(huffpo)
An option to prevent Google from combining data it collects on multiple services is to simply not sign into Google when using them. For example, if you're a Gmail user, you could log out of Gmail before using Google Search, Google Maps or YouTube.

Another, albeit tedious option, is to create separate Google accounts for each Google service that you use. For example, if you create a Google account only for Google searches, you could use that account when you'd prefer that Google not associate your searches with your primary Google account, such as your Gmail.

Google users who prefer not to receive personalized ads can opt out of ad personalization by visiting the Google Ads Preferences Manager. There, Google users will also be able to view (and change) the demographic information Google has gleaned from their search histories...
(more)


(huffpo)
Be careful what you link to or you might unwittingly become the spokesperson for a drum of personal lubricant.

At least that's the lesson multimedia producer, writer and University of Iowa teacher Nick Bergus learned after he posted a link to his Facebook page of a vat of personal lubricant for sale on Amazon.

According to a post on Bergus' blog titled "How I became Amazon’s pitchman for a 55-gallon drum of personal lubricant on Facebook," he shared the link for the $1,500 barrel and wrote, "A 55-gallon drum of lube on Amazon. For Valentine's Day. And every day. For the rest of your life."

He was shocked when, a week later, his friends started telling him that they were seeing his post show up as a sponsored story next to their newsfeeds. Sponsored stories are a form of Facebook advertising that turn your friends' "likes" and comments about brands into mini-ads that can be viewed from your Facebook profile.

In other words Amazon had paid Facebook to use Bergus' post as an advertisement for its site, even though he had posted jokingly about the product and hadn't genuinely recommended that his friends purchase it...
(more)


(techcrunch)
Ad targeting. Google+ is designed to power ad targeting, and for that it only needs you to sign up once. This lets it combine the biographical information you initially enter such as age, gender, education, employers, and places you’ve lived with your activity on Search, Gmail, Maps and all its other products to create an accurate identity profile. And this powers targeting of more relevant ads it can charge more for.

So despite comScore showing that the average Google+ user only spends 3 minutes per month on Google+, VP Bradley Horowitz wasn’t lying when he told the Wall Street Journal ”We’re growing by every metric we care about”.

Maybe when it first launched, Google+ had aspirations of stealing away some of your content feed reading time from Facebook and Twitter. While it needs a lot of work, the design and features Google+ have launched are solid, and I have the utmost respect for a team doing the best it can. The problem is that it doesn’t solve a problem. Facebook owns the social graph and the relevance-sorted news feed of your friends’ activity, and Twitter owns the interest graph and the firehose of news and real-time updates.

But that was not why Google made building social functionality a priority. Nor was improving its already dominant search feature. It’d would love this engagement but it doesn’t need it. Google scrambled to build Google+ because it watched Facebook and saw users were willing to volunteer biographical data to their social network, and that data is crucial to serving accurate ads users want to click. Search keywords and algorithmic analysis of your Gmail and other content weren’t enough. It had to start the journey to identity after shortsighted years of allowing users to sign up without asking who they really were. 90 million signups is a good start.

Isn’t it curious that Google+ doesn’t actually show you any ads? It’s because the time-on-site and page views there are trivial. Hit the road, Jack. Don’t you ever come back and post an update, upload a photo, or add anyone to your Circles. It doesn’t matter. What’s important to Google is getting your biographical data. That’s why Google founder Larry Page said that by “baking identity into all of our products…you’ll have better, more relevant search results and ads.” on the 2011 Q3 earnings call...
(more)


(migrationexpert)
The government has doubled the number of people required to have a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to stay in the UK, raising the number to 400,000 a year.

The announcement made on February 27, 2012 by Immigration Minister Damian Green is about a move to help combat illegal working in the UK and abuse of the benefit system. Under the expansion of the program, all non-European Economic Area nationals applying to remain in the UK for more than six months will now be covered by the compulsory permits.

BRPs hold a person's fingerprints and photograph on a secure chip, which can be used to check information on each individual's work and benefits entitlements. Employers will soon be able to access an online Employers Checking Service (ECS) for BRPs from June, with public authorities later in the year, to confirm whether individuals are eligible to work in the UK as well as their rights to access services.

Damian Green said: "This will help ensure only those with the right to be here can take a job legally in the UK and enjoy the services to which they are entitled… The new measures are a deterrent to all foreign nationals who are looking to exploit the UK for personal gain by breaking the law."

The Post Office is to support the extension by rolling out a network of biometric enrolment sites to have fingerprints and photographs taken, with the aim of adding 87 to the existing 17 sites by mid-April...
(more)

Why not just expand the program to all residents?


(nytimes)
The private photos on your phone may not be as private as you think.

Developers of applications for Apple’s mobile devices, along with Apple itself, came under scrutiny this month after reports that some apps were taking people’s address book information without their knowledge.

As it turns out, address books are not the only things up for grabs. Photos are also vulnerable. After a user allows an application on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to have access to location information, the app can copy the user’s entire photo library, without any further notification or warning, according to app developers.

It is unclear whether any apps in Apple’s App Store are illicitly copying user photos. Although Apple’s rules do not specifically forbid photo copying, Apple says it screens all apps submitted to the store, a process that should catch nefarious behavior on the part of developers. But copying address book data was against Apple’s rules, and the company approved many popular apps that collected that information.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment...
(more)


(huffpo)
Private intelligence firm Stratfor was paid by Coca-Cola to gauge the threat of Olympic protesters, provided Dow Chemical information on environmental activists, and sells what clients and subscribers consider some of the best geopolitical analysis that money can buy.

Now the Texas-based think tank is the latest target of WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange, who says his anti-secrecy group has more than 5 million of Stratfor's emails and is promising to release damaging material in the coming weeks.

The first, small batch published Monday contained little that was particularly scintillating – but revealed clients that Stratfor has long safeguarded and refused to disclose. They range from local universities to megacorporations like Coca-Cola, which apparently worried about animal-rights supporters crashing and disrupting the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

"To what extent will US-based PETA supporters travel to Canada to support activism?" a Coca-Cola manager asked a Stratfor analyst in a 2009 email.

An initial examination of the emails turned up a mix of the innocuous and the embarrassing. But Assange has accused Stratfor of serious deeds, such as funneling money to informants through offshore tax havens, monitoring activist groups on behalf of big corporations and making investments based on its secret intelligence.

"What we have discovered is a company that is a private intelligence Enron," Assange told London's Frontline Club, referring to the Texas energy giant whose spectacular bankruptcy turned it into a byword for corporate malfeasance.

Stratfor denied there was anything improper in the way it dealt with its contacts.

"Stratfor has worked to build good sources in many countries around the world, as any publisher of global geopolitical analysis would do," the company said in a statement. "We have done so in a straightforward manner and we are committed to meeting the highest standards of professional conduct."

Headquartered on the fourth floor of a bank building in downtown Austin, Stratfor might be one of the smallest targets on which WikiLeaks has set its sights. Founded in 1996, the company was reported to have the equivalent of around 40 full-time employees in Austin in 2008 and regularly plucks interns from the nearby University of Texas campus.

According to one internal Stratfor document released by WikiLeaks, the company boasted having 292,000 paid subscribers but also acknowledged that the actual number of people reading its products is far fewer. Stratfor uses analysts to scour the Internet for open-source information, which they then use to determine where the world's next crisis might strike.

But the company also pays for information. One email released by WikiLeaks described a $6,000-a-month payment made to a Middle Eastern source, and another carried bits of gossip dropped by a retired spy. In December, Stratfor founder George Friedman gave advice on handling sources to one of his analysts gathering information on the health of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez.

"If this is a source you suspect may have value, you have to take control od (sic) him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control to the point where he would reveal his sourcing and be tasked," the email read. "This is difficult to do when you are known to be affiliated with an intelligence organization."

Stratfor Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton bragged in other emails about his "trusted former CIA cronies" and promises to "see what I can uncover" about a classified FBI investigation.

Messages left for Burton weren't immediately returned...
(more)


(huffpo)
Ever complain on Facebook that you were feeling "sick?" Told your friends to "watch" a certain TV show? Left a comment on a media website about government "pork?"

If you did any of those things, or tweeted about your recent vacation in "Mexico" or a shopping trip to "Target," the Department of Homeland Security may have noticed.

In the latest revelation of how the federal government is monitoring social media and online news outlets, the Electronic Privacy Information Center has posted online a 2011 Department of Homeland Security manual that includes hundreds of key words (such as those above) and search terms used to detect possible terrorism, unfolding natural disasters and public health threats. The center, a privacy watchdog group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request and then sued to obtain the release of the documents.

The 39-page "Analyst's Desktop Binder" used by the department's National Operations Center includes no-brainer words like ""attack," "epidemic" and "Al Qaeda" (with various spellings). But the list also includes words that can be interpreted as either menacing or innocent depending on the context, such as "exercise," "drill," "wave," "initiative," "relief" and "organization."

These terms and others are "broad, vague and ambiguous" and include "vast amounts of First Amendment protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters," stated the Electronic Privacy Information Center in letter to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

The manual was released by the center a week after Homeland Security officials were grilled at a House hearing over other documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that revealed analysts were scrutinizing online comments that "reflect adversely" on the federal government. Mary Ellen Callahan, the chief privacy officer for the Department of Homeland Security, and Richard Chavez, director for the National Operations Center, testified that the released documents were outdated and that social media was monitored strictly to provide situational awareness and not to police disparaging opinions about the federal government. On Friday, Homeland Security officials stuck by that testimony...
(more)


(usatoday)
The day has arrived when some of the travelers sitting with you at the airport gate or on the plane don't have to be nameless and unknown. Two airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Malaysia Airlines, are letting passengers share their social-network profiles or photos and pick seatmates before the flight.

KLM's Meet & Seat and Malaysia Airlines' MHbuddy "social-seating" programs can let you see whether other stockbrokers or insurance industry executives will be on the same plane or whether someone is flying to San Francisco to attend the same business meeting.

Or, they allow you to just peruse passengers' social-network profiles to find a potential soul mate.

The social-seating plans, initiated by KLM in January and by Malaysia Airlines last year, are seen as the ultimate social-networking dream by some and an invitation to stalkers and a privacy nightmare by others.

Some cautions are prudent. But others are based on incomplete or false information about the programs.

"Very weird," writes Nora Barry Byrne on KLM's Facebook page. "I totally vote on the creepy. Is the default to opt in or opt out? If I was traveling with my kids/teens or traveling on my own — all I think of is the creeps that would use this to stalk. I would hope they remind passengers each time to opt out if they don't want to be stalked on a flight."

But KLM Meet & Seat, available on flights between Amsterdam and New York, San Francisco and São Paulo, is voluntary...
(more)


(ap)
The Obama administration said Monday it has no control over how the New York Police Department spends millions of dollars in White House grants that helped pay for NYPD programs that put entire American Muslim neighborhoods under surveillance. In New York, the police commissioner said he wouldn't apologize.

The White House has no opinion about how the grant money was spent, spokesman Jay Carney said. The Associated Press reported Monday that the White House money has paid for the cars that plainclothes NYPD officers used to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods and paid for computers that stored even innocuous information about Muslim college students, mosque sermons and social events.

The money is part of a little-known grant intended to help law enforcement fight drug crimes. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135 million to the New York and New Jersey region through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, known as HIDTA. It's unclear exactly how much was spent on surveillance of Muslims because the HIDTA program has little oversight.

The AP confirmed the use of White House money through secret police documents and interviews with current and former city and federal officials. The AP also obtained electronic documents with digital signatures indicating they were created and saved on HIDTA computers. The HIDTA grant program is overseen by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Carney said the White House drug policy office has no authority to direct, manage or supervise any law enforcement operations, including the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims.

"This is not an administration program or a White House program," Carney said. "This is the New York Police Department."

The disclosure that the White House is at least partially paying for the NYPD's surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods complicates its efforts to stay out of the fray over the controversial counterterrorism programs. Carney described the Office of National Drug Control Policy as a policy office, but he did not say whether the White House sees the NYPD's programs as good policy.

In New York, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was again unapologetic. Kelly said that some local politicians who questioned the NYPD's methods were pandering to voters in upcoming elections, and said that others — including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and Newark Mayor Cory Booker — were wrong to question the department.

"Not everybody is going to be happy with everything the police department does, that's the nature of our business," Kelly said. "But our primary mission, our primary goal is to keep this city safe, to save lives. That's what we're engaged in doing."
(more)

Better than Bush? Keep believing, keep hoping! Additionally, Ray Kelly is a fucking dick and he needs to be retired.


(heraldsun)
INTERNET giant Facebook is accessing smartphone users' personal text messages, an investigation has revealed.

Facebook admitted reading text messages belonging to smartphone users who downloaded the social-networking app and said that it was accessing the data as part of a trial to launch its own messaging service, The (London) Sunday Times reported.

Other well-known companies accessing smartphone users' personal data - such as text messages - include photo-sharing site Flickr, dating site Badoo and Yahoo Messenger, the paper said.

It claimed that some apps even allow companies to intercept phone calls - while others, such as YouTube, are capable of remotely accessing and operating users' smartphone cameras to take photographs or videos at any time.

Security app My Remote Lock and the app Tennis Juggling Game were among smaller companies' apps that may intercept users' calls, the paper said...
(more)


(allafrica)
The FCT Police Commissioner, Michael Zuokumor, yesterday said that capturing cab driver's biometric data in the territory will tremendously reduce crime.

Zuokumor stated this in Abuja, during the official flag-off of the biometric data capturing of FCT cab drivers, an event organised by Painted Abuja Taxi Nigeria Limited (PAT).

He said the FCT Police Command in partnership with cab drivers in the territory have been able to reduce the incidences of car snatching and 'one chance operators' to the barest minimum in recent time.

"The command is developing strategies that will ensure that the issue of car snatching becomes a thing of the past in Abuja within the next three to six months," he said.

Earlier in his remark, Chairman of Painted Abuja Taxi Nigeria Limited, Alhaji Shugaba Yar'Adua, said the essence of capturing cab drivers biometric data is to tackle the incidence of 'one chance operators' in order to guarantee the safety and security of commuters.

He said that the exercise will enable the government monitor the activities of taxi drivers in the territory and urged all cab drivers to key into the scheme.

Yar 'Adua disclosed that Painted Abuja Taxi Ltd has signed an MoU with FCT Transportation Secretariat to provide them with 300,000 new vehicles in order to remove all rickety commercial vehicles from Abuja road.

He said the FCT Transport Secretariat has equally promised to create taxi racks in all the six area councils, where cab drivers can conveniently carry out their activities.

On his part, Representative of FCT Transport Secretary, Alhaji Mohammed Tukur, urged cab operators in the territory to strictly follow the rules and regulations laid down for their operations for smooth transport operation.
(more)


(inforum)
Sporting a Y chromosome? A new high-tech, outdoor billboard being tested in London won’t let you see its advertisement.

Developed by Plan UK, a nonprofit organization that helps children in Third World countries, the billboard will promote the group’s “Because I’m a Girl” campaign. The effort is designed to help sponsor girls in developing countries so they can receive a proper education.

Men won’t be able to see the full ad, and will be directed to the organization’s website instead, to show men “a glimpse of what it’s like to have basic choices taken away.” The fairer sex, on the other hand, will see a full 40-second video promoting Plan UK’s cause.

Located in London’s West End, the ad is equipped with a high-definition camera that is used to scan the facial features of passers-by, determining their gender with a 90 percent success rate. The display, which cost an estimated $47,000, will run for two weeks in an effort to raise $391,700 via donations over the next four months...
(more)


(physorg)
Austin, Texas-based Chaotic Moon Labs made a splash earlier this year with a high-tech Kinect-controlled skateboard moving by the rider's hand signals. Now they are showcasing another skateboard that moves beyond Kinect power and hand signals, over to a board that moves by just reading your mind. Think where you want to go and your board takes you there. From their Board of Awesomeness, their newest Board of Imagination is designed to show another twist to skateboard inventiveness and also to what travel might involve with enough technical ingenuity and creativity at play.

The Board of Imagination is a skateboard that carries the same Samsung tablet with Windows 8 and the same 800 watt electric motor as the earlier skateboard, but now sports a headset. With it, the board will read the rider’s mind and will move anywhere the rider imagines.

The skateboard can translate brain waves into action such that the user visualizes a point off in the distance and thinks about the speed in which to travel to get there. The skateboard does the rest.

The mind-reader for the device is the EPOC headset from Emotiv. Described as a “neuroheadset,” the Emotiv company has produced a device that serves as an interface for human-computer interaction. As part of the new skateboard, the headset can control the rider’s speed and braking.Mind-reading skateboard gets cues from neuroheadset
(more)


(suntimes)
Whether it’s pruning friends lists, removing unwanted comments or restricting access to their profiles, Americans are getting more privacy-savvy on social networks, a new report found.

The report released Friday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that people are managing their privacy settings and their online reputation more often than they did two years earlier. For example, 44 percent of respondents said in 2011 that they deleted comments from their profile on a social networking site. Only 36 percent said the same thing in 2009.

The findings come a day after the Obama administration called for stronger privacy protections for people who use the Internet, mobile devices and other technologies with increasingly sophisticated ways of tracking them. Pew’s findings suggest that people not only care about their privacy online but that, given the tools, they will also try to manage it.

Along those lines is “profile pruning,” which Pew reports is on the rise. Nearly two-thirds of people on social networks said last year that they had deleted friends, up from 56 percent in 2009. And more people are removing their names from photos than two years ago.
(more)


(wsj)
At Columbia University and elsewhere, the fear that the New York Police Department might secretly be infiltrating Muslim student's lives has spread beyond them to others who find the reported tactics "disgusting," as one teenager put it.

The NYPD surveillance of Muslims on a dozen college campuses in the Northeast is a surprising and disappointing violation, students said Saturday in reaction to Associated Press reports that revealed the intelligence-gathering at Columbia and elsewhere.

"If this is happening to innocent Muslim students, who's next?" asked freshman Dina Morris, 18, of Amherst, Mass. "I'm the child of an immigrant, and I was just blown away by the news; it's disgusting."

Documents obtained by the AP show that the NYPD used undercover officers and informants to infiltrate Muslim student groups. An officer even went whitewater rafting with students and reported on how many times they prayed and what they discussed. Police also trawled college websites and blogs, compiling daily reports on the activities of Muslim students and academics.

It was all part of the NYPD's efforts to keep tabs on Muslims throughout the region as part of the department's anti-terrorism efforts. Police built databases of where Muslims lived and worked, where they prayed, even where they watched sports.

In the past week, Muslims and non-Muslims alike held a town hall meeting on the Manhattan campus of the Ivy League college to discuss the police surveillance. Concerned members of many school groups attended.

On Friday, some of their counterparts at New York University choked up as they gathered to voice their outrage at the notion that even students' religious habits were being tracked by the NYPD.

"Why is the number of times that we pray per day — whether or not I come in this space and put my forehead on the floor in worship of my Lord — why does that have anything to do with somebody trying to keep this country safe?" said Elizabeth Dann, 29, an NYU law student...
(more)


(vinu)
The public is invited to enroll in one of two Homeland Security Community Academies. The First academy will be March 24, 2012 at the VU Gibson Center in Fort Branch, IN and the second academy will be March 31, 2012 at Lawrenceville, IL City Hall.

These sessions are designed to raise awareness about timely issues such as weapons of mass destruction, international and domestic terrorism, emergency management and many other interesting topics.

Enrollment in the academy is free and lunch will be provided. Participants are encouraged to attend one of the two sessions...
(more)


(bostonglobe)
A legal challenge to Google Inc.’s privacy policy was dismissed by a judge who said she lacked authority to order the Federal Trade Commission to take action against the world’s most popular search engine.

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a ruling yesterday in Washington said Congress didn’t give federal courts jurisdiction to monitor FTC enforcement of consent decrees.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, sued Feb. 8, claiming Google’s planned changes to its privacy policy violate a consent order requiring the company to protect consumer data.

“EPIC - along with many other individuals and organizations - has advanced serious concerns that may well be legitimate,’’ Jackson wrote in her ruling. “The FTC, which has advised the court that the matter is under review, may ultimately decide to institute an enforcement action.’’

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., announced plans on Jan. 24 to unify privacy policies for 60 services and products including YouTube videos and Android software for mobile phones. The move, set to take effect March 1, would simplify conditions for user agreements, the company said.

EPIC said the plan would allow Google to combine more information about users, reduce users’ control of their own data, and give more personal information to advertisers. Google has denied that the new policy will divulge any more information about users to third parties.

“The judge did not reach the merits of the EPIC complaint,’’ Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s executive director, said in an e-mail. The group filed a notice of appeal with the court.

Rotenberg said his group will also ask Representative Mary Bono Mack, a California Republican, to hold a public hearing on Google’s privacy policy.

“We take our settlement orders very seriously, but only the FTC and not outside parties should be able to enforce them,’’ Claudia Bourne Farrell, a commission spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “We are pleased that the court has rejected EPIC’s unwarranted attempt to interrupt the FTC’s careful consideration of the announced changes in Google’s privacy policies.’’
(more)


(scientificamerican)
Last week President Obama signed a sweeping aviation bill that, among other things, will open the skies to “unmanned aircraft systems,” more commonly known as drones. Much of the discussion regarding the coming era of domestic drones has been focused on the many important questions regarding their use at low altitudes. To what extent will it be legal, for example, for drones to hover 300 feet above residential neighborhoods snapping pictures into backyards and windows? What level of human-in-the-loop control is needed to ensure safety in a crowded airspace? And how can we stop terrorists from piloting drones at treetop level towards a target?

But there is another portion of the airspace—the stratosphere—that while mostly empty today, will in the coming years will become increasingly populated by gossamer-like, solar-powered drones turning silent, lazy circles in the sky. These drones will stay aloft for years at a time, running on energy collected during the day using solar panels mounted on paper-thin wings. As their slowly turning propellers push them along at bicycle speeds, arrays of high-resolution cameras on their undersides will record the daily comings and goings of the population of entire cities.

The stratosphere lies roughly between 40,000 and 150,000 feet in altitude. Commercial airliners often ply its lower reaches, but above about 55,000 feet the traffic is limited to a few military reconnaissance planes, unmanned weather and scientific balloons, and at rare intervals, a rocket arcing upward on its way to orbit. The stratosphere is mostly empty, cold, and quiet, closer to the blackness of outer space than to the din of human commerce.

Like so much in aviation, that is about to change. The technology to turn the stratosphere into the domain of the drones is already well under development. The Zephyr, a high-altitude, solar-powered drone designed by British company QinetiQ and weighing under 120 pounds despite having a 74-foot wingspan, stayed aloft for two continuous weeks in a summer 2010 test in Arizona. In September 2010, Boeing announced that it had been awarded a contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop the Solar Eagle, a craft that will eventually be able to fly above 60,000 feet for five continuous years. And many of the information technologies needed perform detailed surveillance from these platforms are already found in common consumer electronics devices...
(more)


(telegraph)
Special movement sensors are to be hidden in spires and finials triggering a booming voice to take intruders by surprise warning that they have been detected and that security guards are on their way.

The initiative, backed by the Church of England, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office, comes after the rate of metal thefts reached “catastrophic” proportions in some dioceses with an average of seven churches targeted every day.

An insurance company has donated £500,000 to pay for hi-tech alarms to be fitted in 100 churches in England, Scotland and Wales judged to be most at risk.

But organisers hope that hundreds of other parishes will raise funds themselves to fit the devices – adapting the traditional church roof appeal model to cope with the metal theft crisis.

The soaring cost of metal during the global economic crisis has helped fuel a surge in metal thefts, triggering chaos on the rail network when copper signalling cables are taken.

Last year an irreplaceable Barbara Hepworth sculpture was stolen from Dulwich Park in south London.

But churches in particular have been viewed as a soft option by thieves, often poorly guarded and situated in all of the most crime-ridden areas of the country.

Last year alone the insurance firm Ecclesiastical – which provides cover for 96 per cent of Anglican churches – received 2,600 claims for metal thefts, the highest ever in a single year.

The Church of England, which alone is responsible for almost half of all grade one listed buildings in Britain, has admitted the task of maintaining its buildings is becoming impossible.

Metal theft is now being viewed and treated as a serious threat to Britain’s national heritage...
(more)

Maybe people wouldn't be stealing metal if they could get a job and enough money to eat and live.


(washingtonpost)
Silicon Valley was alarmed. Across the country in Washington, federal lawmakers were proposing legislation that could have crippled the efforts of Web companies to collect consumer data that is crucial to selling advertisements online.

After a year of negotiations, the White House on Thursday unveiled privacy guidelines for these firms that urged them to install “do not track” technology on browsers but fell short of requiring it. Tech giants, in particular Google, breathed a sigh of relief. They would agree to curb some tracking activities, but it would largely be on their terms and wouldn’t hobble their cash cow.

“The White House announcement is a huge victory for Google on privacy,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.

The “victory” didn’t happen by accident. Google has become a major force in Washington.

Once disdainful of the lobbying tactics of other companies, Google’s Beltway operations have become nearly indistinguishable from the most powerful corporations that line K Street. Last year, it doubled the amount it spent on lobbying to $10 million and doubled the size of its employee political donation fund to $836,000.

These efforts have come as regulators are increasing scrutiny of the company’s activities. Google is facing federal probes on antitrust and privacy that could greatly shape its future. Next week, Google will roll out a privacy policy that will enable it to build more sophisticated profiles of its customers, a move lawmakers say should be investigated.

Google capped the reinvention of its Washington operations Thursday by announcing that former congresswoman Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.) will head its D.C. staff. Molinari has made public appearances on behalf of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. After she left Congress in 1997, Molinari became a registered lobbyist and represented the Association of American Railroads, mortgage giant Freddie Mac and Verizon Communications, according to the Sunlight Foundation.

“She will help lawmakers better understand our company, how it works and what its impact is,” said a Google official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Google officials declined comment publicly on the company’s lobbying operations.

Google has hired several Republican political veterans over the past year, trying to defuse criticism by lawmakers that the firm is too cozy with the Obama administration. Chairman Eric Schmidt is a White House economic adviser, and Google’s former head of global public policy, Andrew McLaughlin, was Obama’s deputy chief technology officer.
(more)


(policeone)
These days, when Philadelphia police officers respond to robberies and shootings, they might learn that video surveillance from the scene has already been pulled from cameras in the area.

Officers in neighborhoods known for car thefts, meanwhile, might be handed an automatic license-plate reader that can scan thousands of vehicles within a few hours.

And in the future, the half hour it might take to conduct database searches for criminal records and other information could be cut to 30 seconds.

It hasn't happened overnight, but the Philadelphia Police Department is making advances in updating its technology. Philadelphia is now one of about 10 cities in the country with a Real-Time Crime Center, a 24-hour hub of video surveillance, databases, and other resources. The center is funded largely with federal money.

The center, which went to 24-hour staffing last month, was developed as a way for officers to assist investigators from a tactical perspective by quickly accessing information about crimes, identifying potential suspects, and even heading off crimes...
(more)
Thursday, February 23, 2012


(singularityhub)
I never forget a face. Neither, apparently, does my iPhone. KLIK, the exciting new app from Face.com, can automatically recognize faces through the smart phone’s camera. Just open the app, take a photo, and KLIK will search through previous pics to correctly tag the face(s). If linked to a Facebook account KLIK becomes even more powerful, correctly identifying friends based on their shared photos. KLIK is so fast that, with a good internet connection, it can accurately identify someone before a picture is taken. Not only that, but it’s absolutely free! After downloading the app on an iPhone 3S and testing it for several days, this writer is amazed at how quick and accurate KLIK can be…when it works. There are definite bugs to be worked out of the system. Still, Face.com’s foray into mobile facial recognition for social media is stunning when it succeeds, and its launch hints at the absurd power this technology will have in the very near future.

As Singularity Hub has discussed in the past, Face.com is a well known innovator when it comes to facial recognition. They are one of the leading sources (if not THE source) of facial recognition on Facebook, and their API allows for a wide range of applications. Automatic tagging of photos, locating faces for photo manipulation, even characterizing faces by their apparent emotions – Face.com can do it all, and it can do it very well. So well, in fact, that their technology has been used to help identify ‘anonymous’ looters from the most recent London riots. While Face.com technology isn’t fool proof when transforming blurry surveillance footage into quality court room evidence, it is remarkably powerful when dealing with the high quality pics taken by smart phones...
(more)

Time to scrub those pics off yr Facebooks, people... oops, too late!


(wkmg)
A decade ago, in the Dreamworks movie "Minority Report," billboards spoke directly to the characters in the movie and even knew their names.

In just weeks, that science fiction plot will become reality as some businesses in Central Florida will know who you are when you walk through their door.

It's thanks to enhanced facial recognition technology.

It's not unusual to see surveillance cameras. They’re inside businesses, outside of homes, even on the streets. In public places, people are comfortable with knowing those cameras are there for safety, but this new technology allows cameras to not just see what people do, but know who they are.

Shops and malls across the country are already taking this a step further.

There are now billboards, made by Immersive Labs in Manhattan, and kiosks that cater ads to your age and demographic.

For example, if a woman was to walk up to a mall directory, a camera inside would take a photo. It will recognize her gender, age and race and instantly provide an ad for the appropriate products. So, if the shopper is a 30-year-old woman, she might see adds for makeup, shoes and clothing.

Industry expert Rafe Needleman believes it's just a matter of time before stores not only to recognize you, but track your spending habits.

“When you walk into a store, it might know who you are just when you walk in and give you deals based on past purchases,” said Needleman.

But not everyone wants to be recognized.

And the Federal Trade Commission worries about the time when technology becomes so advanced that your social media profiles are scraped for information...
(more)

Hmmmm, scraping information from social media profiles... now who does that sound like? Oh yeah, Google, Facebook, and our own government.


(informationweek)
1. Privacy
The outcry over people beaming images back to Google's data centers will be deafening, far worse than complaints about Google's monitoring of Web browsing habits. Google engineers are said to be actively discussing the privacy implications of the glasses. But the company's history of repeated privacy blunders suggests controversy is inevitable.

Google has the technology to enable facial recognition with its Google Goggles app, but has avoided doing so for fear of privacy problems. And that's the real shame here, because augmented reality glasses should be able to do things like present the name of the person you're looking at. That kind of technology will be available eventually, at least to police departments. But as a society, we're not ready for it.

2. Redundancy
Augmented reality is cool. But putting the technology into a pair of glasses isn't strictly necessary. Everything your Google glasses might be able to do, your Android phone will do better, particularly given the assumption that the glasses will be intended for periodic rather than constant use.

3. Cost
For several hundred dollars, you'll get what? Services already available on your smartphone. Augmented reality makes a lot of sense if you're, say, a NASA astronaut who needs to see Space Shuttle schematics in your visor while you're on a space walk to make repairs. Augmented reality makes less sense for consumers. A more cost-effective solution might be a smartphone scaffold for mounting your phone on your baseball cap.

4. Health
There's already enough FUD about mobile phones and brain cancer. But even the most scientifically-minded are likely to balk if Google's glasses rely on anything more powerful than Bluetooth to transmit and receive data. And that's to say nothing of the potential health effects of visual distraction and impairment. No one wants their last thought to be, "Hey, Google Maps says I'm walking across Highway 101... "

5. Liability
And if there are health risks, there will be liability problems. People will wear Google's glasses while driving, despite explicit warnings not to do so. They will collide with elderly pedestrians and someone will get hurt. Someone will end up going cross-eyed. There will be lawsuits. And some politician will hold a hearing. Add the cost of an insurance policy to your Google Glasses bill. ...
(more)


(baltimoresun)
Online privacy issues jumped to the forefront Wednesday in Maryland as the attorney general challenged Google Inc.'s new privacy policy, a few days after a pair of Baltimore attorneys filed a class-action lawsuit against Facebook Inc. for allegedly tracking users who ventured off its online social network.

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler sent a letter to Google that demanded a meeting in a week about the company's changes to its privacy policy, which gives the Internet company deeper access to users' data across its services, such as Gmail and YouTube. Thirty-five other states joined Gansler in support.

"I am deeply concerned about Google's effort to push a major privacy change on consumers without giving them the choice to opt in, or at a minimum the opportunity to opt out," Gansler said in a statement.

Separately, attorneys William H. "Billy" Murphy and Peter G. Angelos, who owns the Baltimore Orioles, filed a federal lawsuit against Facebook in California last week — one of among a dozen suits in 11 states that will be consolidated by judges in California. The two attorneys have litigated several major class-action lawsuits and won multi-million-dollars payouts over the years.

"Facebook made a promise to its users that it would not track their website activity unless they were signed into Facebook," said Murphy. "And that promise turned out to be false."
(more)


(gizmodo)
Evangeline Marrero Lucca, 37 years old and devoted Chicken McNuggets with curry sauce fan, got tasered at a McDonald's drive-through by police officers. She cut into the car line and then refused to move and wait her turn when instructed to do so.

According to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office spokewoman Debbie Tanna, she got really violent when the police arrived, called by frustrated and scared McDonald's restaurant employees...
(more)


(utblive)
UTB is a 4 on 4 action sport involving a 200’ x 85’ rectangular playing field, with one ball, 2 goals at opposing ends, and 8 Shocking apparatus.

The UTB league, conceived of by Leif Kellenberger, has been developed in conjunction with several industry partners (Erik Wunsch & Eric Prum) in order to bring a new, action packed team sport to the forefront of extreme sport.

UTB incorporates 20th century technolgy with team strategy in an action packed game. UTB is a high-octane experience for both the participating athletes and spectators.
(more)


(courant)
Some police departments in Connecticut that use license plate scanning technology to identify unregistered and stolen cars are holding on to the data and sharing it, raising privacy concerns about how that information could be used.

"By allowing the police to keep them [the license plate data] indefinitely and then searching them however they want ... it's like retroactive surveillance without probable cause," said David J. McGuire, the American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney who requested the data.

"We know that this is a legitimate law-enforcement tool," he said. "What we're saying is that it should be regulated and there should be some oversight."

The scanning database was first reported on Tuesday by The Associated Press.

A group of 10 towns pooled their scans to compile a database with more than 3.1 million records on more than 1.3 million different vehicles since October 2009. A license plate was captured on average once every 14 1/2 seconds; on the busiest day, police captured 13,597 plates.

The scanners, mounted in police cars, allow officers to instantly identity cars that are stolen or unregistered, or are linked to criminal activity. But the vast majority of the license plates scanned are on vehicles with no problems, and the data can show when and where those cars have been.

The ACLU is pushing a bill that would prohibit police from keeping the data for longer than two weeks, unless specific pieces of information are needed for an active investigation. Maine has a law setting a three-week limit on keeping the data, McGuire said. New Hampshire law bans the scanners altogether.

The ubiquity of the scanners is evident in a map that the ACLU created showing license-plate scans around the Buckland Hills mall in Manchester last November. Red dots blanket multiple approach routes and thousands of parking spaces.

"I understand why [police] want it. It's incredibly powerful. It's a lot of information," McGuire said. "But at the same time, people have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, all the people that were in the mall in November shopping didn't think they were having their plates scanned and put in a database forever."
(more)


(register-herald)
Is the Real ID a precursor to the end-time world dictator known in Bible prophecy as the Antichrist?

A Randolph County school teacher is convinced there is an eventual link, and wants West Virginia lawmakers to grant anyone with a religious conviction an exemption from the license that employs biometrics.

“If we as Christians comply with the Real ID act, we would be enrolled into a global system of identification that directly links our body through biometrics to our ability to buy or sell,” Philip Hudok told the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Tuesday.

Hudok spoke in support of SB550, authored by Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, who seeks to extend an exemption to the Real ID on religious grounds.

A few years ago, Barnes sought to block West Virginia from taking part in the Real ID, a spawn of the fear that spread across the nation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack.

His bill cleared the Senate but wasn’t taken up by the House of Delegates.

Hudok’s beliefs are couched in Revelation 13:16-17, “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads;

“And that no man might buy or sell, save he had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

Hudok emphasized he wasn’t saying that those enrolled in the global system are under the thumb of the ultimate Beast, but said the use of Real ID means biblical prophecy is “well under way.”

“And that’s the bottom line,” he said of the driver’s license.

“You can hardly do anything without a driver’s license.”

Instead of employing biometrics, Hudok suggested the Division of Motor Vehicles rely simply on a birth certificate to verify one’s identity...
(more)


(federico pistono)
You are about to become obsolete. You think that you are special, unique, and that whatever it is that you are doing is impossible to replace. You are wrong.

As we speak, millions of algorithms created by computer scientists are frantically running on servers all over the world with one sole purpose: do whatever we used to do, but better. These algorithms are intelligent computer programs, permeating the substrateof our society. They make financial decisions, they predict the weather, they suggest which countries will wage war next. Soon, there will be little left for us to do: machines will take over.

Does that sound like a futuristic fantasy? Maybe so. This argument is proposed by a growing, yet still fringe, community of thinkers, scientists and academics, who see the advancement of technology as a
disruptive force which will soon transform our entire socio-economic system, forever. According to them, the displacement of labour by machines and computer intelligence will increase dramatically over the next decades. Such changes will be so drastic and quick that the market will not be able to abide in creating new opportunities for workers who lost their job, making unemployment not just part of a cycle, but structural in nature and chronically irreversible. It will be the end of work as we now it.

Most economists discard such arguments. Many of them don’t even address the issue in the first place. And those who do claim that the market always finds a way. As old jobs are replaced by machines, new jobs are created. Thanks to the ingenuity of the human mind and the need for growth, markets always find a way, especially in the ever-connected and globalized mass-market we live in today.

I don’t think we should approach this issue based on our beliefs, hunches, or gut feeling. Rather, let’s use logic and reason based on the evidence that we have so far.

Consider this. The exponential expansion of technology has been growing remarkably smoothly for a long time. And I’m not referring to the well-known Moore’s law, which states that the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. Integrated circuits are just a tiny fraction of the whole spectrum of change that pervades technological advancement.

Kurzweil notes that Moore’s Law was not the first to do so, but rather the fifth paradigm to provide accelerating price-performance. Computing devices have been consistently multiplying in power (per unit of time),
from the mechanical calculating devices used in the 1890 U.S. Census, to Turing’s relay-based “Robinson” machine that cracked the Nazi enigma code, to the CBS vacuum tube computer that predicted the election of Eisenhower, to the transistor-based machines used in the first space launches, to the integrated-circuit-based personal computer which Kurzweil used to dictate the very essay that described this phenomenon in 2001...
(more)


(wsj)
On Feb. 27, a diplomatic process will begin in Geneva that could result in a new treaty giving the United Nations unprecedented powers over the Internet. Dozens of countries, including Russia and China, are pushing hard to reach this goal by year's end. As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last June, his goal and that of his allies is to establish "international control over the Internet" through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a treaty-based organization under U.N. auspices.

If successful, these new regulatory proposals would upend the Internet's flourishing regime, which has been in place since 1988. That year, delegates from 114 countries gathered in Australia to agree to a treaty that set the stage for dramatic liberalization of international telecommunications. This insulated the Internet from economic and technical regulation and quickly became the greatest deregulatory success story of all time.

Since the Net's inception, engineers, academics, user groups and others have convened in bottom-up nongovernmental organizations to keep it operating and thriving through what is known as a "multi-stakeholder" governance model. This consensus-driven private-sector approach has been the key to the Net's phenomenal success.

In 1995, shortly after it was privatized, only 16 million people used the Internet world-wide. By 2011, more than two billion were online—and that number is growing by as much as half a million every day. This explosive growth is the direct result of governments generally keeping their hands off the Internet sphere...
(more)


(marketwatch)
"Device and environment independence is a key benefit of BIO-key technology. Our goal for the past decade is maintaining that an enrollment is usable now and into the future across any and all fingerprint scanners, operating systems, devices and even applications," stated Mira LaCous, VP Technology and Development. "BIO-key offers full enrollment and identification, supported by a highly accurate algorithm and full security encryption of critical authentication data. BIO-key provides these solutions across healthcare, education, government, banking and the business enterprise," she continued.

"We are pioneering the path for securing mobile devices that is convenient and are integrated into many partner applications. The company has developed strategic relationships with IBM, CA Technologies and Oracle," said Mike DePasquale BIO-key CEO. "In healthcare we've partnered with leading EMR providers including Allscripts and EPIC who are witnessing a demand for stronger security as the iPad, a preferred device amongst physicians, is being used inside and outside the hospital for both personal and business applications; thus magnifying the risk of protecting patient records and increasing the need for convenient strong authentication," DePasquale summarized...
(more)


(nytimes)
People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time.

According to several Google employees familiar with the project who asked not to be named, the glasses will go on sale to the public by the end of the year. These people said they are expected “to cost around the price of current smartphones,” or $250 to $600.

The people familiar with the Google glasses said they would be Android-based, and will include a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye. They will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the project...
(more)


(skynews)
Business owners preyed upon by petty thieves hope they will be caught more quickly thanks to new web technology which passes CCTV evidence to police.

The Facewatch website has been set up to allow traders to upload video images of shoplifters and bag-snatchers, so they can be followed up by local forces.

"It saves valuable time," said bar owner and company founder Simon Gordon.

"Rather than call the police, wait for an officer to turn up, then hang about while he gets the CCTV and takes it back to the station to watch, now managers can use the software to upload footage to the website.

"Police can start the investigation straight away."

Victims of crime can send a witness statement to police and receive a crime reference number without leaving the premises.

The scheme also creates a database of offenders so that images and information can be shared between businesses.

Facewatch is being launched in Widnes in Cheshire after a successful six-month trial in London.

According to the company, 45 outlets signed up to the pilot and 39% of all incidents so far have ended in a criminal conviction...
(more)


(zdnet)
The Department of Defence (DoD) is preparing to run a trial of a new biometrics database designed to hold and compare biometric information that's collected by Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel in the field, and which could also be shared with US forces.

Such databases are already in use in the US, and are known as Automated Biometrics Information Systems (ABIS). The DoD has invited industry to tender for the six-month trial of an Australian counterpart — an AS-ABIS. The system will interface with the US database and other national partner databases, and will include the ability to detect persons of interest who are on watch lists.

The proposed AS-ABIS will interface with the US version using the already developed US DoD Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification. This will allow data from both databases to be swapped and compared, either automatically or manually.

Collection of biometric data is made possible through existing devices already in use by the ADF. It is currently fielding Cross Match's SEEK (Secure Electronic Enrolment Kit) II collection device, which allows ADF personnel to scan irises, faces and fingerprints. US forces already use similar technology to interface with their database. Combining these devices with the proposed AS-ABIS will allow personnel to identify whether a person is of particular interest in near-real time, and allow them to upload known details about the person to AS-ABIS, potentially to be shared with US forces.

The DoD has specified that the database should be able to handle 500 transactions per day, and have a capacity of 365,000 records initially, but it has also specified that the successful tender should demonstrate that the system can be scaled up to 5000 transactions per day, and have a capacity of 3.65 million records.

At a minimum, the system aims to support fingerprints, face recognition, iris images and palm images, but it must have support for any additional biometric features that may become available.
(more)
Monday, February 20, 2012


(arstechnica)
The Pirate Bay could be blocked in the UK, after a High Court judge ruled that the torrent site and its users are committing copyright infringement.

The case was brought before the court by a coalition of major record labels, including Sony, EMI and Universal. They want the court to force internet providers like Sky, BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media to block the website. No operators of the Pirate Bay were in court for the hearing.

This follows from a landmark ruling in July 2011, where BT was ordered to block access to Newzbin2—a site that aggregates links to copyrighted content. The judge ruled then that BT must use technology designed for blocking child pornography to make the site inaccessible to its customers.

Now, with the court finding that operators of The Pirate Bay "incite or persuade" users to commit copyright infringement, the record labels want the 'Bay to succumb to the same fate. The Guardian says that the high court is expected to rule in June as to whether ISPs should prevent their customers from accessing The Pirate Bay, too.

Newzbin's block wasn't too successful for rightsholders. According to Torrentfreak, a BT-Cleanfeed-busting client was released soon after the block was enacted, allowing anyone to access the site just as before. Newzbin2 founder "Mr White" said "just over 93 percent of Newzbin2's active BT users are reported to have downloaded the anti-censorship software."

The Pirate Bay has changed some of its policies recently to dodge litigation. It changed its domain name from thepiratebay.org to thepiratebay.se because, "The United States of America have decided that they control the internet and can dictate it. We wanted to move away from that scenario."

In January, The Pirate Bay also said it will soon no longer offer downloads of .torrent files, and will only provide magnet links to users. These are lightweight files that are pretty much just bare-bones torrent hashes that a client can read and use to seek the addresses of peers.

An added bonus of using magnets is that the tiny files can be downloaded in bulk and stored. Pirate Bay user "allisfine" grabbed the title, id, file size, seeds, leechers and magnet links of the site's 1,643,194 torrents and zipped them up in a 90MB file.
(more)


(pcworld)
It's for the children, of course, and if you object to online spying then you are some kind of guilty lowlife pond scum sucker. No wonder so many of us hate stupid people. Rep. Lamar Smith, infamous to geeks as the author of SOPA, is sponsoring the bill H.R. 1981 which is better known as "Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act." H.R. 1981 isn't exactly as easy to spit out as SOPA and is closer to something out of Orwell's 1984. The EFF summed it up like this, "This sweeping new 'mandatory data retention' proposal treats every Internet user like a potential criminal and represents a clear and present danger to the online free speech and privacy rights of millions of innocent Americans."

More or less, much like the just-in-case your data trail eventually reveals you are a terrorist, this bill presumes you are guilty until proven innocent of being a child porn dog as it would require ISPs to store your data for a year (at least 18 months). No big deal cause you aren't gobbling up child porn? Big buzzer eeennk! Wrong, cause with your entire web browsing history saved for a year, dumped into yet another massive database, it would be waiting to be used against you. Demand Progress added that it's collecting "what sites you’ve visited, and even your bank and credit card info." Hey, if this bill passes then what's next? A requirement to wear a flashing neon necklace out in public, broadcasting your IP address, your browsing history, or your thoughts for the thought police?

Online and offline, based on fear of terrorists, we gave up freedom, civil liberties and privacy rights after 9/11. Online, if you value privacy or anonymity then you are potentially a terrorist. Where does the stupidity stop?
(more)


(miamiherald)
Denise Saad, who commutes from the outskirts, was happy happy recently to receive a government-issued card to replace the outdated coin-operated system on the buses.

“It’s great the bus system is finally being updated,” she said.

But the 31-year-old theater producer was surprised to learn that her movements were being tracked through the new card, known as SUBE.

It’s one of several new measures that enhance the government’s surveillance and control capacity that have civil liberties groups raising red flags — and Argentines like Saad raising eyebrows.

Another initiative, decreed by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner late last year, ordered the creation of the Federal System of Biometric Identification. In a sprawling, centralized system, biometric data — such as fingerprints and facial scans — will be integrated between the National Registry of Persons and the Argentine Federal Police. Starting Jan. 1, even newborns began having their biometric information registered in the system.

And as national documents and passports expire and are renewed, the unique physical characteristics of all 40 million Argentines will eventually be recorded in a government database, available to federal and provincial authorities...
(more)


(ghanagov)
On Wednesday, 15th February, 2012, Africa’s Electoral Commissioner of the 21st century, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan of Ghana, set the tone for what is characterized as the Mother of all elections in the country since 1992. Ghana’s election 2012!
Hear him: “The biometric voter registration is a complete replacement of the voters register compiled from 2004 to 2010,” he started. He went on: “As a result, all previous registrations and existing voter ID cards will no longer be valid.” And so what? “All Ghanaian citizens who registered from 2004 to 2010 should therefore be registered anew to qualify to vote in public elections and referenda.” This is the crux of election 2012 in Ghana. The target audience of this piece is what is known as “common man.”

Fellow Ghanaians, sugarcane sellers, charcoal producers, illegal chainsaw operators, galamsay environmentalists, sweet-mothers of makola kingdom, truck pusher-instructors, palm wine tappers, agbeli kaklo manufacturers, tuozaafi gastronomy specialists, azonto acrobatic engineers, foot-soldiers, die hard politicians, book long academicians, latter-day media saints and brothers and sisters in grave digging industry, all protocol observed:

Please, listen with rapt attention to what the doyen and icon of modern Africa elections – Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan is saying ooo!!! The man is so simple and humble that when he talks - he does not repeat himself. So, pay attention to him now! Dr. Afari-Gyan is saying that, whether you have been voting since the day Adam and Eve were shown the red card by the Creator Himself to vacate the Eden Garden, or not; or whether you have just graduated from JSS at age 18, you will not vote in 2012 unless you go through a certain harmless initiation called BIOMETRIC VOTER REGISTRATION.

The implication is that all previous voter registration booklets and the existing voter ID cards in Ghana since Adam, Eve and the Serpent started pointing accusing finger at one another, will be null and void. It means that, henceforth, “No Biometric Registration, No Voting in Ghana.” The doctor of elections is saying that even if the Master Jesus the Christ himself comes down today, and does not present himself for biometric registration, he cannot and will not be allowed to vote in Ghana. Is that clear?
(more)


Click "more" to read the entire piece. A must read for anyone interested in biometric control and governmental propaganda.


(3vr)
Large-scale, heavily populated events, like the Super Bowl and holiday travel in airports, are real-time stress tests for security, public safety and loss prevention protocols. Out of these events we are able to see where vulnerabilities and infringements occurred as well as put new solutions to the test.
This year, as the United Kingdom prepares to host the 2012 Olympics, the UK Border Agency plans to put biometrics to the test by taking the biometric details of approximately 10,000 individuals who will be involved in the Olympic Games. Each profile will contain facial image scans and finger scans, all to be held in a digital record.

One of the UK’s Home Office spokesmen stated that "Collecting biometrics in advance of travel will increase security as [game family members] biometrics will be pre-checked before arrival in the UK" (Independent, 2012). Athletes and family members will be given the option to scan in their own countries, but if they decline they will be asked to do so upon arrival in the UK.

This is the first time that an Olympic host nation has conducted such a large application of biometrics. The security protocol will apply to all foreign nationals entering the UK at this time, even those who qualify for the visa waiver – such as the US.

With millions of ticket holders, 20,000 accredited participants and around 10,000 athletes, the use of biometrics in an airport and border control setting will be put to the ultimate test and there should be some interesting results for the industry to ponder in the next coming months.
(more)


(telegraph)
By generating strips of meat from stem cells researchers believe they can create a product that is identical to a real burger.

The process of culturing the artificial meat in the lab is so laborious that the finished product, expected to arrive in eight months' time, will cost about £220,000 (EUR250,000).

But researchers expect that after producing their first patty they will be able to scale up the process to create affordable artificial meat products.

Mass-producing beef, pork, chicken and lamb in the lab could satisfy the growing global demand for meat - forecast to double within the next 40 years - and dramatically reduce the harm that farming does to the environment.

Last autumn the Telegraph reported that Prof Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands had grown small strips of muscle tissue from a pig's stem cells, using a serum taken from a horse foetus.

Speaking at the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Vancouver yesterday afternoon (SUNDAY), Prof Post said his team has successfully replicated the process with cow cells and calf serum, bringing the first artificial burger a step closer.

He said: "In October we are going to provide a proof of concept showing out of stem cells we can make a product that looks, feels and hopefully tastes like meat."
(more)


(sys-con)
At some point growing up, many kids heard this advice from one or both parents: “Now ____, be on your best behavior.”

Quite soon, we TV viewers may have to heed that advice, when dealing with our relationship to TV sets. There’s a huge disrupt ahead for that relationship, and thank Ralph Santana for the early alert.

Santana is Samsung’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, and the leadoff speaker at last week’s Association of National Advertisers TV conference last week in New York. His presentation came more than a month after Samsung and its TV set competitors showcased their latest round of connected (aka smart) models at the International CES in Las Vegas. Like earlier editions, these connected sets carry TV networks, the Web and original interactive TV applications. Unlike them, consumers can manipulate what they view and how they view it by voice, touch or body movement, beyond the capabilities of remotes, smartphones and tablets. Samsung’s CES-highlighted sets include the ability to recognize faces en route to viewing choices.

That latter function potentially carries some baggage over privacy, as in the consequences from information generated by facial features leaking out by accident, ending in another’s set. Debatable as that can be, that pales by comparison with what Santana suggested in a few sentences in the midst of his ANA talk. “Techonology is liberating content, thanks to third-party apps and cloud-based platforms,” he told the crowd. “With TV, you can control with voice commands, face and gestures. Soon, TVs will be biometric.”

Biometric…as in recognizing people based on one or more intristic physical or behavorial traits, according to Wikipedia and other reference sources. Those traits range from DNA, odor or scent to how fast you walk across a room or type words on a computer screen. All it takes is one trait. Lo and behold, you’ve added biofuel to your set...
(more)