Salesforce employees ask CEO to reconsider contract with border protection agency


Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff at Salesforce Dreamfest 17. Employees at Salesforce sent a letter to Benioff asking him to reconsider the company's contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. SAN FRANCISCO – Employees at Salesforce signed a letter to their CEO Marc Benioff asking him to reconsider the company's contracts with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the latest in a string of staff protests at major tech companies over government contracts. More than 650 employees signed the letter, according to Bloomberg and Buzzfeed, which obtained a copy. The letter says Salesforce employees are aware that certain company products and tools are being used by CBP, and they are particularly concerned about Salesforce's Service Cloud being used in border activities. "Given the inhumane separation of children from their parents currently taking place at the border, we believe that our core value of Equality is at stake and that Salesforce should re-examine our contractual relationship with CBP and speak out against its practices," the letter said.

Amazon workers 'refuse' to build tech for US immigration, warning Jeff Bezos of IBM's Nazi legacy

The Independent

Amazon workers have written to CEO Jeff Bezos in protest of the company selling facial recognition tools and other technology to police departments and government agencies. The workers cite the use of Amazon technology by the US Department of Homeland Security and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, which have been criticised for enforcing President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy that has seen parents separated from their children at the US border. "As ethically concerned Amazonians, we demand a choice in what we build, and a say in how it is used. We learn from history, and we understand how IBM's systems were employed in the 1940s to help Hitler," the letter states. "IBM did not take responsibility then, and by the time their role was understood, it was too late.

Microsoft employees protest: 'Stop work with ICE over cruel border policies'


Video: Satya Nadella: The whole world is now a computer. A Microsoft employee protest calling on the company to cancel its work with Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) has prompted CEO Satya Nadella to speak out against the Trump administration's immigration policy under which ICE agents are separating children from families at the border with Mexico. On Tuesday, more than 100 employees signed a letter to Nadella demanding that Microsoft takes "an ethical stand, and put children and families above profits". The letter, published by the New York Times, calls on Microsoft to cancel a $19.4m contract with ICE for the provision of Azure Government cloud services. Microsoft boasted in a blogpost in January it was proud to be supporting ICE's IT modernization and that Azure Government would give the agency the ability to process data on IoT devices and enable it to use "deep-learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification".

Psychological impact of separating children

BBC News

Paediatric and child trauma experts are sounding the alarm that separating migrant children from their parents at the US border can cause serious physical and psychological damage. As more stories emerge about children being separated from their parents at the border between Mexico and the US, doctors and scientists are warning that there could be long-term, irreversible health impacts on children if they're not reunited expediently. The head of the American Academy of Pediatrics went so far as to call the policy "child abuse" and against "everything we stand for as paediatricians". "This is completely ridiculous and I'm approaching that not as someone who's taking a position in the politics, but as a scientist," says Charles A Nelson III, a professor of paediatrics and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School. "We just know the science does not support that this is good for kids."

'Surveillance society': has technology at the US-Mexico border gone too far?

The Guardian

Palmer Luckey, the virtual reality pioneer, left Facebook in 2017, six months after it was discovered that he had secretly funded a pro-Trump campaign group dedicated to influencing the US election through "shitposting" and "meme magic". The 25-year-old Oculus founder now has a new venture, Anduril Industries, this time supporting Trump's immigration policies directly through the creation of a surveillance system designed to detect unauthorised crossings of the Mexican border. Anduril Industries is one of a growing number of companies playing on the fear of "bad hombres" to cash in on government contracts for hi-tech virtual alternatives to physical wall. From drones and sensors to AI-powered facial recognition and human presence detection, these surveillance systems promise cheaper border control but at what cost to civil liberties? "These systems are reflective of advances in sensor and analytics technologies that are going to have serious repercussions for Americans' privacy," said Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the ACLU.

Ex-Facebook VR boss wants to build a 'virtual border wall' with facial recognition technology

Daily Mail

A former Facebook executive is spearheading a new Silicon Valley startup that hopes to build a digital wall at the US-Mexico border. Palmer Luckey, the 25-year-old who led Facebook's virtual reality unit Oculus, has now launched a firm focused on merging defense and consumer tech. Called Anduril Industries, the company is now working with Customs and Border Protection in California to test out its virtual wall, which has already found some success, according to Wired. Anduril has also set up several towers, equipped with antennas and other sensors, at a ranch in Texas to test out out the technology. There, the firm has constructed three, portable 32ft towers with radar, antenna and laser-enhanced cameras, as part of a system its calling Lattice, Wired noted.

Watch 958 drones create a 400-foot tall Time cover in lights instead of pixels


The iconic red border and masthead on Time magazine for the issue now nestled on newsstands wasn't created by graphic design software. The Time cover for the June 11 issue was instead created by 958 flying drones -- and shot by another drone. For the Time special-edition Drone Report, the magazine created the cover in the sky using Intel's Shooting Star, a fleet of drones and software used to create UAV light shows. The in-flight cover was shot in Folsom, California, on May 3, with the special edition issue available beginning today, June 1. Time's cover is the first that was shot on a drone.

US government to use facial recognition technology at Mexico border crossing

The Guardian

The US government is deploying a new facial recognition system at the southern border that would record images of people inside vehicles entering and leaving the country. The pilot program, scheduled to begin in August, will build on secretive tests conducted in Arizona and Texas during which authorities collected a "massive amount of data", including images captured "as people were leaving work, picking up children from school, and carrying out other daily routines", according to government records. The project, which US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed to the Guardian on Tuesday, sparked immediate criticisms from civil liberties advocates who said there were a host of privacy and constitutional concerns with an overly broad surveillance system relying on questionable technology. Already the largest and most funded federal law enforcement agency in its own right, the border patrol is part of the umbrella agency US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP's approximately 60,000 employees are split in four major divisions: officers who inspect imports; an air and marine division; agents who staff ports of entry – international airports, seaports and land crossings; and the approximately 20,000 agents of the border patrol, who are concentrated in the south-west, but stationed nationwide.

Homeland Security's controversial facial recognition system to be tested at Texas border this summer

Daily Mail

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is trialing a new facial recognition technology at US borders aimed at keeping track of people as the enter and exit the country. Called the Vehicle Face System, the project is being spearheaded by Customs and Border Protection at the Anzalduas Border Crossing, located at the southern tip of Texas, in August, according to the Verge. Sophisticated cameras will take photos of people arriving and departing the US and match them with government documents like visas and passports. The cameras are expected to remain in operation at the crossing for a full year. A customs spokesperson told the Verge that the purpose of the project will be to'evaluate capturing facial biometrics of travelers entering and departing the US and compare those images to photos on file in government holdings'.

DHS will use facial recognition to scan travelers at the border


Last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put out a notice, saying it was looking for a facial recognition system that could work with images taken of people inside their cars. The idea was that such a system could be used to scan people entering and leaving the country through the US/Mexico border and match them to government documents like passports and visas. Now, The Verge reports that DHS will be launching a test of a system aiming to do just that. The Vehicle Face System, as it's called, is scheduled for an initial deployment in August and it will be installed at the Anzalduas border crossing. The test will take place over one year and will aim to take images of passengers in every car that enters or leaves the US through the crossing.