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Siemens Develops Multi-Purpose Surveillance System 65

ekesis tips a story up at NewScientist about the development of a new surveillance system by German engineering conglomerate Siemens. The system is notable for its integration of many different types of automated data-gathering. It can scan "telephone calls, email and internet activity, bank transactions and insurance records." It uses advanced pattern-recognition software to pick out unusual activities and important pieces of data. So far, the system has been sold to 60 countries. "According to a document obtained by New Scientist, the system integrates tasks typically done by separate surveillance teams or machines... This software is trained on a large number of sample documents to pick out items such as names, phone numbers and places from generic text. This means it can spot names or numbers that crop up alongside anyone already of interest to the authorities, and then catalogue any documents that contain such associates."

Microsoft Applies For "Digital Manners" Patent 289

SirLurksAlot writes "Ars Technica reports that Microsoft has recently applied for a patent for a technology which would attempt to enforce manners in the use of cell phones, digital cameras, DVRs and other digital devices. According to the article, the technology could be used to bring common social conventions such as 'No flash photography' and 'No talking out loud' to these devices by disabling features or disabling the device entirely. The article also points out that the technology could be implemented in situations involving sensitive equipment, such as in airplanes or hospitals. The patent application itself is also an interesting read, as it describes a number of possible uses for the technology, including 'in particular zones to limit the speed and/or acceleration of vehicles, to require the use of lights, to verify an indication of insurance coverage and/or current registration, or the like.' While this technology could certainly be of interest to any number of organizations one has to wonder how the individuals who own devices which obey so-called 'Digital Manners Policies' would feel about it."

UK's MI5 Wants Oyster Card Travel Data 291

Boiled Frog from a Nation of Suspects writes "The Oyster card, an RFID single-swipe card (which was recently cracked), was introduced to London's public transport users purportedly to make their lives easier. Now, British Intelligence services want some of the benefits by trawling through the travel data amassed by the card to spy on the 17 million Britons who use it. The article notes, "Currently the security services can demand the Oyster records of specific individuals under investigation to establish where they have been, but cannot trawl the whole database. But supporters of calls for more sharing of data argue that apparently trivial snippets — like the journeys an individual makes around the capital — could become important pieces of the jigsaw when fitted into a pattern of other publicly held information on an individual's movements, habits, education and other personal details. That could lead, they argue, to the unmasking of otherwise undetected suspects."

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