Google's corporate slogan – "Don't be evil" – has always bothered me. No one should "be" evil, of course. But why did Google need to spell out its determination to avoid Satan and all his works with such vehemence? When a husband declares to his wife that he would never dream of taking a mistress, or a chief executive interrupts a board meeting to announce that she isn't embezzling the company's funds, the audience is entitled to wonder if they're listening to the voice of a guilty conscience.
At present, hundreds of millions of people find the idea that Google could be evil unthinkable. It has so weaved itself into the fabric of everyday life that it has gone from being a proper noun to a verb: "I google"; "You google"; "The whole world googles". I doubt many users think of it as a business at all. The simple home page carries no adverts or PR puffs; it feels as much a public space as the street outside your door. When you reach the search results, Google does not call the adverts running down the side "adverts" but "sponsored links", as if it were a charity and philanthropists were helping further its noble endeavour.
To be fair, Google does have touches of nobility. It showed real guts when it stood up to the Chinese Communist party and refused to censor searches by Chinese users on the regime's behalf. But it remains a business, which exists by selling its users to its advertisers. Most on the net have yet to grasp that when they are on free sites – Facebook and Twitter as well as Google – they are not citizens enjoying a public service or customers whose wishes must always come first. They are the product whose presence the site owners sell to the real customers in advertising...
On CCTV, no-one can hear you scream.
But technology from a UK company now means cameras can tell if you're being aggressive or calling for help - and will alert security guards straight away.
Cambridge firm Audio Analytic has produced software which it said can analyse the pitch, tone and intonation of noises and work out if they pose a threat.
"A lot of incidents just can't be picked up by video only systems," said Chris Mitchell, Audio Analytic's boss, on BBC World Service's Digital Planet.
"For example in a hospital where somebody, or a nurse, is being threatened early hours in the morning - that's a very difficult thing for CCTV guards who monitor hundreds of channels worth of video signals on 20 screens or so to pick up."
The software goes beyond simply placing microphones onto cameras and listening in. By feeding hundreds of sample sounds into the system, the software can distinguish different threats from various sounds - and not just based on volume.
"We don't work with volume at all in the system because it's so related to how far somebody is from the microphone that it's not a useful metric.
"Our system picks out the most salient characteristics. These are things related to pitch, tone, intonation...."
School districts are turning to high-tech solutions — from fingerprint scans to electronic cards — to track kids on school buses and keep them from getting off at the wrong stops.
The latest: A fingerprint scanning system, approved this month for testing at the Desert Sands district, northeast of San Diego. Students will be scanned as they get on and off the bus.
"Kids get lost. It happens in every school district, every year," says John DeVries, president of Global Biometrics Security, which developed the Biometric Observation Security System (BOSS) that's being tested...
Employee timecards are gradually disappearing from the workplace, along with factory whistles and other relics of a bygone labor era.
Many hospitals, schools and businesses are converting from punch cards for non-salaried workers to biometric time clocks that eliminate paper trails and prevent employees from goosing their hours.
Biometric time clocks refer to computer-based systems that first capture some form of biometric data, such as iris scans, finger images and facial images. The computer system then extracts unique data points (i.e. fingerprint whirls and ridges) and formulates a biometric template used to verify and employee’s identity.
In other words, it’s similar to flashing photo IDs, except instead of visually matching an employee’s face with the picture on his or her card, a scanner digitally matches, say, an employee’s hand to his or her stored biometric data.
Not all employees are thrilled with having their private biometric data stored, though, and some have even questioned its legality.
Although federal law doesn’t prohibit workplaces from implementing biometric time and attendance systems, some states have taken legal action in order to protect employees’ privacy rights...
Well just as The Wall Street Journal has found a new punching bag in RapLeaf, Facebook may step back into privacy-abuse limelight. Cnet has learned that the social network has filed a patent application for ad-targeting technology based on a friends’ interests — in other words, inferential targeting...
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against three agencies of the Department of Justice (DOJ) today, demanding records about problems or limitations that hamper electronic surveillance and potentially justify or undermine the Administration's new calls for expanded surveillance powers.
The issue has been in the headlines for more than a month, kicked off by a New York Times report that the government was seeking to require "back doors" in all communications systems -- from email and webmail to Skype, Facebook and even Xboxes -- to ease its ability to spy on Americans. The head of the FBI publicly claimed that these "back doors" are needed because advances in technology are eroding agents' ability to intercept information. EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the DOJ Criminal Division to see if that claim is backed up by specific incidents where these agencies encountered obstacles in conducting electronic surveillance.
"The sweeping changes the government is proposing, to require 'back doors' into all private communications technologies, would have enormous privacy and security ramifications for American Internet users," said EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. "Any meaningful debate must be based on the information we're seeking in the FOIA requests, so the government's failure to comply in a timely manner is troubling..."
India said on Friday Research In Motion has set up an interim arrangement for lawful interception of BlackBerry Messenger services and has assured to provide a final solution by end-January, and a government source said talks are still on over access to corporate e-mails.
India, among several countries to express concerns BlackBerry services could be used to stir political or social instability, had threatened RIM with a ban if denied access to its highly-secure Messenger and corporate e-mail communications.
In seven years, New Orleans' crime camera program has yielded six indictments: three for crimes caught on video and three for bribes and kickbacks a vendor is accused of paying a former city official to sell the cameras to City Hall.
Given that ignominious track record and the millions the city has paid for a camera network that rarely worked, Mayor Mitch Landrieu unceremoniously pulled the plug on the project Thursday.
"Most of us can agree that based on the way that they were installed, based on the way that they operated and the way that they were not maintained, that they were not a good investment," Landrieu said as he announced his proposal to scratch the program from the city budget. The budget requires City Council approval.
In an effort to reduce ID-number theft and speed up the cafeteria line, Erie High School is launching a high-tech biometrics system for identifying students through a scan of their index finger.
But Principal Steve Payne said several parents have called him to say they weren't comfortable with the practice, and one was particularly upset that the school scanned and stored students' biometric information last week without informing parents first.
"That was an oversight on my part," Payne acknowledged. "I apologized."
Instead of keying in a six-digit code in the lunchroom -- as they do now -- students will place their index finger on a reader that will use seven unique data points on the finger to figure out who they are. At the cashier stand, the student's name, photo and account information will pop up on a screen and their account will be debited.
The system doesn't capture fingerprints, Payne said.
The 760-student school plans to start using the new system -- which was rejected by the neighboring Boulder Valley School District over parental concerns -- on Nov. 8.
Payne said the school is now notifying parents of Erie High students about the program via e-mail and phone.
On Thursday, a memo was posted on the school's Web site explaining how the system examines points on a student's finger, generates a unique number for that student, and then uses that number to link the student to his or her account.
Parents have the choice to opt out if they don't want their children to participate, Payne said. Those students can simply give the cashier their name and ID to pay for food.
The finger-scan system is designed to reduce ID-number theft and speed up the cafeteria line. With nearly 400 lunches served in a 40-minute lunch period at Erie High, Payne said, time is of the essence.
"It's truly to their advantage, and it's so easy and quick for them," he said.
The Defense Department's supersecret National Security Agency can be used "appropriately" on civilian cybersecurity matters, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday.
Napolitano said the an agreement between the military and Homeland Security, announced this month, takes privacy and civil liberties into account.
"We're not going to have two NSAs, we're going to have one NSA that can appropriately be used for defense purposes but also appropriately used for civilian purposes," Napolitano told National Symposium on Homeland Security and Defense...
Get ready for tougher security checks at Richmond International and other airports across the nation.
A new invasive "pat down" procedure goes into effect Friday. The new procedure will allow TSA agents to use the front of their hands to search the entire body of passengers, including the breast and genital areas.
Some R-I-C passengers say this may be pushing the limits, considering passengers must already take off their shoes and go through full body imaging or x-ray machines.
Passenger Bob George says, "It just keeps getting worse and worse. I just think it's too much. Basically they'll have your taking everything off in a few more years!"
At airports, like R-I-C, where there are advanced full body imaging machines, passengers will be required to submit to either the full body x-ray or the full body pat down...
Britain’s airport biometric scanners have failed to flag up people on watch lists and even allowed one man to enter on his sister's passport, an investigation has found.
The new high tech electronic border gates also failed to even recognise Dutch or Lithuanian or spot a woman who had been banned from entering the country, it was claimed.
A UK Border Agency whistle-blower claimed border controls have become compromised by a greater reliance on biometric technology, known as e-Gates, which have replaced trained immigration staff...
Biometric facial recognition isn’t as unique as a fingerprint, but it will reduce the number of possible matches in the data pool to something manageable
All of us accumulate a lot of keys over time. We have locker keys, door keys, desk drawer keys, car keys, padlock keys, and keys that just appeared one day with no apparent use or function. If you have keys, you’ve probably lost keys, too. What if you had a key that was impossible to lose? That’s biometrics.
We’ve been using biometrics for over a hundred years to identify people. Fingerprints are the measurement that first comes to mind, but people are included or excluded from a sample of interest by more evident characteristics such as gender, hair and eye color, height and weight, and age. Some of these things can be changed at will, and other change over time all by themselves, but many key measurements remain constant.
A face changes with age, weight gain and loss, and when disguises or facial hair is added or removed. What doesn’t change are the distances between facial landmarks such as pupils, corners of the mouth, tip of the nose, and the polygons formed by drawing lines between these landmarks. Biometric facial recognition isn’t as unique as a fingerprint, but it will reduce the number of possible matches in the data pool to something manageable...
The UK Home Office statistics showed that 101,248 people were stopped and searched in England, Wales and Scotland under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Of the 506 arrests that resulted, none was terrorism-related. After a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights UK police are not allowed to stop and search people unless they “reasonably suspect” them of being a terrorist.
The statistics also showed that no terror suspects had been held in custody before charge for longer than 14 days since 2007. The latest figures will raise doubts over the future of controversial powers which allow police to detain terror suspects for between 14 and 28 days before charging them. Detention and stop and search powers are being looked at as part of a review of the government’s counter-terrorism policy by the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Ken Macdonald, due to be published shortly.
Apple recently obtained a patent for "anti-sexting" technology that would allow an iPhone to block sexual and other inappropriate language from text messages received and sent by minors. While there are clear benefits to advancing parental control over children's almost limitless access to technology, this restrictive and invasive technology has serious privacy implications.
"Sexting," the sending of sexual text and picture messages, has been a problem among those using cell phones at young ages. The proposed iPhone application could either censor offending words from such messages or block them entirely. Originally filed for in 2008, the patent has been approved, but the technology is not yet available to consumers.
Parental-control settings for television, film, and the Internet have been available for years. But the iPhone technology would differ from existing systems that block or rate age-inappropriate material. Instead of filtering mass media, it would screen private messages exchanged among individuals.
The issue here is not the marketed, socially beneficial use of the technology - that is, preventing minors from sexting. Rather, it's the ability of any company not only to monitor all communication coming from a personal device, but also to edit it.
Apple has issued statements saying the technology has the potential to monitor grammar and vocabulary usage, especially for students. So Big Brother would not just be watching; he would also be spell-checking...
Civil libertarians are raising privacy concerns about a plan by Boston public schools to issue cards to students that could be used for a variety of services from riding the bus, to borrowing library books, to accessing meal programs.
Carol Rose, executive director of the state American Civil Liberties Union, says she's concerned that information from the cards' use could be used to track students, given to law enforcement agencies, or even for commercial purposes.
She says school officials have no right to know where students go, or what they read.
School officials tell The Boston Globe the BostONEcard is intended open new opportunities for students and reduce absenteeism.
The cards will be issued to 530 students in grades 6 through 12 on Thursday as part of a pilot program.
Privacy advocates forcefully criticized the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday after the agency dropped its inquiry into a privacy breach by Google.
The company had collected and stored private user information, such as passwords and entire e-mails, without even realizing it. Google's action remain under scrutiny abroad.
Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, characterized the development as the FTC giving Google "a free pass."
"The FTC keeps giving Google a free pass to collect consumer data card," he said. "While Canadian and other regulators are in hot pursuit of Google's wifi data collection practices, the FTC has dropped its own investigation."
He said Google's "flip flips on this issue--no we didn't collect, yes we did" are one reason a stronger investigation would have been appropriate. He also questioned whether Google's political clout helped it through the privacy debacle.
"Google's political clout with the Obama administration also raises concerns that federal policymakers are fearful of taking on the online ad giant," he said...
A new Firefox extension called Firesheep makes it possible for anyone on an open WiFi network to access log-in information for sites like Facebook and Twitter from other computers on the network.
It's a stunning privacy breach that exploits a well-known hole in secure data transmission.
Each time you log in to a site like Facebook, your username and password are transmitted securely, but then the site returns a "cookie" _ a temporary Internet file _ to your machine. This cookie contains your log-in information so that you don't have to re-enter your password with each click you make on the Web site.
Firesheep developer Eric Butler said on his Web site that the extension is designed "to demonstrate just how serious this problem is." While using Firesheep, a window opens and as other computers on the WiFi network log in to secure Web sites, you get a notification that someone's account is ready for you. Just double click on the person's name and their Facebook account opens up.
Just like that.
"Web sites have a responsibility to protect the people who depend on their services," Butler said in a note on his Web site. "They've been ignoring this responsibility for too long, and it's time for everyone to demand a more secure Web.
Justlook, a leading facial detection system provider in India, supplies biometric face recognition door lock all over the country. This application is based on ‘No Touch’ technology. Human contact is not required with the access point in order to gain access to a premise. The mechanism performs its functions automatically. Users only need to face the camera. Face details are verified with the ones stored in the database. On the basis of its results, access is denied or granted to the user. ‘No Touch’ technology is advocated by the company as it reduces the problems of physical damage and inaccuracies.
This device is installed at the access point. When a user seeking entrée into the premises faces the camera, the biometric face recognition door lock allows him access if he is enrolled. If he is not enrolled, the door lock denies him access to the premises. In the entire process, the user need not touch anywhere. ‘No Touch’ technology hardly leaves room for inaccuracies. Unlike fingerprint readers, there is little possibility of false reject rate because of wet or dirty fingers. Justlook officials claim that their equipment provides accurate results. Company believes that this feature makes it hassle-free and easy to use. It is considered to have a notable role to play in attracting clients...
BI2 Technologies will release its Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System (MORIS) in November. The company has already pre-released several units for testing and has received encouraging feedback. “It’s a major advance in terms of having multimodal capability, iris, facial and fingerprint on one device that’s as ubiquitous and easy to use as any cell phone in the nation,” says Sean Mullin, president and CEO of BI2 Technologies.
Mullin says the device will be popular because it will protect existing law enforcement investments. “The fingerprint scanner is a FIPS 201 and FBI compliant and should be able to integrate with any FIPS and AFIS compliant system. The facial recognition system can take advantage of legacy investments in mugshots that are already there.”
BI2 Technologies is also looking at how its products can play in the federal marketplace outside of law enforcement. “There’s quite a bit of activity now for us in the Department of Defense, some of the intelligence agencies and absolutely in the law enforcement agencies at the federal level,” Mullin says.
The Swedish government wants to extend the powers of police and prosecutors to access personal details from internet service providers in cases of less serious offences such as filesharing, libel and grooming.
Currently, ISPs may be required to hand over IP address and personal details of customers suspected of crimes subject to custodial sentences, but the government wants to extend the law to cover offences that are punishable only by fines...
The Obama administration has encountered mounting resistance in Europe to its demands for broad sharing of airline passenger data and other personal information designed to spot would-be terrorists before they strike.
Europe's objections, based on privacy considerations, worry U.S. counterterrorism officials because computer scrutiny of passenger lists has become an increasingly important tool in the struggle to prevent terrorists from entering the United States or traveling to and from their havens. The would-be Times Square bomber was hauled off a Dubai-bound airliner in May, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said, after his name on the manifest produced a ding in Department of Homeland Security computers.
European privacy advocates have long criticized the U.S. effort to scoop up as much information as possible on U.S.-bound travelers, saying it violates Europe's traditionally stringent data privacy laws. But their power to criticize was boosted recently to the power to block. Since Dec. 1, the Lisbon Treaty has given authority over such accords to the European Parliament, where privacy concerns are embraced.
"The administration can't just stiff-arm them anymore," said Marc Rotenberg, who heads the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center and testified at a European Parliament hearing in Brussels on Monday.
Highways and Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath on Wednesday said it would be mandatory for all vehicles to have a prepaid chip for toll payments within eighteen months.
Nath, while addressing the annual conference of Economic Editors in national capital New Delhi, said the prepaid Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) cards are like mobile phone chips, which would be installed in every vehicle.
"In around 18 months it will be implemented. We will make it mandatory for all the vehicles that the RFID card would be installed at the time of manufacturing. This would cost around 70 rupees. It is not a very big expense. So, we are talking terms with all the manufacturers," said Nath.
He added that it is safe, and would be made mandatory for old vehicles as well.
The RFID cards communicate via electromagnetic waves to exchange data. The technology is generally used for identification and tracking purposes but can be used on any thing, even an animal or person...
The young man reluctantly proffered his eyeballs and fingertips to an American soldier wielding a hi-tech box resembling an outsize digital camera.
As the machine slowly gathered his biometric details, the man looked increasingly ill at ease. Was it because his herd of goats had started to wander off? Or because the device was revealing that he was in some way mixed up with the insurgency?
With each iris and fingertip scanned, the device gave the operator a steadily rising percentage chance that the goat herder was on an electronic "watch list" of suspects. Although it never reached 100%, it was enough for the man to be taken to the nearest US outpost for interrogation...
A NSW high school has installed "secure" fingerprint scanners for roll call, which savvy kids may be able to circumvent with sweets from their lunch box.
The system replaces the school's traditional sign-in system with biometric readers that require senior students to have their fingerprints read to verify attendance.
Henry Kendall High School, on the NSW Central Coast, has pitched the system to parents as a convenient way for students to clock in and out of school during their irregular hours.
Principal Bob Cox told the ABC that the system was preferred over swipe cards, which students can abuse by signing-in for each other.
But a litany of fingerprint scanners have fallen victim to bypass methods, many of which are explained publicly in detail on the internet. The hacks could potentially be used by students to make replicas of their own fingerprints, or lift those of others from imprints left on the reader...
The chairman of British Airways has said some "completely redundant" airport security checks should be scrapped and the UK should stop "kowtowing" to US security demands.
Practices such as forcing passengers to take off their shoes should be abandoned, Martin Broughton said.
And he questioned why laptop computers needed to be screened separately.
The Department for Transport said there were no plans to change rules on checking laptops and shoes.
Mr Broughton also criticised the US for imposing increased checks on US-bound flights but not on its own domestic services...
Spanish scientists from Carlos III University of Madrid are analyzing possible attempts at fraud in various biometric identification systems in order to improve the security of facial, iris, fingerprint or vascular recognition, among other types.
The field that these researchers are working in is known by its nickname, "anti-spoofing", and basically consists in trying to detect all of the possible attempts at fraud that a biometric system might suffer, especially with regard to an action in which the user presents the biometric proof to the system. "What we are trying to do is detect those attempts so that the system can then act accordingly", explains the head of UC3M's Grupo Universitario de Tecnologías de Identificación (GUTI)(University Identification Technology Group), Raúl Sánchez Reíllo, who is leading this research. This way, if someone used a colored contact lens to recreate a specific iris at an access control point, the system would detect this possible fraud attempt and would indicate to this user that s/he could not use the automatic system and would have to use the manual identification system, with a security agent, for example.
These scientists work on "anti-spoofing" related to most of the forms of biometric identification. In addition, they evaluate the strength of current biometric systems in the face of various types of attacks, and they also create algorithms, devices and collateral techniques and usage policies that avoid and detect these attempts at fraud. " Currently, we are working very intensely on the ocular iris as well as written signatures, although previously we have worked on fingerprints, and in the near future we will be working on facial recognition", comments this professor from UC3M's Electronic Technology Department (Departamento de Tecnología Electrónica de la UC3M), pointing out that the challenges in this field are enormous. The reason: there is a constant struggle between "good" and "evil", in which the latter is constantly trying to find new ways to attack the security of the system. "Let's say that the good guys work to stay a step ahead of those attempts, introducing anti-fraud measures in advance of what the bad guys might come up with ", he reveals.
What a load of claptrap... "Good" people track and identify other people; "evil" people try to circumvent your surveillance. Disgusting twist of reality. Thankfully, these "scientists" are on the case. Too bad any joker can fool these biometric scanners. What happens if my identity gets stolen? What happens if a scanner misidentifies me and orders me detained? What happens if a corrupt official needs me in custody ("the scanner doesn't lie")?
Google CEO Eric Schmidt's blase advice for people who don't want their privacy violated by his site's Street View cars -- just "move" -- was edited out of a CNN broadcast.
Schmidt defended the Google Street View cars, which have been found to illegally swipe e-mails and passwords, on CNN's Parker Spitzer: "Street View, we drive exactly once. So, you can just move, right?"
When pressed by co-host Kathleen Parker, Schmidt laughed, which made it unclear if he was joking. The exchange was shown in a preview clip on CNN.com, but edited out of the show broadcast last Friday.
Said CNN in a statement to the Wall Street Journal's All Things D, "Producers routinely make editorial decisions about what sound bites to include in their shows. In this case, the clip was posted on cnn.com and disseminated to other media outlets and was widely available."
The network said Google did not ask that the clip be edited out...
The Government intends to implement an “e-citizens card” which will replace the ID card and drivers’ permit in the future, said acting Permanent Secretary Gillian McIntyre, Ministry of Public Utilities. “The e-citizens card is a unique identification number which will allow citizens to access all Government services on and off-line. “It is anticipated that this identification system which will eventually replace all other systems such as drivers permits, ID cards and smart cards will encourage a more efficient degree of Government services,” she said. Ag Permanent Secretary Gillian McIntyre, Ministry of Public Utilities was speaking on behalf of Emmanuel George on Thursday night at the media launch of the “I-create” 2010-2011 Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organisation (Canto) Regional e-content competition at National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA)...
(related: Caribbean region leading multi-country biometric border control)
Google CEO's Eric Schmidt's off-the-cuff answer that people who don't want their homes photographed for Google Street View should "just move" raises the question: Move where? Just where on this planet are you safe from Google's prying eyes?
In a CNN interview on the Parker Spitzer show, Schmidt made this comment about people who don't want their homes photographed by Street View:
"With Street View, we drive by exactly once, so you can just move."
He later told Computerworld that he mis-spoke, and that anyone who wants their house removed from Google Street View can request that Google remove it.
If he did, in fact, mis-speak, it was a Freudian slip. Schmidt has made it clear time and time again that he believes that Google should have access to virtually any information it wants about people --- and that's a good thing not just for Google, but the people whose privacy has been invaded as well...
West Midlands Police "treated people like idiots" over the way more than 200 surveillance cameras were installed in parts of Birmingham with large Muslim populations, an MP has said.
The cameras - covert and overt - were put up earlier this year and were paid for with £3m of government money put aside for tackling terrorism.
But the communities were in uproar after they were not consulted, prompting the force to apologise and instigate an independent review by Thames Valley Police into what happened.
The findings were highly critical, saying the force paid little attention to "compliance with the legal or regulatory framework" and relations between the Muslim community and police had been set back 10 years...
Its a fact that the Kinect camera is always turned on and actively looking for you. Some people may have wondered if its possible for the always on camera to be secretly watching their every movement.
In an interview with Gamespot, Phil Spencer boss of Microsoft Game Studios alleviates privacy concerns regarding the Kinect camera. Kinect for the Xbox 360 is basically an advanced camera that tracks your movements.
This may raise some concerns for those paranoid that Microsoft or even some hacker could gain access via the Internet connection to spy on you in your living room. However, Spencer indicated that the camera is always on but it is in infrared mode.
"GameSpot: Now some people are a little apprehensive about having a camera that can track them and recognize their faces in their living room. What do you say to those people?
Phil Spencer: Well, do you have the controls to not make it always connected to the Internet? Yes. Is the thing always looking at you? No. You’ll see when you use it that you actually stand up and wave to activate the camera. Then the camera will see you, and that has nothing to do with the RGB camera. That’s just the infrared picking us up. So it’s pretty specific when it’s looking into the room, if you want to call it that, and when it’s not..."
Like it or not, the web is getting more and more interconnected to the “real” world — in part by what some call “augmented reality” apps, which allow Google Goggles to recognize physical objects when you point your mobile device at them, or have Yelp show you reviews of nearby restaurants hovering in the air as you hold up your phone. This is all wonderful and Star Trek-like, but what are the privacy implications of this kind of technology? Take just one recent example of the trend: an iPhone and Android app called “Sex Offender Tracker,” which shows you the location of any registered sex offenders in your area...
(get the app!)
(why stop with sex offenders? -fc)
The Obama administration has formed a subcommittee drawn from various parts of the federal government to advise the White House on regulatory and legislative issues for the Web.
The panel, which will focus on the Internet privacy, comes as consumer advocacy groups have complained that Internet users need more protection from social media, advertising and other sites that collect user information.
A blog post last Sunday on the National Science and Technology Council Web site said the subcommittee will include members of several federal agencies, such as the Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security and State departments. Cameron Kerry, general counsel at the Commerce Department, and Christopher Schroeder, assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, will head the group.
Representatives of the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission were also invited. And the White House will have representatives from its Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, U.S. Trade Representative office and National Security Staff Cybersecurity Directorate.
“In this digital age, a thriving and dynamic economy requires Internet policies that promote innovation domestically and globally while ensuring strong and sensible protections of individuals’ private information and the ability of governments to meet their obligations to protect public safety,” Kerry and Schroeder wrote in the NSTC blog post...
In the weeks before the New Hampshire primary last month, Linda Twombly of Nashua says she was peppered with online ads for Republican Senate hopeful Jim Bender.
It was no accident. An online tracking company called RapLeaf Inc. had correctly identified her as a conservative who is interested in Republican politics, has an interest in the Bible and contributes to political and environmental causes. Mrs. Twombly's profile is part of RapLeaf's rich trove of data, garnered from a variety of sources and which both political parties have tapped.
RapLeaf knows even more about Mrs. Twombly and millions of other Americans: their real names and email addresses.
This makes RapLeaf a rare breed. Rival tracking companies also gather minute detail on individual Americans: They know a tremendous amount about what you do. But most trackers either can't or won't keep the ultimate piece of personal information—your name—in their databases. The industry often cites this layer of anonymity as a reason online tracking shouldn't be considered intrusive.
RapLeaf says it never discloses people's names to clients for online advertising. But possessing real names means RapLeaf can build extraordinarily intimate databases on people by tapping voter-registration files, shopping histories, social-networking activities and real estate records, among other things.
"Holy smokes," says Mrs. Twombly, 67 years old, after The Wall Street Journal decoded the information in RapLeaf's file on her. "It is like a watchdog is watching me, and it is not good..."
In 2006, Google successfully fought a subpoena filed by the Department of Justice that sought to compel the release of search queries. Google argued: "[S]earch query content can disclose identities and personally identifiable information . . ." It further stated that it "will keep private whatever information users communicate absent a compelling reason."
The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in San Jose, Calif., is brought by Paloma Gaos of the San Francisco Bay Area. Ms. Gaos is represented by Kassra Nassiri of Nassiri & Jung LLP and Michael Aschenbrener of Edelson McGuire LLC. The class action seeks monetary relief for those whose search queries were wrongly shared, and injunctive relief to prevent continued privacy abuses...
The new regulations require that the Street View vehicles be clearly labeled — in addition to the enormous camera apparatus protruding from the roof, I suppose. Google will also be required to advertise the route its cars are expected to take in both newspaper and radio spots, three days before they embark...
Google Inc. Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said in remarks broadcast Friday that people concerned about images of their homes appearing on the company’s Street View mapping service can “just move.”
During an appearance on CNN’s “Parker Spitzer,” previewed on CNN.com, the Google chief responded to questions about personal data the company collects, including images of private homes presented on Street View.
“Street View, we drive exactly once,” Schmidt said, referring to the vehicles mounted with cameras sent out to take photos for the service. “So, you can just move, right?” After a brief, subsequent exchange with co-host Kathleen Parker, Schmidt laughed, making it unclear whether the remark was made in jest...
* Rapleaf knows your real names and email addresses.
* It can build rich profiles by tapping voter-registration files, shopping histories, social-networking activities and more. In effect, it can built the ultimate dossier on you.
* Rapleaf sells pretty elaborate data that includes household income, age, political leaning, and even more granular details such as your interest in get-rich-quick schemes.
* According to the WSJ, Rapleaf segments people into 400 categories.
* Rapleaf says it doesn’t transmit personally identifiable data for online advertising, but the WSJ found that is not the case. Rapleaf shared a unique Facebook ID to at least 12 companies and a unique MySpace ID number to six companies. Any sharing was accidental, the company said.
* Politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, are using Rapleaf. It has provided data to 10 political campaigns
Jim Dempsey, a privacy advocate at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said he resigned from RapLeaf Inc.’s privacy advisory board after being contacted by the Wall Street Journal about his role at the Internet tracking company.
Mr. Dempsey is a vice president at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington nonprofit advocacy group. The center is pushing for federal privacy legislation that would require websites to notify consumers if their data are being shared with third parties such as RapLeaf...
Electronic health records are widely seen as a way to improve patient care, reduce duplication of services, and potentially cut costs in the U.S. health care system.
But they also raise fresh privacy concerns, with hundreds or thousands of employees having potential immediate access to a patient’s sensitive medical information.
A possible information breach at Miami Valley Hospital is one of the latest local reminders of those privacy concerns. It involves Brennan Eden, a “high-profile” patient whose sensational Aug. 23 vehicle crash on Interstate 675 was captured on video viewed nationwide.
About 200 hospital employees accessed Eden’s medical records, but it’s not yet clear whether any of that access was due to curiosity. Under federal law, workers may only access a patient’s electronic medical records for a legitimate business need...
Virtually everything you do online is scrutinized by search engines and advertising networks that evaluate you as a potential customer based on what you search for, the sites you visit and the ads you see -- whether you click on those ads or not.
"It's as though every time you pick up a magazine or a book or you browse a storefront, you might be reading the magazine, but it's reading you back, and the ads in the magazine are reading you," said Peter Eckersley, senior staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization that monitors the online world.
Marketers argue that "behavioral advertising" -- which serves up ads based
on a person's browsing history and demographics -- is good because it produces ads that fit a person's interests. But privacy advocates like Eckersley say the "ubiquitous surveillance" violates "a fundamental civil liberty" -- the right to read in private. Another threat, he said, is that someone else could get hold of your data.
So if everything on the Web has eyes, how do you draw the shades?..
It seems like everybody is on Facebook or a similar social networking site. The prevalence of such websites has raised interesting questions relating to the level of privacy that should be afforded to users.
People often post intimate details concerning their lives and daily routines on Facebook. From a lawyer's perspective, scattered among the minutia may lie pertinent information or evidence relating to legal proceedings the user is a party to.
Canada has some leading jurisprudence relating to this issue. A recent New York decision, Romano versus Steelcase, dealt with the defendant's efforts to be granted access to the plaintiff's current and historical Facebook and MySpace accounts.
The New York judge in Romano relied on the principles from the leading Ontario case on the matter, Leduc versus Roman from 2009. The judge in Romano echoed the reasoning in Leduc, demonstrating the court's unwillingness to allow users a high level of protection.
In Leduc, the court held the moving party did not have the right to access the Facebook profile as a right. However, the court went on to state if the moving party can produce sufficient evidence there is information of relevance on the profile then the court can order the production of the evidence.
Based on the court's finding it seems the level of privacy that will be afforded to Facebook profiles is considerably less than that afforded to other electronic communications, such as e-mails. The very purpose of social networking provides the reasoning behind this position...
Unless you have been the focus of an online news story, you may not have pondered how anonymity topples the intent of privacy law, allowing trolls to intrude on your peace of mind, reduce you to a caricature, disclose private facts, and place you in an unflattering light. Nevertheless, occasions occur in academe that demand our intervention, such as harassment in virtual worlds, which can include incidents of racism, sexism, homophobia and even avatar sexual assault, discussed in my February article in Inside Higher Ed.
In a 2007 article about Second Life, published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, I presented then-Vice President of Linden Lab Robin Harper with this hypothetical: “Say a university requested the identity of a Second Life resident in the investigation of a code violation that occurred on the university's virtual campus. Would the company comply?”
"We would not provide this information without a subpoena," she stated.
Subpoenas were part of the discussion in media law class because the current event on that day involved Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman, secretly videotaped while engaging in intimate relations with another man. Soon after learning of the webcast, Clementi committed suicide by leaping from the George Washington Bridge. Clementi posted his suicide note — “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry" — on Facebook...
Information technology in the classroom was supposed to bridge digital divides and enhance student research. Increasingly, however, our networks are being used to entertain members of "the Facebook Generation" who text-message during class, talk on their cellphones during labs, and listen to iPods rather than guest speakers in the wireless lecture hall.
That is true at my institution, Iowa State University. With a total enrollment of 25,741, Iowa State logs 20,247 registered users on Facebook, which bills itself as "an online directory that connects people through social networks at schools." While I'd venture to say that most of the students on any campus are regular visitors to Facebook.com, many professors and administrators have yet to hear about Facebook, let alone evaluate its impact.
On many levels, Facebook is fascinating -- an interactive, image-laden directory featuring groups that share lifestyles or attitudes. Many students find it addictive, as evidenced by discussion groups with names like "Addicted to the Facebook," which boasts 330 members at Iowa State. Nationwide, Facebook tallies 250 million hits every day and ranks ninth in overall traffic on the Internet... -Michael J. Bugeja, January 23, 2006
According to a Wall Street Journal investigation, a significant number of the most popular Facebook "apps" (applications) have been transmitting your personal information to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies. They're also grabbing information about all your friends — who they are, what they do, where they go online.
This problem affects tens of millions of people who use Facebook's apps, even if you set your Facebook profile to the utmost privacy.
Tracking people online is a huge business, and lots of companies are making a killing building detailed databases on people so that they can track their online comings and goings. They then sell these data to advertisers. It's a multibillion-dollar business, and you got involved when you willingly put any of a dozen apps on your Facebook page.
One of the questions, of course, is "how long has this been going on?" As of this writing, we don't know...
Britain's privacy watchdog is to look again at what personal information internet giant Google gathered from private wi-fi networks.
The Information Commissioner's Office had investigated a sample earlier this year after it was revealed that Google had collected personal data during its Street View project.
At the time, it said no "significant" personal details were collected.
But Google has since admitted that e-mails and passwords were copied.
On its official Google blog, senior vice president Alan Eustace wrote that the company was "mortified" to discover, after the initial investigation in May, that personal information had been collected.
Privacy watchdogs in numerous countries, including France, Germany and Canada, had also investigated the information....
Google has admitted it accidentally captured entire emails and passwords from wireless networks in people’s homes when it was collecting images for its controversial Street View service.
The search engine first said in May it had mistakenly collected private information when its Street View cars were gathering up panoramic images, but said at the time the data was only “fragmentary” because the cars were moving.
However after investigations by “a number” of external regulators, Google admitted some whole emails, passwords and web addresses had also been picked up.
“We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and I would like to apologize again for the fact that we collected it in the first place,” Alan Eustace, vice president of engineering and research at Google, said in a blog post. “We are mortified by what happened.”
The California-based company will now improve its privacy controls, after a series of complaints from nations including Germany and Canada...
It would be great if Facebook took steps to keep user information from being transmitted off Facebook's site, but encryption is better than no solution at all, said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research.
"Yes, they should stop the transmission, but they won't. They will continue to meet specific objections and fix specific problems, but the company is built on selling user information," said Gottheil. "Most [users] don't want to get down in the weeds on this stuff. They hear 'problem,' they pay some attention. They hear 'encryption,' they go back to what they were doing."
Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with the Yankee Group, questions why Facebook didn't encrypt user IDs long ago.
"The thing you have to ask yourself is why Facebook didn't do this up front," he added. "Security isn't really in the DNA of social networking today. Why did it have to take an embarrassing situation to have them do something basic like encrypt user IDs...?"
"Sometimes identifying information about you – your name and maybe your friends’ names – is theoretically being passed on from Facebook to apps and then to advertising networks. Along the way it’s being stored by various companies that are in the business of gathering data about people to resell to others, chiefly Rapleaf.
The way this is being done is via referrer URLs (99% of the general population just got lost on what those are), which can contain profile IDs. Which can then be used to look up users. And whatever information that user has in his or her public profile can then be scraped and added to a database.
And then…well, nothing. It’s in a database. And theoretically can be used to target ads to you.
The only real concern is that all that data can also be tied to you doing something with a third party app. So in addition to your profile information, the database also gets to know that you like Farmville.
Is this a real problem? No..." - Michael Arrington
(thanks for letting the rest of us know that it's ok to have our names and personal info passed around the web, sold to the sleaziest bidder. very big of you to set us 'paranoids' right. question: how much did they pay you to write this piece of filth? -fc)
The company bringing back the Clear front-of-security line program for registered travelers said Thursday it will launch the service at Orlando International Airport on Nov. 9.
Alclear also opened registration Thursday for travelers over the Internet and at two electronic kiosks at the airport, hoping to recapture what had been a passionate market of frequent flyers who were stunned when the previous Clear operator shut down without warning 16 months ago.
With the Clear service, people who register by paying a fee and providing fingerprints, an iris-scan and other identification in advance, can skip long lines at security checkpoints, get identified with the swipe of a card and proceed directly to the federal inspectors when they go to catch a plane...
(citizen: submit further DNA to more easily enjoy our vast system of highways, national parks, and damn near everything else -fc)
"In May we announced that we had mistakenly collected unencrypted WiFi payload data (information sent over networks) using our Street View cars. We work hard at Google to earn your trust, and we’re acutely aware that we failed badly here. So we’ve spent the past several months looking at how to strengthen our internal privacy and security practices, as well as talking to external regulators globally about possible improvements to our policies. Here’s a summary of the changes we’re now making..."
It seems that Google TV is being blocked by TV studios, with piracy fears being one of their main concerns. It seems that Disney's ABC and CBS have confirmed that they have prevented the TV OS from watching their free Flash video sites. This objection was most probably due to the fact that both companies thought that Google did not do enough to prevent the threat of piracy...
The NSA has a website called “CryptoKids: America’s Future Codemakers and Codebreakers” and it is located in the NSA.gov domain. Two days ago the NSA introduced two new characters, the Cyber Twins who are into gaming and social media. In case this is your introduction to the NSA’s child-recruitment program, here’s a brief introduction to the other members of the “gang.”
Crypto Cat has white fur and grew up next door to a Navajo reservation, and she really flaunts her multi-culturalism. Decipher Dog is the true progeny of totalitarianism with a policeman father and an NSA mother. The Dog’s favorite project was the wireless network he developed for his home which allowed him to spy on his family members.
Joules looks like an approximation of an African-American squirrel who happens to play the saxophone (jazz band, naturally) and digs robots and anything electronic. Slate is a guitar-playing rabbit who enjoys mathematics and computers. He and T.Top the turtle are essentially the cool future NSA hackers.
Rosie (short for Rosetta Stone) is a precocious language analyst who hangs out at a university spying on a foreign students. Seargant Sam is an eagle in military fatigues who is, by his own admission, “really good at making and breaking codes.” The NSA recently introduced two new characters, the Cyber Twins.
On the NSA’s site, children can learn the maxim, “In the world of diplomacy, knowing what your enemy is planning helps you to prepare.” And then they can apply it in situations involving their personal schoolyard enemies, administrators or perhaps their parents if they’re particularly ambitious. Maybe they set up an informal network in their school to “prepare” for some undefined future triumph...
(triumph of the will, babies... this is pure, evil nazi shit, hitler youth-style -fc)
Police may be able to stop drivers for random breath testing if Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is successful in its latest campaign.
MADD Canada is pushing the federal government to pass legislation that will allow officers to stop and ask anyone for a breath sample.
The past president of MADD Canada Margaret Miller said random breath testing would give police the express power to stop vehicles in a sobriety-type checkpoint.
“The main purpose is to be able to stop a group of vehicles, like they do in many countries, and they ask each driver for their license and insurance,” Miller said. “Along with the rest, you will also be asked for a breath sample. The purpose is basically to reduce the number of impaired driving deaths and injuries...
(why not grab a stool sample while we're at it? -fc)