A lad of 12 who tried out the new iPhone 4S in Tesco was stunned when it told him: "Shut the f*** up, you ugly t***."

The phone's Siri system, which answers spoken questions, came back with the foul-mouthed insult when Charlie Le Quesne asked: "How many people are there in the world?"

Charlie's horrified mum Kim said: "The phone was a demo version and was low enough on the shelf for Charlie to have a go with it. He asked it a simple question and we couldn't believe the filth it came out with.

"I thought I must be hearing things. So we asked again and the same four-letter stuff blared out.

"I asked for the manager and after staff heard it they agreed to unplug it."

Apologetic staff at Tesco in Coventry told Kim pranksters had tampered with the phone's set-up instructions.
Thursday, December 29, 2011

SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, is a proposed bill that would allow owners of intellectual property to block or disable any website that they consider infringes on their intellectual property.

Unfortunately, the bill takes a “carpet bombing” approach to piracy and gives intellectual property owners unprecedented powers in being able to take websites down without any sort of due process.

The bill goes so far that many people have renamed it the “Stop Online Privacy Act” because it infringes on both privacy and freedom.

Many people are worried, and rightly so, about how SOPA can hurt the internet. SOPA hurts consumers, SOPA hurts service providers, and SOPA hurts freedom of speech.

Like many service providers and competitors, we feel so strongly about SOPA that we’ve been compelled to act. We are a freedom-loving domain registrar and above all else, the rights of our customers come first.

In a statement, Richard Kirkendall, CEO of Namecheap said:

While we at Namecheap firmly believe in intellectual property rights, SOPA is like detonating a nuclear bomb on the internet when only a surgical strike is necessary. This legislation has the potential to harm the way everyone uses the Internet and to undermine the system itself. At Namecheap, we believe having a free and open Internet is the only option that will continue the legacy of innovation and openess that stands for everything we all value in our modern society.

Some of our competitors support SOPA, despite the untold damage it can do to the internet as we know it.

Because of this, we're declaring December 29th “Move Your Domain Day”, as a call-to-action for those who oppose SOPA and wish to leave service providers who support SOPA.

GoDaddy really fucked up this time!!!

China is launching a national online marriage database to fight bigamy, a move that has raised concerns among millions of Chinese about protection of privacy.

The Chinese government's announcement that it plans to make the database available next year comes amid reports last week that hackers gained access to the personal information of 6 million users of the China Software Developer Network, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Saturday.

The hacking triggered widespread panic in China, and some Chinese citizens raised questions about the safety of the anticipated marriage database, Xinhua said...

All foreigners entering the country will undergo biometric scanning starting in the new year to combat terrorism and prevent threats to national security, said immigration officials.

According to the Korea Immigration Service on Monday, foreigners aged 17 or older will undergo fingerprint and facial scanning upon entering the county starting Jan. 1.

The program started scanning those from countries deemed high-risk by the KIS in September 2010, and has since expanded to include all foreigners choosing long-term stay here.

However, the program excludes minors, diplomatic officials and other foreign government officials. Registered foreigners currently in the country will also be exempt.

Biometric scanning will be conducted in 11 different languages including English, Chinese and Japanese.

The process potentially could double the amount of time that it takes to pass through immigration...

Fingerprinting does an OK job at biometric identification, but since our fingertips are usually coated with potato chip grease, we wouldn’t want to trust it for mission critical applications. A Japanese researcher thinks he has the solution — a unique mathematical "butt fingerprint" that could be used to protect your car against would-be criminals.

Associate Professor Shigeomi Koshimizu at the Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology in Tokyo uses a seat pressure map to generate a web of 39 indices that are used to uniquely identify a subject's rear end. Results so far have been encouraging, with average type one error (failing to correctly identify the driver's behind) of 2.2 percent, and type two error (mistakenly letting someone else drive away) of only 1.1 percent...

The biometric identification of manual laborers fails in 15 percent of cases, for instance: it seems that working with your hands blurs your fingerprints. This means that a significant number of workers could find themselves locked out of their welfare accounts. UID officials have said that they expect contingency plans to address such failures as they occur, but in India, contingency plans have a way of becoming standard operating procedures that enable unscrupulous officials to subvert the system. Designed as a tool of inclusion, the UID could thus become a means of exclusion...

Gunshots ring out in the dead of night, and not a single person reports it. Yet police know exactly where the shots came from, even before they arrive on the scene.

It sounds like a scene from The Minority Report, but it's real. A new technology called ShotSpotter enables law enforcement officials to precisely and instantaneously locate shooters, and it has been quietly rolling out across America. From Long Island, N.Y., to San Francisco, Calif., more than 60 cities in the U.S. have been leveraging ShotSpotter to make their streets safer.

Minneapolis has already adopted it. And this past week three more cities from the heartland -- Flint, Mich.; Youngstown, Ohio; and Omaha, Neb. -- have begun testing or furthered plans to roll it out.

The Youngstown Police Department decided to go very public by posting frank warning signs, such as this one at the Youngstown Elementary School:

“If You Fire a Gun, We Will Find You...”

The troops have come home, the flag has been been lowered, and the Iraq War is officially in the past for the U.S. military. But the military is holding on to a major souvenir of the war: a massive database packed with retinal scans, thumb prints and other biometric data identifying millions of Iraqis. It will be a tool for counterterrorism long after the Iraq War becomes a fading memory.

U.S. Central Command, the military command responsible for troops in the Mideast and South Asia, confirms to Danger Room that the biometrics database, compiled by U.S. troops over the course of years, will remain U.S. property. “Centcom has the database,” says the command’s chief spokesman, Army Maj. T.G. Taylor, who says it contains files on three million Iraqis. The U.S.-sponsored Iraqi government, in other words, doesn’t control a host of incredibly specific information on its citizens.

For much of the war, U.S. troops carrying viewfinder-like scanning devices kept digital records of the Iraqis they encountered. Some Iraqis got their unique identifiers recorded because they were suspected insurgents on their way to detention centers. Residents of violent cities like Fallujah would only get to return home from travel if they showed U.S. troops an ID card complete with biometric data. Iraqis underwent iris scans when they wanted to join the police. So did Iraqis who worked on U.S. bases.

It was all part of an effort to answer the war’s most vexing challenge: distinguishing insurgents from Iraqi civilians. And that effort isn’t going away, even after the war technically ended. It’ll be part of U.S. counterterrorism missions for a long time to come...

Once they put you on the list, you never get off it.

As part of Jell-O’s new campaign to promote its latest desert the company is giving away free samples using a sophisticated vending machine that uses facial biometrics to keep children away.

“Temptations,” Jell-O’s new pudding is meant to be for “adults only,” so to ensure that children are not getting any free samples, its new vending machines will use facial recognition technology.

According to the company, the vending machine will automatically scan the face of every individual who approaches the machine for a sample.

“If the machine detects a child, it will shut down, asking the child to step away from the machine,” the company said in a press release.

The machine does not store any biometric information and only collects data based on gender and approximate age...

Please don't take pictures of my kid.

Privacy advocates are suing DHS for 'covert' social networking surveillance on Facebook and Twitter. EPIC's FOIA lawsuit is a result of Homeland Security refusing to turn over details about Big Brother setting up fake accounts to 'friend' you and better monitor your social media activities.

Yes, Virginia, Big Brother is watching you in social media and storing those "naughty" tweets, posts and comments. After those hot keyword terms put you on the naughty list, unlike Santa's list, it's not a redo in a year . . . that info will be stored for five years. The EFF previously warned Big Brother wants to be your online buddy on social networking sites. Then the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking Homeland Security for more details about the agency's plans to setup fake profiles and monitor social media users; but when no documents were produced, EPIC is now suing DHS over 'covert surveillance on Facebook and Twitter.'
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A lawyer is urging people to boycott the world's largest biometric database, which is being introduced across India.

The controversial programme aims to scan the eyes and take the fingerprints of most of the population over the next decade.

Each person will then be given a 12-digit number. They will be able to use the number - which serves as a key to their biometric data - to prove their identity and access India's sprawling welfare state.

But Supreme Court lawyer and human rights activist, Sanjay Barikh, says the scheme is an invasion of privacy.

He is urging citizens not to take part, claiming it will lead to unnecessary state intrusion.

"When they get the information then all the time that person will be under some kind of surveillance and it is questionable whether that information will be kept secret or whether it will be passed on to other countries and companies as well," he said.

The scheme is already well underway and more than one million people being processed every day.

The authorities claim the biometric identity project - which is called Aadhaar (foundation) - is vital if India is to eradicate poverty and beat corruption...

The reported move of the state government to introduce biometric system of attendance for teachers and non-teaching staff of colleges and universities in Bihar has drawn sharp criticism from the academic circles. The new system would hardly be able to change the existing educational scenario in the state, they feel.

The basic idea of introducing this system is to keep a check on teachers. The biometric system will provide exact information on whether the employee was actually present or not. With the biometric system in place, the employee has to be present physically in the college and cannot mark proxy attendance, the mandarins in the state HRD feels.

Taking strong exception to the government move of implementing the biometric system, Patna University Teachers' Association general secretary Randhir Kumar Singh said it would hardly deliver any good in the institutions of higher education. Rather it would prove counterproductive.

In Patna University, classes are being run by only about 400 teachers against the required 900 teachers. Consequently, a teacher of Patna College or Patna Women's College also engages classes in the postgraduate department located at Darbhanga House. How will he move to different institutions if the biometric system is introduced, he wondered...

Facebook is in the process of rolling out a huge, and potentially privacy-threatening, change to the way it displays your profile on the site.

It’s called Timeline and it makes it way easier than it was before for people to dig into every single thing you’ve ever done on the site — every photo, every status update, every relationship change.

Pull up someone’s profile with Timeline enabled and you can scroll back through their entire post-Facebook history. Click on a year (say, 2007) and you’ll see everything they did in those 12 months...

The Canadian company Waypoint Counter Surveillance sells a Universal Exotic Modulation Detector (EMD) which claims to allow "when checking radiating fields within a room, to detect, localize and demodulate unusual technical surveillance systems including visible and non visible bulb, LED, IR, UV and laser light, ultrasonic audio transmission and induction audio transmission."

At this time of year when many of us are surrounded by an inordinate amount of LED bulbs via holiday decorations, the idea of Christmas lights spying on anyone by potentially "listening" for audio seem(s) extra creepy...
Sunday, December 18, 2011

For those agitated over the big brother snooping on their lives, there is more bad news in store as India’s external intelligence agency, the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) has been notified by the UPA government as an “authorised agen-cy” to legally intercept phone calls, e-mails and all forms of data, voice and electronic communications with immediate effect.

This is the first time in R&AW’s history since its inception in 1967 that it has been allowed to snoop on Indian citizens in addition to its espionage activities abroad.

The notification came a few weeks ago after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) added the intelligence organisation to the list of eight recognised law enforcement agencies that have been authorised by the Supreme Court to legally intercept communications, senior government officials confirmed to DNA.

But the move also raises questions about the government’s intentions at a time when Union communications and IT minister Kapil Sibal let it slip that the government was planning to screen social media.

According to the notification, R&AW can now post its communication interception equipment at international gateways to spy on all forms of data, be it international telephony emanating from India, or any form of electronic data including e-mails. The move raises the question about the grey area of surveillance, privacy and citizen’s rights in the absence of any form of effective oversight mechanisms...

Members of the House Homeland Security Committee introduced a cybersecurity bill on Thursday that would establish a quasi-governmental entity to oversee information-sharing with the private sector.

Like the other cybersecurity bills offered by the House GOP, the Promoting and Enhancing Cybersecurity and Information Sharing Effectiveness (PrECISE Act) encourages private firms to share information on cyber threats but stops short of mandating new security standards for sectors deemed critical to national security...

Researchers in the U.S. are working towards a system that can detect if someone is lying as well as if they are angry or drunk by their voice alone, according to a Homeland Security News Wire article.

Among the researchers working on such technologies are Julia Hirschberg from Columbia University and Shrikanth Narayanan from the University of Southern California.

Hirschberg’s work is on a computer program that deconstructs an individual’s speech looking for changes in pitch, volume, pauses and other verbal cues that point towards dishonesty while Narayanan’s work is focused on a program that uses special algorithms to look for pitch, timing and intensity to discern emotions in a speaker’s voice with his other work is on a system that verbally detects drunkenness.

Most look at the potential new technology holding little potential for use in a court setting as even traditional polygraphs are rarely considered as viable evidence, however, there is potential for scanning callers in call centers to better prepare to deal with certain emotions or to determine if an official at a press conference is being honest.

"Based on the voice biometric, the jury finds you guilty!" Fuck you! What did your machine say about that pitch, timing, and intensity? Seriously though, if we're stupid enough to fall for this scheme, we're stupid enough to believe any bullshit they sell us.
Thursday, December 15, 2011

Brick-and-mortar stores have long wanted to track consumers the way online merchants do and are starting to figure out how. They’re using security cameras to monitor shopping behavior and tracking mobile phones to divine which stores people visit.

The technologies mean retailers from discount chain Family Dollar Stores Inc. (FDO) to luxury pen-maker Montblanc can make changes on the fly -- such as deploying more salespeople in a given department and moving high-margin merchandise to parts of the store where shoppers are more likely to see it.

“It’s really a game-changing experience, and this is only the beginning,” said Rodrigo Fajardo, a Montblanc brand manager, who says a six-month-old tracking system prompted him to move best-selling items to another part of his Miami store, boosting sales 20 percent. “Before we were just working based on know-how and intuition. This is designing a retail business based on real statistics...”

International news agencies Reuters and AP set up surveillance cameras outside former South African president Nelson Mandela's rural home, police and spokesmen for the agencies said on Thursday.

"So far we've managed to recover two cameras in a house in the village not far from Mr Mandela's house," police spokesman Mzukisi Fatyela told AFP.

"The cameras were put there without the knowledge of his family or the authorities."

He said both cameras were removed on Monday and that authorities "strongly believe" there are others set up in the village.

South Africa's Times newspaper said the CCTV cameras had been installed as long as six years ago in the house of a neighbour who lives across from Mandela's homestead in Qunu, in South Africa's Eastern Cape province.

Britain-based Reuters and US news agency the Associated Press (AP) both confirmed they had set up cameras there.

"We did have a camera and it has been removed," Reuters spokeswoman Joanne Crosby told AFP, declining to comment further...

US federal investigators are looking into claims that software from Carrier IQ, which is installed on about 150m mobile phones, has been used to track user activity and send data to carriers without customers' knowledge.

The Washington Post reported that executives from Carrier IQ travelled to Washington earlier this week to meet officials from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is in charge of enforcing privacy laws to protect consumers, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Meanwhile, the FBI has denied that it has ever sought any data from Carrier IQ for any of its investigations – though its director, Robert Mueller, said it was possible that some data that the FBI had received from mobile carriers might have been collected by Carrier IQ's software.

Speculation had followed the result of a Freedom of Information request in which the FBI was asked how it used that data, and responded with a "standard exemption".

Three of the four biggest US carriers – AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint – have said they use the company's software in line with their own privacy policies. In the UK, none of the carriers say that they use the software.

Apple has said that a future software update will remove the software from the iPhone, where it is used for anonymised diagnostic reports that are sent back only with the customer's agreement. The software is installed by carriers on millions of phones using Google's Android software...

Pieces of shit. Spying on us? Shame on you, corporate demons! Your time is gonna come...

The committee, in a recent report, raised concerns about access and misuse of personal information, surveillance, profiling and securing confidential information by the government. UID authorities say that appropriate steps have been taken to ensure security and protection of data.

The committee has even questioned the implementation of the scheme, which has been held up as a success story by the authorities. It says it was originally meant for the poorest of the poor and then extended to all residents. But the committee says better-off Indians already possess many other forms of identity, and so asks how the number helps them. Authorities say the number will be a general proof of identity...

Remember that software installed on 140 million smartphones that tracks every keystroke you make?

Smartphone users were told that Carrier IQ was only being used for diagnostic information but what exactly does this mean? And if it’s only being used for diagnostic information, why is the FBI denying a FOIA request for records of how that agency has used data from the software for law enforcement purposes?

Most importantly, if data from our smartphones is being used by the FBI without our knowledge, is this just the next frontier in domestic spying programs?

Armed with a search warrant, Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke went looking for six missing cows on the Brossart family farm in the early evening of June 23. Three men brandishing rifles chased him off, he said.

Janke knew the gunmen could be anywhere on the 3,000-acre spread in eastern North Dakota. Fearful of an armed standoff, he called in reinforcements from the state Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three other counties.

He also called in a Predator B drone.

As the unmanned aircraft circled 2 miles overhead the next morning, sophisticated sensors under the nose helped pinpoint the three suspects and showed they were unarmed. Police rushed in and made the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare...

Companies need to be careful about not violating user privacy when implementing facial recognition technology in their products, the Federal Trade Commission warned.

The Federal Trade Commission would take a hard line on companies that violate consumer privacy using facial recognition technology, the agency's chairman said at a public workshop.

Government officials, privacy advocates and technology companies discussed the ethics of facial recognition and the impact on user privacy at a workshop in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8. Facial recognition technology has been integrated in a wide range of products and services, including online social networks, digital billboards and mobile apps, which raises a host of privacy and security concerns, the FTC said.

While the technology can be used in positive ways, regulators, companies and consumers must "acknowledge and address that they have the potential to run right over consumers," forcing users to reveal more information than they intended to, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said at the workshop.

Even if the technology isn’t fully mature yet, it will soon be possible for the technology to match a name with a face and be able to access data about jobs, credit history and health without the user even being aware of it, according to Leibowitz.

The FTC will “vigorously enforce the law if we see a violation” of privacy through a facial recognition feature, Leibowitz said.

Insurers and employers may soon start using facial recognition technology to find information about a potential customer or worker, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill said. "It is scenarios like these we must bear in mind as we both guide and react to how these technologies change the way we buy, sell and live," Brill said...

Stellar transcripts aside, students now have to worry about an increasing number of colleges peering at their social-networking pages online—and potentially denying their applications because of what they find there.

The number of college-admissions officials using Facebook and other social-networking sites to learn more about applicants quadrupled over the past year, according to New York City-based Kaplan Test Prep, the test preparation division of Kaplan Inc.

In the company’s 2011 survey of admissions officers from the top 500 colleges and universities, 24 percent said they have viewed publicly available pages to get a clearer picture of an applicant, while 20 percent turned to Google. Twelve percent reported that their discoveries, including photos showing underage drinking, vulgarities in blogs, and plagiarism in essays, negatively affected the chance of admission...

While it looks like a toy boat, the 6-foot vessel streaks across the water at more than 100 mph, carrying video cameras and sensors or a weapon.

And it’s bulletproof.

The speedboat, designed in the shape of an ocean racer, has two electric motors about the size of soda cans that generate 15 horsepower. It’s called MANTAS, for Man-portable, Tactical Autonomous System. And a Palm Bay company hopes to sell them to the military.

“These things fly across the water,” said Bruce Hanson, chief executive officer for The Software Specialists, which created the experimental vessel...

Software development company Agile Route has released shopping analytics software that uses the Microsoft XBox Kinect gaming system to track shoppers in real time. According to the company's web site, the software uses the Kinects 3-d spatial recognition capabilities to collect data about individual shopper movements. Shoppers are given a unique identifier, and multiple shoppers can be tracked at one time.

The data collected by the Kinect system are then analyzed to determine shopper movements relative to shelf locations, and real-world comparisons came be made between shopper movements when a display is set up in two different ways.

The company claims the system protects shopper privacy by not recording any personal information. Questions about how the system differentiates between shoppers over time were not immediately answered by Agile Route. If images of actual shoppers are recorded, there are some obvious privacy concerns.

The Xbox Kinect has raised privacy concerns in the past when Microsoft suggested they would use information gathered through the Kinect system to target advertising to Kinect users. Microsoft has subsequently worked hard to assure Kinect users that they will not use Kinect information for advertising.

Even when "personal information" is not collected consumers tend to dislike surveillance. Mall owner Forest City decided to pull the plug on a cell phone tracking program due to consumer complaints...

Thanks to Facebook’s “frictionless sharing,” I know all kinds of things about what my friends and relatives are doing at any given moment. One thing I don’t know, though, is what movies they’re watching online.

The reason is thanks to one of the rare US privacy laws on the books, and one of the weirdest: The Video Privacy Protection Act. But it won’t be for long, if Facebook and Netflix have their way.

Yesterday the House passed HR 2471, a bill amending the VPPA that allows movie rental/streaming services to reveal the films you’ve watched, assuming you’ve given your informed written consent – which can be obtained over the Net.

In other words, by clicking Allow on Facebook, you could agree to let all your peeps know that you just watched “Hello Sister, Goodbye Life” on Netflix. Why you would want to do this, I don’t know.

Given the margin by which this 59-word snippet of law passed (303 to 116), I can’t see it getting massive opposition in the Senate or earning a presidential veto. They’ve got much bigger issues to avoid making decisions on in DC these days. So I’d consider this a done deal.

According to Maplight.org, interest groups supporting this bill – primarily the Digital Media Association, Facebook, and Netflix – have doled out over $1 million to Congressional members from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011. House members who voted yes on the bill got an average of 73 percent more from these groups (or $2,644 on average) than those who voted no. The top recipients of the digital industry’s largesse: California Democrats Anna Eshoo ($36K) and Zoe Lofgren ($40K), and Virginia Republicans Bob Goodlatte ($28K) and Eric Cantor ($24K).

See? We do have the best Congress money can buy. Just not your money or mine...

Chief Diggs says the cameras will feed into a real time crime center that will record video obtained by both "overt" and "covert" cameras.

"Some of the cameras will be self-supporting, they'll be on trailers so we can move them around....The main cameras will be on polls that are already out there," Toledo Police Lt. Michael Troendle said of the cameras.

Diggs says the mix in types of surveillance will make the investment both a reactive and proactive tool in fighting crime.

Estimated to cost between $812,000 and $1.2 million Diggs says he plans to purchase the cameras as soon as he gets the necessary approval.

"Financing for the program will not be taken from the city's general fund but instead will be used from the department’s law enforcement trust fund, an account funded by assets confiscated through criminal investigations," Diggs said.

The chief adds that he will be working closely with the city's law department to make sure citizens' rights are not infringed on by adding the cameras...

Munroe Elementary School in Tallmadge, Ohio is upgrading its cafeteria to be cash-free when the students return form winter break relying instead on biometrics for students to access accounts for their food, according to a Tallmadge Express article.

The change, which is designed off a system at nearby Hudson City Schools to help make lines move quicker, is part of a school overhaul of its dining program that also includes changes in the offerings to help improve the diets of the students.

The fingerprint-based systems are not entirely new to the schools, as they already been running in middle and high schools in Tallmadge. The system at Munroe will be the first to run entirely cashless without an option for students to pay in cash, which may expand to all the schools...

The kids can't opt out of this one; no cash allowed. Total bullshit. Conditioning them for a cashless society, one that can be more easily controlled and monitored. As adults, they won't even know the true meaning of freedom.

Step-by-step instructions for how to circumvent Facebook’s privacy systems have been circulating online for more than two weeks.

The method, which was blocked on Tuesday, involved exploiting systems meant to stop users posting explicit material on the web's largest social network.

After reporting a public profile picture as inappropriate because of “nudity or pornography”, intruders were offered the chance to report more photographs posted by the same user. Facebook then presented them with a thumbnail gallery of private images which could be enlarged by making a simple change in the browser address bar and downloaded.

The flaw was originally publicised on a body building forum last month.

"Facebook could take action on your account should this be abused," the original poster wrote. "I urge you to use on a dummy account if you care about keeping your Facebook profile active..."

The key privacy interest that commercial facial recognition affects is, of course, identification of an individual through facial features alone. Without facial recognition technology, it is very difficult for a stranger to easily and quickly identify an individual on this basis. Individuals in public currently expect that most businesses and passersby cannot recognize their faces, fewer still can connect a name to their faces, and few – if any – can associate their faces with internet behavior, travel patterns, or other personal information. Facial recognition technology fundamentally changes this dynamic, enabling any marketer or random stranger to collect – openly or in secret – and share the identities and associated personal information of any individual in public.

Deployed widely enough, a network of facial recognition cameras can track millions of individuals as they move from place to place. Unlike other tracking methods, such as GPS or RFID, facial recognition does not require the tracked individual to carry any special device or tag, reducing consumers’ ability to thwart unwanted tracking. Once built, databases assembled with facial recognition for commercial use can be accessed or re-purposed for law enforcement surveillance...


The system, which attaches to an iPhone and weighs 12.5 ounces, is already paying off for Florida law enforcement. Since 2004, deputies in the Pinellas County, Fla. sheriff’s office have nabbed 700 people. In Brockton, Mass., the MORIS iris scans quickly link suspects’ prior criminal history.

Forget guns, or CB radios, or even in-car computer systems. In the next year, the iPhone could become the most important crime-fighting tool a cop has at his disposal. Just as the iPhone has reshaped what we expect from smartphones, it’s now set to overhaul law enforcement. Criminals beware!

Everyone beware. Not just criminals. Every last one of us ought to beware.

Drone aircraft, best known for their role in hunting and destroying terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan, may soon be coming to the skies near you.

Police agencies want drones for air support to spot runaway criminals. Utility companies believe they can help monitor oil, gas and water pipelines. Farmers think drones could aid in spraying their crops with pesticides.

"It's going to happen," said Dan Elwell, vice president of civil aviation at the Aerospace Industries Association. "Now it's about figuring out how to safely assimilate the technology into national airspace."

That's the job of the Federal Aviation Administration, which plans to propose new rules for the use of small drones in January, a first step toward integrating robotic aircraft into the nation's skyways.

The agency has issued 266 active testing permits for civilian drone applications but hasn't permitted drones in national airspace on a wide scale out of concern that the pilotless craft don't have an adequate "detect, sense and avoid" technology to prevent midair collisions.

Other concerns include privacy -- imagine a camera-equipped drone buzzing above your backyard pool party -- and the creative ways in which criminals and terrorists might use the machines...
Saturday, December 03, 2011

So what's the next step, I asked? Do people start wearing biometric tokens that send signals to devices in the neighborhood, letting you know when you're in their vicinity so they can respond by tweeting you to please buy them?

Sure, why not, comes the swift response from Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff. Last August, as regular ReadWriteWeb readers will recall, Benioff astounded his audience at the Dreamforce conference with the mind-alteringly imminent notion that Coke machines should become aware of their customers' presence, and respond through their iPhones with bargains and loyalty points. Of course, Benioff's idea at that time relied upon the customer always having his iPhone with him. This time, at the Cloudforce conference in New York this morning, Benioff one-upped his own idea with the notion that a biometric bracelet could supply interested products and devices in the wearer's immediate vicinity with a kind of identity signal.

Benioff's suggestion was brief and simple: Not just applications, but people working remotely, can get a better understanding of customers' needs if they had vision into the context of where they are and what they're doing. As demonstrated earlier in the day, a financial sales team might have immensely greater comprehension of the urgency of a customer's needs if they were to see that she was at the bank, that she was talking to a loan officer, and that she had started filling out the paperwork for a mortgage application...

Military policeman with Combat Logistics Battalion 4 participated in tactical site exploitation training at the training city of Wardah-Mir, Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Nov. 18.

The Marines conducted foot-patrols, room clearing and search operations where they collected biometric data and other evidence on citizens displaying suspicious behavior or possessing contraband.

“We are trying to give the Marines the skill set to assist the Afghan government in criminal prosecutions and to help teach the Afghan National Police these skills,” said Patrick Garrahan, law enforcement professional, Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, MAGCC Twentynine Palms.

Wardah-Mir is a city within MAGCC Twentynine Palms designed for the purpose of large-scale urban training operations and includes actors who portray both Afghan citizens and insurgents to give Marines a training environment similar to situations on the ground in Afghanistan, according to Garrahan.

The Marines practiced several TSE scenarios, including vehicle and home searches, where they also applied military operations in urban terrain techniques.

“We cordoned-off the area, provided perimeter security, and conducted room clearing before executing the TSE,” said Sgt. Joseph R. Apsey, security team leader, Company B, CLB-4.
Suspects were processed using a handheld interagency identity detection equipment system, which compared their biometric data, such as fingerprints and iris scans, to a central database, according to Apsey.

The system allows Marines to positively identify individuals wanted for questioning or detainment...

They are practicing for Afghanistan... yeah, right. Just keep telling yourself that...

The University of Central Florida (UCF) implemented a biometric vein scanning system in an effort to prevent unauthorized persons from entering certain campus facilities, according to a student newspaper.

The campus’ Recreation Wellness Center (RWC) is one of the first to install the system, after many complaints of too many unauthorized people being caught trying to sneak into the facility. To register students simply scan their finger over a touch pad that reads their veins.

There has been some student resistance, most complaining that their privacy is being breached and some way keeping their personal information. Others claim the system takes too much time and that the system doesn’t always work.

Campus officials responded by stating no information is actually kept, just a code that comes up on the screen and a green check mark when students check in. Adding further to note the RWC is currently going through a transition with the new system, and longs lines and system errors are expected at first...

(5 years from now) "Step right up and scan yr palm, people, for some free delicious food, courtesy of the United States Government - otherwise you can starve!"

When citizens overthrew the dictatorships in Egypt and Libya this year, they uncovered listening rooms where devices from Gamma corporation of the UK, Amesys of France, VASTech of South Africa and ZTE Corp of China monitored their every move online and on the phone.

Surveillance companies like SS8 in the U.S., Hacking Team in Italy and Vupen in France manufacture viruses (Trojans) that hijack individual computers and phones (including iPhones, Blackberries and Androids), take over the device, record its every use, movement, and even the sights and sounds of the room it is in. Other companies like Phoenexia in the Czech Republic collaborate with the military to create speech analysis tools. They identify individuals by gender, age and stress levels and track them based on ‘voiceprints’. Blue Coat in the U.S. and Ipoque in Germany sell tools to governments in countries like China and Iran to prevent dissidents from organizing online.

Trovicor, previously a subsidiary of Nokia Siemens Networks, supplied the Bahraini government with interception technologies that tracked human rights activist Abdul Ghani Al Khanjar. He was shown details of personal mobile phone conversations from before he was interrogated and beaten in the winter of 2010-2011...
Thursday, December 01, 2011

Earlier this year, there was a bit furor over the iPhone tracking user locations -- a charge that the Wall Street Journal made when it reported iPhones transmitting what appeared to be positions to Apple (AAPL) but which the company denied. Now Google's (GOOG) Android is in the hot seat over what a third party may be doing.

Android software developer Trevor Eckhart found that Carrier IQ, which bills itself as a provider of "mobile service intelligence solutions to the wireless industry," has software that is secretly installed on millions of Android phones and transmits almost everything users do. Carrier IQ denies the findings and threatened the researcher with legal action. Now Eckhart has posted a video showing findings that paint a damning picture of privacy for many Android phone owners...