ABOUT 15,000 people have had images of their faces captured on an Australian Federal Police database in its first year of operation, igniting fears that the rise of facial recognition systems will lead to CCTV cameras being installed on every street corner.
The database includes pictures of alleged criminals who may not know their images are on file.
The AFP say facial recognition may eventually be considered as credible as fingerprints, but images on their database are not being shared with state police forces. Sharing images on a national database could be possible by 2015.
The president of Australian Councils for Civil Liberties, Terry O’Gorman, said it was troubling that technologies such as facial and number plate recognition had become so widespread and there appeared to be no independent monitoring of the impacts on privacy.
The justification for widespread CCTV has also been questioned, with a report by police in London, the most spied-upon city in the world, showing that only one crime was solved per 1000 cameras.
An AFP forensic and data centres biometrics co-ordinator, Simon Walsh, said international agencies were Read more…
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is using an anti-terrorism device that indiscriminately sweeps up cellphone communications of innocent bystanders during burglary, drug and murder investigations.
LA Weekly wrote back in September that the police agency purchased Stingray technology in 2006 using Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funds, and is deploying the portable equipment for routine police operations. DHS grant documents said the device was intended for “regional terrorism investigations.”
Stingray pretends that it is a cell tower and fools wireless phones into establishing a connection. Once connected, it can establish cell location and download information of people who are not suspects in an investigation, raising all sorts of privacy issues.
Information obtained by the First Amendment Coalition under the California Public Records Act indicates that LAPD used Stingray 21 times in a four-month period last year. While carriers like AT&T and Sprint typically require a court order before granting law enforcement access to cellphone data, it is not clear that LAPD is asking the courts for a warrant.
Privacy advocates argue that accessing phones with Stingray constitutes a “search and seizure” under the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, and requires a warrant. The FBI has argued it doesn’t need a warrant because cellphone users have no reasonable expectation of privacy. The U.S.Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the issue.
The records viewed by LA Weekly seemed to indicate that judges were not fully apprised of Stingray’s scope; that it was sweeping a range of cellphones rather than a specific suspect’s phone.
LAPD refuses to comment on Stingray, which is reportedly also being used by local law enforcement in Fort Worth, Texas, Gilbert, Arizona, and Miami.
A new poll has uncovered a “shocking willingness” on the part of Americans to give up their privacy and freedoms for the sake of “safety,” just at a time when the Obama administration is launching an assault on the self-defense rights guarded by the Second Amendment.
“As leaders in Washington prepare an assault on the Second Amendment, a majority of Americans – 61 percent – said they believe that domestic use of drones by government and law enforcement agencies represents a violation of people’s right to privacy,” said Fritz Wenzel, president of Wenzel Strategies.
It was his public-opinion research and media consulting company, Wenzel Strategies, that released the results of a telephone poll conducted for WND. It was taken Jan. 9-12 and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.22 percentage points.
Wenzel said the federal government “has announced plans to use drones domestically in certain circumstances, and the survey finding that 20 percent are Read more…
While travelling overseas at Christmas we naturally turned off mobile data on our phones to avoid being ripped off by the phone companies’ rapacious data roaming charges.
Instead, everywhere I went I asked for the Wi-Fi password and sometimes didn’t even need one. No problem, although using Google maps to get around in the street was impossible.
In fact with all three phone networks in Australia whacking up their data prices, I’m thinking of turning off mobile data at home as well. There’s more and more public Wi-Fi around and although the domestic Read more…