A public photo pool called The Panopticon: Pictures Of Surveillance Cameras has been set up…
via Boing Boing
I am sure that the ‘if-you-have-nothing-to-hide-you have-nothing-to-be-afraid-of’ bridage would completely miss the point on this one too…
Rob Fisher blogs about Monday’s USA Today front page a story about a new X-Ray machine for use in airports that can see through clothing. The machine apparently generates images that, “paint a revealing picture of a person’s nude body”.
He points out that the article does not even touch on the need for such machines.
Post a review of a book or other product on Amazon.com, and the information may find its way into the company’s file on you. CNET has more on Amazon having been granted a patent for a system that gathers clues from reviews about customers’ gift-giving habits in order to suggest future gifts and reminders.
Consumer advocates worry that the company’s profiling practices may have gone too far and could exploit the giving of gifts and the sense of community that customer reviews were designed to engender.
Here’s how the proposed system works, according to Amazon’s patent claim: Amazon would gather information about gift recipients, including their names, addresses and items customers send them. The system would then try to guess their gender, age and the gift-giving occasion based on the type of present, messages written in gift cards, dates gifts are ordered, items on wish lists, and commentary in related consumer reviews.
The system appears particularly geared toward people buying gifts for children, with its ability to recommend “age appropriate” gifts.
Jason Catlett, founder of Junkbusters, a consumer watchdog, said:
He’s particularly dismayed by the prospect of Amazon monitoring customer reviews for marketing purposes.
Well, so am I. But I think Catlett is onto something when he says:
Wired reports that huge spending bill signed into law by President Bush on Wednesday could create a new hot job-growth sector: chief privacy officers.
Every federal agency, regardless of size or function, will have to hire a chief privacy officer and employ an outside auditing firm biennially to ensure compliance with the nation’s privacy laws, according to a little-noticed provision.
The officers will be charged with making sure new technologies do not impinge on civil liberties and that federal databases comply with fair information practices.
Washington Post analyses erosion of online privacy, this time coming from Google:
Richard M. Smith, an Internet security consultant says:
ZDNet has an article about the implanted RDIF chips and the debate about its pros and cons.
Advocates of technologies like radio frequency identification tags say their potentially life-saving benefits far outweigh any Orwellian concerns about privacy. RFID tags sewn into clothing or even embedded under people’s skin could curb identity theft, help identify disaster victims and improve medical care.
Critics, however, say such technologies would make it easier for government agencies to track a person’s every movement and allow widespread invasion of privacy. Abuse could take countless other forms, including corporations surreptitiously identifying shoppers for relentless sales pitches. Critics also speculate about a day when people’s possessions will be tagged – allowing nosy subway riders with the right technology to examine the contents of nearby purses and backpacks.
The notion of embedding RFID tags in the human body, though, remained largely theoretical until the 11 September, 2001, terrorist attacks, when a technology executive saw firefighters writing their badge numbers on their arms so that they could be identified in case they became disfigured or trapped.
Richard Seelig, vice president of medical applications at security specialist Applied Digital Solutions, inserted a tracking tag in his own arm and told the company’s chief executive that it worked. A new product, the VeriChip, was born.
Washington Post has an article about a test project, which aims to give frequent fliers a quicker pass through security checkpoints, is underway at four US airports. It relies on the latest biometric technologies to verify a passenger’s identity with increased precision. Digital fingerprint scans and photographs are already used to identify foreigners traveling on a visa, and U.S. officials plan to encode a facial recognition technology into passports.
The program offers the first wide application of iris-scanning technology, which had previously been used only for government employees with access to classified sites or for employees with access to nuclear facilities, said Paul Mirenda, director of field operations for LG Electronics Inc., one of the TSA’s contractors that makes the scanners. The technology takes a close-up photograph of the iris, which has more unique characteristics than a fingerprint, and applies digital codes to the photograph to store it as a bar code. The photograph and fingerprint are then stored in a file along with other information about the passenger.
But some security experts worry that terrorists could apply to become a registered traveler and score an easier pass through security checkpoints. “If you look at 9/11 hijackers, some of them would have qualified as frequent fliers. All they had to do is run a few tests and find out what the parameters were and get people registered.”
Travelers who signed up for the program yesterday said they were impressed with the technology and were eager to be afforded special privileges at the checkpoint. None of the enrollees said they had a problem with providing the government with their personal information.
Wired has more on the government’s controversial plan to screen passengers before they board a plane. The Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System II (CAPPS II) is dead – but it may return in a new form with a new name.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge bluntly told a reporter Wednesday that CAPPS II was effectively “dead” and jokingly pretended to put a stake in its heart. His comment went far beyond Tuesday’s statement to members of Congress by the Transportation Security Administration’s acting chief, Adm. David Stone, who said the program’s main components were being “reshaped”.
For its part, the American Conservative Union warned that it would oppose any successor program that is not fundamentally different from CAPPS II. ACU spokesman Ian Walter said:
Any new program will likely not be deployed anytime soon, as the TSA will likely need to reissue a Privacy Act notice detailing how the system will work, collect comments on the notice, issue new rules or a secret order to force airlines to provide passenger data to the system and have it certified by the GAO (General Accountability Office).
Bjarni Ólafsson of Great Auk draws our attention to an onslought on civil liberties by the Minister for Transportation, the Chief of Police in Reykjavík and the state “Traffic authority” have launched in the last two days. Böðvar Bragason, Chief of Police in Reykjavík muses:
Aarrrgh. We share your frustration, Bjarni.
James Lileks today, on where anti-Microsoft mania can lead:
A couple of interesting stories caught my eye.
First, the Queen is working hard to use legal means to include privacy clauses in the employment contracts with palace employees, in an effort to prevent leaks and protect the privacy of the Royal Family.
It is a sign of the times that the palace requires a Director for Internal Security to provide them with a modicum of privacy.
Meanwhile, in another sign of the times, US airlines and the US government are under fire for privacy breaches during background checks.
The potential for abuse here seems clear, and I hope that firm action is taken to prevent a reoccurance.
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