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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

    Associated Press: Banks harvest callers’ voiceprints to fight fraud

    Thursday, October 16th, 2014

    The Associated Press reports that when some banks’ customers call in to customer service, their voiceprints are being gathered so the banks can identify them. This practice of gathering biometric information, sometimes without giving notice to or obtaining consent from customers, raises substantial privacy questions:

    An Associated Press investigation has found that two of America’s biggest retail banks — JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Wells Fargo & Co. — are quietly recording the biometric details of some callers’ voices to weed out fraud. The technology, sometimes called voiceprinting, is aimed at bad guys rather than legitimate customers, but legal and privacy experts alike still have reservations about the practice. [...]

    As it stands, seven major American financial institutions are already using blacklists or have run pilots, said Shirley Inscoe, an analyst with the Aite Group, a research and advisory firm. Read more »

    ESPN: NBA players union wants to ensure privacy in data collection

    Friday, October 10th, 2014

    ESPN reports that the NBA’s players union is considering players’ privacy rights as teams increasingly track players’ on- and off-court activities:

    As NBA teams use increased technology to track players on and off the court, the players’ union wants to ensure that privacy is still being protected.

    Franchises have been scrutinizing player movement on the court since the 2012-13 season, but data collection has also recently extended beyond the hardwood. Various teams have begun experimenting with sleep trackers, off-court movement monitors and fluid tests — including blood and sweat — in order to improve player health and performance.

    These developments have happened so quickly and quietly, however, that the National Basketball Players Association was not aware of these widespread biometric advances, and had not established a position on the issue, until ESPN The Magazine approached the union for comment in August. Read more »

    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 »