Ultrawideband Upset

Will ultrashort-range radio have far-reaching legal consequences?

3 min read

WiMedia, the next generation of wireless connectivity, is raising some interesting questions about privacy. WiMedia, which underlies consumer technologies such as Certified Wireless USB and the planned next iteration of Bluetooth, is based on the concept of ultrawideband radio. It uses short-range, very-low-power signals transmitted across a vast expanse of the radio spectrum—from 3.1 gigahertz to 10.6 GHz. Traditional radio, on the other hand, uses a much higher-power signal across a narrow band of spectrum.

In the United States, the authority to regulate use of the radio spectrum falls to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). U.S. courts have consistently ruled that the federal government has the power to regulate the airwaves, because radio is interstate commerce. But can the FCC really claim jurisdiction over the minuscule power levels used by WiMedia radios?

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How Police Exploited the Capitol Riot’s Digital Records

Forensic technology is powerful, but is it worth the privacy trade-offs?

11 min read
 Illustration of the silhouette of a person with upraised arm holding a cellphone in front of the U.S. Capitol building. Superimposed on the head is a green matrix, which represents data points used for facial recognition
Gabriel Zimmer

The group of well-dressed young men who gathered on the outskirts of Baltimore on the night of 5 January 2021 hardly looked like extremists. But the next day, prosecutors allege, they would all breach the United States Capitol during the deadly insurrection. Several would loot and destroy media equipment, and one would assault a policeman.

No strangers to protest, the men, members of the America First movement, diligently donned masks to obscure their faces. None boasted of their exploits on social media, and none of their friends or family would come forward to denounce them. But on 5 January, they made one piping hot, family-size mistake: They shared a pizza.

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