The huge success of online shopping and advertising—led by giants like Amazon and Google—is in no small part thanks to software that logs when you visit Web pages and what you click on. Startup Prism Skylabs offers brick-and-mortar businesses the equivalent—counting, logging, and tracking people in a store, coffee shop, or gym with software that works with video from security cameras.

"There's a lot of wonderful information locked up in video, and 40 million security cameras in the U.S. collecting it, but it's data that's not been available," says Steve Russell, cofounder and CEO of Prism, based in San Francisco. "We want to free up that information."

Prism's software can count people that come into a business, measure the length of the line at checkout, and produce static or animated visualizations showing how people moved around a store. It is designed so that it cannot identify or track individuals. One national wireless carrier is already using Prism's technology to generate heat maps of where visitors go in their showrooms, to compare the level of interest in different devices—valuable data to them and to the device makers...

Two British tourists were barred from entering America after joking on Twitter that they were going to 'destroy America' and 'dig up Marilyn Monroe'.

Leigh Van Bryan, 26, was handcuffed and kept under armed guard in a cell with Mexican drug dealers for 12 hours after landing in Los Angeles with pal Emily Bunting.

The Department of Homeland Security flagged him as a potential threat when he posted an excited tweet to his pals about his forthcoming trip to Hollywood which read: 'Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?'

The two men who pointed a gun at the owner of a Lakewood convenience store and emptied the cash register Dec. 28 took one item too many as they fled: the victim's iPhone.

By the following day, a team of Lakewood and Denver cops had one of the suspects in custody after AT&T sent investigators updates every 15 minutes showing the device's location in a 29th Avenue apartment, according to police documents.

As cellphone tracking becomes a more effective and relied-upon step in building and bolstering criminal cases, the practice has pitted law enforcement seeking effective ways to solve cases against privacy advocates worried about turning the ever-present cellphone against its owner.

At the heart of the debate is how police and prosecutors obtain information on a cell user's whereabouts. Should they be required, for example, to show fact-based probable cause, the standard that must be met to obtain a search warrant, to gather that information from service providers — or meet some lower standard?

It's official. The biometric cataloging of the human race has begun. India's intent to record it's entire nations' 1.2 billion people by iris and fingerprint scans signals a devious high tech human monitoring and control agenda.

Although no one ever asks for such systems, biometrics will be sold to the populace as cool, sexy, convenient, safe and secure but will eventually prove to be a living hell for everyone on planet earth. Most just don't know it yet.

--- To surveil and identify, sold as to serve and protect

In order to recognize biometrics as the human equivalent of a dairy cow's ear tag, a brief explanation is in order. One of many current biometrics systems is referred to as "facial recognition" technology.

When someone volunteers to get their drivers' license or passport, photos are required to have an unobstructed, relaxed, static, straight-on portrait face. The subjects' photo is then digitized and entered into a computer.

Via biometric software algorithms, the constant inter-relational dimensions are measured, such as height, width, relation of the nose to the eyes, mouth to chin's end etc.

Facial expressions, such as smiling for instance, alter these ratio calculations and are no longer allowed during photography. Based upon these unique facial landmarks, an identifying number is arrived at, assigned and data based. Biometrics standards are also internationalized.


Google's new plan to keep closer tabs on people isn't just another exasperating affront to online privacy. As the Supreme Court said last week, this type of business decision also affects our constitutional rights.

Google says it will start monitoring what people say and do across multiple Google products, including Gmail, search, calendar and YouTube. By compiling this personal data, the Internet giant intends to offer more tailored ads and better services, such as using geolocation data from your phone to warn when you might be late for a meeting.

The plans alarmed privacy advocates and consumer groups, already upset about Facebook's relentless push to make personal information more public. They got the immediate attention of Congress and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, both of which have investigated Google's business practices and questioned the company for its handling of data.

Also keeping watch? The Supreme Court, whose nine justices agreed that our laws regarding technology and privacy are obsolete.

Internet companies help define our notion of public and private, the court said. New technology shapes our subjective understanding of what constitutes a "reasonable" expectation of privacy. As citizens lose their expectations of privacy, they also lose a key Fourth Amendment defense against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government...

Google and Facebook might have finally gotten the average consumer riled up about privacy.

For the past two years, each company has experimented with different ways to divine more and more about how people live their lives on the Internet, without sparking a revolt.

But the plans the rivals announced this week, which critics say could dramatically rev up their respective abilities to gather intelligence on individual Internet users, seem to have struck a chord.

An informal and unscientific survey of Web users by USA Today found a majority speaking out against the new business practices announced by Google and Facebook.

"It's dangerous for two companies to have so much personal data, regardless of whether the specific threats of that data consolidation are immediately clear," said Sarah Downey, a privacy analyst at software maker Abine.

Compelled to tap what many experts predict will be the next big Internet motherlode - online advertising - Google and Facebook laid down very big bets, during a week when European regulators are hashing out strict new rules that could prevent much of what the tech giants seek to do.

Google signalled its intent to begin correlating data about its users' activities across all of its most popular services and across multiple devices. The goal: to deliver those richer behaviour profiles to advertisers.

Likewise, Facebook announced it will soon make Timeline - the new, glitzier user interface for its service - mandatory.

Timeline is designed to chronologically assemble, automatically display and make globally accessible the preferences, acquaintances and activities for most of Facebook's 800 million members.

Combined with the addition last week of some 60 apps specifically written for Timeline, consumers can provide a detailed account, often in real time, of the music they listen to, what they eat, where they shop - even where they jog...
Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why" - Twitter
Friday, January 27, 2012

The recent hacking of Zappos, on top of a seemingly endless series of high-profile cyber security breaches and hackavist attacks, demonstrate that cyberspace is an insecure frontier, where consumers, corporations and even governments are vulnerable to attack.

Recent research, however, shows that cyber vulnerabilities extend far beyond online targets like banks, commerce sites and social networks. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Washington recently demonstrated, for example, that it is possible to remotely hack into cars—even as they are being driven.

Hackers might infect large numbers of cars en masse via war dialing or a popular audio file and then, later, trigger them to simultaneously disengage the brakes when driving at high speed. Now there’s a horror-movie theme for you...

Google has added one more thing to the list of things it can do over the Web: tell a car where to drive.

Last December, the Internet giant was granted a patent for a method of controlling an autonomous vehicle. Specifically, it details how a vehicle can transition from being human-driven to autonomous mode.

A car could, for example, drive to a specific location and based on a visual indicator on a "landing strip," such as a bar code or radio tag, the car would then transition to autonomous operation. One could imagine, for example, bringing a car to a roadway dedicated to autonomous vehicles where the transition would take place.

In a corporate blog post last year, Google said that it has hired some of the top autonomous-vehicle engineers to enhance the state of driverless cars. It isn't very specific about how this advances its business. But distinguished software engineer Sebastian Thrun said that the company's goal is to "help prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time, and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use."

Engineers have equipped Toyota Priuses with sensors and communications that send large amounts of data back to Google's data centers to analyze and make driving decisions. In 2010, Thrun said it had logged over 140,000 autonomous miles...

Great... maybe Eric Schmidt can ride shotgun and tell us where we may and may not go.

In a glowing review of the rising prevalence of high-tech big brother surveillance gadgets in police force use, the Associated Press reports that East Orange, New Jersey plans to cut crime by highlighting suspects with a red-beamed spotlight– before any crime is committed– a “pre-crime” deterrent to be mounted on nearby street lights or other fixtures.

According to the report, police officers monitor hundreds of video feeds from across the city and opt to brand would-be criminals with a red glow if they believe they are about to engage in a crime, such as a street corner mugging.

“Whereas London has talking cameras, we’re about to deploy light projecting cameras, better known as light-based intervention systems.” said William Robinson, Police Chief for East Orange. He added, “The message to criminals is, we’re observing you, the police are recording you, and the police are responding.”

Hawaii's legislature is weighing an unprecedented proposal to curb the privacy of Aloha State residents: requiring Internet providers to keep track of every Web site that their customers visit.

Its House of Representatives has scheduled a hearing this morning on a new bill (PDF) requiring the creation of virtual dossiers on state residents. The measure, H.B. 2288, says their "Internet destination history information" and "subscriber's information" such as name and address must be saved for two years.

H.B. 2288, which was introduced last Friday, says the dossiers must include a list of Internet Protocol addresses and domain names visited. Democratic Rep. John Mizuno of Oahu is the lead sponsor; Mizuno also introduced H.B. 2287, a computer crime bill, at the same time last week...
Wednesday, January 25, 2012

If you notice a heavy military presence around downtown Los Angeles this week, don’t be alarmed — it’s only a drill.

Joint military training exercises will be held evenings through Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The LAPD will be providing support for the exercises, which will also be held in other portions of the greater Los Angeles area, police said.

Training sites “have been carefully selected to ensure the event does not negatively impact the citizens of Los Angeles and their daily routine,” a department official said.

The training, which a department official said would involve helicopters, has been coordinated with local authorities and owners of the
training sites, police said.

Police said safety precautions have been taken to prevent risk to the general public and military personnel involved.

The exercises are closed to the public, police said...
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

They’re used in war zones for surveillance and military strikes.

But are there plans to deploy drones in the Big Apple to keep an eye on New Yorkers?

More and more people believe it’s inevitable, reports CBS 2’s Don Dahler.

Drones are unmanned aircraft that can fly at low altitudes and shoot live video — or shoot live missiles.

Surveillance cameras already dot the city’s streets, but is the NYPD exploring the use of even more eyes in the skies, in the form of drones? Some evidence points to yes.

A website named Gay City News posted an e-mail it says it acquired through the Freedom of Information Act. It’s purportedly from a detective in the NYPD counterterrorism division, asking the Federal Aviation Administration about the use of unmanned aerial vehicles as a law enforcement tool...


Google will soon know far more about who you are and what you do on the Web.

The Web giant announced Tuesday it is planning to follow the activities of users across nearly all of its ubiquitous sites, including YouTube, Gmail and its leading search engine.

Google has already been collecting some of this information. But for the first time, it is combining data across its Web sites to stitch together a fuller portrait of users.

Consumers won’t be able to opt out of the changes, which take effect March 1. And experts say the policy shift will invite greater scrutiny from federal regulators of the company’s privacy and competitive practices.

The move will help Google better tailor its ads to people’s tastes. If someone watches an NBA clip online and lives in Washington, the firm could advertise Washington Wizards tickets in that person’s Gmail account.

Consumers could also benefit, the company said. When someone is searching for the word “jaguar,” Google would have a better idea of whether the person was interested in the animal or the car. Or, the firm might suggest e-mailing contacts in New York when it learns you are planning a trip there.

But, say consumer advocates, the new policy may upset people who never expected their information would be shared across so many different Web sites.

A user, for instance, may not want Google to use your social network to alert estranged friends — or your boss — that you are around the corner at a bar...

Three years, one month and 28 days after 26/11 terror attacks, the state government has finally cleared the proposal to buy 6,000 CCTV cameras to put Mumbai under London-style surveillance. This means that on an average 14 new cameras will keep an eye on every square kilometre.

The government had first discussed the idea of turning the entire city into a virtual fortress with 5,000 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras immediately after the November 26, 2008 terror attacks, but the proposal was put into cold storage due to red tape. When the state and central governments came under heavy criticism after triple bomb blasts rocked the city last year, the proposal came back in favour.

Soon after the 13/7 triple blasts, a high-level team of police and home department officials led by Home Minister R R Patil, and comprising minister of state for home Satej Patil and Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik visited London to study the CCTV surveillance there.

Admitting to the delay, a home department official told Mumbai Mirror, "The proposal was to reach the state cabinet a little before 13/7, but when the triple blasts took place, we held the proposal back to expand its scope."

On Monday, the state chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad cleared the proposal to buy 6,000 CCTV cameras. The existing 400 cameras will be integrated into this network. All the 6,400 cameras will be connected to an integrated surveillance system that will monitor the entire city spanning 437 sq km. Take the sprawling Sanjay Gandhi National Park and other open spaces like the Aarey Colony out of this and you get an idea of the all pervasiveness of this eyes-in-the-sky network...

The Republican National Convention won't just bring pomp and pageantry to Tampa this summer, it will also bring permanent security improvements in the form of eyes in the sky.

The City of Tampa has budged $2 million of its $50 million in federal convention security funds for 60 surveillance cameras to be installed downtown. Six companies, including IBM, recently submitted bids, which will be unveiled in February.

The Tampa Police Department says the high-tech eyes will help reduce the number of officers' eyes needed. Thousands of protesters are expected at the week-long event.

But critics of the cameras say the $2 million could be better spent.

"Not only is it an invasion of privacy, but it's a huge waste of taxpayers' money," said John Dingfelder, the senior attorney for the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) of Florida...

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police must obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS tracker to a suspect's vehicle, voting unanimously in one of the first major cases to test constitutional privacy rights in the digital age.

The government argued that attaching the tiny device to a car's undercarriage was too trivial a violation of property rights to matter, and that no one who drove in public streets could expect his movements to go unmonitored. Thus, the technique was "reasonable," meaning that police were free to employ it for any reason without first justifying it to a magistrate, the government said.

The justices seemed troubled by that position at arguments in November, where the government acknowledged it would also allow attaching such trackers to the justices' own cars without obtaining a warrant.

The court split 5-4 over the reasoning behind Monday's decision, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority that as conceived in the 18th century, the Fourth Amendment's protection of "persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" would extend to private property such as an automobile...

Your phone might be spying on you. The many cameras you pass every day can recognize your face. Facebook, despite its grudging concessions, still wants you to broadcast your personal life. “Eye in the sky” drones are already watching over borders; next, they’ll patrol the Olympics. It won’t be long before police drones are omnipresent in the skies over every major city, and then every town. Welcome to the 21st century. Smile! You’re probably on TV.

Especially if you live in the kind of repressive state that imprisons its citizens without trial. (You know, like America, if the US Senate has its way.) According to both Wikileaks and that well-known bastion of the left wing The Wall Street Journal, such regimes have been buying up Western-made high-tech surveillance systems like business travellers on unlimited expense accounts. To quote the former, “companies are making billions selling sophisticated tracking tools to government buyers, flouting export rules, and turning a blind eye to dictatorial regimes that abuse human rights...”
Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lawmakers stopped anti-piracy legislation in its tracks on Friday, delivering a stunning win for Internet companies that staged an unprecedented online protest this week to kill the previously fast-moving bills.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he would postpone a critical vote that had been scheduled for January 24 “in light of recent events.”

Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, followed suit, saying his panel would delay action on similar legislation until there is wider agreement on the issue.

“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy. It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products,” Smith said in a statement.

The bills, known as PIPA (PROTECT IP Act) in the Senate and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) in the House, are aimed at curbing access to overseas websites that traffic in pirated content and counterfeit products, such as movies and music...

For now... (stay tuned)

Australian law enforcement agencies were issued 243,631 warrants to obtain telecommunications logs in the period from July 2010 to June 2011. According to Greens' Senator Scott Ludlam, that vastly overshadowed the 3500-odd legal intercepts of communications and makes us part of what privacy activist Jacob Appelbaum calls the "surveillance planet".

The data is from the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 Annual Report for the year ending 30 June 2011, which reports on the usage and effectiveness of the three categories of warrants to conduct surveillance.

To obtain a warrant to conduct an intercept — that is, to record the contents of communications — law enforcement agencies must believe that the target is involved in a serious crime for which they could be jailed for seven years or more.

However there's a much lower threshold to obtain so-called telecommunications data, which is everything except the content of the communication itself — for example, the source's internet protocol (IP) address, the addressee, and the latitude and longitude of the location a phone call was made from...

A Mingpao Daily journalist successfully spoofed a biometrics device of the self-service immigration clearance e-channel system at the Hong Kong-China border with fingerprint cast produced by a HK$110 (90 yuan) fingerprint cast kit bought on Taobao, according to a report by the Hong Kong-based Chinese-language Mingpao Daily.

Now with 391 devices at different borders, the e-channel system has been in use in Hong Kong since 1994. Each device take about 10 seconds to complete authentication.

The report says the journalist tested five devices located at the Hong Kong-Lo Wu border and Hong Kong-Lok Ma Chau border and managed to spoof one of the devices twice with the fingerprint cast.

Mr Nilekani's department has so far enrolled 20 crore (200 Million) Indians with their biometrics - his data has allegedly been described as not sound by the Home Ministry. When asked about that, Mr Nilekani diplomatically replied, "We believe that we follow due process...we have very high standards of security, we believe that it serves the purpose it does." Mr Nilekani also said that it is upto the Cabinet to decide whether his department should continue to collect biometric data, or if that exercise remains the prerogative of Mr Chidambaram's Home Ministry.

Mr Nilekani wants to extend the enrollment to all Indians - a move backed by the Planning Commission and its parent body, the Finance Ministry. But Mr Chidambaram says his ministry is already collecting biometrics for all Indian residents to set up the National Population Register or NPR, which will be the country's biggest biometric database with scans of each resident's fingerprints and irises. In addition to the duplication of work at considerable expense, Mr Chidambaram has reportedly suggested that the security of the UIDAI's database could be problematic. Others in the government have suggested it could be misused...

The U.S. agency that brought you the Internet is now angling to develop new biometric techniques for authentication that will tap computer users as human secrets.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting proposals for biometric research with the intent of developing software-based systems that identify users based on movements or habits while they use their computers or laptops.

The project, called Active Authentication (AA), would eventually move authentication from passwords and Common Access Cards to biometrics for validating the identity of users on Department of Defense IT systems.

AA isn’t focused on extending current technology, it seeks innovative ways to identify a user by collecting behavior metrics, or what DARPA calls “cognitive fingerprints” or “human secrets.” The fingerprint could include eye movement, keystrokes, mouse tracking or even language usage patterns.

The first phase of the project, slated to run until April 2013, focuses on developing methods of continuous authentication, which tracks the user at the keyboard after they log-in to ensure they are the same person who originally signed on to the computer.

“My house key will get you into my house, but the dog in my living room knows you’re not me. No amount of holding up my key and saying you’re me is going to convince my dog you’re who you say you are,” says Richard Guidorizzi, the program manager for AA. ” My dog knows you don’t look like me, smell like me or act like me. What we want out of this program is to find those things that are unique to you, and not some single aspect of computer security that an adversary can use to compromise your system...”

As technology continues to advance at an exponential rate, will we someday find ourselves living in a "scientific dictatorship" where virtually everything that we do, say and think is monitored and controlled by technology? To many of you that may sound like a wild assertion, but just keep reading. Our world is changing faster than ever before, and scientists have some absolutely wild things planned for our future. As you read this, they are feverishly developing edible microchips, cutting edge biometric identity systems, and mind reading computers.

Many futurists envision a world where someday nearly all humans are embedded with microchips and have thousands of tiny nanobots living inside of them. The idea is that we can "take control of our own evolution" and use technology to "improve" humanity. But very few of those futurists address the potential downsides. The truth is that all of this technology could one day be used by a totalitarian government to establish a dystopian nightmare where nobody has any liberties and freedoms whatsoever.

The world of tomorrow is not going to be anything like the world of today, and most people have no idea how dramatically the world is changing...
Friday, January 20, 2012

The Department of Justice announced Thursday that it has conducted a major action to shut down MegaUpload, a popular file-sharing site widely used for free downloads of movies and television shows.

After receiving indictments from a grand jury in Virginia for racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and other charges on Jan. 5, federal authorities on Thursday arrested four people and executed more than 20 search warrants in the U.S. and eight foreign countries, seizing 18 domain names and an estimated $50 million in assets, including servers run in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

MegaUpload is a "digital locker" that allows users to store files that can then be streamed or downloaded by others. Its subsidiary site MegaVideo became very popular for the unauthorized downloads of movies and TV shows. Users whose uploaded content proved particularly popular were paid for their participation.

The websites of the Justice department and Universal Music Group, which had been involved in litigation with MegaUpload, were down on Thursday. The sites were attacked by members of the hacker group Anonymous in response to the actions against MegaUpload, according to a report on CNET News...

Can the world live without Wikipedia for a day? The shutdown of one of the Internet's most-visited sites is not sitting well with some of its volunteer editors, who say the protest of anti-piracy legislation could threaten the credibility of their work.

"My main concern is that it puts the organization in the role of advocacy, and that's a slippery slope," said editor Robert Lawton, a Michigan computer consultant who would prefer that the encyclopedia stick to being a neutral repository of knowledge. "Before we know it, we're blacked out because we want to save the whales."

Wikipedia's English-language site shut down at midnight Eastern Standard Time Tuesday and the organization said it would stay down for 24 hours.

Instead of encyclopedia articles, visitors to the site saw a stark black-and-white page with the message: "Imagine a world without free knowledge." It carried a link to information about the two congressional bills and details about how to reach lawmakers.

It is the first time the English site has been blacked out. Wikipedia's Italian site came down once briefly in protest to an Internet censorship bill put forward by the Berlusconi government. The bill did not advance...

@Robert Lawton: "Dude, are you a fucking idiot? If this bill passes you won't be able to waste your precious volunteer hours updating your stupid fucking Wikipedia entries!"
Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized the use of hundreds of drones in U.S. airspace in recent years but offered few details on who is operating them.

This week, a privacy advocacy group filed suit to force the Department of Transportation to release its records publicly.

“Drones give the government and other unmanned aircraft operators a powerful new surveillance tool to gather extensive and intrusive data on Americans’ movements and activities,” said Jennifer Lynch, attorney for the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Northern California. “As the government begins to make policy decisions about the use of these aircraft, the public needs to know more about how and why these drones are being used to surveil United States citizens.”

The FAA regulates the operation of drones domestically, and only occasionally grants permission to the federal and local agencies seeking authority to fly unmanned vehicles. But those decisions, civil liberties groups point out, are based on safety concerns, not privacy concerns.

With growing interest in drones and their applications — to patrol U.S. borders, to search for criminal suspects, even to track the spread of forest fires — privacy advocates are now showing increasing concern about the policies guiding their use.

“In my mind, the first step is to get the information from the FAA about who has authorization,” Lynch said in an interview. “We don’t really know very much right now...”

"FOR your security ... ." These three words are used to justify an array of technology tools that track our identity and movements in exhaustive detail — from surveillance cameras in Medina that run every incoming car's license-plate number through a police database, to the radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips embedded in Washington state driver's licenses.

With so much personally identifiable information exposed in digital form, I question whether the security we supposedly gain is worth the toll on our privacy. What's beyond question is that current laws protecting our constitutional rights have failed to keep pace with technology advances such as global-positioning systems (GPS), facial-recognition software, and portable RFID data readers.

This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in the case of United States v. Jones, which pivots on the question of whether Washington, D.C., police violated Antoine Jones' Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The police attached a GPS tracker to his car without a warrant. After being tracked 24 hours a day for an entire month, Jones was convicted of drug trafficking in 2008. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in 2010, ruling that the use of GPS in this instance amounted to a warrantless search.

The Jones case is a critical opportunity for the Supreme Court to formally recognize that technology has enabled a nearly limitless degree of surveillance, which our Founding Fathers never envisioned or intended.

A police officer can follow anyone on a public street without violating reasonable expectations of privacy. But before police are allowed to attach a GPS device to a vehicle and accumulate data over time — revealing every political meeting you attend, every church you visit, and every bookstore you frequent — they should be required to show probable cause before a judge and obtain a search warrant. Otherwise, police are free to watch any of us around the clock on the chance that we might be criminals.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Let us build ourselves a biometric database with its top in the heavens" is a fair and precise paraphrase coined by bloggers describing the biometric database, by comparing it to the Towel of Babel, built with arrogance and ignorance.

Following the biometric database and identification law, a creation of such a database is currently underway in Israel, one that would contain the identifying finger prints and photos of not only wanted criminals, but of every single citizen. The recent Saudi hacker's break-in into secured databases and the subsequent publication of thousands of details of Israelis' private data and credit card numbers over the Internet comes as a warning signal alerting us to freeze the plan at once...

A crowd gathered around a remote-control toy car and helicopter here at Sunday’s opening press reception for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) — probably drawn more than anything by the notion of something playful instead of another hardware utility.

Neither toy was exactly a novelty on first glance, however.

“We’ve always been in the R/C business,” said Ian Chisholm, marketing director for the company, Interactive Toy. “And we’ve always done very well with that.”

But the sex appeal of the new products is summed up in the name: “Wi-Spi Video Surveillance Vehicles.” Who wouldn’t get excited by that?

The thousands of devices debuting Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show here demonstrate how tech companies are poised to gather unprecedented insights into consumers’ lives — how much they eat, whether they exercise, when they are home and who they count as friends.

Silicon Valley is in a gold rush for information, highlighted by Google’s announcement Tuesday that it would incorporate data posted by users on its social networking service into the results of its main search engine.

Tailoring services and ads for consumers is where tech firms sees future riches. Today, computers, smartphones, social networks and new devices — such as health-oriented gadgets and Web-connected televisions — show the potential of companies to peer into ever more aspects of daily life.

Coming soon are Internet connected refrigerators, washing machines and other appliances that may be able to deliver information to third parties, such as utilities.

All that has some tech experts and lawmakers concerned that consumers, in their rush to snap up the latest gadgets, may be sacrificing privacy...
Saturday, January 07, 2012

Microsoft has been granted a patent for its “avoid ghetto” feature for GPS devices.

A GPS device is used to find shortcuts and avoid traffic, but Microsoft’s patent states that a route can be plotted for pedestrians to avoid an “unsafe neighborhood or being in an open area that is subject to harsh temperatures.”

Created for mobile phones, the technology uses the latest crime statistics and weather data and includes them when calculating a route...

Soldiers could one day conduct covert operations in complete secrecy, now that Pentagon-backed physicists have figured out how to mask entire events by distorting light.

A team at Cornell University, with support from Darpa, the Pentagon’s out-there research arm, managed to hide an event for 40 picoseconds (those are trillionths of seconds, if you’re counting). They’ve published their groundbreaking research in this week’s edition of the journal Nature.

This is the first time that scientists have succeeded in masking an event, though research teams have in recent years made remarkable strides in cloaking objects. Researchers at the University of Texas, Dallas, last year harnessed the mirage effect to make objects vanish. And in 2010, physicists at the University of St. Andrews made leaps towards using metamaterials to trick human eyes into not seeing what was right in front of them.

Masking an object entails bending light around that object. If the light doesn’t actually hit an object, then that object won’t be visible to the human eye...

When Facebook was founded in 2004, it began with a seemingly innocuous mission: to connect friends. Some seven years and 800 million users later, the social network has taken over most aspects of our personal and professional lives, and is fast becoming the dominant communication platform of the future.

But this new world of ubiquitous connections has a dark side. In my last post, I noted that Facebook and social media are major contributors to career anxiety. After seeing some of the comments and reactions to the post, it's clear that Facebook in particular takes it a step further: It's actually making us miserable...

A Missouri federal judge ruled the FBI did not need a warrant to secretly attach a GPS monitoring device to a suspect’s car to track his public movements for two months.

The ruling, upholding federal theft and other charges, is one in a string of decisions nationwide supporting warrantless GPS surveillance. Last week’s decision comes as the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue within months in an unrelated case.

The ruling from Magistrate David Noce mirrored the Obama administration position before the Supreme Court during oral arguments on the topic in November. In short, defendant Fred Robinson, who was suspected of fudging his time sheets for his treasurer’s office job for the city of St. Louis, had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his public movements, Magistrate Noce said...

A US appeals panel has upheld the supposed constitutionality of a controversial federal law that grants immunity to telecommunications companies assisting in the surveillance of American citizens.

The latest ruling effectively reinforces the 2008 decision of Congress to grant telecoms immunity for cooperating with the government’s intelligence-gathering activities.

According to Judge Margaret McKeown of the 9th Circuit, the above-mentioned immunity does not "close" the courts for those wishing to challenge such actions, as only the telecommunications companies are covered by the ruling - rather than the government itself.

"The federal courts remain a [valid] forum to consider the constitutionality of the wiretapping scheme and other claims," she wrote in a ruling obtained by Reuters. 

Unsurprisingly, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) issued an official statement decrying the decision.

"By passing the retroactive immunity for the telecoms' complicity in the warrantless wiretapping program, Congress abdicated its duty to the American people," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl.

"It is disappointing that today's decision endorsed the rights of telecommunications companies over those over their customers."

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Indeed it is a new day. Ushering in the New Year, President Obama signed legislation that helps to further destroy the principles the nation was founded upon.

President Obama, who pledged to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), has now signed it. Of course, his promise was only for public consumption. After all, lying to your enemy is what invading corporate takeover armies do. It was the Obama administration all along that demanded the indefinite detention provisions be added while at the same time telling the American people he was fighting to protect their rights. This is treason on parade, in your face all out despotism– that is, for those paying any attention!