• Security screeningFaster, Smarter Security Screening Systems

    By now, attendees to sporting events, visitors to office buildings, and especially frequent fliers are all quite familiar with the technologies used at security checkpoints. You arrive at the security checkpoint, check your bags, show your ID and maybe your ticket or boarding pass, throw away the coffee or water you’ve been chugging, and then wait in a long line until it is your turn to be screened. The security lines can be inconvenient. S&T and partners are working to help security screening systems, whether at airports, government facilities, border checkpoints, or public spaces like arenas, to work faster and smarter.

  • Perspective: Emerging technologiesWe Need to Ban More Emerging Technologies

    With more and more innovation, there is less and less time to reflect on the consequences. To tame this onrushing tide, society needs dams and dikes. Just as has begun to happen with facial recognition, it’s time to consider legal bans and moratoriums on other emerging technologies. These need not be permanent or absolute, but innovation is not an unmitigated good. The more powerful a technology is, the more care it requires to safely operate.

  • SurveillanceFacial Recognition: Ten Reasons You Should Be Worried About the Technology

    By Birgit Schippers

    Facial recognition technology is spreading fast. Already widespread in China, software that identifies people by comparing images of their faces against a database of records is now being adopted across much of the rest of the world. It’s common among police forces but has also been used at airports, railway stations and shopping centers. The rapid growth of this technology has triggered a much-needed debate. Activists, politicians, academics and even police forces are expressing serious concerns over the impact facial recognition could have on a political culture based on rights and democracy.

  • Perspective: China syndromeData Leviathan: China’s Burgeoning Surveillance State

    Classical totalitarianism, in which the state controls all institutions and most aspects of public life, largely died with the Soviet Union, apart from a few holdouts such as North Korea. The Chinese Communist Party retained a state monopoly in the political realm but allowed a significant private economy to flourish. Yet today, in Xinjiang, a region in China’s northwest, a new totalitarianism is emerging—one built not on state ownership of enterprises or property but on the state’s intrusive collection and analysis of information about the people there. Xinjiang shows us what a surveillance state looks like under a government that brooks no dissent and seeks to preclude the ability to fight back. And it demonstrates the power of personal information as a tool of social control.

  • Perspective: Domestic terrorismHow to Fight the New Domestic Terrorism

    Pittsburgh, Tallahassee, Poway, Jeffersontown and now El Paso—these American communities have been the scene since 2018 of the most lethal mass shootings connected to white supremacist ideology, but there have been many other lesser attacks and foiled plots. In the U.S., such terrorism has now eclipsed international jihadist terrorism in both frequency and severity. Clint Watts writes in the Wall Street Journal that the formula for responding to America’s white supremacist terrorism emergency is quite clear—in part because of the U.S. hard-won experience fighting jihadists from al Qaeda and its spawn, Islamic State. “We must swiftly and carefully apply the best practices of the two decades since Sept. 11, 2001, to counter this decade’s domestic terrorist threat—by passing new laws, increasing resources and enhancing investigative capabilities,” he writes.

  • Perspective: PrivacyShoppers Targeted by Face‑Recognition Cameras in “Epidemic” of Surveillance

    There is an “epidemic” of facial recognition surveillance technology at privately owned sites in Britain, campaigners say. Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties group, found shopping centers, museums, conference centers and casinos had all used the software that compares faces captured by CCTV to those of people on watch lists, such as suspected terrorists or shoplifters. Privacy campaigners have criticized trials of the technology by police in London and Wales, questioning their legal basis.

  • Perspective: PrivacyMilitary-Style Surveillance Technology Is Being Tested in American Cities

    What if you fly a helicopter over the city at 1,000 feet. Now, with your telescopic camera, you can even make out distinctive features of the people in your frame. Surely this isn’t legal, you might say. Surely a bright line exists between snapping a photo with your phone from an airplane window and focusing a telescopic lens a few hundred feet over someone’s backyard. But it doesn’t. This is because airspace over America falls into the same legal category as other public spaces, such as sidewalks, roads, parks, and beaches—and it isn’t illegal to take photographs of private property, or private citizens, from public space. As a result, we have no expectation of privacy from above.

  • ForensicsBullet shape, Velocity Determine Blood Spatter Patterns

    Blood spatters are hydrodynamic signatures of violent crimes, often revealing when an event occurred and where the perpetrator and victim were located at the time of the crime. Gaining a better physical understanding of the fluid dynamical phenomena at play during gunshot spatters could enhance crime scene investigations.

  • PerspectiveCities Ban Government Use of Facial Recognition

    Oakland, Calif., last week became the third city in America to ban the use of facial recognition technology in local government, following prohibitions enacted earlier this year in San Francisco and Somerville, Mass. Berkeley, Calif., is also weighing a ban. The technology is often inaccurate, especially when identifying people who aren’t white men.

  • ForensicsNew Chip Device Identifies Miniscule Blood Residues for Forensic Applications

    Criminologists use luminol to identify microscopic blood drops, as well as low hydrogen peroxide concentrations, proteins and DNA. These are all invisible to the naked eye but become visible through a chemical reaction known as “chemiluminescence.” Detecting biological residues using this method is cost effective and advantageous since the detected signal does not depend on an external light source.

     

  • ForensicsAny single hair from the human body can be used for identification

    Any single hair from anywhere on the human body can be used to identify a person. This conclusion is one of the key findings from a nearly year-long study by a team of researchers. The study could provide an important new avenue of evidence for law enforcement authorities in sexual assault cases.

  • PerspectiveMass surveillance is coming to a city near you

    The tech entrepreneur Ross McNutt wants to spend three years recording outdoor human movements in a major U.S. city, KMOX news radio reports. Conor Friedersdorf writes in The Atlantic that if that sounds too dystopian to be real, you’re behind the times. McNutt, who runs Persistent Surveillance Systems, was inspired by his stint in the Air Force tracking Iraqi insurgents. He tested mass-surveillance technology over Compton, California, in 2012. In 2016, the company flew over Baltimore, feeding information to police for months (without telling city leaders or residents) while demonstrating how the technology works to the FBI and Secret Service.

  • Airport security Shoe scanner may improve airport security

    The types of shoes you wear when flying matter. And not just shoe types. Size, material, soles and heels are also very important. Why? Shoes can become dangerous vehicles for terrorists’ plots. DHS wants to prevent future incidents, and this is why S&T is working on a millimeter wave technology for screening shoes as part of the larger Screening at Speed Program.

  • PerspectiveDystopian Future Watch: Is San Francisco’s facial recognition ban too little, too late?

    Life just keeps creeping along, leading us step-by-step closer to living in a Philip K. Dick dystopian future—in real-time. And often, in our surveillance culture, we are willing participants to work alongside Big Brother. Harmon Leon writes in the Observer that Remember how fun it used to be to see facial recognition and retina scanning in sci-fi movies? We loved it in RoboCop and Blade Runner, right? Now, many of these biometrictechnologies have become a nightmarish reality.

  • biometricsFinding fake fingerprints

    From a security perspective, what’s to stop a third party “lifting” your fingerprint, and creating a facsimile of its loops, whorls and arches with a piece of a skin-like rubbery material and then presenting this to the biometric device to gain access? The simple answer is nothing!