Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More Like a Prison
Students in Westminster got to check out their brand new $92 million state of the art high school on Monday. Some are calling Westminster High School the safest school in the state.

There are 140 security cameras, and full-time security officers monitoring them. The door locks are electronically controlled, and in case of an emergency part of the school or the entire school can be locked down.

Every visitor must present an ID at the front window. It is run against a national data base of registered sex offenders, and on the first day there was already a hit. Police were called to see if the parent should be allowed on campus...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Google Street-View Car Searched by Paris Privacy Regulators
A car used by Google Inc. to collect data for its Street View mapping service was stopped and searched yesterday near Paris, less than a week after France’s privacy regulator criticized the program’s resumption.
The inspection was a result of Google’s decision to begin photographing French streets before officials decided whether the company complied with orders to limit Street View’s data collection, said Yann Padova, secretary general of the National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties.
The search “was done especially to verify that they stopped collecting Wi-Fi data,” Padova, 43, said in an interview today...


Update: Facing prison for filming US police
When police arrested Anthony Graber for speeding on his motorbike, the 25-year-old probably did not see himself as an advocate for police accountability in the age of new media.

But Graber, a sergeant with the Maryland Air National Guard, is now facing 16 years in prison, not for dangerous driving, but for a Youtube video he posted after receiving a speeding ticket.

The video, filmed with a camera mounted on Graber's motorcycle helmet designed to record biking stunts rather than police abuse, shows a plain clothes officer jumping out of an unmarked car and pointing a pistol at the motorcyclist.

It does not portray the policeman in a positive light.

After he posted the video on Youtube, police raided Graber's home, seized computers and put him in jail.


Corrupt Judge Convicts Innocent Videographer
Normally I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about a local election in North Carolina, but now I want to do anything I can to make sure Judge Beth Dixon loses her reelection bid for Rowan County District Court Judge come this November.

Dixon, who has served as District Court Judge since 2002, last week convicted a woman named Felicia Gibson for resisting arrest for refusing to go back inside her house as she stood on her front porch videotaping police making a traffic stop...


Protect Yourself From RFID
Over 100+ million new credit cards and passports contain tiny two way radios called RFID chips. This increases your risk of being a victim of electronic pickpockets, payment fraud, and identity theft! Protect yourself with our RFID blocking products...
Friday, August 27, 2010
Look who's listening in on public conversations
Big Brother has its eyes and ears on Europe – with security cameras that eavesdrop on conversations to sense how private citizens feel and predict violent behavior before it happens.

In what may appear to be a chapter straight out of George Orwell's "1984," a surveillance system currently used in several Dutch cities records public conversations as far as 100 yards away and monitors movements to detect signs of antisocial behavior and fighting.


Sigard is based on sophisticated sound detection and analysis software that isolates specific sound patterns from the overall ambient sound picture. It dissects and looks for clues in the sound, much like the human hearing does.

Whenever a sensor in the Sigard aggression detection system registers the typical sound characteristics of human aggression, anger or fear, the system will send out an alert. It will trigger the camera nearest the incident or other security surveillance devices.


Introducing: The Safest City on Earth
Biometrics R&D firm Global Rainmakers Inc. recently unveiled a plan to place iris scanners and other tracking devices in what they toted as the “most secure” city in the world. Leon, Mexico was the city chosen to unleash the privacy-infringing technology upon. The city is creating a database of irises in order to create a colossal database that can be used to identify and track citizens. Ex-criminals will be specifically targeted. Those who have been charged with shoplifting will have trouble entering stores without being constantly observed, and others will not be allowed to board planes.

Big Brother's Creepy Little Brother Snoops On You
Snoopon.me is a screen-blogging service that let people share mini-snapshots of their computer screens. Mini-snapshots of a computer screen (or screenshots in Snoopon.me speak) are taken automatically at regular intervals, typically every 10min. Recent screenshots constitute a screen trail. By observing the screen trail it is easy to grasp what somebody is doing: editing documents, browsing the web, watching a movie or playing games. The details such as contents of the document being edited stay private. Scaling down of screenshots makes texts illegible.
Snoopon.me gives your friends, fans and followers an inside scoop of your life in the computer. And it requires little or no effort.


The Government's New Right to Track You With GPS
Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway - and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements.
That is the bizarre - and scary - rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants - with no need for a search warrant.


The Next Big Privacy Concern: RFID “Spychips”
Radio-frequency I.D. (RFID) tags are a convenient way to track items and cut costs for companies. But this technology is increasingly being used to track other things, like security badges — or even people — giving it the potential to cause a horrific erosion of privacy. Tracking people with smart tags, their shopping preferences, their activities, and their personal belongings sounds like something from a sci-fi thriller. But If you got your panties in a twist over Walmart's decision to track your undies via RFID smart tags, then you'll be doublely concerned at how close we are to cradle-to-grave surveillance.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Scanners help U.S. troops ID insurgents in Afghanistan
Soldiers — based outside Spin Boldak, a hotbed for Taliban activity in recent years — scan about 3,000 men a month.

That identifying information is then collected in a database that the military can reference when a suspected insurgent is caught to determine his recent travels or whether he has taken part in attacks where military investigators have previously discovered fingerprints.

Soldiers are encouraged to keep a friendly attitude while scanning subjects.

"We just try to be polite and tell them we are trying to separate the good guys from the bad guys," Lt. Scott Browne says while scanning subjects at the Freedom Gate, a bustling border entry point in the town of Wesh.


The Gym Wants My Fingerprints
This week at my 24-Hour Fitness club in Silicon Valley, I noticed the installation of fingerprint scanners at the front desk. It's all part of the giant gym chain's national cardless check-in program, designed to eliminate the need for members to carry gym cards and make it easier for them to validate their identities.

When biometrics get down to the local gym, however, serious questions must be raised. Your biometric identifiers are immutable and, once stored on a computer, impossible to take back. So if the 24-Hour Fitness database gets hacked and some enterprising Black Hat team of computer experts makes off with this sensitive information, many people could forever lose control of this permanent identification marker. Of course, you could scrape off your fingerprints and replace them with new ones. (This is probably possible). But that's getting a little too close to Total Recall for my taste..."


Biometric National ID Card?
The Democrats' immigration-reform proposal (pdf) is 26 pages long. Pages 8 through 18 are devoted to "ending illegal employment through biometric employment verification." I don't think the Democrats are going to like me calling this a biometric national ID card, as they go to great lengths to say that it is not a national ID card, and make it "unlawful for any person, corporation; organization local, state, or federal law enforcement officer; local or state government; or any other entity to require or even ask an individual cardholder to produce their social security card for any purpose other than electronic verification of employment eligibility and verification of identity for Social Security Administration purposes."

But it's still a biometric national ID card. It's handed out by the Social Security Administration and employers are required to check it when hiring new employees. Essentially, if you want to participate in the American economy, you need this card. "Within five (5) years of the date of enactment, the fraud-proof social security card will serve as the sole acceptable document to be produced by an employee to an employer for employment verification purposes," the bill says. "This requirement will exist even if the employer does not yet possess the capability to electronically verify the employee by scanning the card through a card reader."

Where Everybody Knows Your Face
A software company is developing revolutionary software which provides the ability to identify people from photographs posted on the internet.

Face.com has produced technology that can identify individuals on social networking sites and online galleries by comparing their image against a known picture of them.

It means detailed profiles of individuals can be built up purely from online photographs and critics have said it could lead to exploitation by employers.


Apple Patent Outlines a System To Track Users
Apple has filed for a patent to track unauthorized users of an iPhone. But the system could also be used to track authorized iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users. Apple's patent application attracted the most attention for a provision that would alert Apple to jailbreaking. With mobile devices collecting user information, privacy is a concern.
(still more)

Preorder the AR.Drone now and spy on your neighbors
It’s like having your own personal Predator that you control remotely by titling your iPhone. Parrot’s awesomely cool quadricopter was a big hit with the media at this year’s CES and judging by the amount of press it has gotten so far, it should strike a chord with consumers as well.

Google Android's Dirty Little Secret
...the consequence of not putting any walls around your product is that both the good guys and the bad guys can do anything they want with it. And for Android, that means that it’s being manipulated, modified, and maimed by companies that care more about preserving their old business models than empowering people with the next great wave of computing devices.

Cleveland: Stay Out of Our Trash!!!
... the city plans to sort through curbside trash to make sure residents are recycling -- and fine them $100 if they don't.

The move is part of a high-tech collection system the city will roll out next year with new trash and recycling carts embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes.

The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll carts to the curb for collection. If a chip show a recyclable cart hasn't been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables.


But there are concerns about “function creep” after it was revealed that Automatic Numberplate Recognition Cameras stored 7.6 billion national journeys on a police database in Hendon.

Dylan Sharpe of Big Brother Watch, said: “Average speed cameras are just a new form of surveillance and now there's nowhere you can escape their beady eye.

"ANPR cameras started off in the City as a response to the IRA bombings but have grown into a general traffic monitoring tool and the next step will be toll charging...

Monday, August 09, 2010

If you felt that Google Street View violated your privacy, wait until you’ve got one of these hovering over your back porch.
The German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche reported over the weekend that Microdrones, a company based in the city of Siegen, Germany, has sold at least one of its flying surveillance robots to the search giant for testing. Sven Juerss, Microdrones’ chief executive, told the magazine that the radio-controlled devices–four rotor helicopters about a meter across–could be helpful in Google’s mapping projects, and that he think there’s a good chance Google will buy more of the airborne bots.


The End of Anonymity
"If I look at enough of your messaging and your location, and use artificial intelligence, we can predict where you are going to go," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, adding unnervingly, "Show us 14 photos of yourself and we can identify who you are. You think you don't have 14 photos of yourself on the internet? You've got Facebook photos!"

Schmidt told delegates at the conference that the availability of information increased convenience, and enabled society to more effectively combat anti-social and criminal behaviour - but his talk raised some unsettling issues.

He said that addressing issues such as identity theft, for instance, required "true transparency and no anonymity".

Friday, August 06, 2010

US Marshals Saved 35,000 Images from Just One Courthouse
Homeland Security has announced that body scanners will appear at virtually every major airport in the United States; however, not everyone is happy with what critics call a "virtual strip search," especially since a government agency has recently admitted to saving the images of people in their birthday suits.
The Transportation Security Administration and other government agencies have insisted that the "scanned images cannot be stored or recorded," but apparently the U.S. Marshals Service have figured out how to do just that...