Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Take advantage of Black Friday with 15% off sitewide with coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY" on Slashdot Deals (some exclusions apply)". ×

Interpol Pushing World Facial Recognition Database 171

The Register is reporting that according to some reports, Interpol will soon be pushing for a world-wide facial recognition database at the borders of all member nations. "The UK already has airport gates equipped with such technology, intended to remove the need for a human border guard to check that a passenger's face matches the one recorded in his or her passport. According to the Guardian, Interpol database chief Mark Branchflower believes that his organization should set up a database of facial-recognition records to operate alongside its existing photo, fingerprint and DNA files."

Tool To Allow ISPs To Scan Every File You Transmit 370

timdogg writes "Brilliant Digital Entertainment, an Australian software company, has grabbed the attention of the NY attorney general's office with a tool they have designed that can scan every file that passes between an ISP and its customers. The tool can 'check every file passing through an Internet provider's network — every image, every movie, every document attached to an e-mail or found in a Web search — to see if it matches a list of illegal images.' As with the removal of the alt.binary newgroups, this is being promoted under the guise of preventing child porn. The privacy implications of this tool are staggering."

UK Court Rejects Encryption Key Disclosure Defense 708

truthsearch writes "Defendants can't deny police an encryption key because of fears the data it unlocks will incriminate them, a British appeals court has ruled. The case marked an interesting challenge to the UK's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which in part compels someone served under the act to divulge an encryption key used to scramble data on a PC's hard drive. The appeals court heard a case in which two suspects refused to give up encryption keys, arguing that disclosure was incompatible with the privilege against self incrimination. In its ruling, the appeals court said an encryption key is no different than a physical key and exists separately from a person's will."

Every Email In UK To Be Monitored 785

ericcantona writes "The Communications Data Bill (2008) will lead to the creation of a single, centralized database containing records of all e-mails sent, websites visited and mobile phones used by UK citizens. In a carnivore-on-steroids programme, as all vestiges of communication privacy are stripped away, The BBC reports that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith says this is a 'necessity.'"

Sex Offender E-Mail Registry Signed Into Law 459

As noted in Wired yesterday, tragedy in chaos writes, "Senator and Presidential-hopeful John McCain has managed to get a new bill signed into law, in the hope of ridding online social networks of the sexual predation of children. The 'Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act of 2008,' as it is called, calls for a database to be made in which all registered sexual offenders must also register their e-mail addresses so that MySpace, Facebook, etc. can run current and hopeful users through it, and eliminate access to the offenders. Though a noble goal, this is not very well thought out in methodology. They are asking known criminals to be honest, and are expecting them not to utilize any of the free and readily available e-mail services that exist so as to circumvent the system. There is also a potential for the crafty sex offender to possibly cause false positives by just registering an address that does not belong to them, thereby drawing in innocent bystanders."

Maryland Police Put Activists' Names On Terror List 426

aaandre writes with word of a Washington Post story which begins: "The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday. The police also entered the activists' names into the federal Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area database, which tracks suspected terrorists. One well-known antiwar activist from Baltimore, Max Obuszewski, was singled out in the intelligence logs released by the ACLU, which described a 'primary crime' of 'terrorism-anti-government' and a 'secondary crime' of 'terrorism-anti-war protesters.'" According to the article, "Both [former state police superintendent Thomas] Hutchins and [Maryland Police Superintendent Terrence] Sheridan said the activists' names were entered into the state police database as terrorists partly because the software offered limited options for classifying entries." Reader kcurtis adds "The State Police say they are purging the data, but this is one more example (on top of yesterday's news that datamining for terrorists is not feasible due to false positives) of just how badly the use of these lists can be abused."

Anti-Terrorist Data Mining Doesn't Work Very Well 163

Presto Vivace and others sent us this CNet report on a just-released NRC report coming to the conclusion, which will surprise no one here, that data mining doesn't work very well. It's all those darn false positives. The submitter adds, "Any chance we could go back to probable cause?" "A report scheduled to be released on Tuesday by the National Research Council, which has been years in the making, concludes that automated identification of terrorists through data mining or any other mechanism 'is neither feasible as an objective nor desirable as a goal of technology development efforts.' Inevitable false positives will result in 'ordinary, law-abiding citizens and businesses' being incorrectly flagged as suspects. The whopping 352-page report, called 'Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists,' amounts to [be] at least a partial repudiation of the Defense Department's controversial data-mining program called Total Information Awareness, which was limited by Congress in 2003."
The Courts

EFF Sues NSA, President Bush, and VP Cheney 267

VisualE writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will file a lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies today on behalf of AT&T customers to stop the illegal, unconstitutional, and ongoing dragnet surveillance of their communications and communications records. The five individual plaintiffs are also suing President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Cheney's chief of staff David Addington, former Attorney General and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and other individuals who ordered or participated in the warrantless domestic surveillance."

In MN, Massive Police Raids On Suspected Protestors 961

X0563511 alerts us to events in Minneapolis and St. Paul in advance of the Republican convention (which has been put on hold because of Hurricane Gustav). Local police backed by the FBI raided a number of homes and public buildings and confiscated computers and other material. From "Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than 'fire code violations,' and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying. Jane Hamsher and I were at two of those homes this morning — one which had just been raided and one which was in the process of being raided." Here is local reporting from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "Aided by informants planted in protest groups, authorities raided at least six buildings across St. Paul and Minneapolis to stop an 'anarchist' plan to disrupt this week's Republican National Convention. From Friday night through Saturday afternoon, officers surrounded houses, broke down doors, handcuffed scores of people and confiscated suspected tools of civil disobedience ... A St. Paul City Council member described it as excessive, while activists, many of whom were detained and then released without charges, called it intimidation designed to quash free speech."

FBI ISP Letters May Have Violated Free Speech 117

Anti-Globalism sends in a Reuters account of an appeals court hearing in which an unnamed ISP is challenging the Patriot Act "National Security Letter" provision that allows the FBI to issue secret letters to ISPs and telecoms, demanding customer records. "A panel of federal appeals court judges pushed a US government lawyer on Wednesday to answer why FBI letters sent out to Internet service providers seeking information should remain secret. ... Between 2003 and 2006 nearly 200,000 national security letters were sent out. Of those about 97 percent received gag orders."

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."

Police Secretly Planting GPS Devices On Cars 609

bfwebster writes "The Washington Post has a long investigative article on how more and more police departments are secretly planting GPS tracking devices on the cars of people they are investigating — usually without a warrant. After-the-fact court challenges on this technique have largely upheld such use of a GPS device, though the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that a warrant is required."

DHS Allowed To Take Laptops Indefinitely 1123

andy1307 writes with a Washington Post story giving details of Department of Homeland Security policies for border searches of laptops and other electronic devices (as well as papers). (We have been discussing border searches for a while now.) DHS says such procedures have long been in place but were "disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter," according to the article. Here is a link to the policy (PDF, 5 pages). "Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed. Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption, or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, US Customs and Border Protection and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement... DHS officials said that the newly disclosed policies — which apply to anyone entering the country, including US citizens — are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism... The policies cover 'any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form,' including hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover 'all papers and other written documentation,' including books, pamphlets and 'written materials commonly referred to as "pocket trash..."'"
The Courts

Court Refuses To Rule On ECPA Warrantless E-mail Searches 122

utkalum writes "After Steven Warshak's indictment and conviction on charges of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and other federal charges, he learned that key evidence in the case was obtained by the government under a 1986 law permitting no-warrant searches of email communications stored for longer than 180 days. He also learned that, despite the Electronic Communication Privacy Act's requirement that such searches be disclosed to the suspect no more than 90 days after they were commenced, the Government simply couldn't be bothered to comply. Now, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has refused (9-5) to hear Warshak's constitutional challenge to the Act (PDF), claiming that the question raised is 'not yet ripe' for adjudication. It's worth noting that the court also vacated an earlier injunction against using that act to read the e-mail of other people in Warshak's district. Read on for an excerpt from the ruling.

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson