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Intersection: Sidewalks & Public Space

Chapter by Melissa Ngo

"The Myth of Security Under Camera Surveillance"


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    Archive for the ‘Biometrics’ Category

    New York Times: With Tech Taking Over in Schools, Worries Rise

    Monday, September 15th, 2014

    The New York Times reports that there are increasing concerns about student privacy nationwide:

    At a New York state elementary school, teachers can use a behavior-monitoring app to compile information on which children have positive attitudes and which act out. In Georgia, some high school cafeterias are using a biometric identification system to let students pay for lunch by scanning the palms of their hands at the checkout line. [...]

    Now California is poised to become the first state to comprehensively restrict how such information is exploited by the growing education technology industry.

    Legislators in the state passed a law last month prohibiting educational sites, apps and cloud services used by schools from selling or disclosing personal information about students from kindergarten through high school; from using the children’s data to market to them; and from compiling dossiers on them. Read more »

    International Business Times: Sorry, Your Face is Maxed Out: Face Recognition Payment App Unveiled in China

    Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

    The International Business Times reports that Chinese academics say they have developed a new system of facial-recognition software that is able to collect data on individuals’ faces from 91 angles. The biometric data system is to be used as a payment system, which could raise privacy questions:  

    Academics at the Chongqing Institute of Green and Intelligent Technology in southwest China say they have developed a new system of face-recognition software which could radically change the way we shop.

    Shoppers would be snapped with a special camera which collects information about the face from 91 angles. Thisinformation is then analysed using two million sets of data. The whole process takes just a few seconds. In 1,000 tests the system was reported to be accurate on 998 occasions. [...]

    The software can even factor in changes to faces caused by the ravages of time – and shopping. The system could be launched in the second half of 2015.

    The Chinese system isn’t the first to use face-recognition as a shopping tool: Finnish company Uniqul unveiled a similar device in 2013.

    Privacy International: Identity theft persists in Pakistan’s biometric era

    Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

    Privacy International recently looked into identity theft in Pakistan, a country that has registered many of its inhabitants’ biometric information and issued computerized national identification cards:

    Even in the world of biometric identity and strong systems, people are able to obtain fraudulent identity cards by changing their particular details, or, in some cases, only the photo ID. The former Chairman of [National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), the independent government agency responsible for the management of the entire national database system], Tariq Malik also said that given increasing levels of forgery and misuse in other personal documents, now is the hour to get expired identity cards renewed. He said that the menace of bogus identity cards could be wiped out by updating personal biometric details in the national database. [...]

    NADRA reports that it has deployed a state-of-the-art facial matching system with the capabilities to stop fraud and forgery in identity documents, yet people are still able to obtain forged identity cards. This was very puzzling to understand given the supposed surety, accuracy and privacy of NADRA database that such a scam was still happening even after the introduction of new chip-based identity cards.

    Read the full article for more information on identity theft in Pakistan.

    National Journal: Privacy Groups Sound the Alarm Over FBI’s Facial-Recognition Technology

    Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

    The National Journal reports that privacy organizations are asking the Department of Justice to consider the privacy implications for the FBI’s controversial facial-recognition technology database, which will soon be fully operational:

    More than 30 privacy and civil-liberties groups are asking the Justice Department to complete a long-promised audit of the FBI’s facial-recognition database.

    The groups argue the database, which the FBI says it uses to identify targets, could pose privacy risks to every American citizen because it has not been properly vetted, possesses dubious accuracy benchmarks, and may sweep up images of ordinary people not suspected of wrongdoing.

    In a joint letter sent Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and others warn that an FBI facial-recognition program “has undergone a radical transformation” since its last privacy review six years ago. That lack of recent oversight “raises serious privacy and civil-liberty concerns,” the groups contend. [...]

    The Next Generation Identification program—a biometric database that includes iris scans and palm prints along with facial recognition—is scheduled to become fully operational later this year and has not undergone a rigorous privacy litmus test—known as a Privacy Impact Assessment—since 2008, despite pledges from government officials. Read more »

    Center for Investigative Reporting: Privacy, accuracy concerns as license-plate readers expand

    Thursday, June 19th, 2014

    The Center for Investigative Reporting looks into privacy questions concerning the use of license-plate readers:

    [Today,] the use of license-plate readers has emerged as one of the biggest concerns among privacy advocates. Car-tracking technology is becoming ubiquitous in cities around the United States, and the types of data collected and analyzed with the help of license-plate readers is expanding into other realms of personal information.

    Documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting show that a leading maker of license-plate readers wants to merge the vehicle identification technology with other sources of identifying information. Vigilant Solutions is pushing a system that eventually could help fuse public records, license plates and facial recognition databases for police in the field.

    The Livermore company released facial recognition software last year for use in stationary and mobile devices. The technology uses algorithms to determine whether a person’s face matches that of someone in a law enforcement database. Like license-plate readers, privacy advocates say, the technology can make incorrect identifications that ensnare innocent people. Read more »

    Washington Post: Three awesome new Apple features that also protect your privacy

    Monday, June 9th, 2014

    The Washington Post reports on newly announced features from Apple that are privacy-protective:

    Apple critics are already bummed that the company didn’t release a new TV or shiny iDevice during its 2014 keynote at the World Wide Developers’ Conference. But WWDC has always been mainly about the software, and for fans of iOS and Mac OS X, there’s actually a lot to like.

    Some of the biggest changes take place under the hood. And this time, Apple has released a handful of software features that promise to improve security without sacrificing ease of use, which is often the tradeoff when it comes to protecting your data. Here’s a sampling. [...]

    A fingerprint sensor API. Last year, Apple introduced a hardware update to the iPhone that let users sign into their Apple accounts and unlock their devices just by pressing their thumb to the built-in sensor. Now, Apple’s making that same hardware available to developers, meaning you’ll soon be able to log in and make purchases with your fingerprint on third-party apps, too. The fingerprint itself won’t be directly accessible to the apps and will continue to be stored in a special locker inside Apple’s A7 processor, said Apple execs. It’s another step toward a future where the password no longer has to be memorable (and thus, easy to hack) to be useful.