Blog

  • Secret Ruling Against The NSA For Spying On Americans

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-11 16:04:53
    'The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is suing the Justice Department for details of last month's ruling by a secretive U.S. court that National Security Agency's domestic spying program violated the U.S. Constitution, Jon Brodkin of arstechnica reports.

    The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) found that "on at least one occasion" the NSA had violated the Fourth Amendment’s restriction against unreasonable searches and seizures.

    The decision is classified “because of the sensitive intelligence matters" it concerns, according to a letter from Seb. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to Congress that was acquired by Wired.

    The EFF wants the information because of its current lawsuit against the NSA (i.e. Jewel vs. NSA) that alleges the U.S. government operates an illegal mass domestic surveillance program. Three NSA whistleblowers—including William Binney—agreed to provide evidence that the NSA has been running a domestic spying program since 2001.

    The kicker is that there is ample evidence that the NSA has gone above and beyond the powers granted through the 2008 FISA Amendment Act by actively spying on the electronic communications of American citizens within the U.S. and by coercing service providers to feed it any and all information it wants.

    That is what FISC found and what the government does not want to admit.'

    http://www.businessinsider.com/nsa-spying-4th-amendment-2012-8
  • FBI launches $1 billion face recognition project

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-11 15:22:09
    'The Next Generation Identification programme will include a nationwide database of criminal faces and other biometrics

    "FACE recognition is 'now'," declared Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in a testimony before the US Senate in July.

    It certainly seems that way. As part of an update to the national fingerprint database, the FBI has begun rolling out facial recognition to identify criminals.

    It will form part of the bureau's long-awaited, $1 billion Next Generation Identification (NGI) programme, which will also add biometrics such as iris scans, DNA analysis and voice identification to the toolkit. A handful of states began uploading their photos as part of a pilot programme this February and it is expected to be rolled out nationwide by 2014. In addition to scanning mugshots for a match, FBI officials have indicated that they are keen to track a suspect by picking out their face in a crowd.

    Another application would be the reverse: images of a person of interest from security cameras or public photos uploaded onto the internet could be compared against a national repository of images held by the FBI. An algorithm would perform an automatic search and return a list of potential hits for an officer to sort through and use as possible leads for an investigation.

    Ideally, such technological advancements will allow law enforcement to identify criminals more accurately and lead to quicker arrests. But privacy advocates are worried by the broad scope of the FBI's plans. They are concerned that people with no criminal record who are caught on camera alongside a person of interest could end up in a federal database, or be subject to unwarranted surveillance.

    The FBI's Jerome Pender told the Senate in July that the searchable photo database used in the pilot studies only includes mugshots of known criminals. But it's unclear from the NGI's privacy statement whether that will remain the case once the entire system is up and running or if civilian photos might be added, says attorney Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The FBI was unable to answer New Scientist's questions before the magazine went to press.

    The FBI hasn't shared details of the algorithms it is using, but its technology could be very accurate if applied to photographs taken in controlled situations such as passport photos or police shots.

    Tests in 2010 showed that the best algorithms can pick someone out in a pool of 1.6 million mugshots 92 per cent of the time. It's possible to match a mugshot to a photo of a person who isn't looking at the camera too. Algorithms such as one developed by Marios Savvides's lab at Carnegie Mellon can analyse features of a front and side view set of mugshots, create a 3D model of the face, rotate it as much as 70 degrees to match the angle of the face in the photo, and then match the new 2D image with a fairly high degree of accuracy. The most difficult faces to match are those in low light. Merging photos from visible and infrared spectra can sharpen these images, but infrared cameras are still very expensive.

    Of course, it is easier to match up posed images and the FBI has already partnered with issuers of state drivers' licences for photo comparison. Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union urges caution: "Once you start plugging this into the FBI database, it becomes tantamount to a national photographic database."'
  • Police share more than 50m records about members of the public

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-21 19:46:48
    'Millions of intelligence reports, routinely gathered and including details of people not charged or convicted, added to database.

    The extent of police intelligence records about people who have not been charged or convicted of any crime has been revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.

    The disclosures show that around 14m Metropolitan police intelligence reports and 38m from other forces, gathered routinely because they may prove useful, are being made available to all of Britain's police agencies on the Police National Database (PND). Figures obtained by the Guardian show the PND – in 2011 – contains at least 317.2m records.

    The Met intelligence files includes details about protesters who have attended demonstrations, unconvicted "persons of interest", associates of criminals, including lists of phone numbers stored on perpetrators' phones, allegations of crimes, and victims of sexual or domestic abuse. The database also contains almost 40,000 images.

    Police argue that sharing intelligence on the database speeds up investigations, helping identify new patterns of crime. But civil liberties groups are concerned that it can criminalise innocent people.

    The revelation has prompted calls for more police transparency about what kind of information about unconvicted people is being logged and shared.

    "This has a profound impact on privacy and basic rule of law," said Guy Herbert, general secretary of NO2ID. "If something is 'intelligence' it is by definition composed of guesswork, speculation and hearsay. It has the capacity to criminalise the innocent and affect people's lives in all sorts of ways if they get flagged as 'of interest' to the police."

    Before being entered on to the PND, Met intelligence records are entered on a Scotland Yard database named Crimint Plus, described as "the largest law enforcement intelligence system in the world" by former Met detective chief inspector Peter Ship. An estimated 2,000 reports are entered every day on Crimint, which was established in 1994 and since 2005 has doubled in size. Most Crimint intelligence records are stored for a minimum of six years in accordance with police data retention policy. They are accessible by around 40,000 Met employees, plus up to 12,000 from 65 forces and agencies across Britain through the PND – though some information deemed sensitive is held more securely and cannot be accessed by all users.

    Managed by the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA), the PND was introduced following recommendations from the Bichard inquiry into police failings prior to the Soham murders in 2002. The agency, which is expected to hand over control of the PND to the new police ICT company soon, has acknowledged that the system could contain information on up to 15m people – one in four of all Britons. According to the Metropolitan Police Authority website, intelligence gathering "may appear to be only for organised crime or counter-terrorism work, but it is actually often a more routine matter in the MPS. It could be described as simply 'capturing information while carrying out one activity which is likely to prove useful in a future policing activity'."

    A Met spokesman said the force gathered information lawfully and within strict guidelines, but was "not prepared to discuss specific aspects relating to intelligence".

    An NPIA spokesman said: "Each individual police force as the data owner will decide what information is stored on the PND. The public has a right to expect the police to share intelligence information to prevent and detect crime and to protect our communities. Under the Data Protection Act, individuals can access information about them that is held on the PND."'

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/aug/21/police-share-50m-records-public