Monday, December 27, 2004

Facial Recognition Software in LAPD Use

Facial Recognition Software in LAPD Use. We first saw public use of facial recognition software in a well publicized and ineffective scanning of faces attending the Super Bowl two years ago. And now it's resurfaced on a smaller scale, in use by the LAPD for rousting teenagers on bicycles. Once again, this is being pushed by the company offering software for free "Field Use" by the Los Angeles Police Department.

When it comes down to privacy issues, this just feels wrong in the context of civil liberties abuses. The wired news story linked at the top of this post does claim that the software was ultimately successful at catching a gang member who had outstanding arrest warrants. But how do we come up with a Miranda warning for facial scans? "You have the right to cover your face so this facial scan won't work" doesn't seem appropriate.

Arrests made solely upon positive matches of facial recognition software will no doubt be tested in court and refined to a point where those scans may become commonplace and accepted. Until the day someone is stopped for a traffic infraction, facial scanned by the traffic officer and wrongly arrested because he's a double for some bad guy in the police database. He's required to undergo DNA testing and now is in police databases as having been arrested. Will all of that be removed from databases when he's exonerated later? DNA sample deleted? Facial scan deleted?

If facial recognition technology could be foolproof and successfully eliminate error from big brother uses, all to the good. But it's not foolproof and will result in false positives with facial recognition turning up a lot of lookalikes. Now it will become dangerous just to look like a criminal.

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posted by RealitySEO at 4:27 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Tools fuel phishing boom

Tools fuel phishing boom according to this BBC news story link. It's believed that home computers are hijacked by hacking attacks and then used to host phishing sites that appear to be financial institutions or services such as Paypal. These tools make it easier to hide from investigators since an Internet service provider can be notified of fraudulent use of their servers and shut down quickly. This technique keeps the computer from being shut down without physically visiting the home it is hosted in. Imagine the surprise of being told you are guilty of financial fraud - because your computer has been hijacked by hackers and you don't know about it.

It's getting scary out there folks! Install antivirus software and employ firewalls or use a router to keep out those hackers!

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posted by RealitySEO at 4:59 PM 0 comments

FTC Do-Not-Call Phone Spam Loophole

FTC Do-Not-Call Phone Spam Loophole could be the result if the FCC allows this absurd exception to the Do-Not-Call list. It allows companies with current business relationships to call with a recorded message to spam your answering machine. I'm already receiving these calls from credit card companies with misleading messages saying, "This is a call about important personal business matter." When I call back, expecting to hear about a late bill, I get a sales pitch for a service that they are hawking and want to charge to my card!

The tactic is deceptive. Let the FTC know you are opposed to this foolishness by January 6. The link in the news story above leads to a software vendor, not the do-not-call comment line as of today, so there is no obvious way to comment except by phone to the FTC. 202-FTC-HELP (202-383-4357)

Looking over the official FTC web site for Do-Not-Call yields no clues about a comment period and only provides the automated line to register with the Do Not Call list. Although there is a complaint form, there is no way to simply voice an opinion directly to the FTC about this proposed loophole except the number above.

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posted by RealitySEO at 4:51 PM 0 comments

Phishing, Spoofing a Felony?

Phishing, Spoofing a Felony? This story in the Richmond Virginia Time Dsipatch tells of Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore and state lawmakers considering legislation that will make the internet fraud of Phishing and they hope to make their proposed law a model for the country and see it progressing to become a nationwide anti-fraud law encompassing methods of fraud to perpetrate identity theft. Personally, this is the reason I became involved in privacy issues online, because I was taken in by an online ruse to collect my private personal and financial information several years ago. That made me more vigilant and prevented further attempts to steal my identity online. As a result, I became a privacy advocate online and launched, first a privacy issues discussion list and then this web site to help others avoid that same experience. I'm very happy to see laws being passed to elevate the level of the crime to felony.

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posted by RealitySEO at 3:14 PM 0 comments