Coming to a country near you...

The National Identification Authority of India Bill (NIAI), 2010, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha early this month, nearly two years after the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was set up in February 2009. The UIDAI intends to provide a unique number to each resident in the country, a number which will “primarily be used as a basis for efficient delivery of welfare services.” Towards this end, a biometrics-based database of every Indian citizen would be maintained by the government.

The UIDAI was established by an executive order of the Union government, with its chairman Nandan Nilekani handpicked for the Cabinet minister-ranked job by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The pilot project called Aadhaar rolled out in September this year. The NIAI Bill is essentially aimed at making the UIDAI a legally sanctioned body and setting out its powers and functions.

Though the law is obviously necessary, several legal experts and citizens’ groups say that the bill leaves a lot to be desired. One major point of concern is that the bill does not offer enough safeguards against breach of privacy, profiling and “function creep”, the process where data collected for one function may end up being used for another purpose. In fact, the draft bill had called for checks against profiling, but this has been ignored entirely in is current version.

Again the bill does not clearly specify whom the ID number will be applicable to. It says the number would be given to “individuals residing in India and certain other classes of individuals.” Critics say that the term “certain other classes” is too vague and ambiguous to be acceptable...

What the world needs now is more Facebook vigilantism...

Philadelphia police say someone posted false information on Facebook identifying a city man as the Kensington Strangler. Now, police want to get the word out to protect the man from vigilante justice.

Police Lieutenant Ray Evers says police found out about the Facebook posting mid-Monday morning. The fan page had a photo of a man and his address.

“This fan page was saying this man was the Kensington Strangler. Looking at this picture, we notified Homicide and Special Victims and they said, no this male is not a subject in this investigation and is not wanted in this investigation...”
Monday, December 20, 2010

Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.

The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation's history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The government's goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, which is in charge of terrorism investigations in the United States.

Other democracies - Britain and Israel, to name two - are well acquainted with such domestic security measures. But for the United States, the sum of these new activities represents a new level of governmental scrutiny.

This localized intelligence apparatus is part of a larger Top Secret America created since the attacks. In July, The Washington Post described an alternative geography of the United States, one that has grown so large, unwieldy and secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs or how many programs exist within it...
Friday, December 17, 2010

Boo on global internet policing!

The United Nations is considering whether to set up an inter-governmental working group to harmonise global efforts by policy makers to regulate the internet.

Establishment of such a group has the backing of several countries, spearheaded by Brazil.

At a meeting in New York on Wednesday, representatives from Brazil called for an international body made up of Government representatives that would to attempt to create global standards for policing the internet - specifically in reaction to challenges such as WikiLeaks.

The Brazilian delegate stressed, however, that this should not be seen as a call for an "takeover" of the internet.

India, South Africa, China and Saudi Arabia appeared to favour a new possible over-arching inter-government body...

The new face of Air Travel (look, it has your eyes)

Hoyos Corporation announced a partnership with Herta Security to implement iris scanning technology in airports in an attempt to solve airline security issues and create a secure process from check-in to boarding, says Jeff Carter, chief development officer at Hoyos.

Hoyos and Herta are creating a pilot program to run in Barajas Airport in Madrid, Spain. The pilot program is expected to roll out in early 2011 and uses Hoyos’ biometrics technology to increase airline security and improve the passenger boarding process.

Exactly how the program would operate hasn’t been determined, Carter says. It would most likely involve travelers enrolling in a program and providing various documents to prove identity...

Headed by Dr. Roy R. Swiger who has “an extensive background with DHS, DoD, and law enforcement agencies“, Citizen Concepts has released the Orwellian PatriotApp for the iPhone. PatriotApp allows iPhone users to quickly snitch on anyone for anything to the appropriate government agency with the push of a button. From Citizen Concepts’ PatriotApp page: This app was founded on the belief that citizens can provide the most sophisticated and broad network of eyes and ears necessary to prevent terrorism, crime, environmental negligence, or other malicious behavior.

This goes hand in hand with DHS’ revolting If You See Something, Say Something program to turn ordinary citizens into a network of spies and secret police.

I just hope we catch Emmanuel Goldstein before it’s too late.

(google: "function creep")
Fuck wikipedia (and their "scope creep" scam)! Fuck Jimmy Wales! So proud! So Smug! We took the number one position from you, bitch!!! Now get your face off my screen! We took back the meaning of the phrase: fuNctioN cReeP!!! NUMBER ONE BABY!!!! Fuck your money! The people know!!!
(#1 baby)

(Editor's note: apparently we're back to being #2)

Sadly, these are the Good Old Days... soon enough, fingerprints won't be enough. They'll need an iris scan, a vein scan, and a stool sample before you can ride the bus!

New research suggests that AFIS technology will dominate the biometric technologies market by the end of 2010.
Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) technology is used in various law enforcement and civil applications and hence, it has emerged as one of the most widespread applications of biometrics today, and will continue to be so in near future as well.
The increasing need to screen applicants for criminal records before hiring them is driving the growth of the market, the market forecasters claim. Consequently, by the end of 2010, the AFIS/live scan market is estimated to account for the largest chunk of the global biometric market with 35% share.
The research report entitled “Global Biometric Forecast to 2012” suggests that increasing use biometrics for civil identification and criminal identification are the main reasons responsible for the growth of the industry.
According to the report, the AFIS market is expected to grow at a CAGR of nearly 20% during the forecast period.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Hell. Not even sure if this is real, but if it is... then, God help us all!

If you can't get enough of WIkipedia founder Jimmy Wales' smiling face, pleading for your donations to keep everyone's favorite community knowledge base afloat, then you need the Jimmy Wales Chrome extension. With this little browser add-on, donation banners featuring Jimbo himself will follow you everywhere you go on the web.

I'm not sure why someone would install this on their personal machine instead of just donating to Wikipedia, unless they just really, really loved Jimmy Wales. On the other hand, installing it on public machines might be a sneaky way to get the word out about Wikipedia. You'd think the staring face of the site's founder would creep people out of donating, but Wikipedia's research actually shows the banners are super effective versus text-only versions...

"Face it: You love my fucking face" - Jimmy Wales

To check absenteeism among government school teachers and employees across the state, the education department is going to launch biometric system of attendance in all schools, district education offices and Circle Education offices.

A pilot project was launched in 100 government schools of five districts one and a half month ago...
(related: RI prison using biometric eye scanning on inmates)

File under, "Sad & Pathetic"

A British police force is piloting gunshot location technology to crackdown on gun-related violence.

Microphones have been strategically placed around the Handsworth and Aston districts of Birmingham as part of the Gunshot Location System, devised in California by ShotSpotter. If a gunshot sounds, the police can use three or more of the recordings to triangulate where the sound occurred and generate a GPS location for ground forces to home-in on.

Despite the high incidence of gang violence in these districts, the local residents have expressed concern that the police will use the microphones to listen-in on private conversations. Chief superintendent Chris McKeogh, of West Midlands police, has assured them that the microphones normally lie dormant and only a loud report from a gun will turn them on...

Sounds like Hell on Earth...

If you jaywalk or run a red light in Ramle, you may suddenly hear a voice from above scolding you. No, it's not Big Brother or a higher power, but a municipal inspector who's been watching you from city hall.

The Ramle municipality has installed a surveillance system of cameras and speakers that enable inspectors to both track people and address them, in most cases to warn them against doing something illegal. The surveillance system is also working in cooperation with the city hotline.

If the civilian addressed fails to obey the city hall official, inspectors or police officers will be dispatched to the site.

Six loudspeakers were recently installed near the security cameras already situated in various locations around the city, in a bid to reduce crime and vandalism.

The cameras recently caught someone driving a Subaru breaking into a public park. "The inspector called to him: 'Red Subaru, stop,'" said David Haviva, city hotline director. "The driver couldn't figure out where the voice was coming from."

In another case, a resident who was about to spark a barbecue grill on the grass of Ramle's Haganah Park was also reprimanded from "above."

"The people are not alarmed by the voice, but surprised and amused that someone is speaking to them. They look left and right, searching for the source of the sound - and are generally filled with wonder," he said.

During every shift, an inspector is in charge of surveilling the city through the cameras. In the evenings and overnight, he is also responsible for any calls made to the hotline...

Portable iris scanners are coming!!!

Before, iris scanners were the stuff of movies: dusty laser beams glazing over eyeballs in futuristic sci-fi flicks. The technology in real life was too slow, clunky, and expensive to be viable. But biometrics R&D firm Hoyos Corporation (formerly known as Global Rainmakers) has changed that, bringing the potential of a Minority Report-like future one step closer. Months ago, the company began building the "most secure city in the world" after one of the largest cities in Mexico agreed to fill its streets with Hoyos' scanners. And today, Hoyos unveiled its smallest, least expensive, and most viable product yet: the EyeSwipe Nano.

At just 5.5 inches wide, 4 inches tall, and 3 inches deep, the companies latest iris scanner is not only a quarter of the size of the device's previous iteration, the EyeSwipe Mini, but a quarter of its cost. The unit's price is just $1,499, and using the same technology as Hoyos' suite of biometrics products, the Nano can capture irises at a distance, in motion, at the rate of 20 people per minute.

"This is going to put the ability to do a biometric scan in the hands of virtually everyone in the world for a price that is comparable and competitive to card readers," says company CDO Jeff Carter, explaining that orders at volume will make the Nano a sub-thousand dollar product. "The Nano has roughly the footprint of a dollar bill, and I think it's going to allow us to target virtually everything--any applications where you'd have a typical card reader, whether entry to office buildings or banks or apartments..."

File this one under, "uh oh - look out, Twitter!!!"

Anonymous hackers who claim they are defending WikiLeaks brought down the Swedish government's website amid warnings they will attack again.

The official site,, was offline for several hours overnight and only a message saying the site could not be reached was visible.

Commercial websites including Visa, MasterCard and PayPal have already been targeted by co-ordinated action on one of the busiest shopping days of the year after the firms said that they would no longer process donations to WikiLeaks.

A group calling itself Anonymous and operating under the banner "Operation Payback" was behind some of the attacks and there were concerns that Twitter could become a target because it removed Anonymous' listing...

The famous George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty-Four has created a huge cultural impact, there’s no conspiricy theorist, skeptic or person who is ready to question the establishment that won’t refer to it. The dystopian novel portrays a society which is under watch by ‘Big Brother’ 24 hours 7 days a week and projects strong themes of Censorship and Surviellance. The predictions of this novel reflecting our own society havn’t rang true, there is no Junior Anti-Sex-League stopping our species reproducing, (thank god!!) but thinking critically about our situation have we in fact become a surveillance state?

Surveillance is happening throughout the majority of society to so much of an extent data is collected on a huge aspect of our daily lives, no matter how trivial a task you may have been doing. Your credit card transactions, your purchases at the checkout right down to your train ticket purchase is all broken down into specific data, something which is collected analysed and recorded for a purpose. on an average day it is estimated that you could be caught on camera up to 300 times, we have became one of the most watched nations in the world. Aside from the aspect of public security on the streets or public transport etc what is becoming central to great debate is the notion of ‘Dataveillance...”

They did manage to collect enough dirt on this poor bastard to fire him but that's not the point. The ends shouldn't justify the means...

Here's every employee's nightmare come true, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union: A GPS device "planted as part of an investigation into workplace misconduct, tracked the whereabouts of 30-year state Department of Labor employee Michael Cunningham and his family for at least a month, including during evenings, weekends and while the family went on vacation out of state."

The crux of the matter, according to the suit, was that nobody got a warrant to bug Cunningham's personal car.

“I can’t believe that they would invade my privacy so brazenly,” Cunningham said. “It made me scared for myself and the rest of my family, who also drove the car. I don’t want other state employees subjected to this outrageous and illegal surveillance...”

Translation: we're all fucked!

Data on the links we click, search terms we key in and browsers we use pales in relation to what we actively share with online companies on a daily basis.

From telling Foursquare where we ate dinner last night to sharing with Microsoft's HealthVault our prescription medication or test results, once it appears online our information is no longer only ours.

"We may retain certain information to prevent identity theft and other misconduct even if deletion has been requested," Facebook tells users in its privacy policy, which warns that even if you remove information or delete your account, previously-posted content may still be viewable elsewhere.

The FTC's "do not track" legislation also seeks to arbitrate only a singular end-use for our data: advertising.

It is undeniable creepy to see a search engine serve up ads based on sensitive queries regarding medical concerns. And when an email exchange with a significant other yields a startlingly on-topic Gmail ad for a vacation destination with "secluded beaches, sultry sunsets, special moments for you & your love," it's difficult to shake the sense that Big Brother is watching.

But the thorny issue that the "do not track" system does not address is what we can do to prevent companies from using our data in ways that we might not yet be able to anticipate...

Not a good idea to get one of these for your daughter...

In a recent alert set out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there is a concern that the new “Video Barbie” can be used as a tool for pedophiles and the acts of child porn. This may come across as an exaggeration, but the doll is set up with a camera located on the chest of Barbie, along with a screen on her back to see what is recorded...

Is Eric Schmidt's house on Google's Street View? Bastards.

Some critics of Google Street View claim that it's an invasion of privacy, and those claims recently gained steam when courts ruled against the convenient mapping service. But it was a small victory for the owners of the private property that Google snapped a shot of and posted online – they only won $1 in the lawsuit.

In general, when it comes to determining the legality of Street View, the answer is "it depends."

Macedonia is turning into an Orwellian state with invasions of privacy a routine part of daily life.

There are cameras on streets and crossroads, and video surveillance in all public institutions including ministries, local government, schools and hospitals. Citizens, objects of this undesired attention, are not even notified of the ongoing surveillance measures...

File under "Disturbing"...

Dentists have a legal responsibility to keep dental records for years, but the use of dental records for identification is less accurate than DNA. In fact there are examples where people have even been wrongfully convicted by dental expert evidence so the move away relying on dental records beyond the most simple screening protocols may be justified.

A person’s dental record changes more now that ever before for many reasons. Modern fillings often needs more frequent replacement than the mercury based silver amalgams that are being phased out by most dentists. Patients are having their smiles transformed with veneers, orthodontics and aligners and their teeth can look different in only one visit.

Patients are more transient and changing dentists means their records end up in a dentist’s basement or garage without being accessible to a national search. All these factors suggest that the long term storage of dental records may be of questionable value and instead dentists could be actively involved in a voluntary DNA collection program...

Perhaps Google will find a way to eliminate the distasteful website (or blog) altogether? Maybe a domain grab is in order!!

Google announced on Wednesday that it had changed the way it ranks search results so that unscrupulous merchants would find it harder to appear prominently in searches.

The change was prompted by an article in The New York Times on Sunday about Vitaly Borker, a Brooklyn-based online seller of eyeglasses. Mr. Borker claimed that he purposely shouted at and frightened some of the customers at because the online complaints actually worked in his favor in Google search results.

In essence, he claimed, Google’s search engine is unable to tell the difference between positive posts and withering online critiques. Therefore, the more complaints posted about Mr. Borker’s site, the more likely customers would be to find his store ranked high on a Google search, which yielded him more revenue.

In a blog posting titled “Being bad to your customers is bad for your business,” Google said that it had revised its algorithm so that it could detect Mr. Borker and “hundreds of other merchants that, in our opinion, provide extremely poor user experience.”

Google did not reveal how it had changed its algorithm, or how that change would affect online sellers like Mr. Borker. It simply said that the more it reveals about the changes it made, the easier it will be for unscrupulous sellers to game it...

Under pressure from federal lawmakers, on Wednesday booted WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing Web site, from its computer servers, three days after the group released a trove of embarrassing State Department cables and documents.

The move to drop WikiLeaks came shortly after members of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee pressed the company to explain its relationship with WikiLeaks. The site WikiLeaks had previously been using went down for several hours after an Internet attack over the weekend, prompting the group to switch over to an Amazon host site, which rents out bandwidth and other services.

Then, on Sunday, WikiLeaks released thousands of classified government documents and sensitive diplomatic cables that humiliated the State Department and revealed sensitive U.S. assessments of foreign leaders. The Obama administration responded with outrage and set up a special committee to tighten security and evaluate the damage from the documents’ release...

Because the court system isn't humiliating enough! Iris scans: they're not just for prisoners of war anymore!!

The New York Police Department has begun photographing the irises of people who are arrested in an effort to prevent escapes as suspects move through the court system, a police official said Monday.

The program was instituted after two embarrassing episodes early this year in which prisoners arrested on serious charges tricked the authorities into freeing them by posing at arraignment as suspects facing minor cases. The occurrences exposed weaknesses in the city’s handling of suspects as they move from police custody into the maze of court systems in the five boroughs.

With the new system, the authorities are using a hand-held scanning device that can check a prisoner’s identity in seconds when the suspect is presented in court, said Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.

Officials began photographing the irises of suspects arrested for any reason on Monday at Manhattan Central Booking and expect to expand the program to all five boroughs by early December, Mr. Browne said...

Remember, it's completely voluntary - for now...

AOptix Technologies Inc. is touting the use of iris recognition to authenticate passengers and secure air travel. With an alternative approach to pat-downs and full body scans, AOptix says iris biometrics can reduce wait time and help relax the anxiety associated with the security screening process.

The notion of a registered traveler is not new to domestic travel. Willing individuals register their biographic information, submit to a background check, and are enrolled with a biometric identifier that can be used at a later date to verify their identity as they are expedited through the typical security screening process...

Fuck Google.

Back in April 2008, married couple Aaron and Christine Boring filed suit against Google for “intentional and/or grossly reckless invasion” of their privacy, because a Street View car drove down their Private road and snapped some photos of their house.

Aside from giving the press an opportunity to go pun-crazy, the case has been notable for its longevity: most of the charges, which included negligence, were thrown out in February 2009, but Boring v. Google came back for an encore this year. The lone remaining charge? Trespassing.

Now, over two and a half years after the case got started, a judge has handed down her consent judgement, ruling that that Google was indeed guilty of Count II Trespass. The Borings are getting a grand total of $1 for their trouble. Ouch...

These leaks need to be redacted before they are published - period. Cooperating with police agencies or Military should not lead to you being outed to those you snitched on.

Your privacy is at stake. Suppose someone dumped a secure police database and your name was in there as having provided eyewitness information related to a gang hit. That would probably not be good.

Suppose University registration information was released - home addresses of students (which has happened) and some guy was stalking a young woman (which has happened).

"One big database" as a goal has unintended consequences...
Wednesday, December 01, 2010

David Norris wants to collect the digital equivalent of fingerprints from every computer, cellphone and TV set-top box in the world.

He's off to a good start. So far, Mr. Norris's start-up company, BlueCava Inc., has identified 200 million devices. By the end of next year, BlueCava says it expects to have cataloged one billion of the world's estimated 10 billion devices.

Advertisers no longer want to just buy ads. They want to buy access to specific people. So, Mr. Norris is building a "credit bureau for devices" in which every computer or cellphone will have a "reputation" based on its user's online behavior, shopping habits and demographics. He plans to sell this information to advertisers willing to pay top dollar for granular data about people's interests and activities.

Device fingerprinting is a powerful emerging tool in this trade. It's "the next generation of online advertising," Mr. Norris says...

How much radiation is too much?

Its because of my interest in this aspect of cancer biology that I felt compelled to review the safety reports released on the TSA website here. However, my interest is not only professional, but also personal. My grandmother died of breast cancer in 2005 after being in remission for 20+ years. While she was never tested for either BRCA1 or BRCA2, her family history indicates that there is a strong probability of one of these mutations running in my family. Including my grandmother, at least four of her siblings developed cancer: two died of breast cancer, one developed a rare form of leukemia and another died of skin cancer. All of her female siblings had cancer, and its noteworthy that her mother died of a very young age (maybe 30's or early 40's) of an unknown (to me) cause. For these reasons, I fear that inadequate safety evaluation of these machines could unduly expose my family (and myself) to levels of radiation that might be harmful should this high familial cancer rate in fact be hereditary...

Ahh! I love the smell of tyranny in morning!

You’ll be fine, as long as you have nothing to hide. Of course, your government is working on more laws that will make you have something to hide. But in the mean time, can’t you just smell your own safety? Refreshing as a mountain stream. Thanks government for having my back (as you cuff me with a gun to my head)...

Two Harvard Law students have filed a federal lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration that claims the use of "nude body scanners" and new enhanced pat-down techniques at airport security checkpoints are unconstitutional.

Jeffrey Redfern '12 and Anant Pradhan '12 filed the lawsuit Monday in the District Court of Massachusetts. The complaint names Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and TSA Administrator John Pistole as defendants. Beginning in March 2010, the TSA deployed 450 full-body scanners in airports throughout the country. Boston's Logan International Airport has 17 of the full-body scanners at issue in the lawsuit, according to the TSA's website.

The lawsuit claims the mandatory screening techniques violate the students' Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. The suit seeks a permanent injunction against the use of either screening method without reasonable suspicion or probable cause and a declaratory judgment stating that mandatory screening using these techniques is unconstitutional where probable cause or reasonable suspicion do not exist.

Redfern and Pradhan have also asked for an injunction that would prevent the TSA from storing any images taken using the full-body scanners except as needed to prosecute suspected terrorists...