Joshua Kopstein is a journalist and researcher focused on the study and circumvention of government and corporate surveillance systems. They have been published in outlets including Al Jazeera, The New Yorker, VICE, Ars Technica, and The Verge, and infrequently authors Lawful Intercept, a newsletter about surveillance, technology, privacy, and power.
Smartphones and other networked objects now increasingly include systems and sensors that utilize biometric data as a means of access, turning our fingerprints, retinas and facial features into physical keys to our personal devices and data.
At the same time, governments and corporations have been gathering these same biometric signatures en-masse, with and without our knowledge and/or consent. With no meaningful legal or technical restraints, we must assume that state actors and private companies will use these immense databases to exert further control over citizens, including immigrants and other vulnerable populations that are already disproportionately monitored.
This talk will attempt to map the topography of government and corporate networks that capture and share our biometric data for a wide variety of purposes. We will examine the various enrollment "entry points" into these networks, from DMV photo systems to customs and immigration checkpoints. Finally, we will discuss various experimental tactics for reducing the privacy-eroding potential of mass-collected biometric data, including replaceable fingerprints and anti-face recognition.