• DronesDrones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines

    It is estimated that there are at least 100 million military munitions and explosives of concern devices in the world, of various size, shape and composition. Millions of these are surface plastic landmines with low-pressure triggers, such as the mass-produced Soviet PFM-1 “butterfly” landmine. Drones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines in remote regions of post-conflict countries.

  • DronesLos Alamos lab designated “No Drone Zone,” deploys counter-drone systems

    Loa Alamos National Laboratory, in collaboration with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has deployed a system to counter all unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) over its restricted airspace and an additional FAA designated “No Drone Zone.” The Counter-UAS program at Los Alamos will be the blueprint for future programs at three other NNSA sites. Systems are planned for the Pantex Plant in Texas, the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, and the National Nuclear Security Site in Nevada.

  • DronesDoes the government really need this much power to deal with an attack of the drones?

    By India McKinney and Andrew Crocker

    Last week, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (S. 2836), which would give DOJ and DHS sweeping new authority to counter malicious drones. Among other things, the bill would authorize DOJ and DHS to “track,” “disrupt,” “control,” “seize or otherwise confiscate,” or even “destroy” unmanned aircraft that pose a “threat” to certain facilities or areas in the U.S. Given the breadth of these proposed new powers, you would expect officials to have a strong case for passing the bill. But even after the hearing, it’s not clear why DHS and DOJ need any expanded authority to go after “malicious” drones.

  • SurveillanceHART: Homeland Security’s massive new database will include face recognition, DNA, and peoples’ “non-obvious relationships”

    By Jennifer Lynch

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people. It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments. And yet, we still know very little about it.

  • CrimeRisk assessment tools may increase number of incarcerations

    The use of risk assessment tools has increased considerably within criminal justice institutions in recent decades, and these tools have been viewed by many as a way to stop or even reverse the U.S. heavy reliance on imprisonment. But new research suggests these tools may actually contribute to expanding the number of people caught up in the criminal justice system. In 1972, there were approximately 375,000 people incarcerated in the U.S. By 2007, the number had climbed to 2.1 million people. In 1972 the incarceration rate was 161 incarcerated people per 100,000 residents, compared with 767 per 100,000 in 2007.

  • Considered opinion: Data & national securityCorporate data collection and U.S. national security: Expanding the conversation in an era of nation state cyber aggression

    By Carrie Cordero

    What has the Russia investigation revealed about risks inherent in mass private data collection? Carrie Cordero writes that one thing we learned from the Russia investigation is that we may be framing the conversation about corporate data collection too narrowly. “Based on what we have learned publicly so far about the Russian election interference, it is worth pausing to reflect on the national security implications of corporate data collection and aggregation as it relates to the collection of individual, private citizens’ data,” she says. “Although the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and special counsel investigations are not yet complete, we know enough already about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to understand that data collected from private companies and organizations can be accessed, exposed and potentially misused in a way that is harmful to the country’s institutional stability. At the very least, its misuse sows distrust and confusion. At worst, it shreds the institutional and societal fabric that holds the country together.”

  • SurveillanceCivil liberties organizations urge transparency on NSA domestic phone record surveillance

    Last week, twenty-four civil liberties organizations sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, urging him to report—as required by law—statistics that could help clear up just how many individuals are subject to broad NSA surveillance of domestic telephone records. According to the most recent transparency report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the NSA collected more than 530 million call records in 2017, an increase of more than 300 percent from the year prior.

  • 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?

  • BackdoorsFBI: The number of unhackable devices lower than that reported to Congress

    The FBI has been telling lawmakers that it was facing a serious problem in accessing the encrypted devices seized from criminals and terrorists. For months, the Bureau has claimed that encryption prevented the bureau from legally searching the contents of nearly 7,800 devices in 2017, but on Monday the Washington Post reported that the actual number is far lower due to “programming errors” by the FBI.

  • ForensicsUsing proteins from bones to identify people

    When a team of researchers led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) developed a new biological identification method that exploits information encoded in proteins, they thought it could have multiple applications. Nearly two years later, they’ve turned out to be right. One possible important application for using protein markers from human bones could be to help determine the identity of partial remains from catastrophic events, such as plane crashes, fires or the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • K-9sImproving K-9 training

    Additive manufacturing (AM) has gone to the dogs, thanks to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL’s) new approach to K-9 training materials. The process prints 3D objects that contain trace amounts of nonreactive explosives, resulting in several advantages for K-9s and their handlers.

  • 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.

  • CrimeSpike in London murders can’t be reversed by New York-style police crackdown alone

    By James Treadwell

    A spike in murders in London that saw more people killed in the city in February and March than in New York, has provided newspapers with some sensational headlines. Of the more than 50 murders to have taken place in London so far in 2018, the vast majority are the result of knife crime. While comparisons between murders in New York and London make for a good story, simplistic headlines based on one-dimensional readings of statistics can be seriously misleading.