• The gathering stormU.S. intel chiefs warn Washington risks losing friends, influence

    By Jeff Seldin

    U.S. intelligence chiefs are sounding alarms about an ever more perilous future for the United States, one in which the country is in danger of seeing its influence wane, its allies waiver, and key adversaries team up to erode norms that once kept the country safe and the world more stable. “It is increasingly a challenge to prioritize which threats are of greatest importance,” Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, said, sharing testimony that often and repeatedly contradicted past assertions by President Donald Trump. “During my tenure as DNI now two years and I have told our workforce over and over that our mission was to seek the truth and speak the truth,” Coats pointedly stated. Driving many of the concerns, according to intelligence officials, is a growing alliance between Russia and China competing against the U.S. not just for military and technological superiority, but for global influence.

  • DronesDrones to make traffic crash site assessments safer, faster, more accurate

    In 2016, there were more than 7 million police-reported traffic crashes in which 37,461 people were killed and an estimated 3,144,000 were injured. Idling in a long highway line of slowed or stopped traffic on a busy highway can be more than an inconvenience for drivers and highway safety officers. It is one of the most vulnerable times for “secondary accidents,” which often can be worse than an original source of the slowdown.

  • Airport securityDrone jamming system to protect European airports, public spaces

    Airports could be equipped with technology capable of detecting and bringing down drones that stray into their air space, according to Dan Hermansen, chief technology officer of Danish anti-drone firm MyDefence. The company has developed a drone alarm and protection system that is being installed at a number of prominent sites around Europe, including an airport. It has the potential to prevent the kind of costly disruption that hit London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports recently.

  • Just the facts: FISA verificationA note on FISA “verification”

    By Julian Sanchez

    Last week, former FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees in closed session. When, at Comey’s request, a transcript was released shortly thereafter, mainstream news outlets mostly yawned, but numerous pro-Trump outlets had a different reaction, seizing on Comey’s acknowledgement that the now-notorious “Steele Dossier” was still in the process of being vetted when Comey left in the Bureau. Julian Sanchez writes in Just Security that this provided those who want to protect Trump from the Muller investigation an opportunity to revive a complaint about purported improprieties in the application for a FISA order to intercept the communications of erstwhile Trump campaign advisor Carter Page: The information provided in FISA applications must be “verified” before it is submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and here we have (the objection runs) an apparent admission that the information was not verified! But if the objection to using the material in the Steel Dossier is procedural—an argument that the FBI violated its own requirements—then the complaint is simply wrong, and based on a basic confusion about what FISA “verification” means.

  • Search & rescueFoldable drone flies through narrow passages in rescue missions

    Researchers have developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

  • Terrorism“Big picture” platforms boost fight against online terror activity

    The fight against terrorism-related content and illegal financing online is speeding up thanks to new platforms that join up different internet-scouring technologies to create a comprehensive picture of terrorist activity. The idea is that when an online tool discovers a fragment of information it can be added to a constellation of millions of others - revealing links that might otherwise have gone undetected or taken much longer to uncover.

  • SurveillanceTSA’s roadmap for airport surveillance moves in a dangerous direction

    By India McKinney

    The Transportation Security Administration has set out an alarming vision of pervasive biometric surveillance at airports, which cuts against the right to privacy, the “right to travel,” and the right to anonymous association with others.

  • EncryptionNew Australian law would compel tech firms to hand over encrypted data

    Australia’s parliament earlier today (Thursday) passed a controversial measure which will force tech firms to give police access to the encrypted communications of suspected terrorists and criminals. The law, fiercely opposed by big tech firms, has engendered heated debate over national security and privacy at a time law enforcement agencies are struggling with how to access encrypted information to monitor illegal activities. The passage of the law may have global implications for encrypted communications. Critics say the law may unleash unintended consequences.

  • DronesBetter drone detection through machine learning, cameras

    Visual detection of drones has never been considered as effective as its thermal, radio or acoustic counterparts. The trouble is always discriminating between different moving objects in view. Typically, a bird or even a plastic bag caught in the wind might be mistaken for a drone, which is why most discrimination methods have primarily focused on heat and acoustic signatures in the past (though acoustic signatures also tend to become less useful in urban areas with higher levels of background noise). Combined with machine learning, however, a camera can tell a different story.

  • Search & rescueFleets of drones could aid searches for lost hikers

    By Rob Matheson

    Finding lost hikers in forests can be a difficult and lengthy process, as helicopters and drones can’t get a glimpse through the thick tree canopy. Recently, it’s been proposed that autonomous drones, which can bob and weave through trees, could aid these searches. But the GPS signals used to guide the aircraft can be unreliable or nonexistent in forest environments. New system allows drones to cooperatively explore terrain under thick forest canopies where GPS signals are unreliable.

  • 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.

  • Intelligence & societyAn assault on American intelligence

    By Una Hajdari

    “The veneer of civilization is something that is quite thin,” retired four-star general Michael Hayden said at an MIT presentation. “It has to be protected and nurtured.” The United States was formed on the basis of the ideas of the Enlightenment, he said, with adaptations and improvements being made as societies and “civilization” developed. Since then, those who rejected these ideas represented the negative phenomena in society and were often overpowered by the progressive or forward-thinking mainstream. Now, those who represent the negative segments of society are threatening to become mainstream.

  • 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.

  • SurveillanceU.K. surveillance regime violated human rights

    By David Ruiz

    On September 13, after a five-year legal battle, the European Court of Human Rights said that the U.K. government’s surveillance regime—which includes the country’s mass surveillance programs, methods, laws, and judges—violated the human rights to privacy and to freedom of expression. The court’s opinion is the culmination of lawsuits filed by multiple privacy rights organizations, journalists, and activists who argued that the U.K.’s surveillance programs violated the privacy of millions.