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."'
Anonymous releases how-to instructions on fooling facial recognition
posted by Keito
2012-08-24 19:50:58'Here’s a predicament: you don’t want the government using high-tech face scanning technology to track every inch of your walk to the post office, but you also don’t want to take a sledgehammer to your neighborhood surveillance camera. What do you do?
Don’t worry, concerned citizen! Big Brother may indeed be watching, but that doesn’t mean you have to make his unwarranted surveillance mission easy to operate.
Although little news has developed as of late in regards to TrapWire, a global surveillance operation that RT blew the cover off of nearly two weeks ago, opposition waged at the world-wide intelligence network is still rampant. Now in one of the newest videos uploaded to the Web to make people aware of TrapWire, a person claiming to be involved with Anonymous is trying to spread a YouTube clip that offers helpful suggestions on how to rage against the machine, properly and peacefully.
Last week, hacktivists proposed several campaigns aimed at eliminating TrapWire feeds by rendering the equipment thought to be linked to the intelligence system completely useless. In lieu of smashing camera lenses and spraying surveillance gear in sudsy liquid, though, a new video, “Anonymous – Fighting TrapWire,” offers instructions on how to prevent the acceleration of the surveillance state by means of passive resistant.
“Many of you have heard the recent stories about TrapWire,” the video begins. “Constant video surveillance is an issue we presently face. However, there are a number of ways that you can combat this surveillance.”
From there, the clip’s narrator offers a few suggestions and helping the average American avoid getting caught in TrapWire without resorting to the destruction of property.
“Wearing a mask is a common way to keep your identity hidden,” the voice explains, “However, a mask does not protect against biometric authentication. In addition, this can also cause problems depending where you want to go.”
“Another way to avoid facial recognition is to tilt your head more than 15 degrees to the side,” the clip continues. “Due to limits in their programming, they will not be able to detect that a face is present, though there are very obvious cons to doing this. Using a similar method, you can distort your face through elaborate makeup. This method also takes advantage of software limits as the computer will not be able to detect a face. But these are tiresome ways that tend to draw attention to yourself. Surely there are better solutions to avoid being added to a database.”
The narrator also explains that laser pointers have been documented to disrupt the powers of surveillance cameras and that, “With nothing more than a hat, some infrared LEDs, some wiring and a 9 Volt battery,” it’s a piece of cake to render oneself completely invisible. By rigging a DIY system of small lights affixed to a baseball cap, the video claims you can create a device that “guarantees complete anonymity to cameras while appearing perfectly normal to the rest of the world.”
“While the government may be hell bent on watching us at every moment of every day, we are not helpless. There are always ways of fighting back. Let's remind them that 1984 was not an instruction manual,” the video concludes.'
TrapWire: Privacy No More? All-seeing eye tracks your every move
posted by Keito
TrapWire: Papers released by WikiLeaks show US Dept of Homeland Security paid $832,000 to deploy system in two cities
posted by Keito
2012-08-14 15:25:57'It sounds like something from the film Minority Report: a CCTV surveillance system that recognises people from their face or walk and analyses whether they might be about to commit a terrorist or criminal act. But Trapwire is real and, according to documents released online by WikiLeaks last week, is being used in a number of countries to try to monitor people and threats.
Founded by former CIA agents, Trapwire uses data from a network of CCTV systems and numberplate readers to figure out the threat level in huge numbers of locations. That means security officials can "focus on the highest priorities first, taking a proactive and collaborative approach to defence against attacks," say its creators.
The documents outlining Trapwire's existence and its deployment in the US were apparently obtained in a hack of computer systems belonging to the intelligence company Stratfor at the end of last year.
Documents from the US department of homeland security show that it paid $832,000 to deploy Trapwire in Washington DC and Seattle.
Stratfor describes Trapwire as "a unique, predictive software system designed to detect patterns of pre-attack surveillance and logistical planning", and cites the Washington DC police chief mentioning it during a Senate committee hearing. It serves "a wide range of law enforcement personnel and public and private security officials domestically and internationally", Stratfor says.
Some have expressed doubts that Trapwire could really forecast terrorist acts based on data from cameras, but Rik Ferguson, security consultant at Trend Micro, said the software for such systems had existed for some time.
"There's a lot of crossover between CCTV and facial recognition," he said. "It's feasible to have a camera looking for suspicious behaviour – for example, in a computer server room it could recognise someone via facial recognition or your gait, then can identify them from the card they swipe to get in, and then know whether it's suspicious if they're meant to be a cleaner and they sit down at a computer terminal."
The claims might seem overblown, but then the idea that the US could have an international monitoring system seemed absurd until the discovery of the Echelon system, used by the US to eavesdrop on electronic communications internationally.
Trapwire has not yet commented on the leak.'