Thursday, September 30, 2010


A Santa Barbara, Calif., startup called Social Intelligence data-mines the social networks to help companies decide if they really want to hire you.

While background checks, which mainly look for a criminal record, and even credit checks have become more common, Social Intelligence is the first company that I'm aware of that systematically trolls social networks for evidence of bad character.

Using automation software that slogs through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, blogs, and "thousands of other sources," the company develops a report on the "real you" -- not the carefully crafted you in your resume. The service is called Social Intelligence Hiring. The company promises a 48-hour turn-around.

Because it's illegal to consider race, religion, age, sexual orientation and other factors, the company doesn't include that information in its reports. Humans review the reports to eliminate false positives. And the company uses only publically shared data -- it doesn't "friend" targets to get private posts, for example.

The reports feature a visual snapshot of what kind of person you are, evaluating you in categories like "Poor Judgment," "Gangs," "Drugs and Drug Lingo" and "Demonstrating Potentially Violent Behavior." The company mines for rich nuggets of raw sewage in the form of racy photos, unguarded commentary about drugs and alcohol and much more.

The company also offers a separate Social Intelligence Monitoring service to watch the personal activity of existing employees on an ongoing basis. The service is advertised as a way to enforce company social media policies, but given that criteria are company-defined, it's not clear whether it's possible to monitor personal activity...

(if you have - or want - a job it's time to trash your facebook and twitter accts - fc)

On November 1, boarding an aircraft in the United States will become more intrusive. That’s when the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration will begin enforcing something called Secure Flight.

In June, DHS boss Janet Napolitano announced that 100 percent of passengers traveling within the United States and its territories are now being checked against terrorist watchlists through the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight program, as recommended by the 9/11 white wash commission.

Under the program, destined to be a bureaucratic nightmare, TSA goons wearing blue latex gloves will prescreen a passenger’s name, date of birth, and gender against government watchlists for domestic and international flights, according to a TSA press release. Individuals found to match watchlist parameters will be subjected to secondary screening, a law enforcement interview or prohibition from boarding an aircraft, depending on the specific case...


The million-plus citizens of Leon, Mexico are set to become the first example of a city secured through the power of biometric identification. Iris and face scanning technologies from Global Rainmakers, Inc. will allow people to use their eyes to prove their identify, withdraw money from an ATM, get help at a hospital, and even ride the bus. GRI’s eye scanning systems aren’t more secure than others on the market, but they are faster. Large archway detectors using infrared imaging can pick out 50 people per minute, even as they hustle by at speeds up to 1.5 meters per second (3.3 mph). The first phase of the Leon iris and face scanning project has already begun. It is estimated to cost around $5 million and focuses on law enforcement agencies’ security check points. Over the next three years commercial uses will be rolled out with banks leading the charge. Check out the videos below to see GRI’s wide range of iris scanning stations in action. Whether you’re jealous or intimidated by Leon’s adoption of widespread eye identification you should pay attention to the project – similar biometric checkpoints are coming to locations near you. Some are already in place...

The prototype AOptix demonstrated at the Biometric Consortium Conference showcased the company’s InSight SD with a dongled camera capable of capturing an ISO-standard face biometric at the same time as capturing the iris when standing at the two-meter distance from the device, says Joey Pritikin, product manager for AOptix Technologies. The company worked with Aware to integrate the AOptix iris capture system with Aware’s face capture and universal registration client.

“By leveraging the way that the InSight works and the tools that Aware brought, we were able to put the two modalities together in a very quick process that has really resulted in something that is a prototype but it works quite well,” added Pritikin...


the federal government has acquired hundreds of backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that they are now using to randomly scan vehicles, passengers and homes in complete violation of the 4th amendment and with wanton disregard for any health consequences.

An example of their expanding use was reported by WSBTV yesterday, after federal agents from several agencies, including Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, and the TSA, set up an internal checkpoint on Interstate 20 just west of Atlanta and detained truck drivers for half an hour or more at a “state-owned inspection station” while they were scanned with a bomb detection device.

Officials admitted there was no specific threat that justified the checkpoint, and although it was labeled a “counter-terror operation,” the scans were also being conducted in the name of “safety”...

On Monday, The New York Times reported that President Obama will seek sweeping laws enabling law enforcement to more easily eavesdrop on the internet. Technologies are changing, the administration argues, and modern digital systems aren't as easy to monitor as traditional telephones.

The government wants to force companies to redesign their communications systems and information networks to facilitate surveillance, and to provide law enforcement with back doors that enable them to bypass any security measures.

The proposal may seem extreme, but -- unfortunately -- it's not unique. Just a few months ago, the governments of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and India threatened to ban BlackBerry devices unless the company made eavesdropping easier. China has already built a massive internet surveillance system to better control its citizens.

Formerly reserved for totalitarian countries, this wholesale surveillance of citizens has moved into the democratic world as well. Governments like Sweden, Canada and the United Kingdom are debating or passing laws giving their police new powers of internet surveillance, in many cases requiring communications system providers to redesign products and services they sell. More are passing data retention laws, forcing companies to retain customer data in case they might need to be investigated later.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Human rights group Privacy International has written an open letter to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to express concerns about a directive that may result in website blocking.

Today and tomorrow, the parliament’s committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs will consult on “combating sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.” This has a section regarding the blocking of internet sites that are accused of peddling child pornography.

The meeting primarily comprises groups and individuals with strong feelings against child abuse. This is making digital rights groups worried the site blocking regulations will be passed without much discussion.

Whilst rights groups are undeniably opposed to child pornography and abuse, the use of blocking sites is seen to be stepping on dangerous territory. The main concern is it could set a precedent for further blocks to be imposed in other areas and blocking is a futile process...

Imagine using the same technology to locate a lone bomber before he carries out his terrorist act and to identify a troubled veteran or first responder ground down by tragedies and violence.

Stop imagining.

How? “The computer system detects resentment in conversations through measurements in decibels and other voice biometrics,” he said. “It detects obsessiveness with the individual going back to the same topic over and over, measuring crescendos.”

As for written transmissions scrutinized by the computer program, it can detect the same patterns of fixation on specified subjects, said Guidere, who has worked for years screening mass data that involves radicalization and ideological indoctrination...

Deep-brain stimulating (DBS) electrodes used to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease require neurosurgery in order to implant electrodes and batteries into patients. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) used to treat drug-resistant depression and other disorders do not require surgery, but have a low spatial resolution of approximately one centimeter and cannot stimulate deep brain circuits where many diseased circuits reside.
To overcome the above limitations, my laboratory has engineered a novel technology which implements transcranial pulsed ultrasound to remotely and directly stimulate brain circuits without requiring surgery. Further, we have shown this ultrasonic neuromodulation approach confers a spatial resolution approximately five times greater than TMS and can exert its effects upon subcortical brain circuits deep within the brain.

A portion of our initial work has been supported by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) Army Research Laboratory (ARL) where we have been working to develop methods for encoding sensory data onto the cortex using pulsed ultrasound...

(mbc) is a forthcoming technology where users will be able connect with brain-machine interfaces utilizing noninvasive pulsed ultrasound to stimulate brain circuits in such a manner to influence cognitive experiences and performance while gaining access to global information highways from personalized cloud computing clusters. The core aspects are based upon the intellectual property and proprietary technology of SynSonix, Inc., which is developing noninvasive neural interfaces using pulsed ultrasound, which can be remotely delivered for brain stimulation (ultrasonic neuromodulation). This neurotechnology will have a significant positive impact on the medical, entertainment, defense, and communications industries...


The massive aggregation of Iraqis' personal information creates an unprecedented human rights risk that could easily be exploited by a future government. Yet the idea of the U.S. military turning over the database system to the Iraqi government is already under discussion. In May 2007, a prominent think tank floated the possibility of a national identification program for Iraq similar to the U.S. REAL ID system. The proposal, also carried in the New York Times, would introduce biometric ID cards to Iraqis that could be read with portable machines linked to a centralized database. The proposal also envisaged Iraqi government census workers going door-to-door to catalogue residents. The program’s purported purpose would be to distinguish insurgents from lawful citizens, but the proposal admitted that the central database could also be misused for ethnic cleansing.
Such misuse is not without precedent. In Rwanda, despite protests from non-governmental organizations several years prior to the genocide, official identification cards contained ethnic information. The classification system was a remnant from the Belgian colonial government, and was extensively used to identify victims to be killed. To have the word "Tutsi" on an identification card was a death sentence. During the Holocaust, Nazi Germany placed a "J-stamp" on the identification cards of all Jews. These stamps were followed by yellow badges that made the identification and extermination of Jews more efficient.


A young man walks into a Home Depot and buys a large quantity of acetone. Later, a young man walks into a beauty supply store and buys hydrogen peroxide. Still later, a young man is observed parked outside a nondescript federal building in a rented van, taking photographs.
No crime has been committed. But should any of these activities (acetone and hydrogen peroxide can be components for explosives) be reported to and evaluated by law enforcement officials? If they are reported, the government may infringe on privacy and civil liberties. If they are not, we might not know until it’s too late whether it was the same young man in each instance. We might miss the next Timothy McVeigh.

This dilemma was at the heart of hearings before the Senate Homeland Security Committee last week, in which several federal officials warned that “homegrown terrorists” represent the nation’s greatest emerging threat. According to the F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller, Al Qaeda “has looked to recruit Americans or Westerners who are able to remain undetected by heightened security measures.” This reality has led Janet Napolitano, the secretary of Homeland Security, to conclude that “homeland security begins with hometown security.” And hometown security begins with locally based observations of “suspicious” activity. So, can we encourage such observation without also encouraging a disregard for privacy and constitutional rights?

We may get our answer from a project now being undertaken by the Justice Department called the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative. Federal, state and local law enforcement officials have set up “fusion centers” for the program in about a dozen cities, including Boston, Chicago and Houston, where reports of suspicious activities made by citizens and the local police are collected and analyzed for disturbing patterns.

Suspicious Activity Reporting begins at the troubling intersection where law enforcement meets intelligence. Its premise is that if potential attacks are to be prevented, and not merely responded to, law enforcement must focus on precursor conduct — surveillance or “casing” of bridges or train stations, for instance — that may not itself be criminal, but may signal a coming attack...

In the United States, law enforcement and security agencies have raised privacy concerns with a new proposal for electronic eavesdropping powers to track terrorists and criminals and unscramble their encrypted messages.
But here in India, government authorities are well beyond the proposal stage. Prompted by fears of digital-era plotters, officials are already demanding that network operators give them the ability to monitor and decrypt digital messages, whenever the Home Ministry deems the eavesdropping to be vital to national security.

Critics, though, say India’s campaign to monitor data transmission within its borders will hurt other important national goals: attracting global businesses and becoming a hub for technology innovation.

The most inflammatory part of the effort has been India’s threat to block encrypted BlackBerry services, widely used by corporations, unless phone companies provide access to the data in a readable format. But Indian officials have also said they will seek greater access to encrypted data sent over popular Internet services like Gmail, Skype and virtual private networks that enable users to bypass traditional telephone links or log in remotely to corporate computer systems.

Critics say such a threat could make foreigners think twice about doing business here.

The most important gatherer of personal information in the country is the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It keeps a database of over 90 million fingerprints, which can be accessed by other law enforcement agencies. It also has an extensive database of DNA, the most specific marker of personal identity. The bureau's ability to collect information expanded following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It now tracks a large portion of mail, cell phone traffic and Internet activity of people it deems suspicious.

Thanks to advances in technology, however, there are also now numerous private enterprises that track and record your every move. Although they don't usually give out this information, there are often worrisome leaks and security breaches where they inadvertently release sensitive information about their customers. Taken together, these industries have data on where you are, who you are communicating with, how you are earning your money, how you are spending that money, as well as the hobbies and interests you are pursuing...

After underlining its significance in its draft note to the cabinet committee earlier, the National Identification Authority of India Bill approved by the Union Cabinet on Friday has sidestepped critical privacy aspects relating to profiling and function creep — a term used to describe the way in which information is collected for one limited purpose but gradually gets used for other purposes.

According to sources, the draft Bill approved by the cabinet has several clauses to take care of commercial abuse of the UID database and misuse of the number but does not adequately address issues related to profiling.

“The UIDAI law will need to contain restrictions against profiling,” the draft note for the cabinet committee had earlier said. It had also contended that mechanisms would have to be put in place to discourage function creep and misuse of the database...

Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.
Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages...


Television cop shows love "biometric" technologies — fingerprints, eye scans and so on — but a blue-ribbon panel report calls for caution on widespread use of biological identification.

Released by the National Research Council, the "Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities" report headed by HP Labs distinguished technologist Joseph Pato, concludes all biometric recognition technologies are "inherently fallible."

"A lot of things possible on a TV series just don't work that way in real life," says panel member Bob Blakley of Gartner, a computer security firm in Stamford, Conn. "While there are lots of good uses for biometric recognition, there are lots of ways to create systems that waste time, cost too much and don't work very well."


Cyber attack on Iranian industry appears well-funded

The fast-spreading malicious computer program — which has turned up in industrial programs around the world and which Iran said had appeared in the computers of workers in its nuclear program — was a specifically aimed attack that ended up scattering randomly around the globe.

Computer-security specialists who have examined it say the malware was created by a government and is an example of clandestine cyberwarfare. While there have been suspicions of other government uses of computer worms and viruses in cyberwarfare, Stuxnet — its name was derived from some of the file names/strings in its code — is the first to go after industrial systems. Unlike those other attacks, this bit of malware did not stay invisible.

The program splattered on thousands of computer systems around the world, and much of its impact has been on those systems, rather than on what appears to have been its intended target, Iranian equipment. Computer-security specialists also are puzzled by why it was created to spread so widely...

(national post)

For those concerned about their privacy (or just avoiding such awkward situations as excusing yourself from a family function to “work,” then getting tagged by a buddy at a bar), we provide our own guide to disabling Facebook Places — which won’t permit your friends to check you in...


The government of the Czech Republic did not allow Google Inc. to implement an expansion of its “Street View” data mapping system by taking additional photos because of privacy concerns.

In a statement posted on its official website, the Office for Personal Data Protection described Google’s program as taking pictures “beyond the extent of the ordinary sight from a street”, and that it “disproportionately invade citizens’ privacy.”

Google Street View provides panoramic photos of many streets in cities around the world. Privacy groups are concerned that their activities which they do not want to be made public will appear in Google.

Internet search giant Google and its data mapping applications have been the subject of scrutiny by government authorities in France, Germany, Italy and Spain because of the same privacy and security issues.

Just last month, the company’s Seoul office was raided by South Korean police in connection with its “Street View” program.

Czech Republic regulators said that the decision about Google’s data mapping service is not final, and that they will consider further talks with the company.
Friday, September 24, 2010

People are willing to adjust their ideas about privacy if they can benefit from revealing more of their personal information, the CEO of Infosys Technologies said Thursday.
"You allow that privacy to be compromised for a benefit," CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan said during a talk at MIT's Emerging Technologies conference. The definition of privacy must now take into account whether personal information is "properly used to give additional benefits," he said.

His remarks came in a speech about how most everyday items, from appliances to roadways, will contain processors and connect to the Internet. This pervasive network will carry data that generates real-time traffic reports from sensors embedded in roadways or allows a doctor to monitor a patient's blood pressure remotely, he said.
(network world)

Fingerprinting air passengers entering the United States is one counter-terrorism method used today . But the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has another idea in the works: a behavioral biometrics monitoring system that gauges small changes in a person's body, dubbed the "fidget factor," especially in answer to a question such as "Do you intend to cause harm to America?"

DHS has actually developed a prototype for putting subjects on a monitoring pad next to a battery of remote-sensing equipment that can very quickly measure ocular changes, heart and respiration rates and even slight changes in the skin's thermal properties as a way to detect suspicious behavior. Dr. Starnes Walker, director of the research, science and technology directorate at the DHS, discussed the effort during a keynote address at this week's Biometric Consortium Conference in Tampa...

Noting that the Illinois State Police (ISP) are not responding to lawful requests for documents under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois today asked a state court in Chicago to compel the police agency to turn over records about the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center (STIC). STIC is Illinois' "fusion center," an entity that integrates the gathering, storage, sharing, and analysis of information about suspected criminal activity among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in Illinois. Fusion centers have been a focal point for controversy because they collect and share massive amounts of personal information about members of the public, often without adequate safeguards, oversight, and transparency.

"It is dangerous when government – at any level – operates in secret," said Adam Schwartz, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Illinois. "It is more dangerous here since the activities of fusion centers around the nation raise serious concerns about centralizing unchecked authority in a single agency. Combining unchecked authority with secrecy is bound to lead to abuse."


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced it will be deploying new full-body scanners at eight more airports across the country, a decision that brought a new round of protests from critics of the technology who consider the machines overly intrusive.
"We all want airports to be safe and secure as possible," U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R.-Utah, told ABC News. But there are "more secure and less invasive" alternatives, he said.

Chaffetz and civil liberties groups have criticized the latest expansion, complaining that the machines produce graphic full-body images that invade the privacy of innocent travelers, and they have questioned the necessity, safety, and reliability of the machines. ...


Technology developer Apple has acquired a Swedish tech company that specializes in face recognition technology called Polar Rose at a price of $22 million, according to a Business Insider article.

While Apple already uses some mild forms of face recognition in its iPhoto digital picture organization software offerings, it is as of yet unclear what plans, if any, Apple has for the newly acquired technology...


Paris Hilton's arrest a week ago in Las Vegas still has people talking.
The latest controversy seems to stem from a picture the heiress tweeted earlier this summer.
Miss Hilton, as you may remember, told cops she'd borrowed the purse that an officer said contained a small amount of cocaine when she and her boyfriend, Cy Waits, were stopped last Friday.
That's where the Twitpic comes into play.
Turns out Hilton posted a picture of a bag that looks identical to the one in question, along with this quote: "Love My New Chanel Purse I got Today." That was back on the 15th of July.
There's been no word on this development from the socialites's camp.

(New Delhi, India) Market regulator SEBI has ushered in a major overhaul of the way mutual funds are sold with the introduction of biometric cards and stringent licensing norms for distributors to weed out agents indulging in frauds. Following directions from SEBI, the mutual fund industry body AMFI has asked all
fund houses in the country to comply with ‘Know-Your-Distributor (KYD)’ norms before the grant or renewal of registration of distributors.

Agents would be required to get biometric cards that would help in immediately checking their record for any possible irregularities...

(and then cab drivers, electricians, school teachers, etc, etc, etc - fc)

The government of Germany has called on Google Inc. and other providers of online navigation services to create a set of voluntary data protection guidelines for services such as Google’s “Street View” by the end of the year.

Failure to do so would result in the imposition of new market regulations to protect consumers, said Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Monday.

De Maizier’s comments came after a five-hour meeting with Internet executives, Germany’s federal justice, consumer protection ministers and various data protection authorities.

"We need a charter guarding private geographical data and we need it drafted... by December 7," the AFP quoted de Maiziere as saying.

"A charter could, and I mean could, make regulation superfluous,” he told reporters during a press conference.

Berlin had called the meeting following public outrage over Google’s plan to display images from 20 German cities as part of its Street View online mapping service.

Launched in 2007, the service includes panoramic images from scores of cities throughout the world taken at street level by vehicles with specialized cameras.

Due to Germany’s history of privacy abuses under both the Nazi and communist governments, the nation is particularly sensitive to potential privacy violations.

In response to Germany’s strong public protest, Google has made the country the only one in which citizens can prevent images of their homes or businesses from being displayed on Street View.

Hundreds of thousands of people have already opted out ahead of an October 15 deadline, the AFP news agency reported, citing media reports that Google would neither confirm nor deny.

(national post)

Officials in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley plan to use camera-equipped garbage trucks to film what gets dumped in order to make sure people are recycling properly.

Since the introduction last year of a three-bin system, providing garbage, recycling and yard waste bins, waste contamination has become a big problem, said Peter Rotheisler, manager of waste reduction at the Central Okanagan Regional District. While the system has helped to keep more material out of the landfill, it costs about $300,000 a year to pull out any materials in the wrong place.

The cameras will be able to record what is thrown out so city staff will have proof of bad behaviour.


Two months ago, PositiveID (PSID) said it was giving up on its implantable radio-frequency medical records microchip, and conspiracy theorists everywhere breathed a sigh of relief: Previously, the only market PositiveID had found for the chip was a group of Alzheimer’s patients in Florida who may not have consented to being implanted.
But don’t worry too much about that, for I have good news, dystopia lovers! PositiveID — formerly known as VeriChip – just announced a partnership with Siemens (SI) that may yet put PSID back in the business of persuading us all to carry microchips under our skin...

The larger point here: Our founding fathers had good reasons for adding the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution. Without rules governing reasonable search and seizure, we'd all be at the mercy of whoever happens to be in power and, say, doesn't like what you posted on your blog or said on Twitter. Let's send the cops to visit your house, turn over a few couch cushions, and see what they find. And if they come up empty today, we can try it again next week. And the week after that. Until you're finally arrested or decide to shut up.

If they can't do it in real life (and they shouldn't), then they shouldn't be allowed to do it on our computers. Simple, really.


If you rely on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer’s privacy settings to control cookies on your computer, you may want to rethink that strategy.

Large numbers of Web sites, including giants like Facebook, appear to be using a loophole that circumvents I.E.’s ability to block cookies, according to researchers at CyLab at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Engineering.

Mobile advertising solutions provider Ringleader Digital is the target of a new lawsuit alleging the firm violated consumer privacy with its RLD Media Stamp targeting technology, which the Ringleader website describes as "the mobile equivalent of an online 'cookie.'" The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the United States District Court, Central District of California, claims Ringleader and partners including CNN, Travel Channel and AccuWeather intentionally exploited mobile software capabilities "for the purpose of tracking plaintiffs' Internet activities." According to the suit, Ringleader "unknowingly accessed and created databases on plaintiffs' mobile devices as well as placed information on plaintiffs' mobile devices without [their] knowledge or consent," "assigned plaintiffs' mobile devices unique identification numbers for the purpose of tracking these devices" and "stored information they acquired about plaintiffs' phone and mobile browsing activities on Ringleader Digital's databases."

The lawsuit goes on to state "If plaintiffs cleaned their cookies folder and deleted their browser history, this would have no effect on defendants' ability to continue to track plaintiffs because the information necessary to track plaintiffs, the unique ID, is stored in the HTML5 databases... Even if plaintiffs were to take the traditional step to block advertisers and websites from tracking their movements, Ringleader Digital's Media Stamp, as licensed and used by the other defendants, thwarted those efforts."

A Wall Street Journal investigation into online privacy has found that popular children's websites install more tracking technologies on personal computers than do the top websites aimed at adults.
The Journal examined 50 sites popular with U.S. teens and children to see what tracking tools they installed on a test computer. As a group, the sites placed 4,123 "cookies," "beacons" and other pieces of tracking technology. That is 30% more than were found in an analysis of the 50 most popular U.S. sites overall, which are generally aimed at adults.

The most prolific site:, which helps teens customize their social-networking pages, installed 248 tracking tools. Its operator described the site as a "hobby" and said the tracking tools come from advertisers.

In Foltz v. Virginia, the Virginia Court of Appeals held that law enforcement may place a GPS tracking device on a vehicle without violating the Fourth Amendment. The Court found that the defendant did not have an expectation of privacy, and therefore attaching the tracking device to the bumper did not require a warrant. The court distinguished its ruling from Commonwealth v. Connolly, a recent Massachusetts case, which held that police must obtain a warrant before using GPS devices to monitor vehicles. The Virginia court explained that Connolly was unpersuasive because the Virginia Constitution is co-extensive with the federal Fourth Amendment while the Massachusetts Constitution is more expansive. EPIC filed an amicus brief in Connolly, urging the court to adopt a warrant requirement.
Friday, September 17, 2010


Privacy is dead, get over it. Sharing is the new social norm. If you're doing something you don't want others to know about, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

We hear these things a lot from what social media researcher Danah Boyd calls Privileged Straight White Male Technology Executives (PSWMTE). It's their justification for taking your data and having their way with it. Now that you no longer care about protecting your personal information, it's OK if we butter it all over the InterWebs for a profit, right?

Dear Messrs Scott McNealy, Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, and all the other PSWMTEs: Americans do care about their personal privacy, online and off. And you'd know this, if you just asked them the right questions.

Today, security software vendor PC Tools and Harris Interactive released the results of their Keep Internet Security Simple survey. The highlights:

* Four out of five Americans want to keep files on their computers private from others -- whether it's their coworkers (48 percent), boss (42 percent), friends (40 percent), children (29 percent), parents (26 percent), or spouse (17 percent).
* Nearly half (45 percent) say they'd be embarrassed if those other folks saw some of the stuff they have on their PC, smartphone, wonder tablet, etc.



AOptix Technologies
Inc, a developer of iris biometric products, announced today that, together with Aware Inc (NASDAQ: AWRE | PowerRating), it will be demonstrating a prototype dual-factor iris and face biometrics system at the Biometrics Consortium Conference and Technology Expo which takes place in Tampa between 21 September and 23 September.

The company said that the prototype integrates its InSight 2 meter iris recognition system with AwareaEUR(TM)s Universal Registration Client (URC) and an industry standard face imaging camera. The combined system provides a user interface for automated enrolment of iris and face images and can also capture fingerprint biometrics and biographic information.

The InSight system
can capture iris biometric data at a nominal stand-off distance of 2 m, with the face and iris imaging and quality scoring occurring simultaneously, according to the company. The time taken to complete the automated capture sequence of both irises and the face is around four or five seconds normally.

AOptix believes that there will be a strong demand for combined biometrics solutions across many application and it has seen strong interest within the biometrics community for a single product combining both face and iris recognition.

No details of when the system will be available generally were disclosed.

We The People Will Not Be Chipped!
When Verichip microchipped the Alzheimer patients I remained silent;
I was not an Alzheimer patient.
When Verichip microchipped the Diabetic and AIDS patients I remained silent;
I was not an AIDS patient nor a Diabetic.
When Verichip microchipped the Military I did not speak out;
I was not in the Military.
When Verichip came for the activists I remained silent;
I was not an Activist.
When they came to microchip me , there was no one left to speak out.
(Digital Identity)

There's a problem in Korea with the production of counterfeit whiskey, so the legitimate whiskey producers have an application in the Korea Telecom service. When the whiskey is bottled, the caps have an RFID tag added to them. This is coded with a URL and an identifier. When a customer, or a shopkeeper, or a policeman, or in fact anyone else wants to check whether the whiskey is real or not, they touch the cap with their phone and the URL launches a web site that knows the provenance of the identifier and can tell you when and where it was bottled as well as some other information. When the customer opens the bottle, the tag is broken and can no longer be read.

(yeah right: "When the customer opens the bottle, the tag is broken and can no longer be read"! Just what one needs: one's location triangulated upon a bottle of whiskey - fc)

The Internet search giant says the software engineer broke its 'strict internal privacy policies.' He allegedly accessed information about four teenagers
The 27-year-old employee, David Barksdale, allegedly accessed information about four teenagers he met through a Seattle technology group, according to gossip website Gawker, which reported the incident Tuesday.
Barksdale, a self-described hacker whose job was to maintain and troubleshoot Google sites, had access to users' personal accounts and information, Gawker reported. His interaction with the teenagers was not sexual in nature, the gossip site said...

(disturbing as fuck!! - fc)


As governments, banks and businesses try to improve their tools for security surveillance, more people are turning to biometrics as an identification tool. has published its research report, "Global Biometric Report to 2012," and found that biometric identification is expected to grow by 22 percent between 2011 and 2013..

The primary reason for this growth is security. Individuals want protection from identity theft, businesses want to protect their assets and governments want to be able to better know their populations for security and legal purposes.

North America is currently the region using biometrics in the greatest quantity, but rapid growth is expected in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

India recently began an ambitious program designed to use biometrics to identify every member of its population. AlterNet reports the nation is working to provide biometric identification for its estimated 1.6 billion people to create a stronger sense of infrastructure to connect people more tangibly to the economy and government...

(keep your hands off my body/computer!!!!! - fc)
The government is planning to introduce new, smarter resident registration cards starting in 2012.
In making the announcement today the Ministry of Public Administration and Security said the new cards embedded with electronic chips are to protect personal information and prevent forgery.
The new ID card will show general information such as the name and gender of the holder but private data such as address, fingerprint and national registration number will be stored inside a chip embedded in the card.
Korean citizens residing overseas can also apply for this new ID card when they return to stay for more than 30 days.
Officials are planning to replace all existing ID cards with the new version by 2017.

(Washington Examiner)
A number of cases show how police continue to misunderstand citizens’ rights to record their behavior... Those who record police frequently are “more of a threat to the jobs of public safety officers than to public safety itself. One is not the same as the other.” State legislatures should start addressing this issue to prevent more misunderstandings and wrongful arrests...
(watch this video)
(The Photographer's Right)

(fuck the police... can't fucking handle a little bit of scrutiny like the rest of us? What's good for the goose is good for the gander! Get in line, Pigs!!!!)
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

MEMPHIS, TN - Using the past to predict where crimes are going to happen in the future, it's the idea behind heat-mapping, a new part of the Memphis Police Department's Blue Crush. Before the crimes happen, MPD puts officers on the streets in hot spots to try to prevent them from happening.

Crime mapping has been around for a while, but Memphis Police are taking it's precision to a whole new level and putting it to work. So far, they say they've seen big results.

“We're operating on the theory that the past is the best predictor of the future,” said John Harvey with the MPD’s Real Time Crime Center.


Starting this month, the
Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI) will begin the long process of matching each of its billion-plus citizens with a unique ID number. The number will be tied to three pieces of biometric data: fingerprints of all 10 digits, iris scans of both eyes, and facial recognition software. The system will be under the brand name "Aadhaar."

The plan hopes to ID 600 million people within the next four years. Citizens will not be required to be digi-tagged (my word, not theirs), but you will need the ID number to sign-up for a growing array of state services.

Aadhaar is largely being sold as a means to empower the vast swath of the Indian population living below the poverty line. While to the western eye, this is a huge expansion of centralized power, the official website makes the contrary argument, that Aadhaar empowers the poor by using new technology to bypass traditional economic infrastructures to sync millions more into the new Indian economy.


From the military to hospitals, Plantiga’s 1GRID will revolutionize how facilities and people are secured.

Plantiga has designed and patented the next generation of security platform using footwear to map individuals’ biometric patterns – similar in nature, and as accurate, as DNA. Every moment a person is within the parameters of the “grid”, they are tracked and an audit trail kept.

Government facilities, military bases, power and utilities, airports and other sensitive establishments spend millions, to billions, on assuring themselves, and the public, of their unbreakable security. Plantiga goes beyond the limits of retinal scans, voice recognition, finger and hand prints, to deliver 100% security at every place, and for every person, on the infrastructure.


Oh shit, I just stepped in a pile of Plantiga.

Half-Life house Valve has detailed some of its bizarre internal experiments, including measuring players' heart rates and sweat levels, in PC Gamer's latest interview.

Valve boss, Gabe Newell revealed that the developer's started experimenting with biometrics to focus test its games - and this has lead to some surprising results.

Newell told PCG: "When you look at our games, more and more we have this representation of player state, where we think we know how you feel, essentially. And with biometrics, rather than guessing, we can actually just use a variety of things like gaze tracking, skin galvanic response, pulse rate, and so on."

He continued: "There's some surprising side-effects that we didn't expect, like what happens when you expose that information in a social gaming context. It surprises us that how much value there is to the people who are playing.

"So if you're in a competitive situation, and you see somebody's heart rate go up, it's way more rewarding than we would have thought. And if you see somebody in a co-op game who's sweating, people tend to respond to that way more than we would have thought."

The Valve man says he already sees ways to incorporate the biometric tech in retail games:

"If someone comes up with a clever way to take some non-visible light and bounce it off your retina, and read it with your web camera, and get your pulse rate that way, then that's pretty cool. Because it may be a hard problem, but if you solve it once then you're done. It's not like a recurring hard problem..."

WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department plans to test futuristic iris scan technology that stores digital images of people's eyes in a database and is considered a quicker alternative to fingerprints.

The department will run a two-week test in October of commercially sold iris scanners at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, where they will be used on illegal immigrants, said Arun Vemury, program manager at the department's Science and Technology branch.

"The test will help us determine how viable this is for potential (department) use in the future," Vemury said.


The longtime radical animal liberation activist Rod Coronado has been sent back to prison for four months after a US district judge in Michigan ruled he had violated the terms of his parole. Coronado’s offense was associating with fellow radical activist Mike Roselle by accepting a friend request from Roselle on the social networking website Facebook.

Microsoft’s key was the PrimeSense 3D sensor, which essentially created what Microsoft considers to be the revolution of the product. The sensor has 3 impressive features: it tracks your body with full depth mapping, responds to voice commands, and has a standard video camera. The optical system is pretty basic for the most part. A class 1 laser is projected into the room and the sensor is able to detect movement based on what’s reflected back to it. The projector and sensor work together to create a depth map – the video camera is held at a specific distance away from the 3D part of the optical system. Kinect then blends together the depth map and camera image for a dynamic greenscreen effect...

Today, it's a game. Tomorrow... it's your soul.

If you think about it, Google has been accused of becoming Big Brother and has almost all the same information on people as was being collected for the Total Information Awareness program. Google has your email, your web history, your location history, your social network connections, and your health records. Google didn't need a search warrant either, but it does have a history of funding the same startups as government agencies. We also know that Google's CEO Schmidt stated that no anonymity is the future of the web. Google, with Google Maps and GeoEye-1, is the Super Spy eye in the sky.
Thursday, September 09, 2010

A new TSA terror warning seems to be targeting photographers in hoodies as a national security threat.

That’s the way photographers are viewing a new poster distributed by the Transportation Security Administration to encourage airport employees to report suspicious activity.

The poster shows a man in a hooded sweatshirt pointing a telephoto lens at something on an airport tarmac. The object of his lens is unknown since it’s outside the frame — it could be an airplane or simply a drunken starlet stumbling toward her limousine.

“Don’t let our planes get into the wrong hands,” the poster reads beneath the picture, directing employees to report anything suspicious to law enforcement and airport managers.

Not everyone appreciates the implications.

“A lot of my friends like to take pictures,” writes Erin McCann, a blogger at WeLoveDC. “Sometimes, we even like to take pictures of things like airplanes. You might call us hobbyists, photo enthusiasts, or just photographers. But now, thanks to a new campaign from the Transportation Security Administration, there’s something else you can call us: terrorists.”

(more) laboratory has engineered a novel technology which implements transcranial pulsed ultrasound to remotely and directly stimulate brain circuits without requiring surgery. Further, we have shown this ultrasonic neuromodulation approach confers a spatial resolution approximately five times greater than TMS and can exert its effects upon subcortical brain circuits deep within the brain.

Through a recent grant made by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award Program, our research will begin undergoing the next phases of research and development aimed towards engineering future applications using this neurotechnology for our country’s warfighters. Here, we will continue exploring the influence of ultrasound on brain function and begin using transducer phased arrays to examine the influence of focused ultrasound on intact brain circuits. We will also be investigating the use of capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducers (CMUTs) for use in brain stimulation. Finally, to improve upon spatial resolution, we will examine the use of acoustic metamaterials and hyperlenses to study how subdiffraction limited ultrasound influences brain wave activity patterns.


While the positive yield of nabbing criminals in the act will no doubt provide a valid argument for the use of global positioning systems as a preventative measure to criminal offenses, the bottom line is that even those who have previously committed crimes are subject to the same protections under the constitution as those who have not. The placing of a GPS device on the basis of suspicion is akin to a breach of property and privacy. If officers believe they have probable cause to breach property, then they also have sufficient reason to seek a warrant and take that extra legal step.

While we find it hard to argue with the idea of "better safe than sorry," the crux of the issue is that once a legal precedent is set on the use of tracking devices without a warrant, then the majority of us are vulnerable to such an invasion of privacy –whether or not we've done anything to infer probable cause. After all, if a mere blip on our record can be leveraged as such, then we all our going to have to do our best to stay squeaky clean.


BioWare's Casey Hudson, Executive Producer for the Mass Effect franchise, admits that the company is collecting data from gamers who are currently playing Mass Effect 2. Hudson reassured players that the collection process is completely anonymous, and the acquired data will be used to help design the next installment in the series.

"The only data that we get are in terms of events--little things that happen in the game," Hudson explained...


As they head off to school, a growing number of students are being carefully tracked -- not only by their teachers in class, but by their parents at home.

Family monitoring software is coming out of the woodwork. From communications companies such as Verizon and AT&T to tech giants like Google, software to track children via GPS satellites can keep parents worry free and happy. But are these apps just a natural evolution of modern society, where technology is integrated deep into our lives, or do they take things too far?


Stuck to the inside back of the Kindle’s case is an RFID chip. Why put a radio frequency tracking device on a Kindle? Most likely Amazon has it for inventory and shipping tracking purposes, so that both you and the Seattle retailer can keep tabs on the location of your e-reader while it’s being delivered to your hot little hands...

Or maybe there's another reason for it.


The FBI and other police agencies don't need a search warrant to track the locations of Americans' cell phones, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in a precedent-setting decision.

In the first decision of its kind, a Philadelphia appeals court agreed with the Obama administration that no search warrant--signed by a judge based on a belief that there was probable cause to suspect criminal activity--was necessary for police to obtain logs showing where a cell phone user had traveled in the past...


There’s a backlash growing as many frequent fliers make complains about privacy and time. The machines have been dubbed by fliers as a virtual strip search, and to make things worse, the new devices are much slower than walking through a metal detector which only makes the already inefficient airport security procedures more time consuming. The scanners were installed in a number of airports last March after a Christmas day bombing attempt. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has spent more than $80 million for about 500 machines, and there are 130 or so installed at this point. Their plan is to install about a thousand by the end of next year...
Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Touch2id is a new way to prove age for 18-25 year olds that uses a single fingerprint sensor (biometric reader) instead of your picture to prove you are 18 or over. The free card or mobile sticker can be used across pubs, clubs and shops in town when you are buying age restricted items such as cigarettes and alcohol...