Business

  • China makes Skype illegal

    China announced that it had made illegal the use of Skype, the popular internet telephony service, as the country continues to shut itself off from the rest of the world

  • Privacy pants for airport security

    Privacy pants” would allow airport security personnel to do their job while keeping passengers’ privacy and dignity intact

  • Pirates winning war off Somali coast

    The hugely expensive effort against the Somali pirates — a fleet of 40 warships from 30 countries is patrolling the waters near Somalia — has failed to slow down the rate of piracy; Somali attacks had soared dramatically in the past three years — from 40 attacks in 2007 to a reported 218 attacks last year; the Somali buccaneers are roaming over a much bigger territory and causing greater damage; the average ransom payment to the Somalis has doubled to $5 million; they are holding their hostages for up to 120 days — twice as long as in the past; they even used a hijacked freighter to attack a naval warship that was escorting supplies for African peacekeepers; the increasingly brazen pirates are currently holding 26 vessels and 609 hostages off the coast of Somalia; there is growing evidence that Somalia’s Islamic militants, including the feared al-Shabab radical group, are beginning to use piracy to raise money for their relentless rebellion against Somalia’s government

  • China will cut rare earths export quotas yet again

    China produces 97 percent of the world’s rare earth elements; over the last three years it has been steadily reducing the exports of these metals; the Chinese say the reason is the need for growing domestic demand; critics say that China’s goal is to undermine the high-tech sectors of Western countries’ economies; earlier this year China stopped shipping rare earths to Japan following a dispute between the two countries over a couple of small Pacific islands

  • U.S. rare Earth mine resumes active mining

    Colorado-based Molycorp resumed active mining of the rare Earth metal facility at Mountain Pass, California last week; the site had been shutdown in 2002 amid environmental concerns and the low costs for rare Earth metals provided by mining operations based in China

  • NYC, Lockheed locked in bitter litigation

    Lockheed Martin and New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) are locked in a no-holds-barred legal battle over who is responsible for the problems in installing security CCTVs to monitor MTA’s tunnels, platforms, and stations; Lockheed stands to receive either $80 million or $138 million from the MTA should the judge rule in the company’s favor; in the event that the MTA wins the lawsuit, Lockheed would pay the city approximately $92 million

  • ShotSpotter to detect gun firing in Huntington Station

    To combat rising gun violence in Huntington Station, Long Island, Suffolk County has decided to deploy the ShotSpotter gunfire detection system; ShotSpotter, an acoustic surveillance system, uses microphones that pick up the sounds of gunfire. Patrol cars with laptop computers can then detect the origin of the shots within ten feet

  • Republican leaders to pursue immigration priorities different than Obama's

    Incoming Republican congressional leaders have plans of their own for border and workplace enforcement; Obama says he still has hope for a path to citizenship for at least some illegal residents; incoming chairmen Peter King (House Homeland Security Committee) and Lamar Smith (House Judiciary Committee) say they have different priorities on immigration than the Obama administration

  • Questions about TSA's approach to security technology

    The massive push to improve airport security in the United States after the attacks of 9/11 led to a gold rush in technology contracts for an industry that mushroomed almost overnight; since it was founded in 2001, the TSA has spent roughly $14 billion in more than 20,900 transactions with dozens of contractors; in addition to beefing up the fleets of X-ray machines and traditional security systems at airports nationwide, about $8 billion also paid for ambitious new technologies; critics question whether TSA was too eager to look for technological solutions to basic security problem, and willing to write checks for unproven products

  • Congress to decide risk-based vs. 100% screening debate on air cargo security

    One of the many aviation security-related issues Congress will have to grapple with is cargo security; TSA argues that risk-based strategies are adequate; Congress, though, is pressing for 100 percent screening of air cargo; the problem with a 100 percent security screening mandate is cost: the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates a $250 million cost in the first year and $650 million per year for the following five years to implement the mandate for 100 percent baggage screening on passenger aircraft; the Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates that the mandate could cost more than $700 million just in the first year and perhaps as high as several billion dollars annually

  • China's dominance in rare Earth elements to weaken

    China currently has a lock on the rare Earth elements market: in 2009 it provided 95 percent of the world’s supply, or 120,000 tons; other countries used to produce rare Earth elements, but environmental and economic considerations led to the near death of the industry outside of China; the growing unease with China’s dominance — and its willingness to exploit this dominance for political gain — have led to a renewed interest in reopening abandoned mines; U.S. company Molycorp has just secured the permits and funding to restart production at a mine in Mountain Pass, California, which would become the first U.S. source of rare Earth elements in more than a decade; full operations will start by the end of next year; by 2012, the revamped U.S. mine is expected to produce around 20,000 tons of rare Earth materials per year

  • Hoyos Corporation (formerly Global Rainmakers): Identifying 50 people per minute

    The company says its HBOX device can scan fifty people a minute; it is used by the Philadelphia Port Authority as well as Bank of America at lobby entry points; the company made headlines recently with an ambitious city-wide deployment in Leon, Mexico

  • Adding biometrics to E-Verify would reduce illegal immigration

    A new white paper argues that adding biometric technology to E-Verify would bolster DHS’s legal employment verification system; the paper author, former senior FBI official, says that better verification of employment credentials would significantly reduce the flow of illegal immigrants because it will make that much harder for illegals to find a job

  • Study projects continued fingerprint domination of biometric market

    New report from RNCOS projects that automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) will hold a 35 percent share of the global biometric market, the largest share for any biometrics, by the end of 2010

  • IrisID: technology for when identity authentication is required

    IrisID technology is used around the world in all applications that require identity authentication from basic access control — getting in and out of a facility or building — to binding the identity of an individual to a document or token; the company’s technology has been chosen as the recognition platform for India’s Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) program; the effort aims to identify 1.2 billion people and improve delivery of benefits to under-served individuals