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    Archive for the ‘Cameras’ Category

    Boston Globe: Harvard secretly photographed students to study attendance

    Friday, November 7th, 2014

    The Boston Globe reports on a privacy controversy at Harvard University:

    Harvard University has revealed that it secretly photographed some 2,000 students in 10 lecture halls last spring as part of a study of classroom attendance, an admission that prompted criticism from faculty and students who said the research was an invasion of privacy.

    The clandestine experiment, disclosed publicly for the first time at a faculty meeting Tuesday night, came to light about a year-and-a-half after revelations that administrators had secretly searched thousands of Harvard e-mail accounts. That led the university to implement new privacy policies on electronic communication this spring, but another round of controversy followed the latest disclosure. [...] Read more »

    Associated Press: License plate data raises privacy concerns

    Thursday, November 6th, 2014

    The Associated Press reports on an issue that we’ve been hearing more about lately — privacy concerns with databases that track license-plate information.

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Privately owned license-plate imaging systems are popping up around Rochester and upstate New York – in parking lots, shopping malls and, soon, on at least a few parts of the New York state Thruway.

    Most surprisingly, the digital cameras are mounted on cars and trucks driven by a small army of repo men.

    Shadowing a practice of U.S. law enforcement that some find objectionable, records collected by the repo companies are added to an ever-growing database of license-plate records that is made available to government and commercial buyers. Read more »

    Virginian-Pilot: Police can require cellphone fingerprint, not pass code

    Monday, November 3rd, 2014

    The Virginian-Pilot reports on a court case in Virginia concerning the privacy of mobile devices, specifically ones that are biometrically locked with a fingerprint, such as some of Apple’s iPhones and iPads. (Note that Lifehacker has a suggested-solution for the problem of a forced unlocking of a fingerprint ID device.) The Virginian-Pilot reports:

    VIRGINIA BEACH — A Circuit Court judge has ruled that a criminal defendant can be compelled to give up his fingerprint, but not his pass code, to allow police to open and search his cellphone.

    The question of whether a phone’s pass code is constitutionally protected surfaced in the case of David Baust, an Emergency Medical Services captain charged in February with trying to strangle his girlfriend. [...]

    Judge Steven C. Frucci ruled this week that giving police a fingerprint is akin to providing a DNA or handwriting sample or an actual key, which the law permits. A pass code, though, requires the defendant to divulge knowledge, which the law protects against, according to Frucci’s written opinion.

    Eurasia Review: Interpol Facial Recognition Experts Meeting Develops Global Guidelines

    Monday, October 27th, 2014

    Eurasia Review reports that facial-recognition technology experts are developing global guidelines for the use of the biometric technology, which could have wide-ranging impact on individuals’ privacy:

    The first meeting of the INTERPOL Facial Expert Working Group brought together global experts in biometrics to begin the process of developing international facial recognition standards.

    The two-day meeting (14 and 15 October) gathered 24 technical and biometrics experts and examiners from 16 countries who produced a ‘best practice guide’ for the quality, format and transmission of images to be used in facial recognition. [...]

    INTERPOL is currently developing a facial image database with the support of Safran Morpho, a leader in biometrics in the private sector. The database is expected to become operational in early 2015, and will enhance INTERPOL’s forensic capabilities as many crimes do not have hard evidence such as DNA or fingerprints to help identify suspects.

     

    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.