Tag Archives | Big Brother

This Vehicle Registration Plate Surveillance System Is a Warning to Us All

Knight RiderNo CCTV has teamed up with Privacy International and Big Brother Watch to challenge the legality of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) [also known as ALPR in North America] camera network in the UK. A complaint has been sent to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) against a so-called ANPR “Ring of Steel” that is being constructed around the town of Royston in Hertfordshire — but for Royston read any town in the UK.

Background

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has constructed a network of cameras across the country without any public or parliamentary debate. These cameras record the number plate of each and every vehicle that passes, sometimes taking a photograph of the car and its occupants. The number plate is then compared to a “hotlist” of vehicles of interest, and whether or not the plate is on that list (ie a “hit”), all information gathered is stored for between two and five years.… Read the rest

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Know Your Email Senders’ Political Donations

img_inboxCreepy and cool -- an add-on tool from the Sunlight Foundation that, with a single click, gives you the hidden political allegiances of both companies or institutions and family, friends, and coworkers. Perhaps someday when you apply for a job or an apartment, your boss or landlord will use it on you:
Inbox Influence provides details on both the sender of the email and the company from which it was sent. With it, you can even see how your friends and family have given to political campaigns. Perhaps Uncle Joe has more mainstream views after all?
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New Russian ATMs To Contain Lie-Detectors, Facial Recognition

Eye Dilate“While Sberbank’s technology might strike Westerners as too intrusive, many Russians already assume the government can watch or listen to them when it chooses to.” Andrew E. Kramer writes in The New York Times:

MOSCOW — Russia’s biggest retail bank is testing a machine that the old K.G.B. might have loved, an A.T.M. with a built-in lie detector intended to prevent consumer credit fraud.

Consumers with no previous relationship with the bank could talk to the machine to apply for a credit card, with no human intervention required on the bank’s end.

The machine scans a passport, records fingerprints and takes a three-dimensional scan for facial recognition. And it uses voice-analysis software to help assess whether the person is truthfully answering questions that include “Are you employed?” and “At this moment, do you have any other outstanding loans?”

The voice-analysis system was developed by the Speech Technology Center, a company whose other big clients include the Federal Security Service — the Russian domestic intelligence agency descended from the Soviet K.G.B.

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How To Disappear Completely

5721E7FD3912AE8DB6B0FB_LargeCSO interviews skip tracer Frank Ahearn about how to vanish from society, skipping off to a tropical island or a clean start in North Dakota, if you don’t want to be found. The key is to put out a flood of misinformation:

You can’t legally change an identity. Identities are kind of this myth. Where do you get one from? And how do you know where it’s from and that it hasn’t been given to fifty other people? Who knows if it’s on the Megan’s Law list or if it belongs to someone who owes the IRS $100,000?

But sometimes you can open a corporation, depending on what you do, and work on a 1099. So, what we do in a nutshell, is make you a virtual entity where you work for this corporation. You lease your apartment through this corporation, your electricity, your phone. Everything about you exists under the corporation.

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Every Six Hours, The NSA Gathers As Much Data As The Library of Congress Has

NSADan Nosowitz writes on Popular Science:
The National Security Agency is, by nature, an extreme example of the e-hoarder. And as the governmental organization responsible for things like, say, gathering intelligence on such Persons of Interest as Osama bin Laden, that impulse makes sense--though once you hear the specifics, it still seems pretty incredible. In a story about the bin Laden mission, the NSA very casually dropped a number: Every six hours, the agency collects as much data as is stored in the entire Library of Congress. That data includes transcripts of phone calls and in-house discussions, video and audio surveillance, and a massive amount of photography. "The volume of data they're pulling in is huge," said John V. Parachini, director of the Intelligence Policy Center at RAND. "One criticism we might make of our [intelligence] community is that we're collection-obsessed — we pull in everything — and we don't spend enough time or money to try and understand what do we have and how can we act upon it."
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China Tightens Electronic Censorship: ‘Protest’ Ends Phone Calls

Photo: Yoshi Canopus (CC)

Photo: Yoshi Canopus (CC)

The New York Times reports on some disturbing developments on China:

BEIJING — If anyone wonders whether the Chinese government has tightened its grip on electronic communications since protests began engulfing the Arab world, Shakespeare may prove instructive.

A Beijing entrepreneur, discussing restaurant choices with his fiancée over their cellphones last week, quoted Queen Gertrude’s response to Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” The second time he said the word “protest,” her phone cut off.

He spoke English, but another caller, repeating the same phrase on Monday in Chinese over a different phone, was also cut off in midsentence.

A host of evidence over the past several weeks shows that Chinese authorities are more determined than ever to police cellphone calls, electronic messages, e-mail and access to the Internet in order to smother any hint of antigovernment sentiment. In the cat-and-mouse game that characterizes electronic communications here, analysts suggest that the cat is getting bigger, especially since revolts began to ricochet through the Middle East and North Africa, and homegrown efforts to organize protests in China began to circulate on the Internet about a month ago.

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Scientists Develop Better Methods To Match Police Sketches To Mug Shots

Sketch To Mug ShotReports Michigan State University:
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The long-time practice of using police facial sketches to nab criminals has been, at best, an inexact art. But the process may soon be a little more exact thanks to the work of some Michigan State University researchers. A team led by MSU University Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Anil Jain and doctoral student Brendan Klare has developed a set of algorithms and created software that will automatically match hand-drawn facial sketches to mug shots that are stored in law enforcement databases. Once in use, Klare said, the implications are huge. “We’re dealing with the worst of the worst here,” he said. “Police sketch artists aren’t called in because someone stole a pack of gum. A lot of time is spent generating these facial sketches so it only makes sense that they are matched with the available technology to catch these criminals.”
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Coming To Britain: Unmanned Spy Drones And Facial Recognition Cameras

The Telegraph reports:

Unmanned spy drones, CCTV that recognises faces and cameras in the back of taxis could soon be the norm on the streets of Britain, the Home Office admitted yesterday.

Ministers signalled that advances in technology meant there was nothing to stop such controversial surveillance measures becoming commonplace.

Thales Watchkeeper WK450 UAV

Britain's Thales Watchkeeper WK450 spy drone

The warning came in proposals for a code of practice to better regulate the spread of CCTV amid fears there will be “unchecked proliferation” without it.

Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, said last year that Britain is heading towards becoming a surveillance state of unmanned spy drones, GPS tracking of employees and profiling through social networking sites.

He said the relentless march of surveillance had seen snooping techniques “intensify and expand” at such a pace that regulators were struggling to keep up.

The Coalition Government has pledged to row back the surveillance state and restore civil liberties.

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A Sensor System To Reveal When And How You Are Being Monitored

3279141121_4e76ac28dbA system called the sensor tricorder would allow individuals to scan locations with their smartphones to detect CCTV cameras and microphones, and receive information on how the recorded data was being used. Use would depend on manufacturers’ implementing the technology into their surveillance devices, however. New Scientist reports (in a dismissive-of-privacy-concerns fashion):

A new system designed to reveal when microphones, cameras and other sensors are recording could reassure those who are paranoid about their privacy.

Each device would carry a screen displaying a QR code, a kind of two-dimensional barcode that can be read by a smartphone camera. Every 5 minutes the tricorder system generates a new QR code that encodes a privacy report detailing the sensor’s activities, such as whether it is recording, where the material being stored and how long it will be kept. The report also includes a log of past sensor activity, so you can check whether you have been monitored before.

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