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Transportation

Iris Scans and Fingerprints Could Be Your Ticket On British Rail (silicon.co.uk) 75

Mickeycaskill quotes a report from Silicon.co.uk: Rail passengers could use fingerprints or iris scans to pay for tickets and pass through gates, under plans announced by the UK rail industry. In its current form, the mobile technology is intended to allow passengers to travel without tickets, instead using Bluetooth and geolocation technology to track a passenger's movements and automatically charge their travel account at the end of the day for journeys taken. The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators and Network Rail, said further development could see passengers identified using biometric technology in a way similar to the facial-recognition schemes used at some UK airports to speed up border checks. The RDG said more than 200 research, design and technology projects have been identified to increase the railways' capacity and improve customer service. Other projects include new seat designs that could improve train capacity by up to 30 percent and folding seats that could boost space during peak times, including tables that could fold into seats.
Google

Google To Introduce Google Wifi, Google Home and 4K Chromecast Ultra Devices On October 4th (androidpolice.com) 51

Android Police has learned of a new Google device that will launch alongside the Google Pixel smartphones, Google Home, and 4K 'Chromecast Ultra' dongle on October 4th. Called Google Wifi, the Wi-Fi router will cost $129 and contain several "smart" features. Android Police reports: [The] source additionally claims that Google will advertise the router as having "smart" features -- probably similar to OnHub in some respects -- and that Google will claim it provides enhanced range over typical Wi-Fi routers (a claim we see basically every router make, to be fair). But the one thing that will make it an insta-buy for many over OnHub? Our source claims multiple Google Wifi access points (two or more) can be linked together to create one large wireless network. We don't have any details on how this works, unfortunately. But one source claims that Google Wifi device will essentially be like a little white Amazon Echo Dot. So, relatively small and inconspicuous. In a separate report, Android Police details Google's upcoming smart speaker called Google Home, along with their upcoming 4K 'Chromecast Ultra' devices. Specifically, they will be priced at $129 and $69 respectively: Google Home was announced at Google I/O in May. Our sources also confirmed that the personalized base covers Google showed at I/O will be a feature of the final device. $129 also undercuts Amazon's Echo by a full $40, and though matches the price of the portable Amazon Tap, it's clear Google has Amazon's flagship smart home product in its sights with Home. Chromecast Ultra, which we are now all but certain is the name of Google's upcoming 4K version of Chromecast, will come in at $69 retail. As for what it brings beyond 4K, one of our sources claims that HDR is indeed on the list of bullet points.
Android

Android Users Need To Delete Google Maps and Google Play If They Don't Want Their Locations Tracked (theregister.co.uk) 395

Kieren McCarthy, reporting for The Register: Google, it seems, is very, very interested in knowing where you are at all times. Users have reported battery life issues with the latest Android build, with many pointing the finger at Google Play -- Google's app store -- and its persistent, almost obsessive need to check where you are. Amid complaints that Google Play is always switching on GPS, it appears Google has made it impossible to prevent the app store from tracking your whereabouts unless you completely kill off location tracking for all applications. You can try to deny Google Play access to your handheld's location by opening the Settings app and digging through Apps -> Google Play Store -> Permissions, and flipping the switch for "location." But you'll be told you can't just shut out Google Play services: you have to switch off location services for all apps if you want to block the store from knowing your whereabouts. It's all or nothing, which isn't particularly nice. This is because Google Play services pass on your location to installed apps via an API. The store also sends your whereabouts to Google to process. Google doesn't want you to turn this off.
Databases

100 Arrested In New York Thanks To Better Face-Recognition Technology (arstechnica.com) 85

New York doubled the number of "measurement points" used by their facial recognitation technology this year, leading to 100 arrests for fraud and identity theft, plus another 900 open cases. An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In all, since New York implemented facial recognition technology in 2010, more than 14,000 people have been hampered trying to get multiple licenses. The newly upgraded system increases the measurement points of a driver's license picture from 64 to 128.

The DMV said this vastly improves its chances of matching new photographs with one already in a database of 16 million photos... "Facial recognition plays a critical role in keeping our communities safer by cracking down on individuals who break the law," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement. "New York is leading the nation with this technology, and the results from our use of this enhanced technology are proof positive that its use is vital in making our roads safer and holding fraudsters accountable."

At least 39 US states use some form of facial recognition software, and New York says their new system also "removes high-risk drivers from the road," stressing that new licenses will no longer be issued until a photo clears their database.
Government

FBI Forced To Release 18 Hours of Spy Plane Footage (vice.com) 242

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from Motherboard: It's been just over a year since amateur aviation sleuths first revealed the FBI's secret aerial surveillance of the civil unrest in Baltimore, Maryland. Now, in response to a FOIA request from the ACLU, the Bureau has released more than 18 hours of aerial footage from the Baltimore protests captured by their once-secret spy planes, which regularly fly in circles above major cities and are commonly registered to fake companies.

The cache is likely the most comprehensive collection of aerial surveillance footage ever released by a US law enforcement agency... The footage shows the crowds of protesters captured in a combination of visible light and infrared spectrum video taken by the planes' wing-mounted FLIR Talon cameras. While individual faces are not clearly visible in the videos, it's frighteningly easy to imagine how cameras with a slightly improved zoom resolution and face recognition technology could be used to identify protesters in the future.

The FBI says they're only using the planes to track specific suspectds in serious crime investigations, according to the article, which adds that "The FBI flew their spy planes more than 3,500 times in the last six months of 2015, according to a Buzzfeed News analysis of data collected by the aircraft-tracking site FlightRadar24."
Microsoft

Microsoft Can't Shield User Data From Government, Says Government (bloomberg.com) 193

Microsoft is now arguing in court that their customers have a right to know when the government is reading their e-mail. But "The U.S. said federal law allows it to obtain electronic communications without a warrant or without disclosure of a specific warrant if it would endanger an individual or an investigation," according to Bloomberg. An anonymous reader quotes their report: The software giant's lawsuit alleging that customers have a constitutional right to know if the government has searched or seized their property should be thrown out, the government said in a court filing... The U.S. says there's no legal basis for the government to be required to tell Microsoft customers when it intercepts their e-mail... The Justice Department's reply Friday underscores the government's willingness to fight back against tech companies it sees obstructing national security and law enforcement investigations...

Secrecy orders on government warrants for access to private e-mail accounts generally prohibit Microsoft from telling customers about the requests for lengthy or even unlimited periods, the company said when it sued. At the time, federal courts had issued almost 2,600 secrecy orders to Microsoft alone, and more than two-thirds had no fixed end date, cases the company can never tell customers about, even after an investigation is completed.

Medicine

Micro-Camera Can Be Injected With A Syringe -- May Pose Surveillance Concerns (phys.org) 60

Taco Cowboy quotes a report from ABC Online: German engineers have created a camera no bigger than a grain of salt that could change the future of health imaging -- and clandestine surveillance. Using 3D printing, researchers from the University of Stuttgart built a three-lens camera, and fit it onto the end of an optical fiber the width of two hairs. Such technology could be used as minimally-intrusive endoscopes for exploring inside the human body, the engineers reported in the journal Nature Photonics. The compound lens of the camera is just 100 micrometers (0.1 millimeters) wide, and 120 micrometers with its casing. It could also be deployed in virtually invisible security monitors, or mini-robots with "autonomous vision." The compound lens can also be printed onto image sensor other than optical fibers, such as those used in digital cameras. The researchers said it only took a few hours to design, manufacture and test the camera, which yielded "high optical performances and tremendous compactness." They believe the 3D printing method -- used to create the camera -- may represent "a paradigm shift."
Crime

California Mayors Demand Surveillance Cams On Crime-Ridden Highways (arstechnica.com) 137

An anonymous reader shares an Ars Technica report: The 28 shootings along a 10-mile stretch of San Francisco-area highway over the past six months have led mayors of the adjacent cities to declare that these "murderous activities" have reached "crisis proportions." Four people have been killed and dozens injured. These five mayors want California Gov. Jerry Brown to fund surveillance cameras along all the on and off ramps of Interstate 80 and Highway 4 along the cities of El Cerrito, Hercules, Richmond, San Pablo, and Pinole.
Crime

FAA Grants Arlington Texas Police Department Permission To Fly UAVs 158

cylonlover writes with news that another police department has received authorization to start using drones for tasks like "...photographing crime scenes and searching for missing people." From the article: "The police department in Arlington can now use new tools in support of public safety over the Texas urban community — two small helicopter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The FAA has granted permission for the Arlington police to fly these unmanned aircraft under certain circumstances: they must fly under 400 feet, only in the daytime, be in sight of the operator and a safety observer, and be in contact with the control tower at the nearby Dallas-Fort Worth airport — one of the busiest in the country." They're using a Leptron Avenger, which "has been designed with military grade features" but don't worry, "police are quick to emphasize that the 4- to 5-foot-long aircraft aren’t the same as military drones."
Privacy

Texas High School Student Loses Lawsuit Challenging RFID Tracking Requirement 412

Chris453 writes "Earlier today, a Texas High School student named Andrea Hernandez and her family lost the first round of the lawsuit filed to prevent her school district from forcing its students to wear RFID badges for tracking purposes. The judge in the case declared that the district's compromise for the student (a badge without the battery) was sufficient and dismissed any First Amendment issues. The badges are RFIDs powered by built-in batteries and one of the concerns was that the badges would be used to track students off-campus. Interestingly enough, the school district claims in court documents that 'The badges do not work off campus (PDF).' However, on their website, the school district confirms that it is conceivable that an off-campus RFID reader could access badge serial numbers, but tries to downplay the significance: 'Therefore, an intruder or "hacker" can only learn that the tag serial number is, for example, #69872331, but that does not provide any useful information. Has the district committed perjury by claiming that the active RFIDs magically deactivate themselves when off school property?"
Security

More Drones Set To Use US Air Space 223

Dupple writes with a quote from the BBC about more testing of Predator drones in U.S. air space: "Tests have been carried out to see whether military drones can mix safely in the air with passenger planes. The tests involved a Predator B drone fitted with radio location systems found on domestic aircraft that help them spot and avoid other planes. The tests will help to pave the way for greater use of drones in America's domestic airspace."
Privacy

Grumman Building Football Field-Sized Robotic Surveillance Blimp 150

colinneagle writes with news of the latest in 1930s surveillance technology turned into a robot. From the article: "It's not fashionable to call this flying spy (hybrid military airship) a 'blimp,' but a Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV). You are no doubt familiar with the Goodyear blimp that hovers over football games, but the LEMV is almost the size of a seven-story flying football field; it's meant to fly at speeds between 30 and 80 knots without ceasing for 21 straight days while providing an 'unblinking' eye of surveillance. Northrop Grumman has a $517 million contract to build three of these 21st-century robotic airships for the U.S. Army. The first of three had a successful 90-minute test flight last week from the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. This first test flight included two pilots, but the Army intends for the LEMV to be like the Predator, an unmanned flying surveillance machine. Both Northrop Grumman and the Army must like the term 'unblinking,' as it was used several times to describe the 'Revolutionary ISR Weapon System' aka the LEMV."
Privacy

Twitter Can't Keep Protestor's Data From Cops 105

Sparrowvsrevolution writes "On Monday, Twitter published its first-ever Transparency Report, detailing how many times governments around the world demanded its users' information and asked it to remove content. The results show that the U.S. government asked for more Twitterers' private data than all other governments combined: 679 requests in the first half of 2012, of which 75% were at least partially granted. That's more than all of last year, with half of 2012 still to go. Within hours, the issue of governments helping themselves to Twitter users' private data was illustrated in the case of Malcolm Harris, an Occupy Wall Street protester who had his Twitter data subpoenaed in a criminal case for 'disorderly conduct.' Twitter had fought the request, which will help prosecutors identify Harris as the tweets' source. But a Manhattan judge ruled that users have no expectation of privacy for their Twitter data."
Privacy

Have Your Fingerprints Read From 6 Meters Away 122

First time accepted submitter Burdell writes "A new startup has technology to read fingerprints from up to 6 meters away. IDair currently sells to the military, but they are beta testing it with a chain of 24-hour fitness centers that want to restrict sharing of access cards. IDair also wants to sell this to retail stores and credit card companies as a replacement for physical cards. Lee Tien from the EFF notes that the security of such fingerprint databases is a privacy concern." Since the last time this technology was mentioned more than a year ago, it seems that the claimed range for reading has tripled, and the fingerprint reader business has been spun off from the company at which development started.
Government

VA Governor Wants Military Drones For Police 183

New submitter Screen404-O writes "During a radio interview, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell suggested that using unmanned drones to assist police would be 'great' and 'the right thing to do.' 'Increased safety and reduced manpower are among the reasons the U.S. military and intelligence community use drones on the battlefield, which is why it should be considered in Virginia, he says. ... McDonnell added Tuesday it will prove important to ensure the state maintains Americans' civil liberties, such as privacy, if it adds drones to its law enforcement arsenal.' Is this the next step toward militarizing our law enforcement agencies? How exactly can they ensure our privacy, when even the Air Force can't?"

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