Loss of Privacy

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

Browsing Posts in Biometrics

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.



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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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Tesco has decided to install face tracking technology that will scan shoppers’ faces and then display video advertising to them at all its petrol/gas stations. Amscreen‘s face tracking technology claims it will revolutionize the advertising industry.

The system, known as OptimEyes, determines the customers’ age and gender while they wait in line at the cash register.

The new platform is making waves in the advertising industry, as it can track and report on consumers advertising viewing habits, providing a breakdown of the gender, age, date, time and volume of the consumers who look at the advert. The unique technology is set to shake up the advertising industry due to the accountability it provides.

Although it may sound like a good idea, Big Brother Watch’s Nick Pickles and other privacy advocates disagree.

…there are two fundamental problems here; not least the fact that the only way you can ensure your face is not scanned is to not go into the shop. Firstly, should we really be increasing the amount of surveillance we’re under so that some companies can sell more advertising? Secondly, the technology isn’t going to stay the same and be used in the same way. The potential for abuse is chilling.

When combined with other data collecting programs, the abuses could be massive. Add Google, Facebook, and store loyalty cards together with OptimEyes and a frightening picture for the future begins to develop.

Simon Sugar, chief executive of Amscreen, the firm which sells the technology, has admitted it has connotations of science fiction, but is looking to increase its reach further. ‘Yes, it’s like something out of Minority Report, but this could change the face of British retail and our plans are to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible,’ he said.”

This should not be reassuring to anyone. While it is not yet a facial recognition program attached to a database of faces, the current climate of governments and corporations spying on its citizens and customers is not far off.

OptimEyes is merely the beginning of full-blown personalized advertising. Once consumers are used to this sort of spying, it will become a facial recognition program and you will be recognized and ads will pertain specifically to you, just like they were in Minority Report.

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