• New age of pervasive surveillance, robot spies to test privacy

    The author of a new study of the evolving surveillance landscape says: “In 50 years’ time there won’t be much privacy left. There’s going to be information everywhere. So what matters is who owns it, and the oversight”; there is an added danger: “Once you go over to data mining you are essentially handing the process over to robots, who roam through this material looking for patterns of suspicious activity”

  • Algorithm could improve hospital records security

    An algorithm secures patients’ records by ensuring that access to information is available to those who need it, but only when necessary; for example, once a patient has been admitted to hospital, the admissions staff do not necessarily need access to the patient’s records anymore; in many hospitals, those staff members nonetheless continue to have access to every record on file; using the algorithm, those staffers would only be able to access the patient’s record during admission processing; after that, they would find your information unavailable

  • NSA: Perfect Citizen program is purely "research and engineering effort"

    Perfect Citizen, a new National Security Agency (NSA) project, would deploy sensors in networks running critical infrastructure such as the electricity grid and nuclear-power plants; the sensors would detect intrusion and other unusual activity indicating a cyberattack on U.S. critical infrastructure; NSA spokeswoman says the program is “purely a vulnerabilities-assessment and capabilities-development contract—- This is a research and engineering effort” and “There is no monitoring activity involved, and no sensors are employed in this endeavor”

  • U.K. will regulate license number plate recognition cameras more tightly

    There are 4,000 automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras in the United Kingdom, logging more than 10 million vehicles every day; since the launch of the ANPR network in 2006, the government has accumulated 7.6 billion images; these images include details of number plates and the date, time, and place of capture — and, often, the picture of the driver and passengers; the Home Secretary has called for tighter regulation of the ANPRs, and also for limiting access to the image database; ministers will consider how long these records can be held (the current limit is two years); seventy-two ANPR cameras in Birmingham will soon be removed after it emerged that their installation, in areas with large Muslim populations, had been funded through a Home Office counter-terrorism fund

  • Street microphones eavesdrop on crimes

    The city of Coventry has installed microphones on street at the city center; the microphones detect suspect sounds, including trigger words spoken at normal volumes as well as angry or panicked exchanges before they become violent; operators can then direct police straight to the scene

  • The consequences of new surveillance technology

    Many wish for better security in public places, and support installation of new video surveillance technologies to achieve this goal; these surveillance technologies, however, have important psychological and legal implications, and four German universities cooperate in studying these implications

  • European bodies give Google mixed signals on data retention

    The European Commission wants Google to erase personally identifiable information from its logs after six months — but members of the European Parliament are calling for laws to require Google to retain more data for longer; these MEPs argue the data will help catch pedophiles

  • Suspicionless customs search constitutional: federal appeals court

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that an April 2008 search of the cabin of a crew member of a cargo ship docked in Miami was constitutional; the search of the ship was looking for prohibited agricultural materials, but the searchers found child pornography in the cabin; the court found that the ship was docked at the equivalent of a border, making the act a border search; the court ruled that an individual has a lesser expectation of privacy at a border and the government has a greater interest in searching thus the balance tips more favorably to the government

  • Personal cell phone data of millions of Mexicans for sale at Mexico flea market

    The Mexican government decreed that all Mexicans must register their cell phones; Mexicans, familiar with the thorough corruption and ineffectiveness of the Mexican state, were worried that the personal information would be stolen or misused; they were right: weeks after millions of Mexicans registered their phones, their personal data became available for sale for a few thousand dollars at Mexico City’s wild Tepito flea market; the treasure trove of data also included lists of police officers with their photographs; in a country seized by the fear of kidnapping and held hostage by violent crime bosses, having this personal information on open display seemed tantamount to a death sentence, or, at the minimum, a magnet for trouble

  • DHS IG identifies weaknesses in airport passenger screening

    DHS IG inspects the operation of advanced passenger scanning technologies in sixteen unnamed U.S. airport, and reports: “We identified vulnerabilities in the screening process at the passenger screening checkpoint at the eight domestic airports we conducted testing”

  • Australia's Biometrics Institute launches privacy awareness checklist

    Australia’s Biometric Institute will release its Biometrics Institute Privacy Awareness Checklist (PAC) to its member organizations to promote good privacy practices; the Biometrics Institute Privacy Code already is at a higher level than the Australian Privacy Act 1988

  • The Philadelphia Story, cont.

    Hidden Webcam attached to laptops given to Lower Merion School District high school students as loaners caught pictures of these students sleeping, half naked, and in other intimate moments; viewing the images was like watching “a little LMSD soap opera,” one of the school district employees who administered the laptops said, referring to the initials of the school district; “I know, I love it!” technology coordinator Carol Cafiero replied

  • Son files harassment charges against mother for Facebook posts

    A 16-year old sues his mother for tampering with his Facebook account; he filed charges against her last month and requested a no contact order after he claims she posted slanderous entries about him on the social networking site; he alleges she hacked his account, changed his password, and posted things that involve slander about his personal life

  • Former FBI, Secret Service agents protect Tiger Woods at Augusta National

    Tiger Woods has hired 90 former FBI and Secret Service agents to protect him from his former sex partners as prepares for his first tournament since his sex scandal broke; photos of the women were distributed to the bodyguards to ensure they are on the lookout; “None of these girls are allowed anywhere near him,” one bodyguard said

  • Coalition of tech heavy-weights wants U.S. privacy law revamped for Internet age

    A coalition of technology giants wants the U.S. government to revamp Internet privacy laws and make more suitable for the new age in communication; the traditional standard for the government to search one’s home or office and read one’s mail or seize one’s personal papers is a judicial warrant, the coalition says that the law needs to be clear that the same standard applies to e-mail and documents stored with a service provider; the need to update Internet privacy strictures is especially urgent now because of three trends: the popularity of smart phones with global satellite positioning features has led to a hot trend of companies offering services that play off of where people are at any given moment; and the recent economic meltdown added momentum to a shift toward people using software programs hosted as services in the Internet “cloud” instead of buying and installing applications on machines; people are also increasingly storing personal information, pictures, and videos at online social- networking or data storage Web sites