The Switchboard: The NSA is harvesting web images for use in facial recognition programs


This file photo shows the sign outside the National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Published every weekday, the Switchboard highlights five tech policy stories you need to read.

Google invests in satellites to spread Internet accessGoogle plans to spend more than $1 billion to expand Internet access across the globe using a fleet of 180 low altitude satellites, according to Alistair Barr and Andy Pasztor at the Wall Street Journal.

NSA collecting millions of faces from web images. "The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs," according to James Risen and Laura Poitras at the New York Times. "The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal."

E-mail privacy hasn’t been updated in 28 years. This could be the bill to do it. "Thanks to a law that was written before 'Robocop,' law enforcement agencies are allowed to poke around inside your e-mail inbox without a warrant. Messages from six months ago are fair game. So are e-mails you've already opened. Other types of content we typically store in the cloud these days — photos, videos, documents, contacts and the like — also lack the Fourth Amendment protections that would ordinarily accompany their real-world copies," reports the Switch's Brian Fung. But there is a bill trying to change that.

Google's Motorola Mobility to Close Factory in Texas. Google's attempt to manufacture smartphones in the U.S. is coming to an end according to Rolfe Winkler at the Wall Street Journal. "The company's Motorola Mobility handset unit said Friday that it will close a factory in Fort Worth, Texas, by the end of the year," reports Winkler. Motorola, whose hardware business Google announced it was planning to sell to Chinese computer company Lenovo, opened the factory in May 2013."

If Ballmer runs the Clippers like he ran Microsoft. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is very close to being the next owner the Los Angeles Clippers. Hayley Tsukayama and Andrea Peterson ask the important question: Will he bring along stack ranking?

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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