Over the weekend, Google released an updated version of a previously heavily redacted Federal Communication Commission (FCC) document that now reveals startling details about the company's Street View project.
The new information indicates that, contrary to what the company had maintained, there were several employees and at least one senior manager who knew of the data gathering occurring within the Street View project.
The passages make frequent reference to an unnamed programmer, dubbed "Engineer Doe," who was intimately involved in developing the data collection tool for Street View. The document states that, in response to the FCC's letter of inquiry (LOI), "Google made clear for the first time that Engineer Doe's software was deliberately written to capture payload data." And, according to the document, the engineer's software tool "would collect payload data that Engineer Doe thought might prove useful for other Google services."
Based on previous reports, these facts aren't much of a revelation. However, the real meat of the document lies in its detailing of who knew what and when regarding Street View data collection. On page 15 of the 25-page document, the FCC says that "As early as 2007 and 2008, Street View team members had wide access to Engineer Doe's Wi-Fi data collection document and code, which revealed his plan to collect payload data... Engineer Doe specifically told two engineers working on the project, including a senior manager, about collecting payload data. Nevertheless, managers of the Street View project and other Google employees who worked on Street View have uniformly asserted in declarations and interviews that they did not learn the Street View cars were collecting payload data until April or May 2010."
The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.
But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.
When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I. provided a van loaded with six 55-gallon drums of “inert material,” harmless blasting caps, a detonator cord and a gallon of diesel fuel to make the van smell flammable. An undercover F.B.I. agent even did the driving, with Mr. Mohamud in the passenger seat. To trigger the bomb the student punched a number into a cellphone and got no boom, only a bust.
This is legal, but is it legitimate? Without the F.B.I., would the culprits commit violence on their own? Is cultivating potential terrorists the best use of the manpower designed to find the real ones? Judging by their official answers, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are sure of themselves — too sure, perhaps...
Criminals will report to a machine, instead of a probation officer, in a new pilot scheme in the London Boroughs of Bexley and Bromley.
The initiative, which has already been trialled in the United States, is being introduced in a bid to cut costs. But union bosses have warned that it could lead to an increase in offending.
The machines will reduce face-to-face contact between offenders and probation staff, with criminals answering a series of questions posed automatically on a screen. The devices are also equipped with fingerprint readers.
The probation union Napo has raised concerns that the machines will fail to spot early warning signs that an offender may pose an increased risk.
Assistant General Secretary Harry Fletcher said: "When the idea of machines rather than face-to-face contact was first mooted, staff thought it was a hoax.
"Sadly it is now grim reality.
"The introduction of machines rather than people into the supervision of community orders made by the courts or of people on licence is extraordinary and defies belief."
London Probation Trust said the initiative was a research project which would "explore the potential use of biometric technology within probation".
Probation staff will be expected to use their professional judgement to determine whether offenders should use the machines, and all criminals will continue to have some face-to-face supervision.
The bad guys live inside your machine. They watch everything you do. Any time you type in your bank account or credit card information on to the machine, they're capturing it. They're capturing your passwords.
Moreover, computers are becoming increasingly embedded in the hardware around us. The typical new car, says Goodman, has 250 computer chips. And in this Google prototype now legally riding the roads of Nevada, even the driving is fully computerized.
So, you could put in bad GPS directions and have a car drive off a bridge. Every day, we're plugging more and more of our lives into the Internet, including bridges, tunnels, financial systems, hospitals, police emergency dispatch 911 systems, military systems, robotics systems. And there's a history of all of these being hacked.
Diabetic pumps, cochlear implants, brain computer interface. There are 60,000 pacemakers in the United States that connect to the Internet, which means that the Internet connects to your pacemaker. It's great when you're suffering from an arrhythmia and your doctor can remotely shock you, but what happens if the kid next door does that because it's fun and does it for the lulz...
The federal government's unmanned drones patrolling the U.S.-Canadian border are venturing into Washington state's airspace.
In testimony before a U.S. Senate panel this week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said northern border surveillance using unmanned aerial aircraft now expands from North Dakota to eastern Washington.
The two 10,000-pound Predator-B unmanned aircraft based in Grand Forks, N.D., have a 950-mile coverage range and "they do enter Washington airspace, in the vicinity of Spokane," said Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Gina Gray on Thursday.
The unmanned aircraft "can stay in the air for up to 20 hours at a time, something no other aircraft in the federal inventory can do," Gray said. "In this manner it is a force multiplier, providing aerial surveillance support for border agents by investigating sensor activity in remote areas to distinguish between real or perceived threats, allowing the boots on the ground force to best allocate their resources and efforts."
Since 2005, the Department of Homeland Security has deployed a handful of drones around the country, with some based in Arizona, Florida, North Dakota, and Texas -- with more planned for the future. Operations out of North Dakota first began in 2011.
The drones help both patrol and aid during natural disasters. For example, Gray said the Predators have mapped the flooded Red River Valley in the areas of North Dakota and Minnesota. The drones are equipped with cameras that can provide aerial pictures of disaster areas.
The drones also can be loaned to local agencies in cases of emergencies. In fiscal year 2011, CBP's drones contributed to the seizure of 7,600 pounds of narcotics and 75 arrests, Gray added.
The use of drones has proliferated among federal and local law enforcement agencies nationwide along with civilian hobbyists in recent years.
In December, Congress gave the Federal Aviation Administration six months to pick half a dozen sites around the country where the military and others can fly unmanned aircraft in the vicinity of regular air traffic, with the aim of demonstrating they're safe.
But concerns remain, including privacy and the government worries they could collide with passenger planes or come crashing down to the ground, concerns that have slowed more widespread adoption of the technology.
A recent American Civil Liberties Union report said allowing drones greater access takes the country "a large step closer to a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by the authorities."
Privacy advocates have been voicing strong concerns over how data stored on Google Drive may be used during and after customers are actively engaged in using the cloud service.
"The terms of service are bad, but even worse is that Google has made clear it will change its terms of service whenever it wishes," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
On March 1, Google "ignored the views of users" and consolidated all of its terms of service, Rotenberg said, so that it could "do more data profiling."
"After the unilateral changes on March 1, I don't understand why users would trust Google to stand by its terms of service," he said.
Rotenberg is not alone in his concerns.
Users commenting in online forums said privacy was the reason they would not use Google Drive.
On Dropbox's online forum a user by name of Chen S. wrote, "My big concern with Google Drive is that they already have all my emails, web analytics, and search terms. Do I really want to give them even more data?"
Another user, Christopher H., said this in the Dropbox forum: "Like many other users, I'm not excited about Google having more data points on my life via the files I will be storing in their cloud."
Still another Dropbox user, -- Mark Mc., noted that while Google might not sell or disclose data without a user's permission, "they can, however, use that data in anyway shape or form the like internally - and if that includes selling personalised [sic] ad's based on data farming of the files that I've uploaded I'm out of there!"
But a Google spokesman said Drive's terms of service make it clear, "what belongs to you stays yours" and the company's policies are no more onerous than other service providers.
"You own your files and control their sharing, plain and simple. Our Terms of Service enable us to give you the services you want -- so if you decide to share a document with someone, or open it on a different device, you can," he said. "Many who have covered this simply ignored that paragraph and quoted only the one immediately following it, which grants us the license required by copyright law to display or transmit content on a user's behalf. Other companies use very similar language."
As a little kid I worried a lot, about everything from marauding robot armies laying waste to Americans with death rays (which I saw in a terrifying old sci-fi movie called Target Earth) to the prospect of starving hordes of old people ravaging the countryside after Social Security broke down (which I heard in an even more terrifying Barry Goldwater campaign speech). My father’s inevitable response to my regular heebie-jeebie attacks was, “Don’t worry, it’ll never happen.”
Good as my dad was at most things, his talents for prophesy were limited. Actuarial tables long ago blew the whistle on Social Security, a Ponzi scheme that starts to totter when population increases flatten out. And the killer robots aren’t just in our future, they’re already here, as I learned at a weekend conference on the ethical and legal implications of advancing robot technology.
My father was right about one thing: The military robots aren’t carrying the colors of the Venus Interplanetary Expedition forces, but those of the U.S. Army. The Pentagon already has, by its own count, $20 billion of robots in uniform, doing everything from reconnaissance missions to clearing land mines and booby traps.
Those assignments may sound relatively benign as martial arts go. But cruise missiles, which locate and navigate to targets on their own after being launched by humans, are a species of robot. So are the missile-firing drone aircraft that roam the skies of Afghanistan and Pakistan, blowing up suspected terrorists. They’ll soon have company on the ground. Great Britain’s QinetiQ Group is marketing a robot tank that packs a 7.62 mm machine gun and a four-barreled grenade launcher. Another machine-gun-equipped robot tank made by Samsung is already patrolling South Korea’s northern border.
The Samsung tank doesn’t open fire unless a human operator back at headquarters tells it to — but it could. It’s equipped with heat and motion sensors that enable it to identify human targets and shoot them. The same is true, or soon will be, for most of the other weapons. The University of Ottawa law school’s Ian Kerr and Katie Szilagy, in a paper delivered at the conference, said that more than 40 countries are developing so-called autonomous weapon systems in which machines rather than humans will deliver “targeting instructions and even decisions about whether and when to pull the trigger...”
If you're camera shy, too bad. Because video is now everywhere.
Parking lot fights in Wichita, police chases, even an emergency potty break can go public.
Cameras are in nearly every business now and more homeowners than ever use them to guard against vandals and thieves.
"In the last five years we've done more camera systems for the general public than we have in the last 30," said Michael Green of The Greenbuilt Company.
Green knows home surveillance. He's had cameras peering over his fence in south Wichita for about ten years. He's helped police nab vandals and hit and run drivers on Harry Street.
Watching the cameras on a Saturday night can even be a source of entertainment for him.
Business owner Steve Conway has surveillance cameras at his west Wichita car wash to protect his investment from thieves. Recently, he found a different kind of dirty deed being committed. A driver pulled into one of the bays at Little Joe's car wash, dropped his pants in the corner and used it as a toilet.
Conway was so angry he posted the video on the internet just to embarrass the guy.
"If other people see that it's going to become visible, they might think twice before they do stuff like this," Conway said.
The prevalence of surveillance and cell phone video is a major plus for Wichita police in the fight against property and financial crimes.
"We're facing today a huge volume of people that have video evidence almost overwhelming the detectives quite honestly," said Deputy Chief Tom Stolz.
Police said there are challenges with retrieval of data from different systems. There are also legal and evidentiary questions that must be answered in court. But the surge of access to video gives detectives a tool they didn't have 20 years ago.
So, next time you think no one is watching, think carefully.
In a real-life situation reminiscent of many an Arnold Schwarzenegger flick, banks are using information gleaned from robots to fend off the Occupy movement.
Big banks are giving each other information they got from robots, security officers, and video surveillance as they brace for Occupy Wall Street's planned protests at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Chicago in May, Bloomberg reports. Starting May 1, about 50,000 demonstrators plan to camp out in Chicago for a month to protest the NATO meeting, according to Adbusters Magazine, which first coined the phrase "Occupy Wall Street."
This isn't the first sign of a collaborative effort to obtain information about the Occupy movement. first Last fall, rumors floated of an organized national crackdown by city officials on Occupy Wall Street -- most notably in New York, Oakland, Denver and Portland -- after police evacuated Zuccotti Park in the middle of the night. Emails obtained in January showed the U.S. Conference of Mayors surveyed city administrations across the country about the movement...
The House of Representatives passed on Thursday a controversial cybersecurity bill that would allow private companies to exchange confidential information with the federal government.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which is designed to defend U.S. networks against cyber attack, passed the House 248-162.
The White House threatened to veto the legislation, saying the bill fails to protect privacy and gives a pass to companies that do not secure networks critical to the nation's security.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) dismissed the Administration's privacy concerns on Thursday.
"Listen, the White House believes the government ought to control the Internet, the government ought to set standards and the government ought to take care of everything that's needed for cybersecurity" Boehner said. "They're in a camp all by themselves because whether it's private industry, whether it's other parts of the government, understand that we can't have the government in charge of our Internet."
Under CISPA, private companies could voluntarily share cyber threat information with other companies and the federal government. In turn, the government could then share classified information on cyber threats with private companies. The participation of private companies would be voluntary.
Civil liberty groups have raised concerns. Some contend that the bill gives employers the ability to spy on employees and then share that information with the government in the name of national security.
What’s your take on India’s Unique Identification (UID) project?
Whitley: India’s scale (in this as in everything) is so completely different to the UK that I often find it difficult to comprehend. For example, I understand that 200 million people have already enrolled for UID. That is over three times the total population of the UK. However, these scale factors do have important consequences. For example, with enrolment, you need to delegate the process to lots of enrolment stations and you need to ensure that the quality (and security) of this process is maintained throughout the country and for all the millions of people who are going to be enrolled. Similarly, if you are going to do online authentication (i.e. sending Aadhaar number, name/biometric to the UID Central Identity Data Repository) then you will need to have lots of secure terminals (often in geographically remote locations with poor connectivity) and these will need to operate within a reasonable response time.
ID projects are working well in some countries. Then why not in India?
Context is so important that you can’t just take a system that might work in one country and expect it to work in another. Here, issues of scale, levels of documentation — as I understand it, there are huge levels of poor/no documentation for many people — custom and practice: in Germany, you are expected to notify the local council within a few days of moving to a new town. As a result, the new town has a pretty good official record of who lives in their town that can become a source of “proof of address”. I suspect the British would never agree to be “managed” in such a way.
You have been critical of the biometrics part of the project. Why?
Not “critical” per se, rather we have raised concerns and claims that biometrics are not as perfect as some politicians and biometric vendors would like you to believe. We just want to make sure that any decisions taken about biometrics are based on an understanding of all the viewpoints, not just a subset of them. By definition, biometrics are never error-free. They all operate within particular performance levels and there is evidence (including from UID) about the problems of enrolment and verification of various forms of biometrics, for e.g. manual workers whose fingerprints might become worn over time.
The government says UID isn’t compulsory and it’s primarily meant to plug pilferage in welfare schemes. Isn’t there a worry that it will be used for surveillance?
This question of compulsion is often tricky. It wasn’t compulsory to enrol for an ID card in the UK but if you (voluntarily) chose to renew your passport, you would be enrolled. The only way it was not compulsory was if you excluded yourself from travel by turning down a passport. In terms of pilferage in PDS, again this is a situation where the detailed evidence needs to be presented. Is most of the pilferage because of identity-related fraud — where a formal use of UID might address it — or does most of the pilferage happen at an earlier stage, i.e. before the food gets to the distribution point, whereby UID would have no effect? I’m not an expert on PDS, so can’t provide the evidence on this. To some extent, the same ID number may be found in various systems tracking the individual, so this might be an issue...
Search-engine giant Google Inc. thinks self-driving cars can be on U.S. roads in the next few years and is in talks with automakers to roll out the cutting-edge technology.
"The most important thing computers can do in the next 10 years is drive a car," Anthony Levandowski, Google's driver-less car project manager, told a crowd of several hundred engineers Wednesday at the SAE World Congress in Detroit.
Google, he said, is eager to see self-driving vehicles on the nation's roads, and the company could make an announcement about the technology as early as next year.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company could partner with one automaker to offer the technology or it could retrofit a small fleet of vehicles. "We don't want to make cars. That's not our interest," Levandowski said.
Google is in talks with major automakers, Levandowsi told reporters after his speech.
Automakers "understand it is happening and they want to play a role in that," he said.
In developing a self-driving vehicle, the company aims to reduce traffic deaths — Google noted that 90 percent of all crashes are caused by human error.
Car crashes account for nearly $200 billion in annual societal costs and more than 32,000 deaths; they're the leading cause of death for people ages 5-34.
"We don't know what it's going to take to show it's safer than a driver," Levandowski said, but he predicted: "It's much sooner than the next decade."
Last month, a blind driver named Steve Mahan was the first to use a self-driving car from Google — and he made a stop to get a taco. "How do we treat those in our society that need our help the most," Levandowski said.
Will the human driver be phased out entirely one day?
At the end of its enrolment drive, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will collect about 12 billion fingerprints and 2.4 billion irises, besides 1.2 billion photographs - the largest human biometric data ever collected.
At almost a quarter of the population already enrolled for Aadhaar and the unique identity project surpasses the US human database. Aadhaar also promises to be the panacea for e-governance in India - no duplicates, no frauds and one that an individual need not remember, like a password.
As pilots --using Aadhaar to authenticate people -- convert to actual rollout, people will be able to use fingerprints to avail of government subsidies, insurance policies, buy fertiliser or open bank accounts.
Behind this mega project and an aspect responsible for its most essential feature - uniqueness that can't be duplicated - lies biometrics or mathematical calculation of a human feature - eyes, face, palm, toes, fingers, veins and so on. Fingerprints change the least over time and are relied upon the most for biometric authentication followed by iris.
When UIDAI spearheaded by technology titan Nandan Nilekani was entrusted with the task of giving each Indian an unique identity that will transform delivery of services, this new e-governance initiative fell upon an ancient idea, biometrics -- specifically fingerprints and iris -- to create uniqueness.
Biometrics have been around since 29000 BC when cavemen would sign their drawings with handprints. In 500BC, Babylonian business transactions were signed in clay tablets with fingerprints.
The earliest cataloguing of fingerprints dates back to 1881 when Juan Vucetich, an anthropologist and police officer who started collecting fingerprints of criminals in Argentina. All governments, notably the police departments, use fingerprints and in more than 100 years of database available, no two fingerprints, have been found to be identical. Hence a fingerprint uniquely identifies an individual.
In the case of Aadhaar, biometrics will also translate into a huge business for iris and fingerprint device makers, besides network services providers. Each iris scanner costs about Rs 10,000 and fingerprint scanner almost double that rate...
Four current and former Transportation Security Administration screeners have been arrested and face charges of taking bribes and looking the other way while suitcases filled with cocaine, methamphetamine or marijuana passed through X-ray machines at Los Angeles International Airport, federal authorities announced Wednesday.
The TSA screeners, who were arrested Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, allegedly received up to $2,400 in cash bribes in exchange for allowing large drug shipments to pass through checkpoints in what the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles called a “significant breakdown” of security.
In addition to the two current and two former screeners, prosecutors also indicted two alleged drug couriers and a third who allegedly tried to smuggle 11 pounds of cocaine but was nabbed when he went through the wrong security checkpoint.
The TSA employees “placed greed above the nation’s security needs,” Andre Birotte Jr., U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, said in a statement.
Now that's what we call 'lax' security!! How much to let a bomb thru?
For police officers, posting pictures to Facebook and other social networking sites is a sensitive business — if you have aspiration to work undercover one day, for example, simply posting one picture of yourself could undermine your chances of getting that job — but there’s another threat out there you should be aware of. There are people out there snapping pictures of cops, and using facial recognition programs to compile whole databases on police officers. Facial recognition programs can identify images of an individual, and in the hands of a bad guy, that information can be a real problem...
A talking robot car that ran over a child or a battlefield robot that shot innocent civilians might never be taken to court, but a new experiment shows how likely it will be for humans to place blame on their mechanical servants as though the robots were people. The social psychology experiment, which involved a robot programmed to tell a lie, showed college students holding the robot morally accountable for its actions more often than not.
The college students did not consider "Robovie" as being morally accountable on a human level, but they judged the robot as being somewhere between a human and a vending machine. Many became noticeably upset and confrontational when the robot lied about how many items the students had found in a scavenger hunt, preventing them from winning a $20 prize.
"Most argued with Robovie," said Heather Gary, a doctoral student in developmental psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle. "Some accused Robovie of lying or cheating."
About 65 percent of the 40 students said Robovie was at least somewhat morally accountable for lying.
There have been a handful of accidental deaths at robotic hands so far, and in none of the cases was the blame placed on the robot, but the experiment suggests that future humanoid robots capable of socially interacting with humans will face moral judgments.
Humans could grow upset with their robot servants for stepping on a household pet, for instance, or feel resentful toward their talking robot car if a malfunction led to a deadly accident. On the battlefield, survivors of a robotic rampage might similarly be angry toward a humanoid military robot...
Of all the many complaints about airport security and the TSA, one of the most common is that they make little distinction between plausible security threats and passengers unlikely to be doing anything wrong.
And a recent incident in Wichita, Kansas has reinforced that argument, as a four-year-old girl was apparently subjected to a humiliating ordeal after she hugged her grandmother while she was waiting in line.
The girl was accused of having a gun and declared a 'high security threat', while agents threatened to shut down the whole airport if she could not be calmed down.
When asked about the overbearing treatment the girl received, a TSA spokesman did not apologise and insisted that correct procedures had been followed.
Four-year-old Isabella's horrific experience in Wichita earlier this month was recounted on Facebook by her furious mother Michelle Brademeyer.
The family was in Kansas for a wedding, and was travelling home to Montana with Ms Brademeyer's mother.
Ms Brademeyer and her two children had passed through security when the grandmother was detained after triggering an alarm on the scanners.
Isabella then, according to her mother, 'excitedly ran over to give her a hug, as children often do. They made very brief contact, no longer than a few seconds.'
The young girl was immediately detained by security agents, who apparently shouted at her that she would have to be frisked too, and refused to let her mother explain what has happening.
Ms Brademeyer wrote: 'It was implied, several times, that my mother, in their brief two-second embrace, had passed a handgun to my daughter...'
This week the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finally released its first round of records in response to EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for information on the agency's drone authorization program. The agency says the two lists it released include the names of all public and private entities that have applied for authorizations to fly drones domestically. These lists—which include the Certificates of Authorizations (COAs), issued to public entities like police departments, and the Special Airworthiness Certificates (SACs), issued to private drone manufacturers—show for the first time who is authorized to fly drones in the United States.
Some of the entities on the COA list are unsurprising. For example, journalists have reported that Customs and Border Protection uses Predator drones to patrol the borders. It is also well known that DARPA and other branches of the military are authorized to fly drones in the US. However, this is the first time we have seen the broad and varied list of other authorized organizations, including universities, police departments, and small towns and counties across the United States. The COA list includes universities and colleges like Cornell, the University of Colorado, Georgia Tech, and Eastern Gateway Community College, as well as police departments in North Little Rock, Arkansas; Arlington, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Gadsden, Alabama; and Ogden, Utah, to name just a few. The COA list also includes small cities and counties like Otter Tail, Minnesota and Herington, Kansas. The Google map linked above plots out the locations we were able to determine from the lists, and is color coded by whether the authorizations are active, expired or disapproved.
The second list we received includes all the manufacturers that have applied for authorizations to test-fly their drones. This list is less surprising and includes manufacturers like Honeywell, the maker of Miami-Dade's T-Hawk drone; the huge defense contractor Raytheon; and General Atomics, the manufacturer of the Predator drone. This list also includes registration or "N" numbers," serial numbers and model names, so it could be useful for determining when and where these drones are flying.
Unfortunately, these lists leave many questions unanswered. For example, the COA list does not include any information on which model of drone or how many drones each entity flies. In a meeting with the FAA today, the agency confirmed that there were about 300 active COAs and that the agency has issued about 700-750 authorizations since the program began in 2006. As there are only about 60 entities on the COA list, this means that many of the entities, if not all of them, have multiple COAs (for example, an FAA representative today said that University of Colorado may have had as many as 100 different COAs over the last six years). The list also does not explain why certain COA applications were "disapproved" and when other authorizations expired.
It was Friday night, May 22, 2009, and one of New York City’s most storied music venues, the Fillmore at Irving Plaza, was sold out. The line stretched all the way down Irving Place, turned the corner onto East 16th, and kept going. People had come from as far away as Michigan, Toronto, and Ohio, but they weren’t lined up for the latest indie darlings or house music sensation. They’d come to see an improbably successful Korean trio named Epik High, which as far as anyone could tell was the first Korean hip hop act to attract a mainstream American audience.
The group was headed by a skinny 28-year-old named Dan Lee, and when he danced onto the stage that night the audience started dancing with him. Lee—whose nom de rap is Tablo—had a puckish charm, a sly grin, and a reputation as a genius. In South Korea, Lee was already a superstar. He had released four number one albums with Epik High and published a best-selling collection of short stories in both English and Korean. Talk show hosts almost always found a way to mention that he graduated from Stanford in three and a half years with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English. Though that would probably count against a rapper in the US, back home he was lionized as a symbol of success.
Now the group was building a fan base in the States. In addition to its New York show, Epik High had sold out major venues in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The crossover success was visible on iTunes, where the trio was soaring up the hip hop charts and would soon hit number one in the US, topping Kanye West and Jay-Z.
But then, at the height of the group’s fame, the comments sections of articles about Epik High started filling up with anonymous messages accusing Lee of lying about his Stanford diploma. In May 2010 an antifan club formed and quickly attracted tens of thousands of members who accused him of stealing someone’s identity, dodging the draft, and faking passports, diplomas, and transcripts. The accusations were accompanied by supposed evidence supplied by the online masses, who also produced slick YouTube attack videos. It was a full-fledged backlash.
By that summer, Lee’s alleged fraud had become one of Korea’s top news items. Death threats streamed in, and Lee found himself accosted by angry people on the street. Since his face was so recognizable, he became a virtual prisoner in his Seoul apartment. In a matter of weeks, he went from being one of the most beloved figures in the country to one of the most reviled.
But in fact Lee had not lied about his academic record. He actually did graduate from Stanford in three and a half years with two degrees. His GPA had been in the top 15 percent of his undergraduate class. The evidence marshaled against him was false. It was an online witch hunt...
Video surveillance is becoming simply a fact of life, at the gas station, the grocery store, the bank. In fact, nearly everywhere you go someone is watching. More and more schools are using video cameras to watch our kids. Is this the Big Brother that George Orwell warned us of? Or is it simply schools using available technology to address dropping personnel budgets and rising school violence? The reality is, it may be a bit of both.
Following the 1949 publication of Orwell’s classic novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four," the term "Big Brother" entered the lexicon as a synonym for government abuse of civil liberties, generally related to the use of video surveillance. In the novel, everyone is under surveillance by authorities. Citizens are continually reminded of this with the phrase, "Big Brother is watching you.”
Signs in many places stating “Facility under 24-hour video surveillance” are the modern equivalent. Most of these facilities are privately owned, and the surveillance systems are deployed by the owner to protect the property. Schools, on the other hand, are very much a local governmental entity with the buildings held in trust for the patrons of the school district.
The American Civil Liberties Union, long concerned about governmental use of video surveillance, notes, “As long as there is no clear consensus about where we draw the line on surveillance to protect American values, public Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is in danger of evolving into a surveillance monster.”
The expansion of surveillance cameras has troubled some. "We're seeing a whole new wave of video surveillance," Jay Stanley of the ACLU’s Liberty and Technology program told City Limits magazine. "The current wave is the efforts to tie together public and private surveillance, which creates the potential for a pervasive surveillance system to track people from block to block."
The Electronic Privacy Information Center questions the effectiveness of CCTV surveillance as a whole, noting the following: “While the average Londoner is estimated to have their picture recorded more than 300 times a day, no single bomber has been caught. Despite this evidence, in the United States, current anti-terrorist fears, combined with the surge in road rage, the perception of an increase in crime and several high-profile school shootings, are causing many to call for increased video surveillance not only on highways, in schools, public parks and government buildings, but in all public spaces...”
With Congress and privacy watchdogs breathing down its neck, Google is stepping up its lobbying presence inside the Beltway — spending more than Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft combined in the first three months of the year.
Google spent $5.03 million on lobbying from January through March of this year, a record for the Internet giant, and a 240 percent increase from the $1.48 million it spent on lobbyists in the same quarter a year ago, according to disclosures filed Friday with the clerk of the House.
By comparison, Apple spent $500,000; Facebook spent $650,000 Amazon spent $870,000; and Microsoft spent $1.79 million. Google even outspent Verizon Wireless, a notoriously big spender, which spent $4.51 million.
The increase is a sign that the search engine can no longer afford to operate in a Silicon Valley vacuum. For years, Google had a reputation for indifference inside the Beltway. It took Google until May 2005 to set up a presence in Washington and even then, its headquarters consisted of a one-man lobbying shop in suburban Maryland.
By 2012, however, Google had become the subject of almost constant scrutiny from regulators, competitors and privacy advocates. Most recently, federal regulators hit Google with a $25,000 fine for impeding an investigation into its data collection practices.
This year, the company was accused of bypassing Apple’s privacy settings in Safari in order to track users’ Web browsing activity without their knowledge. In the European Union, Google faces an antitrust investigation and accusations that it violated personal privacy protections.
“As we have seen over the last year, there are a number of technology issues being debated in Washington,” said Samantha Smith, a Google spokeswoman, in an e-mail message. “These are important issues and it should be expected that we would want to help people understand our business.”
Privacy advocates see it another way. “Google claims its motto is ‘Don’t be evil,’ but the amount of cash they are throwing around demonstrates an astounding cynicism,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director.
Despite the increasing accuracy and flexibility of biometrics, one analyst says its level of acceptance in the marketplace has been "disappointing," an article at zdnetasia.com said.
Kris Ranganath, director of technology and solutions of NEC, said that recent developments allow identification using not just a fingerprint but virtually any of an individual's biometric data — iris, veins in the finger or palm or even body odor. As a result he said, both fraud prevention and user experience could be improved.
Wincor-Nixdorf regional vice president for Asia-Pacific, Ricardos Khoury, told zdnet that such technology can not only help reduce basic fraud, but can also extend banking services to the illiterate and barely literate rural masses in the region.
But while voice, facial recognition and iris scanning can now be considered mature technologies, the adoption rate remained below industry expectations, Andrew Kellett, senior analyst of IT solutions at Ovum told zdnet.
The proponents of the Biometric Voter's registration for future Ghana elections had good intentions. By the proposed improved form of registration and voting, the proponents had in mind to achieve transparency, fairness and to guarantee every registered electorate or citizen the franchise of one-man one vote. The clarity of their intention cannot be overestimated. They sought to eschew the abuse of multiple registrations by same individual which behaviour is common in Ghana's voter registration exercises. Nevertheless, "good intentions alone cannot bring about the world peace"
A citizen found a missing wallet belonging to an alleged Jabir and took it to a radio station. It contained two biometric-issued registration photo cards of him. Each card bore his photo but in different names, age and address. Furthermore, the police have arrested one Emmanuel Archibald Laryea in Accra for possessing 15 biometric voter identity cards. Each card bears his photo but in different names and address. An operator of a biometric machine picked him up when he was attempting to register for the 16th time.
Were all the 7,000 biometric machines synchronised and the machines tested for operational efficiency prior to dispatching them to the electoral wards, there would not be instances of successful multiple registrations. These two are just the tip of the iceberg of the ongoing gargantuan but yet to discover malpractices involved with the registration.
National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion "transactions" — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans. This likely includes copies of almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States. Binney talks about Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and challenges NSA Director Keith Alexander’s assertion that the NSA is not intercepting information about U.S. citizens...
The Seattle Police Department's recent federal approval to use drones as an eye-in-the-sky should spark a discussion among city leaders about privacy and the use of technology in law enforcement, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.
The department is among dozens of law-enforcement agencies, academic institutions and other agencies that were recently given approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group.
The FAA approval was granted after the president signed a law in February that compelled the agency to plan for safe integration of civilian drones into American airspace by 2015.
Seattle police declined Friday to talk about how the department intends to use drones, saying it was just now training operators. However, the department has earlier said possible uses could include search-and-rescue operations, natural disasters and investigations of unusual crime scenes.
Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh told KOMO-TV last year that the department will exercise caution in using the two helicopter-style drones it has purchased.
"We will be careful to have policy in place to make sure that, one, the system isn't abused, and when it is deployed it's used for the lawful purpose it's intended," he said.
Whatever the department's plans for the small aircraft, they are likely to spark concerns over privacy.
In December, the ACLU published a report on domestic drones calling for new protections, saying current laws are "not strong enough to ensure that the technology will be used responsibly and consistently with democratic values."
Doug Honig, spokesman for the ACLU of Washington, said the use of drones by police should prompt Mayor Mike McGinn and the City Council to draft new public policy.
"The ACLU supports the use of technology to help government accomplish its basic missions, and drones can be useful," Honig said. "At the same time, the use of drones can really change people's relationship with their government. ... So, if the city of Seattle is going to go ahead and deploy drones, leaders need to develop clear and transparent guidelines for their use."
Specifically, he said, there should be policy on what kind of information can be collected, who can collect it, how the information can be used and how long it will be kept.
In addition, he said, there needs to be periodic audits to make sure policy is followed.
A spokesman for McGinn said Friday the mayor didn't want to "get ahead" of Seattle police in responding to media questions about how drones would be used. He referred questions to the department.
As hundreds of thousands of people flock downtown this weekend to stroll through booths and listen to music at the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival, one thing is certain: A lot of eyes will be watching.
Authorities are using an array of surveillance technology to help ensure safety and security at the big event, monitoring the crowds for anything out of the ordinary. It's no different, city officials say, than what takes place at Mayfest, Texas Motor Speedway or Cowboys Stadium.
"I think the expectation is to have a safe environment," said Maj. Paul Henderson of the Fort Worth Police Department. "However that occurs, as long as it's not an infringement on their civil rights, people want to be safe."
Surveillance technology -- whether it's cameras in Fort Worth, license plate readers in Dallas or drones in Arlington -- has boomed in the post-9-11 era.
Fort Worth alone has spent about $2 million on camera-related projects in five years and has received more than $30 million in federal and state Homeland Security grants since 2005.
The city has 469 cameras controlled by the city marshal's office and 13 downtown traffic cameras overseen by the Transportation and Public Works Department, which also has six cameras at railroad crossings elsewhere in the city. About 20 other cameras are controlled by the Water Department.
These figures do not include Fort Worth police cameras, which Henderson declined to discuss but range from portable cameras to sprinkler-head cameras.
Police are willing to talk about a pilot program in which seven officers are wearing body cameras. Once the voluntary program is ready to go, the department will have 50 body cams for patrol officers. Henderson said police "anticipate a huge savings on the reduction of complaints against officers."
In the next year or two, the city could be tapping into far more cameras outside its own network, linking with hospitals, universities or public gathering places. Connecting to private companies' security systems is probably at least five years off.
In the future brothels will serve-up robot prostitutes offering clean, guilt-free sex, say researchers.
The prediction was made in a research paper examining what the sex industry will be like in the year 2050.
Ian Yeoman and Michelle Mars of the Victoria Management School in Wellington, New Zealand, wrote about an imaginary brothel in Amsterdam's red-light district called Yub-Yum.
The research paper titled Robots, Men And Sex Tourism describes the brothel as being "modern and gleaming with about 100 scantily clad blondes and brunettes parading around in exotic G-strings and lingerie," io9 reported.
They said clients would pay $9,500 for an "all-inclusive service," featuring lap dances and intercourse from "a range of sexual gods and goddesses of different ethnicity, body shapes, ages, languages and sexual features."
The lifelike sex robots would offer people a guilt-free sexual experience devoid of sexually transmitted diseases, the researchers wrote.
They also predicted robot prostitution would put a stop to human trafficking associated with the sex industry.
“In 2050, Amsterdam's red light district will all be about android prostitutes who are clean of sexual transmitted infections,” the researchers wrote.
"All androids are made of bacteria-resistant fiber ... guaranteeing no sexually transmitted diseases are transferred between consumers."
They said the city council would have direct control over android sex workers – including prices, hours of operations and sexual services.
A Boulder district judge denied an emergency request to block the University of Colorado from closing the Boulder campus to visitors in its effort to end the annual 4/20 smokeout.
Judge Andrew Macdonald made the ruling after a nearly four-hour hearing Thursday, the eve of the unsanctioned pro-marijuana holiday.
The lawsuit seeking the injunction was filed Thursday morning by six plaintiffs -- Rob Smoke, Timothy Tipton, Jack Branson, Katherine Cummins, Evan Ravitz and Tom Cummins -- all of whom are not CU students and wanted to participate in the event.
Their attorney Robert Corry, who has been a prominent voice for marijuana legalization and the rights of medical marijuana patients, argued that CU had no grounds to close the campus to non-students.
But the judge said CU is well within its rights to regulate the campus.
The university announced April 13 that the campus will be closed to the public Friday, and students and faculty members will be required to show a BuffOne card to access the campus. The Norlin Quad -- where the pot smokeout typically takes place -- also will be closed to everyone including students, and fish-based fertilizer will cover the lawn.
Macdonald said he did not think the measures are unreasonable because the closures will be only for one day, and the university did put in place a process by which people could apply for permits to be on the campus during 4/20.
Two student groups -- a student chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Students for Sensible Drug Policy -- applied for permits and will hold events at the Dalton Trumbo fountain near the University Memorial Center.
None of the six plaintiffs applied for a permit.
"We're not looking at an application that was denied," the judge said. "The university has the right to impose these regulations on campus."
Corry said no public university has ever closed its campus to the public, and he likened the measures to "killing a fly with a sledgehammer."
"In this case, the University of Colorado has taken a step no public university in the history of the United States has taken," he said. "If we can't have a free marketplace of ideas on a public university campus, then where can it occur in the U.S.?"
CU acknowledged the closure was unprecedented but said the annual 4/20 gathering is an "unusual" event.
The Air Force’s premier killer drone could get a lot more dangerous, if the flying branch agrees to upgrades proposed by the robot’s manufacturer. California drone-maker General Atomics has figured out ways to nearly double the flight time of the camera-, missile- and radar-equipped MQ-9 Reaper by adding fuel pods, longer wings and stronger landing gear. With all three enhancements, a Reaper’s endurance jumps from 27 hours to a whopping 42 — almost two days of continuous flying, which makes a big difference now that the Air Force is scaling back its drone buys.
The upgrade, which is just a company proposal so far, boosts what is already the MQ-9′s biggest advantage over traditional aircraft such as the F-16. Manned warplanes’ flight times are limited by a wide range of factors, but especially the endurance of their human pilots. A typical F-16 sortie lasts just a couple of hours. With no pilot on board, the $30 million MQ-9 can fly until it runs out of gas. In enhancing the Reaper, General Atomics focused on expanding and stretching the ‘bot’s fuel load.
The company is offering three related upgrades, although it’s not saying how much they cost. One adds a new 88-foot-span wing, replacing the existing 66-foot wing. The longer wing boosts lift and improves fuel efficiency. Plus, Reaper users can add two new fuel pods in place of some of the drone’s weapons, each carrying a hundred or so gallons of gas. Both upgrades mean more weight on the airframe and require new heavy-duty landing gear that can support the nearly six-ton weight of an improved Reaper.
The new wing, fuel pods and landing gear can be installed by company reps at the Reapers’ forward bases in Afghanistan, East Africa and elsewhere. Since the Reaper made its combat debut in Iraq in 2007, the Pentagon has steadily expanded the territories the killer drone patrols. The CIA, the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.K. and Italy also operate Reapers.
It’s not hard to see why General Atomics wants to boost the MQ-9′s flight time. The enhancements reflect “customers’ emerging needs,” said Frank Pace, president of General Atomics’ airplane division. To save money, the Air Force has decided to cut its Reaper purchases in half, to just 24 a year. But the flying branch still wants to be able to keep up to 85 killer drones in the air at all times.
Anders Behring Breivik knew it would take practice to be able to slaughter dozens of people before being shot by police.
In a chilling summary, the far-right fanatic claimed on Thursday that he sharpened his aim by playing computer games for more than a year before Norway's worst peacetime massacre.
Breivik said he played the computer game Modern Warfare for 16 months starting in January 2010, primarily to get a feel for how to use rifle sights. In 2006 he devoted a full year to playing World of Warcraft, for 16 hours a day, he said.
Christopher Ferguson, of Texas A&M International University, said there is no link between violent video games and violent behavior. Though some research suggests that action games can improve "visuospatial cognition," he said it's difficult to say whether Breivik could have improved his accuracy by playing Modern Warfare.
"Let us keep in mind too that he was shooting kids on an island from which they could not escape easily," Ferguson said. "That does not require great accuracy."
Breivik told an Oslo court he took steroids to build physical strength and meditated to "de-emotionalise" himself before the bombing and shooting rampage that left 77 people dead.
His lack of remorse and matter-of-fact description of weapons and tactics - he even considered using a flame thrower - was deeply disturbing to families of the victims, most of whom were teenagers...
Comic-book superpowers could become reality as scientists have designed a phone that works as 'X-Ray spex'.
A hi-tech chip allows a phone to 'see through' walls, wood and plastics - and (although the researchers are coy about this) through fabrics such as clothing.
Doctors could also use the imagers to look inside the body for cancer tumours without damaging X-Rays or large, expensive MRI scanners.
The researchers claim it could allow DIYers to detect studs within walls, or allow businesses to detect counterfeit money.
At present, it's designed to work over a short range - and works with a normal-sized microchip that could fit into phones or other handheld electronics.
The team's research involves tapping into an unused range in the electromagnetic spectrum.
But the terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum, one of the wavelength ranges that falls between microwave and infrared, has not been accessible for most consumer devices. Until now...
Internet surfers have long worried that they have insufficient control over their online privacy — despite the privacy policies many people agree to when they visit websites or use online services.
There are data to support the surfers' feelings: Online privacy policies are so cumbersome and onerous that it would take the average person about 250 working hours every year — about 30 full working days — to actually read the privacy policies of the websites they visit in a year, according to an analysis by researchers Aleecia M. McDonald and Lorrie Faith Cranor.
The Federal Trade Commission has recently announced it is exploring whether to give consumers greater control over their online privacy. Online privacy is currently not regulated in the United States. Authorities have encouraged companies to disclose information to users, based on the idea that users will then read the policies and make enlightened decisions about which companies to trust with their information.
But the proliferation of long, onerous and often difficult-to-follow privacy policies has led to a situation where most people consent to privacy policies without reading or understanding them, Cranor says.
"If people were to actually stop and read all of them for every website that they visited, they could spend on the order of 200 to 250 hours a year — about a month of time at work each year that you could spend reading privacy policies," she says. "It's insane."
Like something out of a Zack Snyder film, the Olympics in London will mark the country’s largest military mobilization since the Second World War. To put it another way, there will be more British soldiers in London than those fighting the war in Afghanistan. In total, an expected 13,500 military personnel will be assisting security, making a total head count of 23,700 to secure London’s 7.8 million residents. That’s just by land—on sea, the largest ship in the British Navy, the H.M.S. Ocean, the C.V. of which includes leading the assault against Colonel Qaddafi, will be docked in Greenwich and house 800 bored poised marines.
Since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, direct military involvement during the Games has been routine. In London, the issue at hand is that the Ministry of Defence did not expect the level of involvement that is now being relied on. There is an anticipated lending of a hand, but not both hands, arms, legs, and feet. “The scale of work required to deliver the greatest peacetime safety-and-security operation was always going to bring some significant challenges to the fore,” says Brokenshire, “but we are leaving nothing to chance and we are confident in our plans.”
But leaving nothing to chance isn’t fully cut-and-dried, as showcased by the recent security malfunction when Trenton Oldfield deliberately swam through the route of the 158th annual Oxford/Cambridge boat race, forcing the rowers to restart. Trenton was arrested and later charged with a public-order offense—also known as his protest against elitism, which apparently leads to tyranny (his words, not ours). Although this was an isolated event, as British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan candidly said of the incident: “It just takes, and is likely to be, one idiot.”
Preventing idiocy, as The Guardian reports, ultimately means additional costs, even when using one’s own military forces already on the state payroll. Per the paper, the “immediate security costs have doubled from 282m to 553m. Even these figures are likely to end up as dramatic underestimates: the final security budget of the 2004 Athens Olympics were around 1bn.”
Adding to the cost and complication is the recent announcement that First Lady Michelle Obama will lead the U.S.-presidential delegation to the Opening Ceremonies (though the specific details of those costs, our sources would not reveal). “We are obviously delighted that the First Lady will be coming to the Games,” Brokenshire tells us. “The First Lady has visited the U.K. on a number of occasions, and we are confident she will enjoy this great sporting event showcasing Great Britain at its best.”
Would the best be the reported “biometric ID cards, number-plate and facial recognition CCTV systems, disease tracking systems and new police centres and checkpoints” that the city also plans to implement?
“We have approached the Games by planning against the four key threat areas,” Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison—a senior officer with the Metropolitan Police and the National Olympic Security Coordinator—tells VanityFair.com. “The first is obviously terrorism. Secondly, the threat from serious organized crime.” Fortunately, Allison explains, there is an entire team dedicated to this bracket of crime, cryptically and yet completely blandly dubbed “Operation Podium.” Through the program, Allison says, “over 120 arrests” have already been made as of March 30. “The third area is protest or public disorder,” he adds, “and finally, we have to consider the impact of natural hazards,” such as health-related threats—including, apparently, greetings. Last month, British Olympic Association chief medic Dr. Ian McCurdie released a statement advising British athletes to avoid shaking hands in an effort to retain good hygiene. In a swift rebuttal, a U.S. Olympic team spokesperson said that it “always encourage[s] our athletes . . . to embrace the Olympic spirit and meet, greet and interact with as many different athletes from as many nationalities as possible.”
The CIA is seeking authority to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen by launching strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who could be killed, U.S. officials said.
Securing permission to use these “signature strikes” would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives.
The practice has been a core element of the CIA’s drone program in Pakistan for several years. CIA Director David H. Petraeus has requested permission to use the tactic against the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, which has emerged as the most pressing terrorism threat to the United States, officials said.
If approved, the change would probably accelerate a campaign of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen that is already on a record pace, with at least eight attacks in the past four months.
Samples of DNA were collected without parental consent from students at a Sacramento, Calif., middle school in connection with the murder of an 8 th grade student who was found stabbed, strangled and beaten to death near the dugout of a local park.
The Sacramento Sheriff's Department, which has been spearheading the investigation into the murder of Jessica Funk-Haslam, 13, said parental consent was not required in the DNA collection and interview of minors, several of whom were taken out of class during the day last week at Albert Einstein Middle School.
"These are interviews, not interrogations," Sheriff's Deputy Jason Ramos told ABCNews.com. "They are all consensual. Once it's done, there is a mechanism in place for school administrators to notify parents."
Ramos said the DNA collection was done at the time of the interview so efforts didn't have to be "duplicated." Ramos cautioned that the collection did not necessarily mean authorities had a DNA profile of the suspect.
Over the past few weeks, police have sifted through a number of leads and alibis but have been unable to name a suspect in Jessica's murder.
The teen's body was found at Rosemont Community Park on the morning of March 6. Jessica was reportedly arguing with her mother the night before and voluntarily left her home and boarded local transportation to a local park.
There is nothing under California law that prohibits DNA collection of consenting minors, said John Myers, a professor at the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.
"I think the answer is, kids can consent, and if they consented and it was knowing and intelligent, [law enforcement] can do the search," he told the Sacramento Bee.
Ramos said last week's DNA collection was not the first time detectives visited the school and that he expects they'll be back for more follow-up.
He declined to say how many students have been interviewed, but said students who spoke with detectives were sent home with contact information to give to their parents...
A bill already passed by the Senate and set to be rubber stamped by the House would make it mandatory for all new cars in the United States to be fitted with black box data recorders from 2015 onwards.
Section 31406 of Senate Bill 1813 (known as MAP-21), calls for “Mandatory Event Data Recorders” to be installed in all new automobiles and legislates for civil penalties to be imposed against individuals for failing to do so.
“Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part,” states the bill.
Although the text of legislation states that such data would remain the property of the owner of the vehicle, the government would have the power to access it in a number of circumstances, including by court order, if the owner consents to make it available, and pursuant to an investigation or inspection conducted by the Secretary of Transportation.
Given the innumerable examples of both government and industry illegally using supposedly privacy-protected information to spy on individuals, this represents the slippery slope to total Big Brother surveillance of every American’s transport habits and location data.
The legislation, which has been given the Orwellian title ‘Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act’, sailed through the Senate after being heavily promoted by Democrats Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer and is also expected to pass the Republican-controlled House.
Given the fact that the same bill also includes a controversial provision that would empower the IRS to revoke passports of citizens merely accused of owing over $50,000 in back taxes, stripping them of their mobility rights, could the mandatory black boxes or a similar technology be used for the same purpose?
Biometric face-recognition and transdermol sensor technology that prevents an inebriated person from driving a car by disabling the automobile has already been developed, in addition to systems that refuse to allow the vehicle to start if the driver is deemed to be overtired.
The ultimate Big Brother scenario would be a system whereby every driver had to get de facto permission from the state to drive each time they get behind the wheel, once it had been determined from an iris scan that they were good citizens who have paid all their taxes and not misbehaved...
The government's controversial plans to allow intelligence agencies to monitor the internet use and digital communications of every person in the UK suffered a fresh blow on Tuesday when the inventor of the world wide web warned that the measures were dangerous and should be dropped.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who serves as an adviser to the government on how to make public data more accessible, says the extension of the state's surveillance powers would be a "destruction of human rights" and would make a huge amount of highly intimate information vulnerable to theft or release by corrupt officials. In an interview with the Guardian, Berners-Lee said: "The amount of control you have over somebody if you can monitor internet activity is amazing.
"You get to know every detail, you get to know, in a way, more intimate details about their life than any person that they talk to because often people will confide in the internet as they find their way through medical websites … or as an adolescent finds their way through a website about homosexuality, wondering what they are and whether they should talk to people about it."
The British computer engineer, who devised the system that allows the creation of websites and links, said that of all the recent developments on the internet, it was moves by governments to control or spy on the internet that "keep me up most at night".
The government ran into a storm of criticism earlier this month when it emerged that it was planning to allow GCHQ to monitor all communication on social media, Skype calls and email communication as well as logging every site visited by internet users in Britain.
Berners-Lee said: "The idea that we should routinely record information about people is obviously very dangerous. It means that there will be information around which could be stolen, which can be acquired through corrupt officials or corrupt operators, and [could be] used, for example, to blackmail people in the government or people in the military. We open ourselves out, if we store this information, to it being abused..."
DigitalPersona, Inc., a global provider of multi-factor authentication and access management solutions, today announced Hooters of America, LLC (Hooters) has deployed DigitalPersona's U.are.U® Fingerprint Readers to strengthen its loss prevention efforts. The DigitalPersona fingerprint readers and ITWercs Point-of-Sale (POS) software enable nearly 4,000 employees to use fingerprint readers at Hooters restaurants to authenticate transactions, as well as clock in and out for their shifts. With DigitalPersona fingerprint biometrics, Hooters has reduced both transaction and payroll fraud.
Hooters IT staff found it challenging to manage and track unauthorized voids using their previous PIN and swipe card security system. Hooters sought technology that could tie individuals to each transaction, and ensure manager oversight was provided when necessary. After successfully using U.are.U Fingerprint Readers at its Texas locations, Hooters expanded to other locations. Fingerprint authentication is also used for ensuring accurate time-and-attendance system for all employees...