Show cover of Technology Pill

Technology Pill

Find out how technology is reshaping our lives every day and explore the new powers of governments and companies.


What is Encryption? Codes, Keys, and Hashes
What do you know about cryptography? Have you ever wanted to get a better understanding of some of the maths behind encryption? This week we speak to Ed, a Senior Technologist at PI, about some of the history and basics of encryption. Find out more about encryption: - Computerphile on youtube ( is a computer science professor with a range of useful and accessible videos on encryption - Cloudflare have a helpful learning centre including this article on how encryption works and why cloudflare use Lava lamps to generate keys: - This is a helpful article on Diffie-Hellman including a diagram of the colours demonstration, which Ed discusses during the podcast: - This article is great for learning more about hashing: - And if you're interested here is the wikipedia page on the Skytale sticks Ed talks about ( Learn more about PI's work on encryption: - PI's main encryption learn page: - A PI report on the importance of End to End Encryption (E2EE):
55:18 23/03/2024
GPS tracking of migrants in the UK: Performative cruelty and dodgy tech
This week we speak to Mark Nelson, a car mechanic and father of five, who has been forced to wear a GPS tag by the Home Office for the past 20 months, and his lawyer Katie Schwarzmann of Wilsons Solicitors. The pair have been challenging the Home Office's ongoing imposition of GPS tracking on Mark in the courts and are now awaiting a judgement. We explore the legal case, the ways the tag hasn't worked for long periods of time, and a dubious AI the Home Office has been using in decisions as to whether someone remains on a GPS tag. Links - Read more from Katie's law firm, Wilsons Solicitors, about the case: - PI's Complaint to the ICO (the UK's Data Protection Authority): - Read more about relevant cases in which PI has filed witness evidence: - The five companies at the heart of the UK's GPS tagging system: - We tested GPS ankle tags, read how our experiment went: - Listen to our last podcast discussing GPS ankle tags:
43:54 13/02/2024
Good News: Things you might have missed in 2023
This week we talk about good things (or good-ish things) that you might have missed from 2023! Links Companies getting disciplined - Ovulation Tracking App Premom Will be Barred from Sharing Health Data for Advertising Under Proposed FTC Order - Facebook getting fined for data exploitation in Norway: - CNIL fines Criteo: - CNIL fines Doctissimo: - Worldcoin (aspires to be World ID) has been getting some pushback from some countries: Governments abandoning plans, or at least held to account - Kenya drops Huduma Numba and replaces it with new systems (it’s not any better and advocacy under way) but it’s still a sense of victory that they dropped Huduma Numba that caused some much controversy as highlighted by CSOs in particular through advocacy, research and litigation (which we supported led by Kenyan organisations like Nubian Rights Forum, amongst others) - MI5 win: - UK Supreme Court rules against Rwandan policy - Colombia at the UN Human Rights Committee - USA at the UN Human Rights Committee: - Brazil at the UN Human Rights Committee: Legal protections emerging - Proposed US Privacy Act: - New data protection laws adopted (they are not perfect but they exist) in India and Nigeria: Innovations - Apple deciding right to repair actually matters
53:14 15/12/2023
Generative AI: Our hot takes on deep fakes
This week we have a think about generative AI. After a concerning Guardian article about deep fake scams, we ask the question: did we really understand the risks when we started a podcast? The audio clips featured in this podcast episode are the intellectual property of Smart Energy GB (Clip 1), Kim Kardashian (Clip 2), the Hollywood Reporter (Clip 3) and Lucasfilm Ltd (Clip 4). All rights are reserved to their copyright owners. Other links: - Experience: scammers used AI to fake my daughter’s kidnap: - 23 and Me hack: - Deepfakes Can Help Families Mourn—or Exploit Their Grief:
45:02 20/11/2023
No Competition: Big Tech, Big Problems
This week we speak to competition expert Dr Deni Mantzari about competition, monopoly, and regulation. Are big tech companies monopolies? And if they are is that a problem? Since we recorded this podcast there has been an update on the Microsoft Activision merger: Links PI competition page (our "very influential work"): More about Dr Deni Mantzari: Ecosystems and competition law in theory and practice - a research paper about ecosystems: Power Imbalances in Online Marketplaces: At the Crossroads of Competition Law and Regulation - one of Dr Deni's papers looking at peconomic dependence in online marketplaces: Google Android European court case on abuse of dominance: and more info here: The Stigler Report: The Furman Report: German Facebook case:;jsessionid=202D25E3738EF7AB3AC859AD9C78C43C.2_cid371?nn=3591568 Meta Data Protection fine: The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Roomba decision: and PI's submission to the inquiry: The EU Digital Markets Act (DMA): The EU Data Act:
52:38 18/10/2023
Tech Assisted Abuse: How smart devices can facilitate abuse
This month we speak to Dr Leonie Tanczer about her work looking at tech abuse: the use of “everyday” digital systems (computers, smartphones, apps) to coerce, control, and harm a person or groups of individuals. This is increasingly prevalent in the context of domestic abuse - around 85% of victims and survivors in the UK have been subjected to some form of tech abuse. Links Refuge's Tech Safety resources: Refuge's Tech Safety smart home devices tool: Read more about Dr Tanczer and her work: Find out more about the Gender and Tech at UCL and sign up to the newsletter: PI's guides to improve your own device security: UK MPs discuss smart tech and abuse: Connected technology: MPs call on Government to tackle growing problem of tech-enabled domestic abuse:
43:30 25/08/2023
10 years since Snowden: Legacy, Law, and Litigation
In this episode we chat with Ben Wizner - Edward Snowden's lawyer, and the director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project - and Caroline Wilson Palow - PI's Legal Director about what it was like to be knee deep in the legal and policy responses to Snowden's revelations, holding British and US intelligence agencies to account for secret powers. Additional audio from The Guardian and from Channel 4 News via the Guardian Links What is Tempora? ⁠⁠ Taking angle grinders to the Guardian's hard drives: PI's legal cases: The ACLU's case challenging upsteam surveillance: The White House review of the NSA post Snowden: Hear from Ed Snowden directly:
50:26 28/07/2023
GPS tracking migrants in the UK: Who profits?
This week we're discussing the UK Home Office's practice of forcing migrants to wear GPS ankle tags or carry GPS fingerprint scanners. Find out more about the policy, its impact on people, how the trackers work and why we think its wrong for a company to profit from all of this. Links Send Capita an email at: Find out more on our website about the campaign: Watch the full video testimonies - video 1: video 2:
51:23 23/06/2023
Election Observation: Data, Elections and a trip to Kenya
This week we’re joined by Lucy and Laura to discuss the use of technology in elections, and their time monitoring the Kenyan Presidential Election in 2022. Links Human rights abuses including unlawful killings by police, violence at Kenya's 2017 election: Claims of fraud from Kenya's last election: PI and the Carter Center's joint election report: Challenge to the 2022 election result and Supreme Court decision: More about the use of data in elections: Our data and elections checklist:
36:46 05/05/2023
Protecting the protectors: a case from Colombia
This week we're speaking to Claudia Duque an Human Rights Defender and journalist for over 25 years, reported on crimes occurred during armed conflict and Emi, a Colombian lawyer defending press freedom. Claudia has been subjected to death threats, and was given official protection by the Colombian Government, including an armoured car. However, that protection was used to surveil her, including through a GPS tracker installed in the car without her knowledge. Listen to find out more! Links The organisation who put us in touch with Claudia is called Media Defence, they are an international human rights organisation which provides legal defence to journalists, citizen journalists and independent media around the world who are under threat for their reporting. Find out more about them and their work: You can also read more about Claudia, her work, and the cases she's taken forward on Media Defence's website: Claudia's case against the former Administrative Department of Security: More about Claudia: If you're a climate activist fearing surveillance, these tips might be handy: For more detail on the surveillance experiences faced by human rights defenders, read: To read more about GPS technology, visit:
45:29 05/04/2023
MI5 Lied...for years: a win for privacy
In January 2023, the UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal handed down a landmark judgment. The Tribunal held that there were “very serious failings” at the highest levels of MI5 - the UK's domestic intelligence agency - to comply with privacy safeguards from as early as 2014, and that successive Home Secretaries did not to enquire into or resolve these long-standing rule-breaking despite obvious red flags. In this episode, we talk to Meg Goulding, a lawyer at the UK-based campaigning organisation, Liberty, who was a solicitor instructed on the case, and Nour Haidar, a lawyer and member of the legal team at PI to discuss what this ruling actually means for the ongoing fight against mass surveillance. The way our data was handled by MI5 amounts to a significant intrusion into potentially millions of people’s fundamental right to privacy. This case was a critical mechanism of holding MI5 accountable for failing to handle the data they hold in a lawful manner. Agencies tasked with protecting national security process huge amounts of sensitive information. Due to the nature of their work, their operations can’t be subjected to the same levels of scrutiny and transparency that we can demand of other government institutions, yet they are not above the law. That is why this case is so important: it is one of the only tools we have to ensure that our right to privacy is respected by the UK intelligence agencies. Links - PI's Case page for Liberty and PI v Security Service and Secretary of State for the Home Department IPT/20/01/CH - PI's Q&A explaining the judgment - Liberty's case page - PI's Long-read explaining arguments in the case, including key disclosure - Home Secretary statement "as compliant as possible"
64:34 03/03/2023
Producing Real Change: Our 2022
This week we're having our own little christmas party, discussing things we've achieved throughout 2022.  Read more about the things we've achieved throughout the year, and donate to PI as much or as little as you can afford. Credits:   As ever, with a huge thank you to Sepia!  dj997 via freesound acclivity via freesound Marta Tsvettsikh via freesound CNN Sky News
30:22 23/12/2022
How to Investigate Digital Forensics: Speaking to the UK's Former Forensics Regulator
This week we speak  to Gillian Tully, the UK’s former forensic regulator about the  importance and challenges that come with trying to ensure that forensic  evidence submitted in court is of a high quality. Links More about Gillian Tully: Original Phone Extraction podcast: GOS tag complaint: Challenge to systemic quality failures of GPS tags submitted to Forensic Science Regulator Why Forensics Matter: Immigration officers and the quality of evidence in the UK: Push This Button For Evidence: Digital Forensics: Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists: Unpacking the evidence elasticity of digital traces: Forensic science and the criminal justice system: a blueprint for change (House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee report): NIST Computer Forensics Tool Testing Program (CFTT) Post Office Horizon scandal: With my fridge as my witness?!
43:50 16/12/2022
Corporate Power with Cory Doctorow
This week we're talking to Cory Doctorow about his new book Chokepoint Capitalism - coauthored with Rebecca Giblin, his as yet unpublished next book The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation, and how corporate power is shaping our rights. Quick corrections!  - GDPR compensation is in theory possible through court action: - GDPR Article 80(2) not Section 20 something as I stated!  Links - Cory's website: - Chokepoint Capitalism coauthored with Rebecca Giblin: - Giphy and Meta: - Chokepoint Capitalism: the audiobook: - How to leave dying social media platforms (without losing your friends): - Cory on Mastodon: and - PI on Mastodon: - Crad Kilodney documentary: - Algorithms Exposed: or - Bush V Gore election scandal: - Goldacre report: - Amazon and NHS: - Rida Qadri: and some of her writing on tuyul apps: - Oh for fuck's sake, not this fucking bullshit again : - Dan Kaminsky's work on Colour blindness: - How to get the most out of your Data Subject Access Request:
95:30 09/12/2022
EdTech needs Schooling
This week we're talking about Education Technology: what is it? Why are  schools using it? Is it safe? How can we make sure that children aren't  being asked to sacrifice their right to privacy in order to access  their right to an education? Links - Read more of our work on EdTech: - Find out more about Google Classroom in Denmark: - Taser drones: - We're tracking the use of EdTech around the world, you can find out more here:
47:02 17/11/2022
Got PimEyes on you
This week we speak to Sebastian Meineck, a journalist from Netzpolitik about PimEyes, a free(ish) face search engine similar to Clearview, but for public consumption.  Please note this podcast was recorded before Sebastian and Netzpolitik were able to talk to PimEyes CEO Gobronidze in person. You can read that interview here: Links Find more of Sebastian's work here: More of Netzpolitik's work on PimEyes here: Read more of PI's work on facial recognition: And our work on Clearview:
35:20 23/09/2022
Maternal Health and Family Planning in the Middle East: Gender and Power
In this episode, Alexandrine Pirlot de Corbion, our Director of  Strategy, speaks to Nour El Arnaout, from the Global Health Institute,  American University of Beirut, Lebanon and Yousef Khader, from the  Global Health Development, Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network  and the Faculty of Medicine, Jordan University of Science and  Technology, Jordan, about digital health in the Middle East and North Africa and in particular digital maternal health and family planning  initiatives they are working on, the impact of gender inequality, and  the risks involved. Nour El Arnaout is a division manager at the Global Health Insitute at the American University of Beirut, where she also co-ordinates the Institutes's  E-Sahha programme focussed on e-health and digital  health. She has more than 7 years experience in projects and programmes  management, operational management and research, and leads the  implementation of large scale field based projects in underserved communities in Lebanon including refugee settlements. She is working on a project called: The Gamification, Artificial Intelligence and mHealth Network for Maternal Health Improvement. Yousef Khaderb is a professor of Epidemiology and biostatistics at the Faculty of Medicine at the Jordan University of Science and Technology, he is a fellow for public health at the royal college of physicians UK through distinction and has published more than 650 scientific papers in highly reputable journals. He is working on a project called: Governing Digital Personal Data to Strengthen Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Services Delivery in Fragile Settings in Palestine and Jordan. Both projects are funded by IDRC: Links - Read more from Yousef and Nour about their projects, and gender and power in maternal health: - Read more about Nour's project: - You can read more from Yousef in the below papers which he contributed to:         - Midwives and women's perspectives on family planning in Jordan: human rights, gender equity, decision-making and power dynamics:         - Perceptions Toward the Use of Digital Technology for Enhancing Family Planning Services: Focus Group Discussion With Beneficiaries and Key Informative Interview With Midwives:         - Do modern family planning methods impact women's quality of life? Jordanian women's perspective:
50:32 05/08/2022
Talking to People about Privacy
This week we talk to Ina Sander from Cardiff University about how to talk to people about  privacy, drawing on her research looking at how to teach 'critical data  literacy' in schools.    Links You can find a resource for teachers we've been working with Ina on here:   You can read more about critical data literacy here:   You can find the database of resources for teaching about big data and algorithmic systems Ina mentions here:   You can find PI's guides to help you and your loved ones protect yourselves online:
36:13 10/06/2022
The EU, the Sahel and the Externalisation of Surveillance
While being the world’s largest provider of aid, Europe also exports  surveillance around the world by training police, providing surveillance  techand building widescale databases. While the benefits for European arms and security companies is clear, how this helps those it’s supposed to is less obvious. We sat down with investigative journalist Giacomo to talk more about  the impact of this financial flow to security forces and surveillance. Links Giacomo’s report on Europe’s Shady Funds to Border Forces in the Sahel Giacomo’s report on The European Chase for Saharan Smugglers Privacy International’s disclosures on the EU’s surveillance aid You can follow Giacomo at @giacomo_zando
105:09 03/06/2022
Surveillance: Made in Italy and sold around the world
Hundreds of  companies around the world which develop and sell surveillance tech used  to spy on people, making everything from malware used by governments to  hack into phones to mass internet surveillance tools to monitor nationwide internet traffic. Italy is one of the main producers. We spoke to investigative journalists Lorenzo and Riccardo from IRPI Media who have been digging into these companies. Links You can check out IRPI Media at Their series on surveillance (in Italian) is at Their report on Med-Or (in English) is at Their report on Cy4Gate (in English) is at
52:16 27/05/2022
Violence at the EU’s borders: Tech and surveillance in Europe’s Human Rights Crisis
The migration crisis in 2015 brutally exposed the divisions in Europe. People who fled  war and make it to Europe are being met with violence and intrusive  surveillance at the border at the hands of state authorities. We sat down with Natalie & Sergio from the Border Violence Monitoring Network to learn more about the situation at Europe’s borders. This is the first episode in our Border Surveillance series. Join us next week for Surveillance: Made in Italy and sold around the world. Links Josoor International Solidarity’s website is at No Name Kitchen’s website Border Violence Monitoring Network’s Website is at Their reports documenting violence and trends in Greece and the Balkans route are at Lighthouse Report’s investigations on pushbacks in the Aegean are available at Privacy Internationa’s disclosures on the EU’s surveillance aid
105:24 20/05/2022
Upcoming: Border Surveillance
This is a brief programming note. The next three weeks we'll be releasing episodes of a new mini-series looking at how surveillance is  spreading around the world, driven by Europe’s war on migration and a  complex web of surveillance and arms companies. Join Edin, PI's advocacy director, and some fascinating guests every Friday for the next three weeks for: Border Surveillance.  Then we'll be back to our Technology Pill episodes. Enjoy!
02:07 18/05/2022
Corporate Spies Gone Wild
This week talk to Franz Wild from the Bureau of Investigative Journalists to discuss how the UK became a haven for the private intelligence industry and how corporate spies have been allowed to run wild. Links: The Enablers by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism: PI’s report: Submit your podcast questions: Sign up to our mailing list:
33:28 06/05/2022
Not Fine: A Clearview Update
This week's episode is a grab bag of Clearview updates - from our latest campaign to their latest fine.  Links Italy fine: Our legal action:;  The ICO decision: Use of Clearview AI by police illegal under Belgian law, says Belgian interior minister: Clearview in Ukraine: Washington Post article: The pledge:
22:18 15/04/2022
NSO Group: Civil society's battle against government hacking
This week we're taking a look at NSO Group - a tech firm that sells a hacking capability to governments around the world - and government hacking more generally.  Links - Edin mentioned 'a journalist and her son' being targeted; their names are Carmen and Emilio Aristegui. You can find out more about people targeted in Mexico by a government buyer of NSO Group tech: - Keep up to date with ongoing litigation against NSO Group around the globe here: - Read our report, together with Amnesty International and SOMO, on NSO Group's corporate structure here: - Find more examples of harm involving NSO group here: - As revelations about the abuses of NSO Group's spyware continue, we took a look at what is being done around the world to challenge the surveillance tech industry and the powers they sell, see our call for a multi-pronged approach here: Taming Pegasus: A Way Forward on Surveillance Tech Proliferation - See how hacking can be used at a protest and how you can minimise risks to your data here: - Government hacking poses unique and grave threats to our privacy and security, here are our recommendations for necesssary safeguards around government hacking: - Q&A: PI case - UK High Court judgment on general warrants and government hacking explained:
41:52 22/03/2022
Update: Marketing, Maternity, and the data supply chain
In 2020, two weeks before the UK headed into the first nationwide lockdown, we published a podcast about a marketing company being given access to hospital maternity wards. Now, almost 2 years to the day, we're coming back to you with an update about how companies operating data broking services, as Bounty did, are causing headaches for brands using personal data for targeted advertising. Links More information about how Bounty illegally exploited the data of 14 million mothers and babies: Sign up to our corporate exploitation email list to find out more about our work on brands and the advertising supply chain: Original podcast: ---------- Orginally Recorded 12th March 2020.  We can’t believe we’re having to say this, but the hours after giving birth are private. If you’re a parent, you may have heard of Bounty, a  sales and marketing company allowed access to hospital maternity wards and approach women who have just given birth. This doesn’t happen on any other hospital ward. Can you imagine coming round from major surgery to find a stranger trying to sell you stuff? The physical invasion of  privacy is bad enough, but delving into the company’s relationship with you and your baby’s personal data reveals some surprises.
40:24 04/03/2022
2021: Looking back
This episode we look back at the predictions we made about 2021, What turned out to be true? What turned out better than we could have hoped? What turned out worse?  Links Our predictions from 2021: Clearview UK provisional fine: Clearview legal trouble in France: Clearview investments: TRIPS waiver: Travel podcast: Patent-free vaccine: Mental health podcast: David works for the Mental Health Foundation: Google unionise: The 'Great Resignation': PI has been working with two unions on our managed by bots campaign: Complicated history of plagues and workers: Indian National Education Plan: Ugandan Election: Crypto mining trouble: US commitment to reduce methane: Cop26 commitments: Apple's valuation: Facebook value drop: The Metaverse: Predictions for 2022:
22:18 04/02/2022
2022: Looking forward
In this episode we look forward at the rest of 2022 and make our predictions about what to look out for in the year ahead.  Links Teens and Facebook: Frances Haugen and Instagram: Facebook and Metaverse: Metaverse and Bandwidth: EFF on new Google replacement for cookies: Google's follow up plan to replace cookies: EV cars and the national grid: The gates of hell: South Africa, Omicron, and travel: Patent-free covid vaccine: Covid vaccine plastic bag shortage: James Webb telescope: Human trails for Elon Musks' brain chip:
33:31 04/02/2022
Christmas Present Privacy
Merry Christmas. We hope you enjoy your day tomorrow. This week we're bringing you tips for how to spot and deal with things that worry you about the gifts you or your kids may recieve tomorrow. Links Donate to PI and get your facemask: Mozilla's *privacy not included project: US PIRG's Trouble in Toyland: Roomba home maps: and concerns from 2017 about Roomba sharing that information: ICO advice: Our guides for protecting yourself from online tracking: Our Amazon Ring report "One Ring to Watch Them All" Find out more about our legal work: Extra audio credit details in order of appearance: acclivity (sleigh bells) dj997 (additional bells) Marta Tsvettsikh (fire sound) waxsocks (ding dong merrily) bilwiss (music box/silent night)
38:36 24/12/2021
Tech Research: includes a free gift
Today we're launching our Data Interception Environment for everyone to use. We've used it to research everything from low cost phones, to menstruation apps, and now we’re making it available so that you can do your own research on how your apps use your data. Links You can read more about the DIE, including some of the research we've done that's used it here: You can find our work about apps sharing data with Facebook here: You can download the DIE to have a go with it yourself here:
43:02 17/12/2021

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