, on June 1, 2020. Photo: Jason Redmond/Getty Images

In a recent letter to executives, hundreds of Microsoft employees asked the company, among other demands, to cancel its contracts with the Seattle Police Department and other law enforcement bodies, OneZero reported earlier this month. In the days following, Microsoft announced a moratorium on selling facial recognition software to police. Amazon and IBM pledged similar commitments. But the relationship between technology’s biggest companies often go much deeper than contracts and product purchases.

OneZero reviewed published research and publicly available information that reveals how these companies are intimately involved with police foundations across the country and are represented on police foundation…


The Color of Climate

Getting rid of the police could remove a key environmental stressor of Black people

Police surround protesters gathering in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, to demand the defunding of the police force and to demonstrate against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s murder on June 1, 2020. Photo illustration. Photo: Erik McGregor/Getty Images

This is The Color of Climate, a weekly column from OneZero exploring how climate change and other environmental issues uniquely impact the future of communities of color.

When Kari Fulton walks outside in West Baltimore, she regularly sees cop cars patrolling the streets, helicopters hovering in the sky, or beat cops walking around the neighborhood.

“They’re there,” Fulton, a policy fellow with the Climate Justice Alliance, tells OneZero. But, she adds, “they don’t give a shit about the community.”

Baltimore is one of several U.S. cities where residents are calling for public officials to defund the police in the wake…


Police can access everything from “pokes” to private Messenger data — and increasingly do

In mid-September of 2019, Violet, a friend of mine, was jolted awake by a sound every activist dreads: the police door knock. She hoped they would just go away, but the pounding spread across the house. “One of the officers started whacking my roommates’ air conditioning unit with a broom handle,” she recalled.

When she opened the door, Rhode Island State Police officers told her she was under arrest and transported her to the police barracks in Lincoln, Rhode Island for interrogation. …


AmazonSmile generates donations for the Los Angeles Police Foundation, San Diego Police Officers Association, and others

Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket/Getty Images

To the millions of shoppers who use Amazon, the company features a clear and concise statement on its homepage in support of ongoing protests in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd: “Black lives matter, Amazon stands in solidarity with the Black community.”

But the company has, in recent months, come under increased scrutiny for its own racial controversies and for its sale of surveillance tools to law enforcement. The company’s popular fundraising platform is also channeling money directly to police departments nationwide. …


While posting content about protesters and other individuals may seem innocuous, or even helpful, Nextdoor users should be aware that in all likelihood, the police are watching

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

Several days into the Bay Area uprisings over the killing of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin, and communities on Nextdoor, a neighborhood social network, erupted in predictable fearmongering.

“A peaceful protest is 1 thing, but I think looters should be shot,” wrote a Nextdoor user in San Francisco. “ON — THE — SPOT!”

“I don’t own a gun but curious how others are planning to defend themselves of their property in case riots get violent,” wrote another.

Though posts like these are typically targeted to other citizens in the community, users may not realize that anything published on…


Police in Seattle, Austin, and Dallas, as well as the FBI have asked for images of violence and protests

Hundreds of protesters in Dudley Square demand justice for George Floyd in Downtown Crossing in Boston on May 31, 2020.
Hundreds of protesters in Dudley Square demand justice for George Floyd in Downtown Crossing in Boston on May 31, 2020.
Hundreds of protesters in Dudley Square demand justice for George Floyd in Downtown Crossing in Boston on May 31, 2020. Photo: Boston Globe/Getty Images

As protests engulf the country following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, law enforcement agencies with extensive facial recognition capabilities are now asking the public for footage of activists.

Police in Seattle, Austin, and Dallas, as well as the FBI, have all asked for video or images that can be used to find violence and destruction during protests over the weekend.

“Hopefully, we can pick her image up. If we can, we can do facial recognition, hopefully, and you know then we’d [sic] able to shed some more light on that,” police commissioner…

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