When a government holds too much information on its citizens, it breaks the sensitive balance of power between citizens and state.
Once a biometric database is in place, if there was any kind of leak such as the one that took place last week, there would not even be a point in conducting an investigation, since the damage to individual citizens would be “irreparable,” as the Interior Ministry has already admitted...
If your kids comment on a friend’s public status update, that information becomes public, even if your children keep all their Facebook privacy settings limited to visibility among friends only.
Recently, the son of a woman who is a social media professional commented on his mother’s public Facebook post, and the influence measuring website Klout created a profile for him without his permission (I’ve withheld these people’s names to prevent even more exposure).
Technically, Klout can use this public comment to find you, connect you to the poster, and pull in your profile photo.
Also, at this time, there is no way to opt out of a Klout profile...
As many as 700 communities, with a combined total of more than 60 million people, outsource their street and highway camera systems, the report found.
While vendors capture violations, police or other local officials approve which violations are issued tickets. Some contracts penalize cities if they don't approve enough tickets, effectively setting a ticket quota, the report said. That can undermine the authority of local officials to decide when to issue tickets, it said.
"Automated traffic ticketing tends to be governed by contracts that focus more on profits than safety," said Phineas Baxandall, the report's co-author.
Baxandall acknowledged that cash-strapped communities have a financial incentive to maximize the number of citations they issue even when they don't use a vendor. But local governments are also accountable to voters, whereas private vendors aren't, he said...
Israeli Government Services Minister Michael Eitan called for the immediate reevaluation and halt of the establishment of a biometric population registry and identity system following the announcement Monday that sensitive personal information of every Israeli citizen was stolen by a government contractor and put on the Internet.
"The state is building a time bomb that will explode in all of our faces," Eitan said of the biometric program that is set to begin a pilot program next month. "There is no disagreement that the biometric database is dangerous, but [they] are making false promises that the database will be hermetically sealed with unprecedented security..."
Not satisfied with fumbling through Americans’ private possessions, one TSA screener saw fit to make a humiliating joke about the contents, writing a personal message on a TSA inspection note after finding a sex toy in writer Jill Filipovic’s luggage.
After arriving at her hotel, Filipovic was unpacking when she discovered her bag had been individually searched by a TSA screener who, having seen the “personal item,” saw fit to comment, writing “GET YOUR FREAK ON GIRL” on the reverse side of an inspection notice...
Twenty-five years ago, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation that for the first time provided Americans with sweeping digital-privacy protections.
The law came at a time when e-mail was used mostly by nerdy scientists, when phones without wires hardly worked as you stepped out into the backyard, and when the World Wide Web didn’t exist. Four presidencies later, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act has aged dramatically, providing little protection for citizens from the government’s prying eyes — despite the law’s language remaining much the same.
The silver anniversary of ECPA has prompted the nation’s biggest tech companies and prominent civil liberties groups to lobby for updates to what was once the nation’s leading “privacy” legislation protecting Americans’ electronic communications from warrantless searches and seizures...
You're probably used to seeing TSA's signature blue uniforms at the airport, but now agents are hitting the interstates to fight terrorism with Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR).
"Where is a terrorist more apt to be found? Not these days on an airplane more likely on the interstate," said Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons.
Tuesday Tennessee was first to deploy VIPR simultaneously at five weigh stations and two bus stations across the state.
Agents are recruiting truck drivers, like Rudy Gonzales, into the First Observer Highway Security Program to say something if they see something.
"Not only truck drivers, but cars, everybody should be aware of what's going on, on the road," said Gonzales.
It's all meant to urge every driver to call authorities if they see something suspicious.
"Somebody sees something somewhere and we want them to be responsible citizens, report that and let us work it through our processes to abate the concern that they had when they saw something suspicious," said Paul Armes, TSA Federal Security Director for Nashville International Airport.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol checked trucks at the weigh station with drug and bomb sniffing dogs during random inspections...
Motorists driving on expressways around Flint are getting surprised by a stunning tactic that the Genesee County sheriff has been using to fight the flow of illegal drugs -- one that legal experts said will not withstand a court challenge.
At least seven times this month, including Tuesday, motorists have said they have seen a pickup towing a large sign on I-69 or U.S.-23 that depicts the sheriff's badge and warns: "Sheriff narcotics check point, 1 mile ahead -- drug dog in use..."
Facebook Ireland is under fire for allegedly creating "shadow profiles" on both users and nonusers alike.
The startling charges against the social-networking giant come from the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (IDC), which, Fox News reports today, is launching a "comprehensive" investigation against Facebook Ireland for extracting data from current users--without their consent or knowledge--and building "extensive profiles" on people who haven't even signed on for the service.
Names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, work information, and perhaps even more sensitive information such as sexual orientation, political affiliations, and religious beliefs are being collected and could possibly be misused, Irish authorities claim...
In the basements of the Disneyland and Paradise Pier hotels in Anaheim, big flat-screen monitors hang from the walls in rooms where uniformed crews do laundry. The monitors are like scoreboards, with employees’ work speeds compared to one another. Workers are listed by name, so their colleagues can see who is quickest at loading pillow cases, sheets and other items into a laundry machine.
It should come as no surprise that at the happiest place on Earth, not all the employees are smiling. Isabel Barrera, a Disneyland Hotel laundry worker for eight years, began calling the new system the “electronic whip” when it was installed last year. The name has stuck.
“I was nervous,” said Barerra, who makes $11.94 an hour, “and felt that I was being controlled even more...”
Facing U.S. budget cuts, the industry that makes drones, radar equipment, and sensors for use in Iraq and Afghanistan is looking to sell them at home to police, border patrol, and others.
It’s known as IBISS, the acronym for the Integrated Building Interior Surveillance System. Like its name suggests, it can see through the walls of buildings and sketch out images of what’s inside.
Until this year, IBISS was a classified system, a piece of high-tech wizardry the military used to fight the war on terrorism. The contractor that made the system, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), couldn’t talk about it in public, but that’s changing. IBISS is one of the new products SAIC is hoping to sell to local police stations and fire departments as the defense contractor explores what is known in the industry as “adjacent markets.”
Adjacent markets can mean anything from foreign militaries to the Department of Homeland Security for the industry that makes the computer systems, software, remote sensors, radar and ground stations that comprise Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) for the military.
For the first decade of the war on terrorism, the ISR industry thrived, and companies like SAIC, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin made big profits. Those days are coming to an end though...
Imagine that you couldn't drive on major highways without agreeing to put a camera in your car -- one that could film either the occupants or the vehicle’s surroundings and transmit the images back to a central office for inspection.
You don't have to read George Orwell to conjure up such an ominous surveillance state. You just have to skim through filings at the U.S. Patent Office.
It's hard to imagine Americans would tolerate such a direct, Big-Brotherish intrusion. But they might not notice if the all-seeing cameras were tucked inside another kind of government tracking technology that millions of Americans have already invited into their cars.
Kapsch TrafficCom AG, an Austrian company that just signed a 10-year contract to provide in-car transponders such as the E-Z Pass to 22 electronic highway toll collection systems around the U.S., recently filed a patent on technology to add multi-function mini-cameras to their toll gadgets. Today, transponders are in about 22 million cars around the U.S. Adding inward and outward facing cameras to the gadgets would create surveillance capabilities far beyond anything government agencies have tried until now.
The stated reason for an inward-pointing camera is to verify the number of occupants in the car for enforcement of HOV and HOT lanes. The outward-pointing camera could be used for the same purpose, helping authorities enforce minimum occupant rules against drivers who aren't carrying transponders.
But it's easy to imagine other uses...
The largest wireless carrier in the U.S. started reaching out to customers Friday, informing them of the policy changes and offering users a way to opt out of data collection.
Verizon says that any of the data it shares with third parties — like advertisers — will not be personally identifiable.
The type of data that Verizon is collecting includes:
- URLs and search strings
- Device location
- App and device usage
- Information about a user’s Verizon products
- Demographic information such as gender and age range
A Mississippi woman has sued Facebook in federal court, accusing it of violating federal wiretap laws to track her online activity, even when she wasn't logged onto the site.
Facebook denies the allegations, but it has conceded in the past that it inadvertently tracked users through so-called cookies -- small files a website sends to your computer when you visit. It has said it fixed the problem before the Mississippi suit was filed.
"Leading up to September 23, 2011, Facebook tracked, collected, and stored its users' wire or electronic communications, including but not limited to portions of their Internet browsing history even when the users were not logged-in to Facebook," reads the complaint by Brooke Rutledge of Lafayette County, Miss. "Plaintiff did not give consent or otherwise authorize Facebook to intercept, track, collect, and store her wire or electronic communications, including but not limited to her Internet browsing history when not logged-in to Facebook..."
If you call in to the Alex Jones Show or hundreds of other talk radio stations around the country that maintain a web presence, there is a good chance the FBI will record you.
Mark Weaver, writing for WMAL talk radio in Washington, D.C., reports that the FBI has awarded a $524,927 contract to a Virginia company to record all the internet broadcast talk radio it can find.
“This doesn’t give us any enhanced capability, prying into or any ‘big brother’ concerns because this is information that’s being put out on the airwaves,” FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told WMAL.com. “Its very important to our investigators to know what’s being reported.”
In order to make his point, Bresson cited the Times Square non-bomber. “It’s ideal for cases like that because we can extract information that’s already been reported and help our investigators make better decisions.”
If you believe this explanation, I have a bridge to sell you...
Meet Reid Hoffman, the billionaire founder of LinkedIn. In a video, he shares with an audience at Davos his opinion about your privacy concerns.
The founder of LinkedIn, the largest social network for professional people in the world says “all these concerns about privacy tend to be old people issues.”
“Old people” issues? Are you even allowed to say something like that these days? And that’s how the founder of LinkedIn feels about your privacy?
Well, I can’t speak for every internet company founder, but I can tell you that most of us think privacy issues are very, very important, and that Reid’s viewpoint does not represent internet executives as a whole.
Those of us in the job industry have a special duty and responsibility to treat your privacy with care, because privacy issues are especially important in the job search. When the economy is bad, and your company might be looking to cut employees, and you’re trying to make your mortgage… privacy issues aren’t old people issues, they’re normal people issues.
The terrorist attacks in both the United States and the United Kingdom, ten years ago, have heightened the awareness of border security in countries all over the world.
Biometrics has become the weapon of choice in fighting border control and ensuring the correct identification of nationals and travelers.
The technology consists of methods for uniquely recognising humans based on physiology (facial recognition, fingerprinting, DNA, or iris recognition) or behavioral traits.
NEC Australia’s business development manager of biometrics and identity management, Peter Ives told Government News, with individuals carrying less identification police officers also need to be able to do checks without lengthy interviews.
“After September 11 2001, nearly all biometric projects were driven by federal government for border protection,” he said.
“However the technology is also being used by the criminal justice sector. The use of face recognition in licenses to prove the integrity of the identification is important for spot checks by police.”
Mr Ives said NEC was also seeing biometric projects utilising cloud computing, within the criminal justice sector.
“We are seeing police forces log onto cloud computing reference sites and also automated fingerprint identification systems within a cloud community,” he said.
“This has huge implications for bringing biometric cloud computing out into the field...”
It's become a standard plot device of television detective shows: criminals always return to the scene of the crime. And law enforcement officials believe that perpetrators of certain crimes, mostly notably arson, do indeed have an inclination to witness their handiwork. Also, U.S. military in the Middle East feel that IED bomb makers return to see the results of their work in order to evolve their designs.
Now a team of University of Notre Dame biometrics experts are developing a crime-fighting tool that can help law enforcement officials identify suspicious individuals at crime scenes.
Kevin Bowyer and Patrick Flynn of Notre Dame's Computer Science and Engineering Department have been researching the feasibility of image-based biometrics since 2001, including first-of-their-kind comparisons of face photographs, face thermograms, 3-D face images, iris images, videos of human gait, and even ear and hand shapes.
While attending a meeting in Washington, D.C, Bowyer listened as military and national security experts discussed the need for a tool to help identify IED bombers in the Middle East.
He decided to join forces with Flynn and Jeremiah Barr, a doctoral student in computer science and engineering, to tackle the challenge he heard expressed at the Washington meeting. The researchers developed a "Questionable Observer Detector (QuOD)" to identify individuals who repeatedly appear in video taken of bystanders at crime scenes.
The challenge was especially daunting because the researchers lacked a data base to compare faces against. Also, many times crime scene videos are shot by witnesses using handheld videos and are often of poor quality. Additionally, many criminals try to disguise their appearance in various ways.
In response, the Notre Dame team focused on an automatic facial recognition tool that didn't need to match people against an existing database of known identities. Instead, Bowyer, Flynn and Barr create "face tracks" for all individuals appearing in a video and repeat the process for all available video clips. The face tracks are compared to determine if any faces from different video clips look similar enough to match each other. When the technology spots a match, it adds it to a group of video appearances featuring just that person. In this way, it attempts to cluster together the pieces of different video clips that represent the same person...
The global authority over all .com domain names, VeriSign, is demanding the power to terminate websites deemed “abusive” when ordered to by government without a court order or any kind of oversight whatsoever.
“The company said today it wants to be able to enforce the “denial, cancellation or transfer of any registration” in any of a laundry list of scenarios where a domain is deemed to be “abusive,” reports the UK Register.
Not only is VeriSign seeking the power to kill websites when ordered to by governments, but also by “quasi-governmental agencies,” which could extend as far as lobbying organizations and special interests.
VeriSign has asked the domain name industry overseer ICANN to grant it the power to kill a .com or .net domain in order to comply with “applicable court orders, laws, government rules or requirements,” and believes the authority should be global to allow the company to shut down websites “without a court order” if any government agency merely requests it do so...
"How do I take my snapshot?"
Once you get your Snapshot device in the mail, just plug it into your car’s diagnostic port (usually below the steering column) and drive as you normally would to take your snapshot. Then, log in to your policy to view your driving information and projected Snapshot Discount.
"Will Progressive share Snapshot data with anyone else?"
We won’t share Snapshot data with a third party unless it’s required to service your insurance policy, prevent fraud, perform research or comply with the law... We also won’t use Snapshot data to resolve a claim unless you or the registered vehicle owner gives us permission...
A Bronx senator is taking aim at the alarming trend of online suicides caused by bullying – highlighted by the recent death of an upstate teen – and is proposing a bill that could land attackers behind bars for 15 years.
If passed, the measure would push New York into the forefront of anti-cyberbullying laws, although observers said enforcing it would be tricky.
“The bully of yesteryear has gotten to become a cyberbully, where you can hide behind the Internet and Facebook and Twitter and really torment a person,” state Sen. Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx) said Monday at a news conference in Manhattan.
Under the bill, a person convicted of bullying someone who ultimately commits suicide could be charged with second-degree manslaughter and go to jail for up to 15 years.
In addition, cyberbullying someone under age 21 would be considered third-degree stalking punishable by up to a year behind bars...
The Chrome Remote Desktop beta version, which arrived Friday, is a browser-based equivalent of remote desktop software for conventional operating systems. Such software is handy for IT administrators managing employees' machines, people taking care of their relatives' computers, or individuals getting access to their own machines from afar.
"Chrome Remote Desktop BETA is the first installment on a capability allowing users to remotely access another computer through the Chrome browser or a Chromebook," the release notes said. "Chrome Remote Desktop BETA is fully cross-platform, so you can connect any two computers that have a Chrome browser, including Windows, Linux, Mac, and Chromebooks"...
Could your ethnicity, gender, breathing and heart rate provide clues to criminal intent?
The Department of Homeland Security apparently thinks so. The agency is already testing a program on select members of the public to determine if algorithms using these factors could indicate mal-intent, according to an internal document obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and passed to CNET.
The system, dubbed FAST – or Future Attribute Screening Technology – was just an idea in 2007 and is now already in operation, according to the June 2010 document. FAST collected or retained information on unspecified members of the public in at least one field test conducted in an undisclosed location in the Northeast. A limited trial was also conducted with DHS employees.
The system’s sensors will “non-intrusively collect video images, audio recordings, and psychophysiological measurements from the employees,” according to a description of the trial program used with employees.
FAST is designed to track and monitor body movements, voice-pitch and rhythm changes, eye movement, body heat, breathing patterns, blink rate and pupil variation.
“The department’s Science and Technology Directorate has conducted preliminary research in operational settings to determine the feasibility of using non-invasive physiological and behavioral sensor technology and observational techniques to detect signs of stress, which are often associated with intent to do harm,” according to a statement DHS gave CNET. “The FAST program is only in the preliminary stages of research and there are no plans for acquiring or deploying this type of technology at this time.”
Roll call is a thing of the past in Washington County Schools. Students now check in with finger scanning devices.
School Superintendent Sandra Cook said the old method just wasn't cutting it.
"We got to talking about attendance in our district and how it was inconsistent," said Cook.
The systems have been up and running for two months inside the schools, but since the majority of students ride the bus every day, district officials decided to move the devices there.
The school district plans to test the equipment in a handful of buses in the next week and hopes to have each one operational by November or December at the latest.
"When it's all said and done, we're going to find that this is going to be one of the most monumental things that Washington County has ever done," said Cook.
The finger scan device costs the school district about $30 per student each year. Parents can still opt for their children to sign in the traditional way...
Biometrics are the latest craze in Delhi's crumbling corridors of power. The census department is capturing them. So is the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). As are a myriad others - banking correspondents, state governments, government programmes like the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, the ministry of rural development for NREGA workers, the home ministry in India's coastal areas, etc.
Further, state government and central ministries are starting to integrate biometrics into their programmes. Madhya Pradesh, for instance, is integrating UIDbacked food coupons into its PDS programme. Bihar and Andhra Pradesh make NREGA payments after biometric authentication. In Delhi, the government is planning to link Aadhaar to LPG distribution. So is Punjab. It seems safe to say that, sooner or later, we will all share our fingerprints, iris scans, what have you, with one or more institutions.
Sadly, even as opinion has converged inside government about the desirability of using biometrics, there has been little discussion about the safeguards that need to accompany this transition to biometrics. Think about it. Till now, privacy asserted our rights over our thoughts and interactions with others. Biometrics, on the other hand, capture and share information about our bodies...
The FBI by mid-January will activate a nationwide facial recognition service in select states that will allow local police to identify unknown subjects in photos, bureau officials told Nextgov.
The federal government is embarking on a multiyear, $1 billion dollar overhaul of the FBI's existing fingerprint database to more quickly and accurately identify suspects, partly through applying other biometric markers, such as iris scans and voice recordings.
Often law enforcement authorities will "have a photo of a person and for whatever reason they just don't know who it is [but they know] this is clearly the missing link to our case," said Nick Megna, a unit chief at the FBI's criminal justice information services division. The new facial recognition service can help provide that missing link by retrieving a list of mug shots ranked in order of similarity to the features of the subject in the photo...
Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), are flying robots remotely operated by pilots thousands of miles away, allowing soldiers to spy, survey, and obliterate the so-called enemy at the press of a button, much like a video game, except in the real world people die. As though video game warfare wasn't disturbing enough, it appears the military has gone even further, attempting to remove human control from the equation.
According to the Washington Post’s Peter Finn, the U.S. military is a decade or so away from deploying an army of pilotless drones capable of collaborating with one another in order to hunt down, identify, and annihilate an enemy combatant all on their own, without any human guidance. The U.S. military has teamed up with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to test these autonomous aerial drones, which will use facial-recognition type software to identify the targeted individual.
In other words, in the very near future, automated flying robots, instead of human pilots, will make decisions on whether or not to launch an attack to annihilate human beings on the ground based on biometrics software. I can think of a half-dozen science fiction movies (Terminator, anyone?) where allowing the machines to call the shots, particularly when dealing with life and death, backfired on their human overlords...
TruTouch Technologies claims it has developed the first touch-based alcohol detection device using infrared light that could be installed in vehicles.
Right now, a number of U.S. states and Canadian provinces force first-time and repeat offenders to pay to have their cars equipped with a breathalyzer that acts like an ignition interlock device, and requires them to exhale into the system to check for blood alcohol concentration before the engine can be started.
However, such device can easily be tampered with (your sober friend can pass the test for you), which has many advocates of road safety demanding a smarter system.
That's where TruTouch comes in. Here, a driver’s alcohol level is determined when a finger is placed on an infrared sensor. Results are determined in seconds. This device has a built-in biometric system so it can’t be cheated with another person’s finger...
FACEBOOK has come under fire after it was revealed adult sites could show up in people's Facebook account timelines.
Technology blog Techwag has warned Facebook users to prepare for embarrassing connections to porn sites to start appearing in their timelines once the new feature goes live in coming weeks.
The timeline feature means you will now have an ongoing and persistent record of your activities when on Facebook and so will others who can view your page.
What this means is that if a porn site uses passive sharing options on Facebook, has “like” buttons on its page or allows people to sign into their site using your Facebook details then all of that will now be recorded on your timeline..