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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 ‘Cameras’ Category

    Update: Aaron’s Rent-To-Own Chain to Pay $28.4 Million in Settlement Over Privacy, Consumer Protection

    Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

    Last year, the Federal Trade Commission negotiated a settlement with Aaron’s Rent-To-Own concerning surveillance software that was installed on computers that consumers rented from them. The software,  PC Rental Agent from DesignerWare, allowed access to personal e-mails, financial and medical data and webcam photos of partially undressed individuals, the FTC said.

    Now, Aaron’s Rent-To-Own has negotiated a settlement with California over charges that it violated the state’s privacy and consumer protection laws. The privacy portion of the settlement is related to the surveillance software. California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced in a statement:

    In addition, the complaint alleges that Aaron’s violated California state privacy laws by permitting its franchised stores to install spyware on laptop computers rented to its customers. A feature in the spyware program called ‘Detective Mode’, which was installed without consumers’ consent or knowledge, allowed the Aaron’s franchisees to remotely monitor keystrokes, capture screenshots, track the physical location of consumers and even activate the rented computer’s webcam. The installation of this software without customer consent violated California law. Read more »

    Reuters: Dubai detectives to get Google Glass to fight crime

    Monday, October 6th, 2014

    Reuters reports that law enforcement officials in Dubai will start using Google eyewear that includes facial-recognition technology, which raises privacy questions:

    Dubai police plan to issue detectives with Google Glass hands-free eyewear to help them fight crime using facial recognition technology, a police spokesman in the wealthy Gulf Arab emirate said.

    The wearable device consists of a tiny computer screen mounted in the corner of an eyeglass frame and is capable of taking photos, recording video and playing sound.

    The spokesman confirmed a report in Dubai’s 7 Days newspaper that software developed by Dubai police would enable a connection between the wearer and a database of wanted people.

    Once the device “recognized” a suspect based on a face print, it would alert the officer wearing the gadget.

     

    Los Angeles Times: Growing use of police body cameras raises privacy concerns

    Monday, September 29th, 2014

    The Los Angeles Times reports that local police departments nationwide are increasingly attaching body cameras to officers. This has raised privacy and civil liberties questions. The Times reports:

    The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, along with police in New York, Chicago and Washington, have launched pilot programs to test cameras for wider deployment.

    But equipping police with such devices also raises new and unsettled issues over privacy at a time when many Americans have been critical of the kind of powerful government surveillance measures that technology has made possible.

    For many departments, questions remain about when officers should be allowed to turn off such cameras — especially in cases involving domestic violence or rape victims — and the extent to which video could be made public. [...] Read more »

    Associated Press: As police scan millions of license plates, civil libertarians question how info is being used

    Monday, September 22nd, 2014

    We’ve discussed the privacy and civil liberty issues connected with the use of license-plate-scanner recognition technology to gather and record drivers’ movements. Often, we don’t know what the restrictions are on the collection and use of the data. (See a previous post for more information on the camera surveillance technology.) Now, the Associated Press reports on privacy and civil liberty questions as the camera surveillance systems are proliferating nationwide:

    LOS ANGELES — A rapidly expanding digital network that uses cameras mounted to traffic signals and police cruisers captures the movements of millions of vehicles across the U.S., regardless of whether the drivers are being investigated by law enforcement.

    The license plate scanning systems have multiplied across the U.S. over the last decade, funded largely by Homeland Security grants, and judges recently have upheld authorities’ rights to keep details from hundreds of millions of scans a secret from the public. Read more »

    Wall Street Journal: Sotomayor: Americans Should be Alarmed by Spread of Drones

    Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

    The Wall Street Journal reports on comments by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor concerning privacy and aerial drones (also known as “unmanned aerial vehicles” or “unmanned aircraft systems,” UAV or UAS). For more on drones and privacy, read this previous post. The Journal reports:

    Americans should be more concerned about their privacy being invaded by the spread of drones, Justice Sonia Sotomayor told an Oklahoma City audience on Thursday.

    Speaking before a group of faculty members and students at Oklahoma City University’s law school on Sept. 11, Justice Sotomayor said “frightening” changes in surveillance technology should encourage citizens to take a more active role in the privacy debate. She said she’s particularly troubled by the potential for commercial and government drones to compromise personal privacy.

    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.