March 5, 2012
By Madison Ruppert
“It’s not only the electromagnetic chaos you need to be concerned about with cell phones – it’s also the fact they have the ability to spy on your every move.” –KTRN
The West Virginia Department of Homeland Security released an app for mobile phones they have called the “Suspicious Activity Reporting” application.
This application will allow for citizens to report “suspicious persons” more easily than ever before, ushering in the digital age of citizen spying, a thought which would make Stalin and those like him drool with envy.
The new application was recently unveiled by the Department of Homeland Security’s branch in West Virginia in concert with the office of the governor of West Virginia and if it is successful it could likely see a much wider distribution.
“With the assistance of our citizens, important information can quickly get into the hands of our law enforcement community allowing them to provide better protection,” Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said in an official statement.
The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or the Android Market and is quite simple in its functionality, although it is not the first.
Indeed, last year, the homeland security branch in Kentucky launched their “Eyes and Ears on Kentucky” app for the iPhone.
This trend of digitizing the practice of citizen spying might prove much more effective than previous campaigns like the “see something, say something” effort launched by the Department of Homeland Security.
I believe that this will prove more effective in terms of intelligence gathering because people might be more ready to anonymously submit a picture through an iPhone app than they are to pick up the phone and call a hotline to report something.
September 13, 2010
by Thomas Frank
The Homeland Security Department plans to test futuristic iris scan technology that stores digital images of people’s eyes in a database and is considered a quicker alternative to fingerprints.
The department will run a two-week test in October of commercially sold iris scanners at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, where they will be used on illegal immigrants, said Arun Vemury, program manager at the department’s Science and Technology branch.
“The test will help us determine how viable this is for potential (department) use in the future,” Vemury said.
Iris scanners are little used, but a new generation of cameras that capture images from 6 feet away instead of a few inches has sparked interest from government agencies and financial firms, said Patrick Grother, a National Institute of Standards and Technology computer scientist. The technology also has sparked objections from the American Civil Liberties Union.
ACLU lawyer Christopher Calabrese fears that the cameras could be used covertly. “If you can identify any individual at a distance and without their knowledge, you literally allow the physical tracking of a person anywhere there’s a camera and access to the Internet,” he said.
Iris scans can be quicker than fingerprints. “You can walk up to a wall-mounted box, look at the camera, and that’s it,” Grother said.
Homeland Security will test cameras that take photos from 3 or 4 feet away, including one that works on people as they walk by, Vemury said.
In 2007, the U.S. military began taking iris scans of thousands of Iraqis to track suspected militants. The technology was used in about 20 U.S. airports from 2005 to 2008 to identify passengers in the Registered Traveler program, who could skip to the front of security lines.
Financial companies hope the scans can stop identity fraud, said Jeff Carter of Global Rainmakers, a New York City firm developing the technology. “Iris is going to completely reshape the fraud environment,” he said.
January 11, 2010
By Mike Adams
The TSA has been lying to the American people about full-body scanners. The agency has insisted that these “digital strip search” machines are incapable of saving, storing or transmitting the images they take. This, we are told, makes it okay for people to be digitally strip-searched.
But secret documents uncovered by the Electronic Privacy Information Center have revealed that these machines do indeed posses precisely such capabilities. According to TSA specification requirement documents that have been uncovered by the EPIC, all full-body scanners purchased by the TSA must have the ability to both save and transmit the scanned images of air passengers.
The documents were obtained by EPIC through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. They have also been shared with CNN, which has viewed the documents and published a story about what they reveal.
These documents contradict the claims of the TSA, which include the statement that “the system has no way to save, transmit or print the image.”
TSA misleads the public
The TSA’s own “imaging technology” page claims, “This state-of-the-art technology cannot store, print, transmit or save the image. In fact, all machines are delivered to airports with these functions disabled.”
That in itself is an interesting statement because by stating those functions are “disabled,” it also admits that the machines inherently have these functions. And just because the machines are delivered with the functions disabled doesn’t mean those functions can’t be re-enabled at the flick of a switch.
In other words, these machines are designed and constructed with the ability to save, store and transmit the images.
“I don’t think the TSA has been forthcoming with the American public about the true capability of these devices,” said the Executive Director of EPIC, Marc Rotenberg in a CNN interview. “They’ve done a bunch of very slick promotions where they show people — including journalists — going through the devices. And then they reassure people, based on the images that have been produced, that there’s not any privacy concerns. But if you look at the actual technical specifications and you read the vendor contracts, you come to understand that these machines are capable of doing far more than the TSA has let on.”
In other words, the TSA is telling the public and the press one thing, but the machines they’re buying are capable of something far more insidious, these documents reveal. Is the TSA intentionally lying to the public in order to mislead people over the real capabilities of these machines?
If these full-body scanners can save, store and transmit images, then it’s only a matter of time before some rogue TSA employee finds a way to copy off the images or display them on the screen so that they can take snapshots with their own portable cameras.
The TSA says it’s protecting your privacy. But its own scanner specification documents tell a different story: The TSA won’t even buy these machines unless they can save, store and transmit revealing images of air passengers.