March 26, 2012
J. D. Heyes
Anytime you download a movie from Netflix to your television or turn on an Internet-based radio, you could be alerting people who you don’t want or need watching you.
According totheCentral Intelligence Agency, the organization says spies won’t have to plant bugs in homes, businesses or other places where they want to spy because of coming advances in computer and Internet technology. Specifically, CIA Director David Petraeus, one-time commander of the Iraq and Afghanistan war theaters, says new apps and the rise of “connected” devices means people, essentially, will be bugging their own homes.
The CIA says it is very possible the agency and others will be able to “read” these and other gadgets from outside the places they want to monitor via the Internet and perhaps even with radio waves outside your home.
Nowadays, everything can be controlled by an app – your home security system, a clock radio, remote controls, the lighting in your kitchen. And, according toWiredmagazine’s online “Danger Zone” blog, it’s going to get better – or worse, depending on your point of view. Computer-chip maker ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which can and will be used in virtually everything, including refrigerators, doorbells and ovens.
The resulting flood of app-controlled devices will be able to be easily read and even manipulated and controlled, Petraeus said, adding that the technology will allow agents to spy without having to plant bugs, breaking or entering or engaging in other risky (or illegal?) behavior. Spies, instead, will simply monitor activity through existing apps in use by the subject.
“Transformationalis an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus said in comments made to a venture capital firm looking at new technologies that could transform previouslydumbappliances into an interconnected “Internet of things.”
“Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters – all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” he said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”
He acknowledged that these devices and the technology to use them to spy “change our notions of secrecy” and triggers a rethink of “our notions of identity and secrecy.”
‘Mapping’ our lives?
Those like Petraeus who are looking at the future say they believe someday such devices will be able to tell what modes of operation they are in at all times, and that they will be able to bemappedas efficiently as Google Maps charts the world right now. All of the devices that could be made into these so-calledsmartgadgets would become a wealth of information to spies if you are a “person of interest” – or not, critics contend. The advent of so-calledsmart homeswould mean occupants would be continually sending out specific, geolocated information that spies can intercept in real time.
As you might expect, though, such technology has already alarmed privacy advocates. Already groups such as theElectronic Freedom Foundation(EFF)have filed suit against the CIAand other government agencies for allegedly using social media networks to spy on people.
“Social-networking sites are becoming a part of the way we communicate every day and everyone thinks they are sharing information [on the sites] with just their friends,” Shane Witnov, a law student who worked on the case in 2009 on behalf of the EFF by theSamuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinicat theUniversity of California Berkeley School of Law. “Governments are using the sites but not in the way [citizens] expect when they sign up.”
Learn more at Natural News
March 22, 2012
“Another example of the government wanting to spy on its own people.” –KTRN
A lobbyist for the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) industry has convinced Connecticut legislators to consider implanting spy chips on the state’s license plates. Last Wednesday, the state Senate Transportation Committee voted unanimously to pass a bill asking the Department of Motor Vehicles to create a report on the implementation of RFID for motor vehicle registration by January 1.
Implanting the chips on license plates would enable real-time monitoring of all vehicles by positioning tracking stations at key points throughout the state. The main interest behind the bill is to generate automated ticket for drivers whose vehicle registration, emissions or insurance certification may have lapsed for a day or two. RFID makes photo enforcement systems far more accurate. Instead of having optical character recognition software identify vehicles from a picture of a license plate — often guessing when images are unclear — the chips would broadcast vehicle identity to nearby stations under all weather conditions.
Former astronaut Paul Scully-Power brought the idea to the attention of lawmakers. Scully-Power stands to profit significantly should the technology be adapted at the state level, as he is the former CEO of Mikoh Corporation and SensorConnect Inc, both of which sell RFID solutions. Scully-Power’s written testimony to highlighted how legislators would fare equally well by adopting the technology.
October 11th, 2010
The Houston Chronicle
By: Jennifer Radcliffe
Radio frequency identification — the same technology used to monitor cattle — is tracking students in the Spring and Santa Fe school districts.
Identification badges for some students in both school districts now include tracking devices that allow campus administrators to keep tabs on students’ whereabouts on campus. School leaders say the devices improve security and increase attendance rates.
“It’s a wonderful asset,” said Veronica Vijil, principal of Bailey Middle School in Spring, one of the campuses that introduced the high-tech badges this fall.
But some parents and privacy advocates question whether the technology could have unintended consequences. The tags remind them of George Orwell’s Big Brother, and they worry that hackers could figure a way to track students after they leave school.
Identity theft and stalking could become serious concerns, some said.
“There’s real questions about the security risks involved with these gadgets,” said Dotty Griffith, public education director for the ACLU of Texas. “Readers can skim information. To the best of my knowledge, these things are not foolproof. We constantly see cases where people are skimming, hacking and stealing identities from sophisticated systems.”
The American Civil Liberties Union fought the use of this technology in 2005 – when a rural elementary school in California was thought to be the first in the U.S. to introduce the badges. The program was dismantled because of parental concern.
Just last month, another district in California used federal stimulus money to buy tags for preschool students, drawing national attention and outrage.
Yet, the program has been quietly growing in the Houston area.
Spring has been steadily expanding the system since December 2008. Currently, about 13,500 of the district’s 36,000 students have the upgraded badges, which are just slightly thicker than the average ID tag to allow for the special chip.
Chip readers placed strategically on campuses and on school buses can pick up where a student is – or at least where they left their badge. The readers cannot track students once they leave school property, said Christine Porter, Spring’s associate superintendent for financial services.
The biggest benefit so far has been recovering attendance funding at middle and high schools. Every day, the district uses the tracking system to check on the whereabouts of students counted absent by classroom teachers. Oftentimes, the student is somewhere else on campus, allowing the district to recover $194,000 in state funding since December 2008.
The technology easily pays for itself within about three years at secondary schools, Porter said.
Students haven’t complained much about the new badges. Most are used to being electronically monitored; their campuses have had surveillance cameras for years.
“It feels like someone’s watching you at all times,” said Jacorey Jackson, 11, a sixth-grader at Bailey Middle School.
Advantages and risks
Classmate Kamryn Jefferson admitted that it feels a bit awkward to know adults can track her every movement on campus, but she understands the benefits. “It makes you mindful knowing you could get caught if you do something wrong,” she added.
In case of a fire, administrators would be able to see if any students are trapped inside a building. If a student disappears, they’ll know exactly when they left campus.
Without fanfare, the Santa Fe school district followed Spring’s lead and introduced the special ID tags at their secondary schools this fall. They’ve received few complaints about the mandatory badges.
“It’s a very secure system,” said Patti Hanssard, spokeswoman for the Santa Fe ISD. “There’s no data to confirm that there’s any health or safety risks.”
Parent Jennifer Alvarez said she has several concerns about the technology – from whether the chips could have negative health implications to whether predators could hack into the system.
“While we can control our district and have good intent, we do not control other outside persons,” she said. “The system ultimately puts students at a safety risk if bad intent is acted upon – a factor we do not control.”
State officials were surprised to learn about the technology, and urged districts to offer an alternative to families with concern.
“They can’t deny a kid an education for refusing to use it,” Texas Education Agency spokeswoman DeEtta Cul- bertson said. “They can take disciplinary action, but they can’t deny an education.”
Security expert Kenneth Trump said schools also should be prepared for unintended glitches as they introduce the new technology.
“Too often we see well-intended ideas implemented and a year or two down the road, our assessments find huge disparities in what people believe is being done and what is actually happening in day-to-day practice,” he said. “School security equipment gets installed and there is a lot of buzz about it, and two years down the road it is not in use, not being used properly, or out-of-service due to the lack of ongoing funds for maintenance, repair, replacement or day-to-day operating costs.”
July 23, 2010
By: Habib Toumi
Parents will get a text message every time the pupil gets on or off the vehicle on the way to or from school.
Manama An Indian school in Qatar will in September implement a high-tech solution that will enable administrators and parents to monitor students’ use of the school buses. The decision was made following the tragic death of a kindergarten student in May after she was left in a locked minivan for hours.
Called Automated Child Tracking System (ACTS), the state-of-the-art monitoring system will be adopted by Birla Public School when the school reopens after the summer vacation, officials said.
“We have been working on this system for quite some time so children can be monitored to ensure their security and safety,” A K Shrivastava, the school principal, said, quoted by Qatari daily The Peninsula.
A Qatar-based IT solutions provider, iNet Middle East, will implement the automated Radio Frequency Identification (Rfid)-based student tracking system in the school’s buses. iNet uses a combination of Rfid, GPS (Global Positioning System) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) technologies.
Rfid is an automatic identification system that enables data to be transmitted by a portable device, called tag, read by an Rfid reader and processed according to the needs of a particular application. All the buses of BPS will be equipped with Rfid readers and each student will be given an Rfid card that incorporates GPS and GPRS technologies, with all the student’s particulars printed on it, the daily said.
The parents, through the technology, will get a text message every time the student gets on or off the bus on the way to school or home. Alert messages will also be sent to the school authorities.“This technology will give peace of mind not only to the parents but also to us,” said Shrivastava, adding parents had been consulted with regard to the scheme and they had given positive feedback.
Sunil Nair, iNet manager, said the application software displays a real-time view of the location of the bus as well as the student inside the bus at any time.
The text messages would be very specific. “For instance, if a child is still inside the bus five minutes after the vehicle’s engine is turned off, a text message will be sent to the school authorities,” he said. ACTS will be introduced in a phased manner and the school will in September launch Phase 1 that covers KG I, KG II, Class I and Class II students.
July 12, 2009
My Way News
by Todd Lewan
Climbing into his Volvo, outfitted with a Matrics antenna and a Motorola reader he’d bought on eBay for $190, Chris Paget cruised the streets of San Francisco with this objective: To read the identity cards of strangers, wirelessly, without ever leaving his car.
It took him 20 minutes to strike hacker’s gold.
Zipping past Fisherman’s Wharf, his scanner downloaded to his laptop the unique serial numbers of two pedestrians’ electronic U.S. passport cards embedded with radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags. Within an hour, he’d “skimmed” four more of the new, microchipped PASS cards from a distance of 20 feet.
Increasingly, government officials are promoting the chipping of identity documents as a 21st century application of technology that will help speed border crossings, safeguard credentials against counterfeiters, and keep terrorists from sneaking into the country.
But Paget’s February experiment demonstrated something privacy advocates had feared for years: That RFID, coupled with other technologies, could make people trackable without their knowledge.
He filmed his heist, and soon his video went viral on the Web, intensifying a debate over a push by government, federal and state, to put tracking technologies in identity documents and over their potential to erode privacy.
Putting a traceable RFID in every pocket has the potential to make everybody a blip on someone’s radar screen, critics say, and to redefine Orwellian government snooping for the digital age.
“Little Brother,” some are already calling it – even though elements of the global surveillance web they warn against exist only on drawing boards, neither available nor approved for use.
But with advances in tracking technologies coming at an ever-faster rate, critics say, it won’t be long before governments could be able to identify and track anyone in real time, 24-7, from a cafe in Paris to the shores of California.
On June 1, it became mandatory for Americans entering the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean to present identity documents embedded with RFID tags, though conventional passports remain valid until they expire.
Among new options are the chipped “e-passport,” and the new, electronic PASS card – credit-card sized, with the bearer’s digital photograph and a chip that can be scanned through a pocket, backpack or purse from 30 feet.
Alternatively, travelers can use “enhanced” driver’s licenses embedded with RFID tags now being issued in some border states: Washington, Vermont, Michigan and New York. Texas and Arizona have entered into agreements with the federal government to offer chipped licenses, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recommended expansion to non-border states. Kansas and Florida officials have received DHS briefings on the licenses, agency records show.
The purpose of using RFID is not to identify people, says Mary Ellen Callahan, the chief privacy officer at Homeland Security, but “to verify that the identification document holds valid information about you.”
An RFID document that doubles as a U.S. travel credential “only makes it easier to pull the right record fast enough, to make sure that the border flows, and is operational” – even though a 2005 Government Accountability Office report found that government RFID readers often failed to detect travelers’ tags.
Critics warn that RFID-tagged identities will enable identity thieves and other criminals to commit “contactless” crimes against victims who won’t immediately know they’ve been violated.
Neville Pattinson, vice president for government affairs at Gemalto, Inc., a major supplier of microchipped cards, is no RFID basher. He’s a board member of the Smart Card Alliance, an RFID industry group, and is serving on the Department of Homeland Security’s Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee.
In a 2007 article published by a newsletter for privacy professionals, Pattinson called the chipped cards vulnerable “to attacks from hackers, identity thieves and possibly even terrorists.”