The U.S. intelligence community is pushing a leap forward in facial recognition software that will enable it to determine better the identity of people through a variety of photographs, video and other images.
Called Janus, the program run by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA), "seeks to improve face recognition performance using representations developed from real-world video and images instead of from calibrated and constrained collections. During daily activities, people laugh, smile, frown, yawn and morph their faces into a broad variety of expressions. For each face, these expressions are formed from unique skeletal and musculature features that are similar through one's lifetime. Janus representations will exploit the full morphological dynamics of the face to enable better matching and faster retrieval."
Documents released by IARPA over the weekend show that the Janus program will start in April 2014 and run for four years. During that time, the agency hopes to "radically expand the range of conditions under which automated face recognition can establish identity."
A division of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, IARPA was created in 2006 and modeled after DARPA, the Pentagon's agency that researches technology for future military uses. Another branch of the intelligence community, a venture capital firm run by the Central Intelligence Agency called In-Q-Tel, invests in companies that develop facial recognition software.
Civil liberties groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, have raised concerns about unchecked uses of facial recognition software....
Be careful what you say on the phone in a crowd of people.
Former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden learned that lesson on a train Thursday.
Hayden gave background interviews to reporters -- meaning he was not to be quoted by name -- but a fellow passenger on an Amtrak Acela train tweeted out his comments to the entire cyber-world.
"Former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden on Acela behind me blabbing 'on background as a former senior admin official,' sounds defensive," tweeted Tom Matzzie, founder of the Ethical Electric Company.
Matzzie, upset at criticisms of President Obama by the former George W. Bush administration official, also tweeted: "Michael Hayden on Acela giving reporters disparaging quotes about admin. 'Remember, just refer as former senior admin.'"
Another entry: "Hayden was bragging about rendition and black sites a minute ago."
Friends of Hayden no doubt alerted him to the broadcast of his background interviews, and he went over to talk to Matzzie.
Matzzie tweeted that out, too.
"I just had a very nice conversation with Michael Hayden," Matzzie wrote. "He was a gentleman and we disagree."
A small camera-equipped drone reportedly crashed into a New York City sidewalk on Monday evening, narrowly missing a businessman who was heading home from work.
The unmanned aircraft, identified by ABC 7 New York as a "Phantom Quadcopter," was apparently zipping around taking scenic footage of Manhattan's skyscrapers before it plummeted into the pavement.
An anonymous financial analyst who was nearly hit by the radio-controlled craft removed its video card and provided it to ABC 7 on Wednesday.
Last month came word that Ohio's sneaky Attorney General Mike DeWine had quietly integrated facial recognition software into the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway, a state database that includes driver's license photos. Caught, the AG promised to create a commission to develop protocols for using the technology, tacitly admitting that no safeguards were in place on a system that turned every Ohio driver into a participant in a police line-up—if the system were used as intended—and a potential stalking target by any whack job with a badge. Now comes news that the ranks of potential whack jobs with access to the database are large, indeed—larger than in any other state, at least.
Ohio’s new facial recognition system has fewer restrictions for its use than similar systems in any other state in the U.S., an Enquirer/Gannett Ohio investigation has found.
No other such system in the nation allows 30,000 police officers and court employees to search driver’s license images, without audits or oversight.
By contrast, Kentucky allows 34 people the ability to run facial recognition searches. Twelve states don't have the technology, with Maine law forbidding its use by state agancies. Several states that do possess facial recognition technology for checking driver's licenses don't allow law enforcement to use it at all.
But Ohio has no such restrictions. "Ohio’s 30,000 users include local and state police, sheriffs, civilian employees of police departments, court employees – even out-of-state and federal law enforcement agencies,."
Beyond the obvious flaws in a system that compares everybody's driver's license photo to crime-scene snapshots of iffy quality and looks for matches via technology of unknown reliability, is the very real danger of unofficial use. Government databases have a history of such abuse. Minnesota cops cyberstalked a attorney, among others, inappropriately pulling up her driver's license data 700 times. Florida police were caught hate-stalking a colleague who arrested a fellow officer. They also trawled the database for potential dates and other petty (but creepy) purposes...
Well, that didn’t last long. Less than 48 hours after Apple began selling its new iPhone 5s with the Touch ID fingerprint security system, someone’s managed to find a way around it.
A member of the German hacker organization Chaos Computer Club posted a video to YouTube Sunday showing one of the new iPhones being hacked with a lifted fingerprint.
Despite Apple’s claims about the advanced security of the Touch ID, the CCC says Apple’s sensor is just a high-res version of existing technology and can be cracked with a sharp photo of the fingerprint and a laser printer.
A spokesman for the organization says the speedy hack illustrates the inherent risks of using fingerprints as a security measure and urges Apple customers to return to numeric passcodes to protect their phones.
“We hope that this finally puts to rest the illusions people have about fingerprint biometrics. It is plain stupid to use something that you can’t change and that you leave everywhere every day as a security token...”
Hockey fans in Washington state will have more to worry about this weekend than avoiding a puck to the face: the Department of Homeland Security will be testing out a new facial recognition system at an arena this Saturday.
The 6,000 seat Toyota Center in Kennewick, Washington will be the site on Saturday for more than just the Tri-City American’s season opener. In addition to hosting a junior ice hockey game, the arena will also facilitate the testing of a DHS program that’s raising concerns among privacy advocates.
Homeland Security will have a presence at Saturday’s game, but won’t be conducting any pat-downs on patrons or even rooting for the home team. Instead, DHS will utilize a sophisticated system of cameras to collect pictures of attendees in real-time from as far away as 100 meters and then match them up with images of faces stored on a database.
The exercise will mark the latest drill for the DHS’ Biometric Optical Surveillance System, or BOSS, and when it’s fully operational it could be used to identify a person of interest among a massive crowd in the span of only seconds.
With assistance from researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, DHS will attempt to quickly compare faces caught on camera with the biometric information of 20 volunteers. The other faces in the crowd — potentially 5,980 hockey fans — will exist as background noise to see how accurate BOSS is when it comes down to locating a person of interest...
Don't go to this fucking game. Send a message to these fuckers.
The latest top-secret documents leaked to the media by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden reveal that United States and British spy agencies have invested billions of dollars towards efforts to make online privacy obsolete.
The New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica all reported on Thursday that newly released Snowden documents expose the great lengths that the National Security Agency and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, have gone to in order to eavesdrop on encrypted Internet communications.
According to the latest Snowden leak, the NSA and its British counterpart have circumvented the encryption methods used to secure emails, chats and essentially most Internet traffic that was previously thought to be protected from prying eyes.
The price tag for such an endeavor, the Guardian reported, is around a quarter-of-a-billion dollars each year for just the US, and involves not just intricate code-breaking, but maintaining partnerships with the tech companies that provide seemingly secure online communication outlets.
“The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that Internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments,” James Ball, Julian Borger and Glenn Greenwald reported for the Guardian...
Facebook is considering incorporating most of its 1 billion-plus members' profile photos into its growing facial recognition database, expanding the scope of the social network's controversial technology.
The possible move, which Facebook revealed in an update to its data use policy on Thursday, is intended to improve the performance of its "Tag Suggest" feature. The feature uses facial recognition technology to speed up the process of labeling or "tagging" friends and acquaintances who appear in photos posted on the network.
The technology currently automatically identifies faces in newly uploaded photos by comparing them only to previous snapshots in which users were tagged. Facebook users can choose to remove tags identifying them in photos posted by others on the site.
The changes would come at a time when Facebook and other Internet companies' privacy practices are under scrutiny, following the revelations of a U.S. government electronic surveillance program...