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Articles by Michael Thompson

Computing Fear in Black and Brown Communities

by Michael Dean Thompson

Over 50 years ago, fear of crime was even then associated in the minds of governing bodies with Black and brown communities. An effort to combat crime based on that fear spurred the creation of software that has since grown to become the predictive policing systems ...

Arizona Wants to TRAC Your Financial Transactions

by Michael Dean Thompson

The State of Arizona’s Attorney General, together with the Phoenix Field Office of the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, has collected more than 145 million records of private financial transactions — and that number is likely still growing. The transactions were collected from companies ...

How Minneapolis Uses Controversial Technology to Spy on Its Citizens

by Michael Dean Thompson

Through a series of public records requests to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Unicorn Riot (a non-profit, media-based organization of journalists) has obtained rare insight into how the police department responsible for George Floyd’s death uses technology to spy on its citizens. In all, they gathered ...

The Mounting Geofencing Threat

by Michael Dean Thompson

The January 6th Capitol riot illustrates how geofencing warrants are threatening American citizens. As part of the investigations into the events, the FBI served a geofencing warrant to Google that demanded a list of all the devices in or near the Capitol during the attack. An ...

Automatic Speaker-Identification System Performs Better Than Humans

by Michael Dean Thompson

Many courts cases hinge on whether the voice or voices on a recording belong to a specific speaker, such as the defendant or a witness, who is unknown to the listener. Misidentification of a voice can influence juries and lead to disastrous decisions carrying lengthy sentences ...

Your Car Knows a Lot About You, and the Police Are Listening

by Michael Thompson

For years now, cars have allowed us to synch our devices with their onboard computers, giving us hands-free and Wi-Fi access along with a wealth of infotainment options. A user could be forgiven for believing the data is transient, i.e., temporarily stored during use and erased when ...

Electronic Freedom Foundation’s Atlas of Surveillance Helps You Watch Those Who Watch Us

by Michael Dean Thompson

The Electronic Freedom Foundation (“EFF”), working with journalism students at the University of Nevada, Reno (“UNR”), created the Atlas of Surveillance as a pilot from counties along the U.S. border with Mexico in 2019. Its task was to track how the police use technology for surveillance. ...

New York Police Department Joins Crowdsourced Surveillance Ring Neighbors App

by Michael Dean Thompson

The New York Police Department (“NYPD”) has announced its decision to join Ring Neighbors, a neighborhood watch system leveraging doorbell video sharing and collaboration. The announcement heralds a dramatic expansion into the digital arena of an already technologically sophisticated police force. Together with more than 2,000 ...



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