Michael Edwards: Activist Post: The Cybersecurity Directive Goes Viral.
Editor’s Note: We are actually funding our own enslavement.
Detecting a crime before it happens
By Bob Drogin, Los Angeles Times
Burns and his team of scientists are researching whether video game boards, biometric sensors and other high-tech devices can be used to detect distinct nonverbal cues from people who harbor “mal-intent,” or malicious intent.
“We’re looking pre-event,” said Burns, the No. 2 at the Homeland Security Advanced Research Project Agency, a counterpart of the fabled Pentagon agency that developed Stealth aircraft and the Internet.
Darpa’s Beady-Eyed Camera Spots the ‘Non-Cooperative’
Soon, keeping your head down won’t be enough to stump high-tech security cameras, thanks to Pentagon-funded researchers developing mini-cameras that can nab threats by hunting down — and scanning — their eyeballs.
A team of electrical engineers at Southern Methodist University (SMU), led by Professor Marc Christensen, first created the cameras with funding from Darpa, the Pentagon’s research agency. Called Panoptes, the devices use low-resolution sensors to create a high-res image that can be captured using a lightweight, ultra-slim camera. Because they don’t use a lens, the cameras were originally designed for miniature drone sensors and troop helmet-cams.
Only a year later, the Pentagon is giving SMU another $1.6 million, to merge the cameras with active illumination and handheld Pico projection devices. This allows photos captured on small devices to be transformed for large-format viewing. Whereas the first goal of the program was to create slim cameras with the power of a lens, the latest technology “lets us do even more than what a lens could do,” Christensen told Danger Room.
“This platform is really just the base, upon which we’ll focus on different applications,” Christensen said. “Now, we’re enhancing resolution even more, so the images are a 3-D map with even better, more accurate details.”
The new devices will yield a robust 3-D image that’ll be useful for seeing in caves and dark urban areas, and for the creation of versatile “non-cooperative” iris-detection security cameras.
Smart-Iris, the name of the new Panoptes innovation, is being developed in conjunction with SMU Professor Delores Etter, who specializes in biometric identification. It’ll eliminate problems like glare, eyelashes, dim lighting — and an unwillingness to stop and stare directly into a dedicated iris-detection camera. Instead, Panoptes devices will zero in on a face, no matter angle or movement, then narrow right into the iris. A long line of people, moving through a line, could be scanned by wall-mounted cameras and they wouldn’t even notice it was happening.
And new algorithms are being developed by Etter and colleagues to identify individuals based on segments of their iris, rather than a full frontal scan.
“Ideally, when you walk down a hallway, no matter where your head is looking, the device can grab your eyeball and detect what it needs to,” Christensen said. And where possible security and defense applications are concerned? “You can let your imagination fly with that one.”
And with this latest development, Christensen also sees widespread civilian application, as part of “the cell phone of the future.” He’d like to see the camera-projection device incorporated into phones, and says they’d be able to photograph the page of a book “down to the smallest lettering,” or detect counterfeit cash by “picking up the texture of a $20 bill.”
Photo: U.S Air Force
Census workers can enter your apartment in your absence
Thousands of census workers, including many temporary employees, are fanning out across America to gather information on the citizenry. This is a process that takes place not only every decade in order to complete the constitutionally-mandated census; but also as part of the continuing “American Community Survey” conducted by the Census Bureau on a regular basis year in and year out.
What many Americans don’t realize, is that census workers — from the head of the Bureau and the Secretary of Commerce (its parent agency) down to the lowliest and newest Census employee — are empowered under federal law to actually demand access to any apartment or any other type of home or room that is rented out, in order to count persons in the abode and for “the collection of statistics.” If the landlord of such apartment or other leased premises refuses to grant the government worker access to your living quarters, whether you are present or not, the landlord can be fined $500.00.
That’s right — not only can citizens be fined if they fail to answer the increasingly intrusive questions asked of them by the federal government under the guise of simply counting the number of people in the country; but a landlord must give them access to your apartment whether you’re there or not, in order to gather whatever “statistics” the law permits.
In fact, some census workers apparently are going even further and demanding — and receiving — private cell phone numbers from landlords in order to call tenants and obtain information from them. Isn’t it great to live in a “free” country?
Google debates face recognition technology
By Maija Palmer in London Financial Times
Published: May 19 2010 22:42 | Last updated: May 20 2010 01:02
Executives are wrestling over whether to launch controversial facial recognition technology after a barrage of criticism over its privacy policies.
Eric Schmidt, chief executive, said a series of public disputes over privacy issues had caused the management team to review its procedures and the launch of new technologies. According to Google executives, facial recognition is one of the key topics of internal debate.
Mr Schmidt said: “Facial recognition is a good example . . . anything we did in that area would be highly, highly planned, discussed and reviewed. When you go through these things, you review your management procedures.”
However, he would not rule out any eventual roll-out, saying: “It is important that we continue to innovate.”
Facial recognition has the potential to be the next privacy flashpoint. Google already uses the technology in its Picasa photo sharing service. This lets users tag some of the people in their photos and then searches through other albums to suggest other pictures in which the same faces appear.
I guess we can take Mark Zuckerberg’s word for it: the founder of Facebook does not hold his users in high regard. There seems to be quite a firestorm surrounding the recent privacy violations of this behemoth. Play at your own risk.
Loveable Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg called his first few thousand users “dumb f*cks” for trusting him with their data, published IM transcripts show. Facebook hasn’t disputed the authenticity of the transcript.
The exchange apparently ran like this:
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask.
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don’t know why.
Zuck: They “trust me”
Zuck: Dumb f*cks
The founder was then 19, and he may have been joking. But humour tells you a lot. Some might say that this exchange shows Zuckerberg was not particularly aware of the trust issue in all its depth and complexity.
Facebook is currently in the spotlight for its relentlessly increasing exposure of data its users assumed was private. This is nicely illustrated in the interactive graphic you can find here or by clicking the piccie to the right.
In turn, its fall from grace has made backers of the ‘social media’ bubble quite nervous. Many new white collar nonjobs created since the mid-Noughties depend on the commercial value of your output, and persona;l information. (Both are invariably donated for free).
But there’s a problem.
Much of the data created by Web2.0rrhea is turning out to be quite useless for advertisers – or anyone else. Marketeers are having a harder time justifying the expenditure in sifting through the Web 2.0 septic tank for the odd useful nugget of information.
Facebook’s data stash is regarded as something quite special. It’s authenticated against a real person, and the users tend to be over 35 and middle class – the ideal demographic for selling high value goods and services. In addition, users have so far been ‘sticky’ to Facebook, something quite exceptional since social networks fall out of fashion (Friends Reunited, Friendster) as quickly as they attract users.
Facebook also has something else going for it – ordinary users regard it as the natural upgrade to Hotmail. In fact, once the crap has been peeled away, there may not be much more to Facebook than the Yahoo! or Hotmail Address Book with knobs on: the contact book is nicely integrated, uploading photos to share easier, while everything else is gravy. Unlike tech-savvy users, many people remain loyal to these for years. ®