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NYC Police Comm'r: Privacy Is 'Off the Table' After Boston Bombs 508

An anonymous reader writes "New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly thinks that now is a great time to install even more surveillance cameras hither and yon around the Big Apple. After the Boston Marathon bombing, the Tsarnaev brothers were famously captured on security camera footage and thereby identified. That just may soften up Americans to the idea of the all-seeing glass eye. 'I think the privacy issue has really been taken off the table,' Kelly gloats."

Four Threats For '09 You Haven't Heard of 126

ancientribe writes "Security experts are cautiously on the lookout for some lesser-known but potentially lethal threats that could be more difficult to prepare for and defend against in 2009. These aren't your typical enterprise hack attacks. They're mainly large-scale Internet threats — attacks that knock out sections of the Internet infrastructure, radical extremist hackers, Web attacks that adversely affect online ad revenue, and even the unthinkable: human casualties as a result of a cyberattack." Also known as the new group of things the fear mongers will use to make you do their bidding.

Oregon Governor Proposes Vehicle Mileage Tax 713

tiedyejeremy writes "As covered by the Crosscut Blog, the Governor of Oregon, Ted Kulongoski, is proposing a change in the funding of the Oregonian transportation system that drops gasoline taxes and, by way of GPS tracking, taxes the number of miles driven, to the tune of 1.2 cents per mile. The reason for the proposed change is that lower fuel consumption via fuel efficiency will leave the system underfunded. The concerns involve government tracking of the movements of vehicles within the state, though this has been denied by ODOT official, James Whitty. I'm wondering how this affects people using the Interstate System and private roads, and if the outputs can or will be used by law enforcement to check alibis."

Shadow Analysis Could Spot Terrorists 245

Hugh Pickens writes "An engineer at Jet Propulsion Labs says it should be possible to identify people from the way they walk — a technique called gait analysis, whose power lies in the fact that a person's walking style is very hard to disguise. Adrian Stoica has written software that recognizes human movement in aerial and satellite video footage by isolating moving shadows and using data on the time of day and the camera angle to correct shadows that are elongated or foreshortened. In tests on footage shot from the sixth floor of a building, Stoica says his software was indeed able to extract useful gait data. Extending the idea to satellites could prove trickier, though. Space imaging expert Bhupendra Jasani at King's College London says geostationary satellites simply don't have the resolution to provide useful detail. 'I find it hard to believe they could apply this technique from space,' says Jasani." Comments on the article speculate on the maximum resolution possible from KH-11 and KH-12 spy satellites.

Home Science Under Attack In Massachusetts 1334

An anonymous reader tips a guest posting up on the MAKE Magazine blog by the author of the Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments. It seems that authorities in Massachusetts have raided a home chemistry lab, apparently without a warrant, and made off with all of its contents. Here's the local article from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. "Victor Deeb, a retired chemist who lives in Marlboro, has finally been allowed to return to his Fremont Street home, after Massachusetts authorities spent three days ransacking his basement lab and making off with its contents. Deeb is not accused of making methamphetamine or other illegal drugs. He's not accused of aiding terrorists, synthesizing explosives, nor even of making illegal fireworks. Deeb fell afoul of the Massachusetts authorities for... doing experiments... Pamela Wilderman, the code enforcement officer for [the Massachusetts town of] Marlboro stated, 'I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation.' Allow me to translate Ms. Wilderman's words into plain English: 'Mr. Deeb hasn't actually violated any law or regulation that I can find, but I don't like what he's doing because I'm ignorant and irrationally afraid of chemicals, so I'll abuse my power to steal his property and shut him down.'"

CCTVs Don't Work in the UK 571

ShakaUVM writes "People who give up a little bit of liberty for a little bit of security deserve neither, the saying goes. But what happens when people give up so much liberty their entire country resembles an Orweillean dystopia — but the pervasive monitoring doesn't help to solve any crimes? That's what is happening in the United Kingdom today. While the Guardian tries to put a good spin on the entire fiasco, the fact remains that CCTVs only help with 3% of all street robberies, the very crimes they were supposed to be best at protecting. Should England finally move to eliminate its troubling state surveillance program?"

Administration Claimed Immunity To 4th Amendment 703

mrogers writes "The EFF has uncovered a troubling footnote in a newly declassified Bush Administration memo, which asserts that 'our Office recently [in 2001] concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations.' This could mean that the Administration believes the NSA's warrantless wiretapping and data mining programs are not governed by the Constitution, which would cast Administration claims that the programs did not violate the Fourth Amendment in a whole new light — after all, you can't violate a law that doesn't apply. The claimed immunity would also cover other DoD agencies, such as CIFA, which carry out offline surveillance of political groups within the United States."

Americans Don't Care About Domestic Spying ? 485

S1mmo+61 writes "Salon is analyzing a Time Magazine article today, a piece that essentially claims Americans do not care about the domestic spying. The analysis of the Time magazine piece (which is longer than the article itself) is interesting, if only as a quick history of domestic spying in the last eight years. 'Time claims that "nobody cares" about the Government's increased spying powers and that "polling consistently supports that conclusion." They don't cite a single poll because that assertion is blatantly false. Just this weekend, a new poll released by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University proves that exactly the opposite is true. That poll shows that the percentage of Americans who believe the Federal Government is "very secretive" has doubled in the last two years alone (to 44%)'"

US Set to Use Spy Satellites on US Citizens 513

duerra writes "A plan to use U.S. spy satellites for domestic security and law-enforcement missions is moving forward after being delayed for months because of privacy and civil liberties concerns. The plan is in the final stage of completion, according to a department official who requested anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about it. While some internal agencies have had access to spy satellite imagery for purposes such as assisting after a natural disaster, this would be the first time law-enforcement would be able to obtain a warrant and request access to satellite imagery."

Leaked Government Doc Reveals UK ID "Coercion" Plans 187

BoingBoing is relating a hair-raising tale from the UK anti-ID-register group 'NO2ID' that claims to have a leaked government document [PDF] detailing how the UK government plans to "coerce" citizens into a national ID register. "UK campaigners NO2ID this morning enlisted the help of bloggers across the world to spread a leaked government document describing how the British government intends to go about "coercing" its citizens onto a National Identity Register. The 'ID card' is revealed as little more than a cover to create a official dossier and trackable ID for every UK resident - creating what NO2ID calls 'the database state'."
United States

FBI to Put Criminals Up in Lights 315

coondoggie writes "The FBI today said it wants to install 150 digital billboards in 20 major U.S. cities in the next few weeks to show fugitive mug shots, missing people and high-priority security messages from the big bureau. The billboards will let the FBI highlight those people it is looking for the most: violent criminals, kidnap victims, missing kids, bank robbers, even terrorists, the FBI said in a release. And the billboards will be able to be updated largely in real-time — right after a crime is committed, a child is taken, or an attack is launched. Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Miami will be among those cities provided with the new billboards."

Video Surveillance Identifies Threat Patterns 132

Ponca City, We Love You writes "When the 2008 Olympic Games kick off in Beijing next year, organizers will be using a sophisticated computer system to scan video images of city streets looking for everything from troublemakers to terrorists. The IBM system, called the Smart Surveillance System, uses analytic tools to index digital video recordings and then issue real-time alerts when certain patterns are detected. It can be used to warn security guards when someone has entered a secure area or keep track of cars coming in and out of a parking lot. The system can also search through old event data to find patterns that can be used to enable new security strategies and identify potential vulnerabilities. IBM is also developing a similar surveillance system for lower Manhattan, but has not yet begun deploying that project. "Physical security and IT security are starting to come together," says Julie Donahue, vice president of security and privacy services with IBM. "A lot of the guys I'm meeting on the IT side are just starting to get involved on the physical side.""

AT&T Invents Surveillance Programming Language 119

An anonymous reader writes "AT&T has long been associated with advances in the programming arts as well as communications. They've recently brought those disciplines together to create a powerful datamining language called Hancock. Hancock is a C variant developed to mine gigabytes of the company's telephone and internet records for surveillance purposes. 'The manual for the language includes a Hello World variant that shows you how to write a program that will parse logs of IP addresses and record them into permanent hashes. The program for parsing millions of records as they flow into permanent data farms sounds oddly close to the data mining the NSA performed after 9/11 to find targets for its warrantless spying on American citizens calls and emails."

10,000 Cameras Ineffective At Deterring Crime 414

Mike writes "London has 10,000 crime-fighting CCTV cameras which cost £200 million but an analysis of the publicly funded spy network has cast serious doubt on its ability to help solve crime. In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average. The study found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any. Could this be an effective argument against the proliferation of cameras or will politicians simply ignore the facts and press ahead?"

Eavesdropping Helpful Against Terrorist Plot [UPDATED] 486

AcidPenguin9873 writes "The New York Times reports that the U.S. government's ability to eavesdrop on personal communications helped break up a terrorist plot in Germany. The intercepted phone calls and emails revealed a connection between the plotters and a breakaway cell of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad Union. What does this mean for the future of privacy in personal communications? From the article: '[Director of national intelligence Mike McConnell's] remarks also represent part of intensifying effort by Bush administration officials to make permanent a law that is scheduled to expire in about five months. Without the law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Mr. McConnell said the nation would lose "50 percent of our ability to track, understand and know about these terrorists, what they're doing to train, what they're doing to recruit and what they're doing to try to get into this country.'" Update: 09/13 12:59 GMT by J : See followup story.

"Let's show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown!" -- The Ghostbusters