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Author Topic: Increase in Knowledge/New Technologies  (Read 19261 times)
Rhys
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« Reply #30 on: July 25, 2009, 02:13:01 PM »

Hello Brother Rhys,

I would agree that something like this might not reduce crime, but I do know that things like this make it easier to catch criminals. The same would be true for putting a stolen license plate on your car because police can easily and quickly find out that it doesn't belong on that car. Stolen license plates are also put into national law enforcement databases that can return results now in seconds. This would just be another good tool for law enforcement to use. One could have like discussions about false and/or stolen identifications. As a matter of fact, the same is true for all information placed in law enforcement databases for quick retrieval (i.e. stolen property, fingerprints, methods of operation for specific criminals, behavioral profiles for the worst criminals, etc., etc.). Citizens can do many common sense things to reduce their risks of becoming a victim (i.e. locks, lighting, alarms, etc.). These things do reduce crime, but the biggest challenge is catching the criminal and putting them out of business behind bars. As another example, a neighborhood forming a Neighborhood Watch and putting up signs usually does result in a significant reduction of crime in that neighborhood. Many cost effective measures either serve as a deterrent or aid ON THE CATCHING END! Remember the old saying:  criminals will usually pick the softest target - one with the best chance of getting away. So, I would say that these cameras will have a positive effect for an extremely low cost. The camera is a smart investment for the same reasons why a computer in each patrol car is a good investment.

I agree it might put the amateurs out of business, but it would have little effect on the professionals.
Stolen license plates may be put in a database, but only after they are reported stolen. The smart crook would steal them just before he committed the crime.

The real problem is not catching criminals, but the other uses that these cameras can be put to in the hands of the unethical, or by a corrupt and oppressive government.
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« Reply #31 on: August 01, 2009, 12:30:28 PM »

Big Brother is watching you with RFID microchips     

straight.com

Imagine you’re at the grocery store and you take some tortellini from the cooler. Embedded in the packaging is a microchip that emits radio waves. The next thing you know, an ad for a high-end pasta sauce is flashing on a screen mounted on your shopping cart.

Then imagine that by scanning your house for the tiny chips implanted in every manufactured item you own, a thief generates an inventory of your clothing, DVDs, and pricey electronics, and decides to rob your house.

Finally, imagine you walk into an airport and a security officer is immediately able to find out your identity, banking information, and travel history by reading data stored in a chip in your passport—or even implanted under your skin.

Although these scenarios may sound like science fiction, the technology—known as radio-frequency identification, or RFID—is already being used to track goods such as Gillette razor blades and Gap clothing in stores. The patent for a chip that could be used in passports to monitor people in airports belongs to IBM, and a company called VeriChip is marketing a chip that is implanted under the skin in order for people to keep tabs on children, the elderly, and prisoners.

Consumer-privacy advocate Katherine Albrecht, who has briefed Canada’s federal privacy commissioner on the technology, advises Canadians to resist RFID.

“There are certainly things you can do with RFID that might be cool, but the costs of introducing this technology into our society so vastly outweigh the benefits, the technology shouldn’t be deployed at all,” Albrecht told the Georgia Straight.

Since May, enhanced driver’s licences containing RFID chips have been available to British Columbians for an extra fee of $35. The licences broadcast data that can be read by U.S. border officials up to 50 metres away, and allow the cardholder to enter the U.S. without a passport.

In the 2005 book Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move, Albrecht and coauthor Liz McIntyre argue that the use of RFID in identification cards sets up governments to misuse private information.

“If you went to a political event, such as a peace march, political rally, or gun show,” Albrecht explained from her New York office, “with RFID, all the law-enforcement agents would have to do is mill around the crowd with an RFID reader in their backpack and they would be able to pick up all of the ID cards of everybody within a 30-foot radius of where they stood.”

While RFID chips aren’t new—the technology has been in development for some 50 years—companies have only recently embraced their consumer applications. The chips are so small—smaller than a grain of rice—that they are virtually invisible when contained in a product, and are superior to bar codes because they contain data specific to each individual item and can be read through packaging up to 10 metres away. At a cost of about five cents each, RFID chips are an inexpensive way to track inventory as it’s shipped, distributed, and sold.

Having researched hundreds of RFID patents for her book, Albrecht said that companies also plan to track products after they are sold to learn about “how consumers interact with products” for marketing purposes.

“The end point is that every physical object manufactured on planet Earth would have an RFID tag instead of a bar code,” she said. “There would be reader devices to pick up signals everywhere you go, including in our refrigerators to keep track of what we’re eating.”

What is most alarming to NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis, is that consumers aren’t aware that RFID tags are already widespread.

“First and foremost, it [RFID] is being embedded in consumerism without our knowledge or approval,” Karagianis said in a phone interview.

The representative for Esquimalt–Royal Roads is concerned that Canada’s privacy laws aren’t sufficiently robust to deal with the unique challenges of RFID. “We have no regulation around the use or prohibition or restriction on RFID,” she said. “I’m worried that, without adequate discussions of RFID use and application and what the ramifications could be in the future at a legislative level, the discussion will be led by consumer advocates or corporate retail interests.”

Although B.C. information and privacy commissioner David Loukidelis wonders why the U.S. government is pushing for the adoption of a relatively insecure technology for use in border identification documents, he questions the gravity of related privacy concerns. In a phone conversation with the Straight, he pointed out that along with the licences, the B.C. government is issuing a sleeve that blocks the RFID signal when it is not being used.

Loukidelis asserted that global-positioning-system tracking in cellphones is a much more significant privacy issue. “Nevertheless, the principle of being able to track people as they move about is what is of concern, regardless of the particular technology,” he said.

RFID is just one of a growing number of technologies—including Internet marketing, GPS devices, and store-loyalty cards—that threaten our privacy and are not fully understood by consumers, according to Richard Rosenberg, a UBC professor emeritus of computer science who sits on the board of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

“All of this taken together leads to a substantial decrease in privacy and a lessening of the importance of privacy in a democratic society,” Rosenberg told the Straight.
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« Reply #32 on: August 01, 2009, 12:31:34 PM »


Terrorists could use internet to launch nuclear attack: report       

guardian.co.uk

Terrorists groups could soon use the internet to help set off a devastating nuclear attack, according to new research.

The claims come in a study commissioned by the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), which suggests that under the right circumstances, terrorists could break into computer systems and launch an attack on a nuclear state – triggering a catastrophic chain of events that would have a global impact.

Without better protection of computer and information systems, the paper suggests, governments around the world are leaving open the possibility that a well-coordinated cyberwar could quickly elevate to nuclear levels.

In fact, says the study, "this may be an easier alternative for terrorist groups than building or acquiring a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb themselves".

Though the paper admits that the media and entertainment industries often confuse and exaggerate the risk of cyberterrorism, it also outlines a number of potential threats and situations in which dedicated hackers could use information warfare techniques to make a nuclear attack more likely.

While the possibility of a radical group gaining access to actual launch systems is remote, the study suggests that hackers could focus on feeding in false information further down the chain – or spreading fake information to officials in a carefully orchestrated strike.

"Despite claims that nuclear launch orders can only come from the highest authorities, numerous examples point towards an ability to sidestep the chain of command and insert orders at lower levels," said Jason Fritz, the author of the paper. "Cyber-terrorists could also provoke a nuclear launch by spoofing early warning and identification systems or by degrading communications networks."

Since these systems are not as well-protected as those used to launch an attack, they may prove more vulnerable to attackers who wish to tempt another nation into a nuclear response.

Governments around the world have recently stepped up their commitment to increasing cyber-defence, after a number of high-profile incidents in which hackers launched attacks on foreign nations. Recent online conflicts, as well as reported attacks on government computer systems in the US, UK and elsewhere have increased the stakes.

In Britain, Gordon Brown recently announced plans to step up online intelligence operations – while in the US, President Obama has said he intends to appoint a cyber-security tsar to ensure that protecting America's computer systems "will be a national security priority".

"Cyberspace is real, and so is the risk that comes with it," he said in May, adding that online attacks are "one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face".

However, the study suggests that although governments are increasingly aware of the threat of cyberwar with other nations, action to bolster those defences does not alleviate the threat of a rogue group that circumvented the expected strategies for online warfare.


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« Reply #33 on: August 07, 2009, 01:23:18 PM »

Brave New World - UK Government To Install Surveillance Cameras In Private Homes   

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The UK government is about to spend $700 million dollars installing surveillance cameras inside the private homes of citizens to ensure that children go to bed on time, attend school and eat proper meals.

No you aren’t reading a passage from George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, this is Britain in 2009, a country which already has more surveillance cameras watching its population than the whole of Europe put together.

Now the government is embarking on a scheme called “Family Intervention Projects” which will literally create a nanny state on steroids, with social services goons and private security guards given the authority to make regular “home checks” to ensure parents are raising their children correctly.

Telescreens will also be installed so government spies can keep an eye on whether parents are mistreating kids and whether the kids are fulfilling their obligations under a pre-signed contract.

Around 2,000 families have been targeted by this program so far and the government wants to snare 20,000 more within the next two years. The tab will be picked up by the taxpayer, with the “interventions” being funded through local council authorities.

Another key aspect of the program will see parents deemed “responsible” by the government handed the power to denounce and report bad parents who allow their children to engage in bad behavior. Such families will then be targeted for “interventions”.

Both parents and children will also be forced to sign a “behavior contract” with the government known as Home School Agreements before the start of every year, in which the state will dictate obligations that it expects to be met.

The opposition Conservative Party, who are clear favorites to win the next British election, commented that the program does not go far enough and is “too little, too late.”

Respondents to a Daily Express article about the new program expressed their shock at the totalitarian implications of what is unfolding in the United Kingdom under the guise of social services initiatives.

"Why are people not up in arms about this?,” writes one, “This is a complete invasion of privacy, and it totally ignores the fact that the state does NOT own kids. It’s not up to them how parents choose to raise their children, as long as the parents do not actively harm them. Why on earth aren’t the public rioting? It’s completely anathema to basic British freedoms.”

“Excuse me!?! What an incredible intrusion into the privacy of a family! George Orwell must be spinning in his grave right now,” writes another.

“I have one comment to make: it completely violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Human Rights Act 1998). Has this minister and his lackies even done any basic homework on basic human rights and civil liberties? Or rather they’ve just decided to completely ignore them,” adds another.

The move to install surveillance cameras inside private homes is also on the agenda across the pond. In February 2006, Houston Chief of Police Harold Hurtt said cameras should be placed inside apartments and homes in order to “fight crime” due to there being a shortage of police officers.

“I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?” Chief Hurtt told reporters.

Andy Teas with the Houston Apartment Association supported the proposal, saying privacy concerns would take a back seat to many people who would, “appreciate the thought of extra eyes looking out for them.”

If such programs come to fruition and are implemented on a mass scale then the full scope of George Orwell’s depiction of a totalitarian society is his classic novel 1984 will have been realized.

The following passage is from Orwell’s 1984;

The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.
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« Reply #34 on: August 07, 2009, 01:24:05 PM »

ISP's Fight Back Against Big Brother Spy System That Would Monitor All Internet Traffic And Emails

prisonplanet

A group of over 300 internet service providers and telecommunications firms is fighting back against the British government’s plans to monitor all emails, phone calls and internet activity nationwide.

The London Internet Exchange (LINX), which represents some 330 companies, including BT, Virgin and Carphone Warehouse, says that the government is misleading the public about the extent to which it plans to monitor their communications and internet activity.

LINX has described the Government’s surveillance proposals as an “unwarranted” invasion of people’s privacy.

A statement from the group to the Home Office reads:

“We view the description of the Government’s proposals as maintaining the capability as disingenuous – the volume of data the Government now proposes we should collect and retain will be unprecedented.”

“This is a purely political description that serves only to win consent by hiding the extent of the proposed extension of powers for the state.”

The group also stated that the volume of data the government wishes it to retain cannot be held by any known technology at this time.

Last year the government announced its intention to create a massive central database, gathering details on every text sent, e-mail sent, phone call made and website visited by everyone in the UK.

The programme, known as the “Interception Modernisation Programme”, would allow spy chiefs at GCHQ, the government’s secret eavesdropping agency, the centre for Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) activities, to effectively place a “live tap” on every electronic communication in Britain in the name of preventing terrorism.

Following outcry over the announcement, the government suggested last April that it was scaling down the plans, with then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith stating that there were “absolutely no plans for a single central store” of communications data.

However, as the “climbdown” was celebrated by civil liberties advocates and the plan was “replaced” by new laws requiring ISPs to store details of emails and internet telephony for just 12 months, fresh details emerged indicating the government was implementing a big brother spy system that far outstrips the original public announcement.

The London Times published leaked details of a secret mass internet surveillance project known as “Mastering the Internet” (MTI).

Costing hundreds of millions in public funds, the system is already being implemented by GCHQ with the aid of American defence giant Lockheed Martin and British IT firm Detica, which has close ties to the intelligence agencies.

Currently, any interception of a communication in Britain must be authorised by a warrant signed by the home secretary or a minister of equivalent rank. Only individuals who are the subject of police or security service investigations may be subject to surveillance.

If the GCHQ’s MTI project is completed, black-box probes would be placed at critical traffic junctions with internet service providers and telephone companies, allowing eavesdroppers to instantly monitor the communications of every person in the country without the need for a warrant.

Even if you believe GCHQ’s denial that it has any plans to create a huge monitoring system, the current law under the RIPA (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) allows hundreds of government agencies access to the records of every internet provider in the country.

In publicly announced proposals to extend these powers, firms will be asked to collect and store even more vast amounts of data, including from social networking sites such as Facebook.

If the plans go ahead, every internet user will be given a unique ID code and all their data will be stored in one place. Government agencies such as the police and security services will have access to the data should they request it with respect to criminal or terrorist investigations.

This is clearly the next step in an incremental program to implement an already exposed full scale big brother spy system designed to completely obliterate privacy, a fundamental right under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
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« Reply #35 on: August 07, 2009, 01:24:58 PM »

Barcode replacement could introduce new way of tagging items

news.bbc.co.uk

A replacement for the black and white stripes of the traditional barcode has been outlined by US researchers.

Bokodes, as they are known, can hold thousands of times more information than their striped cousins and can be read by a standard mobile phone camera.

The 3mm-diameter (0.1 inches), powered tags could be used to encode nutrition information on food packaging or create new devices for playing video games.

The work will be shown off at Siggraph, a conference in New Orleans next week.

"We think that our technology will create a new way of tagging," Dr Ankit Mohan, one of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers behind the work, told BBC News.

The Bokodes currently consist of an LED, covered with a tiny mask and a lens.

Information is encoded in the light shining through the mask, which varies in brightness depending on which angle it is seen from.

"It is either bright or dark depending on how we want to encode the information," said Dr Mohan, who works for the MIT Media Lab Camera Culture group.

The researchers believe the system has many advantages over conventional barcodes.

For example, they say, the tags are smaller, can be read from different angles and can be interrogated from far away by a standard mobile phone camera.

"For traditional barcodes you need to be a foot away from it at most," said Dr Mohan.

The team has shown its barcodes can be read from a distance of up to 4m (12ft), although they should theoretically work up to 20m (60ft).

"One way of thinking about it is a long-distance barcode."

Initially, said Dr Mohan, the Bokodes may be used in factories or industrial settings to keep track of objects.


However, the team also thinks they could be used in consumer applications, such as supermarkets, where products could be interrogated with a shopper's mobile phone.

For example, they could be used to encode nutritional information or pricing offers.

"One to the side may say 'hey, look at me, I'm a dollar cheaper'," said Dr Mohan.

Taking a picture would also allow people to compare lots of different products quickly.

A similar system could be used in a library, said Dr Mohan.

"Let's say you're standing in a library with 20 shelves in front of you and thousands of books."

"You could take a picture and you'd immediately know where the book you're looking for is."

And the team also believes the tags could find their way into places not normally associated with traditional barcodes.

For example, the system's ability to read angular information could allow its use in motion-capture systems used to create videogames or films.

Dr Mohan said they could also be used to augment the information incorporated into Google Streetview, a service which allows users to browse a selection of pictures taken along city streets.

At the moment, the images for Streetview - accessible through Google Maps - are collected by trucks and cars fitted with several cameras.

"Shop and restaurant owners can put these Bokodes outside their stores and as the Google truck is driving down the street it will capture the information in that."

For example, a restaurant could put menu information inside the tag.

When the data is uploaded to Google Maps, it would automatically be displayed next to the image of the restaurant, said Dr Mohan.

Currently, the tags are expensive to produce - around $5 (£3) each. This is, in part, because the early prototypes require a lens and a powered LED.

However, the researchers believe the technology could be refined so that tags were reflective and require no power.

"We already have prototypes which are completely passive," said Dr Mohan.

In this form, they could cost around 5 cents each, he added.

It is not the first time that companies or researchers have suggested replacements for, or enhancements to, barcodes.

For example, in 2007 Microsoft launched its High Capacity Colour Barcode, a series of coloured geometric patterns.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology - essentially tiny electronic tags that broadcast encoded information - were also touted as a barcode replacement.

Although they are now used in many applications, such as library books, passports and travel passes, RFIDs have yet to displace the familiar black and white stripes of the barcode.
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« Reply #36 on: August 07, 2009, 01:25:42 PM »


Cyborg suit multiplies human strength

examiner.com

The latest robot science ingenuity from Japan is a cyborg suit designed to help weak people move like they are strong.

The Six-Million-Dollar Man-On-The-Outside suit is called HAL for "Hybrid Assistive Limb" and it's the product of Cyberdyne Corp.

The company created the cyborg suit to "upgrade the existing physical capabilities of the human body," and give those with weak limbs or limited physical range the walking and motion abilities of an able-bodied person.

HAL suit modeled with specs diagramed.Strap on HAL's robotic limbs and computerized battery backpack and as you move, movement-triggered nerve cells on your skin signal HAL to give you a boost, multiplying your original strength by a factor of two to 10, depending upon the suit.

For a rental fee of about $2,300 a month, you can look like a Star Wars storm trooper who forgot some of his armor and feel like you've bulked up.

The robo-suit is for people with physical disabilities, such as stroke-induced paralysis or spinal cord injuries, but Cyberdyne believes the technology can also be used in physical training and rehabilitation, to add extra "muscle" for heavy lifting, and aid in rescue and recovery operations.

HAL won't make you a Terminator, but it will help you power up for tasks that may have been difficult, including standing up from a chair, walking, climbing up and down stairs, and lifting heavy objects.

The battery is good for about two and a half hours between charges and Cyberdyne says the 50 pound full suit (33 pounds for a lower half only model) isn't cumbersome because the robotic exoskeleton supports its own weight.
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« Reply #37 on: September 06, 2009, 12:42:31 PM »

The all-seeing surveillance eye    
theage.com.au/

The all-seeing eye was once seen as a divine force, surrounded by dazzling rays of light from on high. Its eyelid heavy but gaze unwavering, the eye was the protective stare of a supreme being watching over us from above.

Now, though, it simply watches, often from the shadows. Peering down from security cameras as we walk the city streets, buy bread at the corner store, fill the car with petrol, or catch a taxi or tram. Tracking us through our mobile phone or when driving through a tollway to Melbourne Airport, which last year trialled "virtual strip search" security scanners. Someone's watching while we're surfing online, sending an email, or updating our Facebook profile to paranoid. Melbourne once held pretensions of being the city that never sleeps. Now, at least, it is the city that never shuts its eyes.

A locked, windowless room within the Town Hall has become the city's high priestess of surveillance. Endless CCTV footage screens along the wall, fed from cameras looking over Melbourne's streets, laneways and dark corners. The latest tilt-and-zoom cameras rotate 360 degrees, so few crannies escape unseen. They can pick out a face in the crowd from a kilometre away.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle this month announced the city had installed a further 31 "Safe City cameras" in the CBD - bringing the total to 54 - to combat rising street violence. Specially trained security contractors monitor the cameras without respite from the small control room, the exact location of which is secret and off-bounds to media. One sanctioned visitor told The Sunday Age it was like stepping into a reality TV control booth, where you're the producer deciding who should be seen on the big screen.

"There will be groups that say this is Big Brother. I say, 'Bad luck, city safety comes first'," Doyle declared. "The message is now clear to those who wish to commit a crime in our streets: the likelihood is that now you will be seen."

But then, so will everyone else. Former UK information commissioner Richard Thomas, whose term ended in June, once warned Britain was sleepwalking into a "surveillance society". Two years later, in 2006, they woke up "to a surveillance society that is already all around us". The UK is the most-watched patch on Earth, boasting an estimated four million CCTV cameras, and leads the world in building a national DNA database, with more than 7 per cent of the population already logged.

Australia has been more restrained. But the pressure to deploy new and more affordable surveillance technologies is constant. This month, La Trobe University academics proposed installing tracking devices in cars, similar to those used in truck fleets, to charge drivers more for using busier roads during peak hours. In Sydney tomorrow, the city council will debate proposals giving police more access to its CCTV network for general ''intelligence gathering'', and releasing footage to the media to discourage antisocial behaviour.

Access to the City of Melbourne's CCTV system is restricted to police and lawyers for alleged offenders and victims, and unused footage is destroyed after 30 days. An external audit committee monitors compliance of the program with various protocols. But still there are concerns over the all-seeing eye. We can no longer assume activities performed in public places will pass unobserved and unrecorded, the Victorian Law Reform Commission says. Ours is a surveillance society, too.

''It really is no longer possible to be anonymous in most public places. We are very quickly losing the capacity to blend in as part of the crowd,'' says the commission's chairman, Professor Neil Rees. ''Any time you have been into the city of Melbourne your image will have been captured on one of these systems and stored.

''We all have a shared interest in blending in, in having a private conversation in a quiet corner. Now, with all the surveillance equipment out there, that is really not possible to do with confidence.''

The commission will advise the Attorney-General early next year on whether regulation of surveillance technologies is needed to protect people's privacy. Early suggestions include appointing an independent regulator to monitor surveillance of public places.

In a consultation paper released in March, the commission said such surveillance was likely to become more widespread as devices became more affordable and invisible. ''The Surveillance Devices Act in Victoria is 10 years old and the technology has exploded over the last 10 years,'' Rees says. ''It is a profound issue for us as a community. As the equipment gets more and more sophisticated, more and more people will retreat behind high walls. Others are going to have to live with the fact that their every moment is capable of being monitored by somebody.

''We need to strike a balance between getting the best out of technology and not being made to feel we are being intruded on, perhaps overzealously, in public places. That balance is not going to be easy to achieve.''

The commission also highlighted an increase in the use of tracking devices such as GPS, radio frequency identification, automatic number plate recognition, mobile phone surveillance and biometrics. Behavioural modelling by online companies such as Google is another growing concern. The popular online search engine is testing ''interest-based advertising'' in the US that will pitch ads at individual consumers based on ''de-identified'' surveillance of their internet use.

The new technology, which could be in Australia by next year, is part of what The New York Times last month called a sea change in the way consumers encounter the web. People will start seeing customised ads, different versions of websites, even different discounts to other users when shopping, based on what retailers know about their tastes and budget. ''On the old internet, nobody knew you were a dog,'' the article's author wrote. ''On the new targeted internet, they now know what kind of dog you are, your favourite leash colour, the last time you had fleas and the date you were neutered.''

MAGNUM sniffs me as I walk inside Victorian Detective Services, on a violent day in Carnegie. He's a Weimaraner - a gundog - named after the 1980s TV crime series Magnum P.I. Going on 11, his hunting days past, he now acts as a genial mascot of sorts for this party of private investigators.

Over a cup of white tea in his corner office, beneath framed photographs of James Bond and a Scarface montage, general manager Mark Grover talks the surveillance game. ''There is always a reason why someone is under surveillance,'' he says. ''It could be a salesman that is playing the back nine every second day instead of working. It could be an airline pilot who has put in that they are sick or ill but might be flying a cargo plane now in Nigeria, while receiving benefits here. Maybe it's a truck driver knocking off a couple of dozen bottles of red on his delivery … All employers typically are curious about what some of their staff who are no good are up to.''

Grover, a former president of the World Investigators Network, has been in the game for 22 years. Back in the day, his car was his office and a long-lens camera his friend. ''It's tiring, boring, you put on weight after a long time - 14, 15-hour days sitting in the car, standing in the cold. Nobody loves you. No TV. Just watching.''

Technology has since changed the way he watches. He might track targets through their telephone or email, lift revealing photographs from social networking websites or log into CCTV camera footage in Paris or Amsterdam. Surveillance is now in the hands of anyone with a mobile phone camera, he says.

On a table in his office are other tools of his trade: a spy-pen camera small enough to film from your top pocket; a wristwatch camera and a teeny black-box listening device with a SIM card that can be used to eavesdrop on conversations undetected.

''Everything is possible, it's just a matter of asking how it's done,'' he says. ''And staying within the law as well,'' he adds, after a pause.

Surveillance technology has grown so pervasive and inexpensive, anyone might fancy themselves an amateur snoop. Retailers such as OzSpy sell high-resolution spy pens, which record video and audio, from $129, and spy watches with colour video and audio for $199. Spy cameras are hidden inside smoke detectors ($359), desktop clocks ($219), power points ($299) and motorcycle helmets ($189). CCTV cameras sell for as little as $159.

cont....
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« Reply #38 on: September 06, 2009, 12:43:06 PM »

cont....


The extent to which they may be lawfully used in Victoria differs according to the type of device and activity undertaken, the Law Reform Commission says. Under the Surveillance Devices Act it is illegal to use a listening device to monitor a ''private conversation'' anywhere. But there is no prohibition on using optical surveillance devices outdoors or within a shopping centre; audio surveillance in busy outdoor and indoor areas; using tracking devices such as mobile phones or just good old-fashioned surveillance without the latest gadgets. Data surveillance devices, such as spyware, can be used to communicate and publish information, regardless of whether consent is sought.

Helen Versey, Victoria's second Privacy Commissioner, questions whether the law has kept pace with such technologies. ''Anyone's mobile phone is a tracking device, also there's automatic number plate recognition. All sorts of technologies are improving all the time that can be used to track people and their movements,'' she says. ''Of course, they have benefits such as law enforcement. But it's a matter of being aware of them and keeping the balance right. While recognising they have great uses and benefits, they are also potentially very invasive.''

Keeping an eye on the public sector with a small staff of 14, she can't say for sure whether that balance has been struck in Victoria. Who watches the watchers? In addition to surveillance legislation, Commonwealth and Victorian laws regulate the handling of personal information, but Versey says there are ''significant gaps'' in such regulations, which do not apply to private individuals and businesses with an annual turnover of less than $3 million. She supports calls for the appointment of a specific regulator to oversee all forms of surveillance.

Privacy Victoria also points to the inherent risks of data matching, where an individual's various personal records are aggregated and shared between organisations for public interest purposes, such as law enforcement, research or protecting public revenue. In guidelines released last month, the privacy group said safeguards were needed to stop data being disclosed by an organisation without the specific consent of the individual.

Versey also cautions people more generally about disclosing personal information online, ''because of the difficulty of being able to control it once it is out there in the public domain'', with organisations mining the web for information.

Lloyd Borrett, marketing manager at internet security software provider AVG, says companies are already compiling complete profiles of users. Of greater concern, though, are cyber criminals spying on our personal information or stealing our identities. ''All of the stuff that happens online - the viruses, worms, trojans - all of that is happening now, not because hackers are wanting to have fun like it once was, it's serious cyber criminals trying to get bits of your identity,'' he says. ''That can be your name, birth date, trying to get your credit card numbers or bank account details.''

Data mining by larger online retailers or search engines is relatively harmless, he says. ''In theory, they could gather enough information on you to build up almost an online DNA profile of your buying and thinking trends. Online they're building up a dossier about your likes and dislikes, and … I don't think it's too much of an issue unless people are trading in that information.''

But, he adds, privacy is reliant to some extent on the integrity of companies and regulation, ''and recent examples tell us the integrity of companies and regulation is not something we can rely on that readily''.

ROGER Clarke refuses to contact me via my personal email account on a Google server. Gmail, he says, gathers into its archive all its email traffic and retains it indefinitely: ''All the things I do, all the opinions I've got.''

Clarke, chairman of the Australian Privacy Foundation, witheringly describes Google's offering of an ''opt-out'' from services such as interest-based advertising as a ''very American solution''.

''It's not consent. Consent is where the individual makes a positive decision at the beginning to opt in,'' he says. ''I use a number of Google services. I still use them as my primary search engine, I use Google Maps because they're effective. But the vast majority of people simply swan in there and don't realise what they are making available and what they are getting into, and I think that's a serious problem.

''The network of information they have of individuals is vast. For them to say they are obtaining categorised, general information is nonsense; it's sleight of hand.''

The foundation is calling for nominations for its ''Australian Big Brother Awards'' under two categories: ''the Orwells'' (awarded to the worst corporate invaders) and ''the Smiths'' (in honour of writer George Orwell's doomed hero in 1984).

But there are signs Orwell's totalitarian dystopia may yet remain fiction. Switzerland's data protection watchdog last week demanded Google withdraw its ''street view'' facility, for allegedly not respecting conditions set to respect personal privacy - such as not covering or blurring faces or car licence plates.

In the UK, where former home secretary Jacqui Smith was criticised recently for proposing a ''super-database'' tracking everyone's emails, calls, texts and internet use, the Government has had to resile from introducing compulsory national identification cards after a public outcry.

A House of Lords report, in February, called for the deletion of all DNA profiles on the national database except for those of convicted criminals, and the introduction of binding codes of practice for use of CCTV by both the public and private sectors. The report questioned whether local authorities, rather than police, should mount surveillance operations, after evidence some councils used CCTV to detect illegal rubbish dumping and dog fouling.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle's claim that the city's new CCTV regime will help reduce criminal activity is also open to question. Despite an increase in cameras since 1997, both the numbers of incidents recorded and those reported to police have dropped, audit figures show.

Surveillance is a gradual and incessant creep, the House of Lords warns. Unchecked, we march towards a mark where every detail about an individual is recorded and pored over by both the state and private sectors.

By then, though, it will be no use asking who is watching us - because everyone will be.
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« Reply #39 on: September 09, 2009, 12:33:55 PM »

Test brings scifi depictions of laser weapons vaporizing targets into reality    

upi.com

A potential new laser weapon fired from the air to a ground target went through a successful test over White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Boeing said.

A Boeing spokesman told United Press International the first flight of the Advanced Tactical Laser aircraft was designed primarily as a learning test bed and to demonstrate its feasibility.

The test brings closer to reality fictional movie depictions of laser weapons incinerating or vaporizing targets, but no specifications of the target vehicle or the final outcome of the test were immediately available.

Boeing organized the test jointly with the U.S. Air Force on Aug. 30, the company said.

During the test flight of the ATL aircraft, a C-130H, the ground target was attacked from the air over the missile range. It was the first time that an ATL aircraft demonstrated the high-power laser engagement of a tactically representative target, Boeing said.

The C-130H aircraft took off from Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico and fired the chemical laser through its beam control system while in flight.

The beam control system on board homed in on the unoccupied stationary vehicle and guided the laser beam onto it as directed by ATL’s battle management system. “The laser beam’s energy defeated the vehicle,” Boeing said. It offered no description of what happened to the vehicle.

The company called the test a “milestone,” adding deployment of a similar weapon could transform future battles and save lives.

Greg Hyslop, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, said ATL would give fighters a “speed-of-light, ultra-precision engagement capability” that could dramatically reduce collateral damage.

The ATL flight follows a June 13 test in which a laser fired from the air for the first time hit a target board on the ground. Additional tests will now follow to further demonstrate the system’s military utility, but Boeing says the demonstrations have shown that “ATL works, and works very well.”

Research into laser applications in the defense industry has engaged major players and involved other key recent tests.

Northrop Grumman also announced it successfully completed testing of its global positioning system-guided weapons technology at the White Sands Missile Range.

The company’s Viper Strike system is equipped with GPS laser guidance accuracy capabilities and is designed to be integrated into Northrop Grumman’s Hunter unmanned aircraft system.

In August, Boeing and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency announced they moved closer to developing an airborne high-energy laser weapon that will shoot down an upcoming offensive missile. In the first test over the California High Desert, a high-energy laser was fired from a modified 747-400F into a calorimeter, also on board, to measure the power of the beam.

Once there and while still in flight the ABL Jumbo unleashed its laser striking the calorimeter, allowing experts to determine how much more power will be required to make the weapon effective in combat.

Unlike stealth technology, which began as a passive countermeasure against increasingly advanced detection technology, airborne laser offers both pre-emptive and offensive paths of development, analysts said.
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« Reply #40 on: September 10, 2009, 11:30:57 AM »

As I remember the problem with laser weapons was range. In the atmosphere, dust and moisture scatter and degrade the beam. In space, it isn't a problem. Therefore I expect that an airborne antimissile system would work much better than a ground based weapon system. A ground based system would require an enormous amount of power to overcome the dust and moisture in the atmosphere.
This would be a problem with air-to-ground and would limit it to relatively close range use.
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« Reply #41 on: September 10, 2009, 01:02:30 PM »

Thanks for the knowledge Rhys!
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« Reply #42 on: September 26, 2009, 12:37:16 PM »

Pay with a wave of your hand?          

moneycentral.msn.com

It's a simple concept, really: You inject a miniature radio frequency identifier the size of a grain of rice between your thumb and forefinger and, with a wave of your hand, unlock doors, turn on lights, start your car or pay for your drinks at an ultrachic nightspot.

The problem is, the whole concept is a little geeky for most of us, nauseating for some, Orwellian for a few and even apocalyptic for a smattering of religious fundamentalists.

Forget the science of it -- and yes, it does work remarkably well. Forget the convenience of it. Forget that similar identifying technologies, from bar codes to mag stripes, overcame similar obstacles and are now ubiquitous.

Radio frequency ID implants face a hurdle the others did not: ickiness.

"There is sort of an icky quality to implanting something," says Rome Jette, the vice president for smart cards at Versatile Card Technology, a Downers Grove, Ill., card manufacturer that ships 1.5 billion cards worldwide a year.

How RFID devices work

The RFID technology is un-yucky, however. The implanted tag -- a passive RFID device consisting of a miniature antenna and chip containing a 16-digit identification number -- is scanned by an RFID reader. Once verified, the number is used to unlock a database file, be it a medical record or payment information. Depending upon the application, a reader may verify tags at a distance of 4 inches up to about 30 feet. More from MSN Money

The RFID implant has been around for more than 20 years. In its earliest iteration, it provided a convenient way to keep track of dogs, cats and prized racehorses. Few took note or voiced much concern.

Then, in 2002, Applied Digital Solutions (now Digital Angel) of Delray Beach, Fla., deployed to its foreign distributors a beta version of its patented VeriChip technology for human use. Two years later, the VeriChip became the first subcutaneous RFID chip to receive FDA approval as a Class 2 medical device.

One VeriChip distributor in Spain sold the concept to the ultratrendy Baja Beach Club, which offered its patrons in Barcelona and Amsterdam the option of having an implant inserted in their upper arms to pay for their drinks without having to carry wallets in their swimsuits.

'Mark of the beast'?

Web sites sprouted like mushrooms, accusing VeriChip of being the biblical "mark of the beast" predicted in the Book of Revelations as a foreshadowing of the end of the world.

CEO Scott Silverman was equally vilified as being tied to Satan or, worse, Wall Street. Big Brother was surely coming, though he'd have to get pretty close to read your implant. Claims that the tags cause cancer based on lab rat tests upped the amps of outrage.

Were people suddenly curious about RFID implants?

Curiosity is probably an understatement," Silverman concedes. "People have always taken interest in VeriChip. Part of the lore and part of the trouble of this company over the past five years has been just that."

Though VeriChip played no part in using its implant as a payment device, the company quickly moved to calmer waters. Today, it markets its VeriMed Health Link patient identification system to help hospitals treat noncommunicative patients in an emergency. Its future may include more advanced medical applications, including a biosensor system to detect glucose levels.

"A lot of the negative press that we received was a direct result of people having a misconception of what this technology is all about," says Silverman. "We believe that the medical application was and still is the best application for this technology.

"That said, if and when it does become mainstream and more patients are utilizing it for their medical records or for diagnostic purposes, if they want to elect to use it for other applications, certainly they'll be able to do that. But it's going to take a company much larger than us to distribute the retail reader end of it into the Wal-Marts of the world."

Versatile's Jette has watched contactless RFID battle for acceptance in the credit card arena. Just as Silverman suggests, the dynamics and scale of the payment industry tends to work against widespread deployment.

"Mobil Speedpass tried to do it; they got some traction and decided to see if there was any mileage to take this to a Walgreens or McDonald's. You used to be able to use your Speedpass at McDonalds, but that ended because, at the end of the day, you still only have two gigantic payment processors out there, Visa and MasterCard," he says. "To me, the idea of any kind of payment device having ubiquity requires an awful lot of back-end cooperation, of people willing to say, 'I don't need my brand in the customer's wallet.'"

Although the coolness factor is effective from a marketing standpoint -- American Express Blue with its smart (if largely unused) chip is a good example -- Jette says most cardholders would balk at the very thought of a needle.

"With the implanting in the nightclubs, there is a cache of exclusivity there, especially among a certain demographic where people are piercing themselves and getting tattoos. But those are things that really only 20-somethings do a lot. I really doubt that there will be any market for injectable RFID tags or even any single point-of-sale payment device."

"A lot of times, the technology is a solution looking for a problem. Sometimes people fall in love with the technology for its own sake and then try to evangelize a home for it. My business group is just smart cards, and I never forget that although we make money with smart cards, the bills are paid with mag stripe cards. As backwards and old-fashioned as they are, that is still the bulk of what the transactions are going to be in America for a very long time."
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« Reply #43 on: September 26, 2009, 12:44:28 PM »

Intelligent CCTV could prevent crimes before they happen             

telegraph.co.uk

The CCTV technology identifies suspicious individuals and behaviour and then acts to stamp out crimes before they happen.

When a crime looks like it is going to occur, the system will verbally warn the perpetrator and then if necessary alert the nearest police officer.

ISIS, short for Integrated Sensor Information System, is being developed by a team at Queen’s University Belfast at its Centre for Secure Information Technologies.

It is designed to work with the extensive network of CCTV cameras already installed on buses and trains as well as in stations, airports and on the street.

It centres on specially developed “computer vision technology” that analyses images picked up by CCTV and is able to profile individuals to see if they pose a risk and then to check for patterns of behaviour that may be suspicious or anti-social.

The computer constantly assesses the situation and if it becomes a major risk alerts a control room who can send out a verbal warning or alert officers nearby to stampout crimes before they occur.

Criteria that ISIS will look for are likely to include clothing such as hooded tops, sudden movements, odd behaviour such as moving seats and verbal aggression.

Metal detectors, motion detectors and even microphones could eventually be added to sharpen the system further.

“We have four million cameras across the country at present but their impact on anti-social behaviour is actually fairly negligible,” said Dr Paul Miller, who is part of the 50-strong team.

“We aim to develop a system which helps to make crime-free buses, trains, stations and airports a reality. We think it will be a strong deterrent.”

The science fiction film Minority Report, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise, revolves around a “Pre-crime” police unit that is able to identify and prevent crimes before they happen.
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« Reply #44 on: October 01, 2009, 10:35:31 PM »

VeriChip Corp Readies Flu Detecting Microchip For Mass Implantations        

reuters.com/


Shares of VeriChip Corp (CHIP.O) tripled after the company said it had been granted an exclusive license to two patents, which will help it to develop implantable virus detection systems in humans.

The patents, held by VeriChip partner Receptors LLC, relate to biosensors that can detect the H1N1 and other viruses, and biological threats such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, VeriChip said in a statement.

The technology will combine with VeriChip's implantable radio frequency identification devices to develop virus triage detection systems.

The triage system will provide multiple levels of identification -- the first will identify the agent as virus or non-virus, the second level will classify the virus and alert the user to the presence of pandemic threat viruses and the third level will identify the precise pathogen, VeriChip said in a white paper published May 7, 2009. Shares of VeriChip were up 186 percent at $3.28 Monday late afternoon trade on Nasdaq. They had touched a year high of $3.43 earlier in the session.
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