Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

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law-justice

A new ruling states that criminal defendants can be compelled to give up their fingerprints, but not a pass code in allowing police to search a cellphone. The issue arose during the case of David Baust, who was charged with trying to strangle his girlfriend.

Prosecutors had said video equipment in Baust’s bedroom may have recorded the couple’s fight and, if so, the video could be on his cellphone. They wanted a judge to force Baust to unlock his phone, but Baust’s attorney, James Broccoletti, argued pass codes are protected by the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits forced self-incrimination.

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.

According to Judge Steven C. Fucci, while a criminal defendant can’t be compelled to hand over a passcode to police officers for the purpose of unlocking a cellular device, law enforcement officials can compel a defendant to give up a fingerprint.

With this power, the police can search a cellphone. What one person may think is innocent, the police might find cause for concern. That cute photograph of your child taking a bath could be construed as child pornography. A judge may later see it as the innocent picture it was meant to be, but you have now been fingerprinted, photographed and jailed. You’re innocent, but you may have already lost your job, reputation, family and friends.

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Researchers at the University of Rochester Create a Three-dimensional,Transmitting, Continuously Multidirectional Cloaking Device

Inspired perhaps by Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, scientists have recently developed several ways—some simple and some involving new technologies—to hide objects from view. The latest effort, developed at the University of Rochester, not only overcomes some of the limitations of previous devices, but it uses inexpensive, readily available materials in a novel configuration.

“There’ve been many high tech approaches to cloaking and the basic idea behind these is to take light and have it pass around something as if it isn’t there, often using high-tech or exotic materials,” said John Howell, a professor of physics at the University of Rochester. Forgoing the specialized components, Howell and graduate student Joseph Choi developed a combination of four standard lenses that keeps the object hidden as the viewer moves up to several degrees away from the optimal viewing position.

“This is the first device that we know of that can do three-dimensional, continuously multidirectional cloaking, which works for transmitting rays in the visible spectrum,” said Choi, a PhD student at Rochester’s Institute of Optics.

Many cloaking designs work fine when you look at an object straight on, but if you move your viewpoint even a little, the object becomes visible, explains Howell. Choi added that previous cloaking devices can also cause the background to shift drastically, making it obvious that the cloaking device is present.

In order to both cloak an object and leave the background undisturbed, the researchers determined the lens type and power needed, as well as the precise distance to separate the four lenses. To test their device, they placed the cloaked object in front of a grid background. As they looked through the lenses and changed their viewing angle by moving from side to side, the grid shifted accordingly as if the cloaking device was not there. There was no discontinuity in the grid lines behind the cloaked object, compared to the background, and the grid sizes (magnification) matched.

The Rochester Cloak can be scaled up as large as the size of the lenses, allowing fairly large objects to be cloaked. And, unlike some other devices, it’s broadband so it works for the whole visible spectrum of light, rather than only for specific frequencies.

Their simple configuration improves on other cloaking devices, but it’s not perfect. “This cloak bends light and sends it through the center of the device, so the on-axis region cannot be blocked or cloaked,” said Choi. This means that the cloaked region is shaped like a doughnut. He added that they have slightly more complicated designs that solve the problem. Also, the cloak has edge effects, but these can be reduced when sufficiently large lenses are used.

In a new paper submitted to the journal Optics Express and available on arXiv.org, Howell and Choi provide a mathematical formalism for this type of cloaking that can work for angles up to 15 degrees, or more. They use a technique called ABCD matrices that describes how light bends when going through lenses, mirrors, or other optical elements.

While their device is not quite like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, Howell had some thoughts about potential applications, including using cloaking to effectively let a surgeon “look through his hands to what he is actually operating on,” he said. The same principles could be applied to a truck to allow drivers to see through blind spots on their vehicles.

Howell became interested in creating simple cloaking devices with off-the-shelf materials while working on a holiday project with his children. Together with his 14 year-old son and Choi, he recently published a paper about some of the possibilities, and also demonstrated simple cloaking with mirrors, like magicians would use.

More at the University of Rochester.

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From EPIC:

The FBI announced that the Next Generation Identification system, one of the largest biometric databases in the world, has reached “full operational capability.” In 2013, EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit about the NGI program. EPIC obtained documents that revealed an acceptance of a 20% error rate in facial recognition searches. Earlier this year, EPIC joined a coalition of civil liberties groups to urge the Attorney General Eric Holder to release an updated Privacy Impact Assessment for the NGI. The NGI is tied to “Rap Back,” the FBI’s ongoing investigation of civilians in trusted positions. EPIC also obtained FOIA documents revealing FBI agreements with state DMVs to run facial recognition searches, linked to NGI, on DMV databases. EPIC’s recent Spotlight on Surveillance concluded that NGI has “far-reaching implications for personal privacy and the risks of mass surveillance.” For more information, see EPIC: EPIC v. FBI – Next Generation identification.

Discussion at Slashdot.

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Facial recognition software has come a long way in the past few years. While early face recognition software needed human input at every step, it’s advanced enough today that it can compare a single face against millions of faces on record in just a few seconds.

Face-Recognition

Source.

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Ralph Lauren is the first luxury lifestyle brand to offer apparel that tracks and streams real-time workout data directly to your smartphone or tablet.

From Wired UK:

The shirt has biosensing silver fibres woven into its core and it can therefore be used to track distance, calories burned, movement intensity, heart rate and stress rate in real time. The moisture-wicking compression fabric apparently also increases blood circulation and aids muscle recovery — although this is the aim of much existing athletic garb.

The shirts have been created with the help of Canadian tech company OMsignal. The data collected by the shirt is stored in a black box, which incorporates an accelerometer and gyroscope. This black box then transmits data into the cloud, where it encounters a number of algorithms that pick out the key biometrics and psychometrics that the athlete, and maybe their coach, will want to know.

This black box is a separate device that can fit comfortably in the palm of your hand and will last for up to 30 workouts before it needs recharging. It fits into the Ralph Lauren shirt and will ensure all the relevant data is properly transmitted to the app on your smartphone in real-time.

It should also be noted that OMsignal have a number of similar products already on the market that are no doubt cheaper than the Ralph Lauren version will be — and even then, they ain’t cheap.

More at Ralph Lauren.

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