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Posts tagged “facial recognition

I’m terrified of my new TV: Why I’m scared to turn this thing on — and you’d be, too

by Michael Price
Salon.com
Oct 30, 2014

(Credit: cobalt88 via Shutterstock)

From facial recognition to personal data collection, this thing is downright scary — and so are the implications

I just bought a new TV. The old one had a good run, but after the volume got stuck on 63, I decided it was time to replace it. I am now the owner of a new “smart” TV, which promises to deliver streaming multimedia content, games, apps, social media and Internet browsing. Oh, and TV too.

The only problem is that I’m now afraid to use it. You would be too — if you read through the 46-page privacy policy.

The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. It logs where, when, how and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect “when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.” It records “the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.” It ignores “do-not-track” requests as a considered matter of policy.

It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition. The purpose is to provide “gesture control” for the TV and enable you to log in to a personalized account using your face. On the upside, the images are saved on the TV instead of uploaded to a corporate server. On the downside, the Internet connection makes the whole TV vulnerable to hackers who have demonstrated the ability to take complete control of the machine.

More troubling is the microphone. The TV boasts a “voice recognition” feature that allows viewers to control the screen with voice commands. But the service comes with a rather ominous warning: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.” Got that? Don’t say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV.

You may not be watching, but the telescreen is listening.

I do not doubt that this data is important to providing customized content and convenience, but it is also incredibly personal, constitutionally protected information that should not be for sale to advertisers and should require a warrant for law enforcement to access.

Unfortunately, current law affords little privacy protection to so-called “third party records,” including email, telephone records, and data stored in “the cloud.” Much of the data captured and transmitted by my new TV would likely fall into this category. Although one federal court of appeals has found this rule unconstitutional with respect to email, the principle remains a bedrock of modern electronic surveillance.

According to retired Gen. David Petraeus, former head of the CIA, Internet-enabled “smart” devices can be exploited to reveal a wealth of personal data. “Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvester,” he reportedly told a venture capital firm in 2012. “We’ll spy on you through your dishwasher,” read one headline. Indeed, as the “Internet of Things” matures, household appliances and physical objects will become more networked. Your ceiling lights, thermostat and washing machine — even your socks — may be wired to interact online. The FBI will not have to bug your living room; you will do it yourself.

[…CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE]

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FBI uses facial recognition to arrest 14-year fugitive overseas

End the Lie – Independent News
[Aug 13, 2014]

After spending 14 years on the run from American law enforcement authorities, a man suspected of child sex abuse was detained in by the FBI using the State Department’s new facial recognition technology.

The case marks a notable milestone for the FBI, which has also recently been beefing up its ability to identify individuals through face-scanning software.

Announced on Tuesday by the FBI, the case in question actually began back in 1999, when New Mexico resident Neil Stammer was arrested on multiple charges, including child sex abuse and kidnapping. After posting bail, Stammer fled the United States and never appeared for this arraignment. When federal fugitive charges were filed a month afterwards, the FBI became involved.

Catching Stammer proved to be particularly tricky, the FBI said, especially since the fugitive spoke about a dozen languages and could have potentially been anywhere in the world. In January 2014, the FBI’s fugitive coordinator Russ Wilson created a new “wanted” poster for Stammer after the case caught his eye, inadvertently causing the hunt to heat up once again.

Around the same time as this poster was drafted, the US State Department began trying out its own newly designed facial recognition software, which was intended to catch passport fraud. Luckily for the FBI, a security service agent within the State Department decided to test the software out on the Bureau’s wanted posters – a course of action that ultimately matched Stammer’s face with someone named Kevin Hodges.

“When he came upon Stammer’s poster online, a curious thing happened. Stammer’s face matched a person whose passport photo carried a different name,” the FBI said in its statement.

Former New Mexico resident Neil Stammer was captured in Nepal earlier this year after 14 years on the run. (Image from www.fbi.gov)Former New Mexico resident Neil Stammer was captured in Nepal earlier this year after 14 years on the run. (Image from http://www.fbi.gov)

Further investigation revealed that Hodges – teaching English classes in Nepal and routinely visiting the local US Embassy to prolong his stay – was actually Stammer. Soon enough, he was arrested and extradited to the US.

“He was very comfortable in Nepal,” Wilson said. “My impression was that he never thought he would be discovered.”

The arrest comes as the FBI continues to expand its facial recognition database. As RT reported in April, the agency projects that it will have 52 million images stored in its Next Generation Identification (NGI) program by 2015. The NGI database currently features more than 100 million records, including those that link an individual’s fingerprints, palm prints, iris scans, and personal information like addresses and legal status. The next step for the FBI is to flesh out its trove of facial images.

In some more local cases, meanwhile, facial recognition technology is already being used by law enforcement. According to Fox News, officials in Iowa said the software enabled them to track down and arrest an armed robber in June – about 41 years after he escaped from a North Carolina jail.

Source: RT