• Tattoo recognitionFederal researchers complete second round of problematic tattoo recognition experiments

    By Dave Maass

    Despite igniting controversy over ethical lapses and the threat to civil liberties posed by its tattoo recognition experiments the first time around, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently completed its second major project evaluating software designed to reveal who we are and potentially what we believe based on our body art.

  • SurveillanceThe problem with using ‘super recognizers’ to spot criminals in a crowd

    By Emma Portch

    People often say that they never forget a face, but for some people, this claim might actually be true. So-called super recognizers are said to possess exceptional face recognition abilities, often remembering the faces of those they have only briefly encountered or haven’t seen for many years. Their unique skills have even caught the attention of policing and security organizations, who have begun using super recognizers to match photographs of suspects or missing persons to blurry CCTV footage. But recent research shows that the methods used to identify super recognizers are limited, and that the people recruited for this work might not always be as super as initially thought.

  • SurveillanceChicago should reject a proposal for private-sector face surveillance

    By Shahid Buttar

    A proposed amendment to the Chicago municipal code would allow businesses to use face surveillance systems that could invade biometric and location privacy, and violate a pioneering state privacy law adopted by Illinois a decade ago. EFF joined a letter with several allied privacy organizations explaining the EFF’s concerns, which include issues with both the proposed law and the invasive technology it would irresponsibly expand.

  • SurveillanceCombining multiple CCTV images could help catch suspects

    Combining multiple poor-quality CCTV images into a single, computer-enhanced composite could improve the accuracy of facial recognition systems used to identify criminal suspects, new research suggests. Researchers have created a series of pictures using a ‘face averaging’ technique – a method which digitally combines multiple images into a single enhanced image, removing variants such as head angles or lighting so that only features that indicate the identity of the person remain.

  • AuthenticationNew method for secure, speech-based two-factor authentication

    Reducing the number of tasks users have to perform during traditional two-factor authentication has been an area of focus for emerging technology and security researchers. One method proposed involves using ambient noise to detect the proximity between the two devices being used for authentication, which eliminates the need for a user to type in a numerical code. Researchers have developed a new method for two-factor authentication via wearables using speech signals.

  • BiometricsImproving speed, accuracy of biometric scanning at security checkpoints

    Balancing speed and security at checkpoints, like airports, is essential to ensuring safe, reliable travel. Many of these checkpoints are increasingly using biometric technology to improve speed and reliability. While recent improvements in biometrics have lowered failure to match rates, many systems fail to quickly acquire biometric information in the first place. DHS S&T is working on designing a standard security checkpoint process to test the ability of biometric identity systems to acquire and match images from a diverse volunteer population within a realistic time constraint.

  • ForensicsBuilding statistical foundation for next-gen forensic DNA profiling

    DNA is often considered the most reliable form of forensic evidence, and this reputation is based on the way DNA experts use statistics. When they compare the DNA left at a crime scene with the DNA of a suspect, experts generate statistics that describe how closely those DNA samples match. A jury can then take those match statistics into account when deciding guilt or innocence. These match statistics are reliable because they’re based on rigorous scientific research. However, that research only applies to DNA fingerprints, also called DNA profiles, that have been generated using current technology. Now, scientists have laid the statistical foundation for calculating match statistics when using Next Generation Sequencing, or NGS, which produces DNA profiles that can be more useful in solving some crimes.

  • Law enforcementFBI wish list: An app that can recognize the meaning of your tattoos

    By Dave Maass

    We’ve long known that the FBI is heavily invested in developing face recognition technology as a key component in its criminal investigations. But new records, obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, show that’s not the only biometric marker the agency has its eyes on. The FBI’s wish list also includes image recognition technology and mobile devices to attempt to use tattoos to map out people’s relationships and identify their beliefs.

  • Face recognitionFace recognition experts perform better with AI as partner

    Experts at recognizing faces often play a crucial role in criminal cases. A photo from a security camera can mean prison or freedom for a defendant—and testimony from highly trained forensic face examiners informs the jury whether that image actually depicts the accused. Just how good are facial recognition experts? Would artificial intelligence help?

  • FingerprintsImproving fingerprinting technology

    Fingerprint capture technology has advanced to the point where high-quality rolled prints soon might be obtained without the manual assistance of a trained device operator. These advancements could help law enforcement collect information-rich prints more rapidly and economically.

  • Big Data & privacyKeeping Big Data safe

    NIST has announced the Unlinkable Data Challenge, created to help the public safety community conduct research using data gathered with personal digital devices and taken from large databases such as driver’s license and health care records. Much of this data includes personal information that can be used to identify its source. Exposing this data risks those individuals’ privacy, but the inability to share it impedes research in many fields, including thwarting crime, fighting fires and slowing the spread of epidemics.

  • ForensicsUsing sweat to distinguish individuals at crime scene

    An average square inch of skin contains 650 sweat glands. That means our bodies leave small amounts of sweat on everything we touch—whether we’re making a phone call, eating supper or committing a crime. Researchers believe investigators can use these tiny, often invisible skin secretions to their advantage.

  • ForensicsTrust worthiness of forensic handwriting in court questioned

    Forensic handwriting specialists are often called on to testify in court about the origins of a few lines of writing, or to determine whether a specific person has written a sentence. A new study indicates that experts are not 100 percent adept at assessing how often specific handwriting features occur in the general population.

  • IDsProposed EU ID cards to include fingerprints

    The EU Commission on Tuesday will propose a law aims at increasing security within the bloc’s borders, including fingerprinting in ID cards. The Commission said that compulsory fingerprinting in ID cards are necessary to countering terrorism in Europe. Fingerprints are already required for EU passports, along with biometric pictures.

  • CybersecurityA new two-factor password method provides better protection

    A team of BGU cybersecurity researchers pioneered a new form of two-factor authentication that provides every user with stronger protection and is accessible to people with disabilities. This new method of authentication, in which ultrasonic vibrations are used in lieu of memorizing six-digit codes, works on today’s phones, laptops and tablets. It allows those with disabilities to log in with dignity and privacy.