Inside the NSA & British Intel's Successful Hacking into Billions of Cellphones

In an interview with Democracy Now!, Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, spoke about the 'great SIM Heist.' It pertains to a published story by The Intercept by Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley about how the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, the GCHQ, hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe. On the significance of this news, Soghoian told Amy Goodman: "What we’ve learned just yesterday is that by hacking into one of the largest manufacturers of SIM card keys—or, of SIM cards and the keys that are on them, GCHQ has really acquired a huge amount of information that will make—that will make bulk surveillance of telephone communications very, very easy."

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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