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Postby IanEye » Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:12 pm

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Postby stefano » Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:04 am

Thanks Uncle$cam...

U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm That Monitors Blogs, Tweets
Noah Shachtman
October 19, 2009

America’s spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates — even check out your book reviews on Amazon.

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It’s part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using ”open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.

Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. (It doesn’t touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment.) Customers get customized, real-time feeds of what’s being said on these sites, based on a series of keywords.

“That’s kind of the basic step — get in and monitor,” says company senior vice president Blake Cahill.

Then Visible “scores” each post, labeling it as positive or negative, mixed or neutral. It examines how influential a conversation or an author is. (”Trying to determine who really matters,” as Cahill puts it.) Finally, Visible gives users a chance to tag posts, forward them to colleagues and allow them to response through a web interface.

In-Q-Tel says it wants Visible to keep track of foreign social media, and give spooks “early-warning detection on how issues are playing internationally,” spokesperson Donald Tighe tells Danger Room.

Of course, such a tool can also be pointed inward, at domestic bloggers or tweeters. Visible already keeps tabs on web 2.0 sites for Dell, AT&T and Verizon. For Microsoft, the company is monitoring the buzz on its Windows 7 rollout. For Spam-maker Hormel, Visible is tracking animal-right activists’ online campaigns against the company.

“Anything that is out in the open is fair game for collection,” says Steven Aftergood, who tracks intelligence issues at the Federation of American Scientists. But “even if information is openly gathered by intelligence agencies it would still be problematic if it were used for unauthorized domestic investigations or operations. Intelligence agencies or employees might be tempted to use the tools at their disposal to compile information on political figures, critics, journalists or others, and to exploit such information for political advantage. That is not permissible even if all of the information in question is technically ‘open source.’”

Visible chief executive officer Dan Vetras says the CIA is now an “end customer,” thanks to the In-Q-Tel investment. And more government clients are now on the horizon. “We just got awarded another one in the last few days,” Vetras adds.

Tighe disputes this — sort of. “This contract, this deal, this investment has nothing to do with any agency of government and this company,” he says. But Tighe quickly notes that In-Q-Tel does have “an interested end customer” in the intelligence community for Visibile. And if all goes well, the company’s software will be used in pilot programs at that agency. “In pilots, we use real data. And during the adoption phase, we use it real missions.”

Neither party would disclose the size of In-Q-Tel’s investment in Visible, a 90-person company with expected revenues of about $20 million in 2010. But a source familiar with the deal says the In-Q-Tel cash will be used to boost Visible’s foreign languages capabilities, which already include Arabic, French, Spanish and nine other languages.

trupulse2Visible has been trying for nearly a year to break into the government field. In late 2008, the company teamed up with the Washington, DC, consulting firm Concepts & Strategies, which has handled media monitoring and translation services for U.S. Strategic Command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others. On its website, Concepts & Strategies is recruiting “social media engagement specialists” with Defense Department experience and a high proficiency in Arabic, Farsi, French, Urdu or Russian. The company is also looking for an “information system security engineer” who already has a “Top Secret SCI [Sensitive Compartmentalized Information] with NSA Full Scope Polygraph” security clearance.

The intelligence community has been interested in social media for years. In-Q-Tel has sunk money into companies like Attensity, which recently announced its own web 2.0-monitoring service. The agencies have their own, password-protected blogs and wikis — even a MySpace for spooks. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence maintains an Open Source Center, which combs publicly available information, including web 2.0 sites. Doug Naquin, the Center’s Director, told an audience of intelligence professionals in October 2007 that “we’re looking now at YouTube, which carries some unique and honest-to-goodness intelligence…. We have groups looking at what they call ‘citizens media’: people taking pictures with their cell phones and posting them on the internet. Then there’s social media, phenomena like MySpace and blogs.”

But, “the CIA specifically needs the help of innovative tech firms to keep up with the pace of innovation in social media. Experienced IC [intelligence community] analysts may not be the best at detecting the incessant shift in popularity of social-networking sites. They need help in following young international internet user-herds as they move their allegiance from one site to another,” Lewis Shepherd, the former senior technology officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency, says in an e-mail. “Facebook says that more than 70 percent of its users are outside the U.S., in more than 180 countries. There are more than 200 non-U.S., non-English-language microblogging Twitter-clone sites today. If the intelligence community ignored that tsunami of real-time information, we’d call them incompetent.”
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Postby stefano » Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:00 am

Netherlands to levy 'green' road tax by the kilometre

THE HAGUE — The Dutch government said Friday it wants to introduce a "green" road tax by the kilometre from 2012 aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent and halving congestion.

"Each vehicle will be equipped with a GPS device that tracks how many kilometres are driven and when and where. This data will be then be sent to a collection agency that will send out the bill," the transport ministry said in a statement.

Ownership and sales taxes, about a quarter of the cost of a new car, will be scrapped and replaced by the "price per kilometre" system aimed at cutting the Netherlands' carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent.

"Traffic jams will be halved and it helps the environment," the ministry said.

Dutch motorists driving a standard family saloon will be charged 3 euro cents per kilometre (seven US cents per mile) in 2012. That would increase to 6.7 cents (16 US cents per mile) in 2018, according to the proposed law.

Every vehicle type will have a base rate, which depends on its size, weight and carbon dioxide emissions.

Taxis, vehicles for the disabled, buses, motorcycles and classic cars will all be exempt.

"An alternative payment will be introduced for foreign vehicles," the ministry statement added.

The Dutch cabinet approved the road tax bill on Friday. It will need the backing of parliament before it becomes law.
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Postby stefano » Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:45 am

Police routinely arresting people to get DNA, inquiry claims
Alan Travis
The Guardian, Tuesday 24 November 2009

Police officers are now routinely arresting people in order to add their DNA sample to the national police database, an inquiry will allege tomorrow.

The review of the national DNA database by the government's human genetics commission also raises the possibility that the DNA profiles of three-quarters of young black males, aged 18 to 35, are now on the database.

The human genetics commission report, Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?, says the national DNA database for England and Wales is already the largest in the world, at 5 million profiles and growing, yet has no clear statutory basis or independent oversight.

The highly critical report from the government's advisory body on the development of human genetics is published as the number of innocent people on the database is disclosed to be far higher than previously thought ‑ nearing 1 million.

The commission says the policy of routinely adding the DNA profiles of all those arrested has led to a highly disproportionate impact on different ethnic groups and the stigmatisation of young black men, with the danger of their being seen as "an 'alien wedge' of criminality".

The crime and security bill published last week by the home secretary, Alan Johnson, proposes to keep DNA profiles of people arrested but not convicted of any offence on the database for six years. This follows a landmark European court judgment last December, ruling illegal the current blanket policy of indefinite retention of DNA profiles whether or not the person has been convicted of an offence.

It adds that parliament never formally debated the establishment of the DNA database. Its evolution involved a "function creep" from being used to confirm police suspicions to identifying suspects. This resulted in the addition of more and more profiles without being clearly matched by an improvement in convictions.

The chairman of the commission, Prof Jonathan Montgomery, said: "It's now become pretty routine to take DNA samples on arrest. So large numbers of people on the DNA database will be there not because they have been convicted, but because they've been arrested."

He said the commission had received evidence from a former police superintendent that it was now the norm to arrest offenders for everything possible. "It is apparently understood by serving police officers that one of the reasons, if not the reason, for the change in practice is so that the DNA of the offender can be obtained," said Montgomery, adding that it would be a matter of very great concern if this was now a widespread practice.

The report says there is very little concrete evidence on the importance of the DNA match in leading to a conviction and whether the suspect would have been identified by other means anyway.

It argues the database creates "pre-suspects" who are the first to be checked whenever a new crime is entered. This leads to a "no smoke without fire" culture that may be pervasive and hard to overcome.

Professor Montgomery says in his foreword to the report that the DNA profiles of over three-quarters of young black men between 18 to 35 are recorded on the database. But the report itself says that such precise figures are unreliable because the categorisation of ethnicity depends entirely on the perception of the arresting officer: "The extreme preponderance of young black males on the database is [however] undeniable," says the commission and recommends that an equality impact statement be drawn up when legislation is introduced putting the database on a statutory footing.

The latest Home Office estimate for the number of innocent people on the DNA database is 980,000 according to the crime and security bill regulatory impact assessment published last Friday. This is a sharp rise compared with the 850,000 estimate of the DNA profiles of those who have been arrested but not charged or convicted published at the time of the European court of human rights ruling last year.
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Postby stefano » Wed Dec 02, 2009 6:35 am

Government taking newborn DNA samples
Updated: Tuesday, 24 Nov 2009, 10:39 PM CST
Published : Tuesday, 24 Nov 2009, 3:00 PM CST
KXAN (Austin)
Nanci Wilson

AUSTIN (KXAN) - When Andrea Beleno was expecting her first child, she never dreamed his blood would become the focus of a federal lawsuit.

Neither did the other families who are suing the State of Texas to protect the medical privacy of their children.

Each year, more than 400,000 babies are born in Texas. State law mandates that before newborns leave the hospital, his or her heel will be pricked and five drops of blood are collected.

Two weeks later, their pediatrician collects another five drops of blood. The blood cards are submitted to the Texas Department of State Health Services as part of the Newborn Screening program. One or two drops are used to screen for a list of serious medical conditions.

The parents are not objecting to the screening. They object to what the state is doing with the leftover blood samples.

Beginning in 2002, the State began saving the leftover specimens, unbeknownst to parents and without their consent.

"It made me really mad that nobody asked me if they could keep my sons DNA," said Andrea Beleno.

Her son’s DNA was among millions of banked samples stored at Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health.

"It makes me suspicious and I think there's really no reason for the state to have a database of the blood of and the DNA of every single person who has been born here," said Beleno. "There's no legitimate reason for that."

The state said there is a legitimate reason: Research.

According to court documents, the state admits some of the blood samples collected for the newborn screening program were used for other purposes, but said it was done in accordance with federal and state law.

"The government still has to ask," said Boleno. "They can't just take it. And everyone has the right to make that decision for themselves."

Jim Harrington, an attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project, who is representing Beleno and the other families in the federal lawsuit, said it violates the Fourth and 14th Amendments of the U. S. Constitution.

”It’s a bad thing,” said Harrington. "You have to consent to give up the right. And in this case it’s your right of privacy and your kid’s right of privacy.”

The lawsuit prompted change in the Texas Legislature. House Bill 1672 allows the State to keep and use the samples for research, but requires parents be informed and given the option of having their children’s leftover blood samples destroyed after screening. The state has 60 days to destroy the blood cards after receiving the official notification form from parents.

The form directs the state to destroy the card containing the dried blood spots, but does not insure any information gathered from the generic material is deleted.

According to the Use and Storage of Newborn Screening Bloodspot Cards information provided to parents, identifying information linking a child to a particular bloodspot is not allowed outside of the Department of State Health Services without advance consent of the child’s parent or guardian unless otherwise provided by law.

Patient privacy expert Dr. Deborah Peel said those words, "unless otherwise provided by law" create a huge loophole.

"It's not secret, it means they can share it and use it for research for public health," said Peel. "There are many laws that allows the use of samples, like newborn blood samples for public health uses and screening and so forth. So, no, you are not protected. That allows all kinds of people to see it."

House Bill 1672 allows the stored samples to be used in research if approved by what is called an Institutional Review Board. IRB’s are supposed to safeguard privacy and protect patients, but are not open to the public.

The IRB board appointed to oversee research on the stored bloodspots consists almost entirely of State employees. Harrington says that makes the process questionable.

"This is not a true independent professional review board," he said.

Perhaps most concerning, is the confidentiality clauses added to the new law that were designed to protect the identity of the newborns. The law states that reports, records and information obtained or developed by the department are confidential and are exempt from the Texas Public Information Act, and are not subject to subpoena.

In addition, anyone involved in the program, including state employees or employees of a contractor or subcontract can be compelled to testify in any kind of judicial proceeding as to the existence or contents of any records, reports or information.

The law does not allow for public disclosure of information such as who is involved and what kind of research is being conducted using the stored blood samples.

Jim Harrington said that is a problem.

"The reason we brought the suit was because of their secret, surreptitious conduct and then they turn around and are doing the exact same thing again," said Harrington. "And every time, of course, the government is not open and clear and transparent, it raises flags all over the place about what’s reallygoing on and what are they really up to?"

The issue of retaining newborn screening samples is not unique to Texas. Other states are dealing with the same issues. Balancing privacy issues with what is in the best interest of the public is a fine line. The federal government has invested millions in regional and national newborn screening collaborations.

National DNA Database

In 2006 and 2007, then, Senator Obama, filed legislation that would create a national DNA database. The same bill was filed by Sen. Patrick Kennedy in 2008 . The bills required parental consent, but all three died in the Senate.

Study finds support by some parents

Not everyone is opposed to collecting, storing and using DNA from the newborn screening program for later use. A study by the University of Michigan found that when asked for consent, only 24 percent of parents objected to using their newborns blood samples for research. That number jumped to 72 percent of parents who were somewhat or very unwilling when asked if the samples could be used without permission.

Andrea Beleno said she may have consented, if asked. But after seeing how the State of Texas has handled the issue, her mind is made up.

"For me and my family,” said Beleno, “No, you can't have our DNA."

So far, more than 8,200 other families have made that same decision to opt out of allowing the state to use their child’s genetic material.
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Postby stefano » Wed Dec 02, 2009 6:54 am

BBC man in terror quiz for photographing St Paul's sunset
Justin Davenport, Crime Correspondent
Evening Standard

A BBC photographer was stopped by police on suspicion of being a terrorist as he took pictures outside Tate Modern.

Jeff Overs, 48, was photographing sunset over St Paul's Cathedral when a policewoman, with a community support officer, told him she was "stopping people who were taking photographs, as a counter-terrorism measure" and demanded his name, address and date of birth.

The stills photographer said it so enraged him he sent the policewoman away with a "flea in her ear" but not before he had been issued with an anti-terrorism stop and search form.

"I was outraged at such an infringement of my liberty," he said. "I pointed out that nearly every other person walking along the South Bank was taking pictures of the view using their mobile phones and we had drawn her attention because we were using cameras.

"They said you could be doing a recce for a terrorist attack. which would have been a joke if it was not so sinister."

He said the officer said she had stopped many people along the river and he was the first to complain. He watched as she questioned another photographer.

Mr Overs went on: "Did these officers seriously believe two people with cameras around their necks photographing the sunset were a danger to national security? Foreign tourists must think Britain has become a police state."

The incident took place on Wednesday - a day before police announced a dramatic fall in the use of anti-terror stop and search powers. This followed an outcry over the number of members of ethnic minorities being searched.

Lord Carlile, the police terrorism watchdog, raised concerns this year over complaints that police were trying to stop photographers from taking pictures on anti-terror grounds.

Mr Overs added: "This is becoming a big issue among photographers."

A spokeswoman confirmed the Met had received a formal complaint from a member of the public about an incident outside Tate Modern on Wednesday.

She said: "We recognise the balance between effective policing and respecting the rights of the media and the general public to take photographs.

"Guidance around the issue has been made clear to officers and PCSOs."
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Re: Surveillance

Postby stefano » Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:04 am

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to Reduce Rate of Re-offenders with IBM Predictive Analytics
Yahoo! Finance, 14/4/2010, accessed 18/4/2010

SPSS, an IBM Company, today announced that the Florida State Department of Juvenile Justice selected IBM predictive analytics software to reduce recidivism by determining which juveniles are likely to reoffend. Identified at-risk youth can then be placed in programs specific to the best course of treatment to ensure offenders do not re-enter the juvenile justice system.

More than 85,000 youth enter the juvenile justice system in Florida each year for varying degrees of offenses – from drug abuse to robbery or property crimes. As each youth enters the system for a different reason and with varying backgrounds, the best program for positive rehabilitation is very specific – what may work for one juvenile may not work for another.

Mark Greenwald, chief of research and planning at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, said, “The State of Florida believes that if youth are rehabilitated with effective prevention, intervention and treatment services early in life, juveniles will not enter the adult corrections system. Our goal is to ensure juveniles do not return to the system. IBM SPSS predictive analytics will allow our organization to refine our current practice and better intervene in juvenile lives earlier to help them become — and stay — law abiding citizens.”

The organization selected IBM predictive analytics to improve its existing screening and placement process. With the new analytics system in place, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice will analyze key predictors such as past offense history, home life environment, gang affiliation and peer associations to better understand and predict which youths have a higher likelihood to reoffend.

With that information, the organization can more effectively place specific segments of juveniles into the best programs for rehabilitation. For example, juveniles identified as having a higher likelihood for re-offense can be placed in a more focused program, such as one that addresses issues on substance abuse or mental health, if appropriate to the need. Additionally, the organization will direct those youth with a lower chance of re-offense to a less restrictive program, again providing services better tailored to meet their rehabilitative needs.

Prior to predictive analytics, the organization used Excel for basic analysis on projections for the number of delinquency cases they would take in, which had limited functionality. They selected IBM SPSS predictive analytics due to the ease of use and the advanced analytic capabilities.

The organization will now utilize the new predictive analytics system as a component in many of the performance measurement analyses conducted and distributed to agency staff throughout the year. These reports assess the future of delinquency cases to evaluate what juvenile crime trends may look like in the immediate future. This information will help the organization to better plan and project staffing and other resource needs.

IBM recently also announced that the Ministry of Justice in the United Kingdom uses predictive analytics to assess the likelihood of prisoners reoffending upon their release to help improve public safety. With predictive technology from IBM, the Ministry of Justice is analyzing hidden trends and patterns within the data. IBM SPSS predictive analytics has helped identify whether offenders with specific problems such as drug and alcohol misuse are more likely to reoffend than other prisoners.

Deepak Advani, vice president of predictive analytics at IBM, said, “Predictive analytics gives government organizations worldwide a highly-sophisticated and intelligent source to create safer communities by identifying, predicting, responding to and preventing criminal activities. It gives the criminal justice system the ability to draw upon the wealth of data available to detect patterns, make reliable projections and then take the appropriate action in real time to combat crime and protect citizens.”

IBM has invested more than $12 billion to build an analytics portfolio which includes organic innovation and acquisitions. In addition, IBM has assembled 4,000 analytics consultants with industry expertise, and opened a network of seven analytics centers of excellence. Today, IBM is working with more than 250,000 clients worldwide on predictive analytics, including 22 of the top 24 global commercial banks, 18 of the world's top 22 telecommunication carriers and 11 of the top 12 U.S. specialty retailers.
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Re: Surveillance

Postby stefano » Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:07 am

Alison Little
Daily Express, 23/7/2009, accessed 18/4/2010

THOUSANDS of the worst families in England are to be put in “sin bins” in a bid to change their bad behaviour, Ed Balls announced yesterday.

The Children’s Secretary set out £400million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV super-vision in their own homes.

They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.

Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction.

Around 2,000 families have gone through these Family Intervention Projects so far.

But ministers want to target 20,000 more in the next two years, with each costing between £5,000 and £20,000 – a potential total bill of £400million.

Ministers hope the move will reduce the number of youngsters who get drawn into crime because of their chaotic family lives, as portrayed in Channel 4 comedy drama Shameless.

Sin bin projects operate in half of council areas already but Mr Balls wants every local authority to fund them.

He said: “This is pretty tough and non-negotiable support for families to get to the root of the problem. There should be Family Intervention Projects in every local authority area because every area has families that need support.”

But Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is all much too little, much too late.

“This Government has been in power for more than a decade during which time anti-social behaviour, family breakdown and problems like alcohol abuse and truancy have just got worse and worse.”
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Re: Surveillance

Postby Pele'sDaughter » Sun Apr 18, 2010 12:59 pm

I got curious if they actually implemented it and found this good news.

Labour's sin bin parenting units fail to change behaviour of half of familiesBy STEVE DOUGHTY
Last updated at 15:32 07 April 2008

State-run sin bins for disruptive families have failed to curb their criminal and destructive activities, new research found.

It said that most of the "neighbours from hell" put through the highly expensive sin bin schemes continued to be involved in anti-social behaviour. In three out of ten cases, "intensive family support" provided by the taxpayer at a cost of £50,000 or more each made no difference at all to the way the family involved behaved.

The findings are a heavy blow to Labour's plans to put 1,500 of the most disruptive families in the country through programmes meant to teach them how to live peaceably and give their children a proper schooling. Gordon Brown gave personal backing to the project following initial reports that claimed eight out of ten families improved their behaviour and stabilised their lives after going into sin bin schemes.

New research slipped out without publicity by the Department of Communities and Local Government has now shown that the eight out of ten claim was hopelessly over-optimistic.
The intensive family support projects were based on an experiment run in Dundee in Scotland in which troublemaking families were taken into a special housing block and closely supervised.

In six projects launched in England in 2003, families with multiple problems including involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour, drug abuse, school exclusion and family break-up were put under similar close watch. They included a high proportion of single mothers and a low proportion of ethnic minority families. Social workers taught them how to get up on time, get breakfast and get children to school. They have been taught how to cook, claim benefits and handle money alongside being given help with "anger management."
Some were taken into "core units" - special housing blocks that have won the schemes their nicknames of "sin bins," "tearaway towers" and "Colditz."

But early claims of high success for the schemes proved baseless, according to a report on the long-term effects on families prepared for Communities Secretary Hazel Blears by academics from Sheffield Hallam University. Of 28 families examined, the schemes were found to have had no discernible impact on their behaviour in eight cases.
In eight more, signs of success were limited. Complaints about the behaviour of these families went down. But the report said that "some complaints of anti-social behaviour persist;" some families were still in danger of eviction or losing their homes; some cases had been closed by social workers as successes too early; and there was "ongoing social exclusion."

Researchers said that diminished anti-social behaviour and less chance of eviction "however represent only two dimensions of sustainable outcomes and do not reflect the multiple difficulties that continued to impact on families." For 12 families they said there had been "resounding success." Nevertheless, even in these cases they found complaints of anti-social behaviour continued and "periodic setbacks." The findings mean that only 43 per cent of families who went through the sin bin projects proved to be unqualified successes - around half the 85 per cent success rate still claimed by Home Office ministers.

The failures brought scathing criticism from Tories. Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis said: "This highlights yet again the failure of the Government's policies on anti-social behaviour. "Gordon Brown has tried to air-brush the Respect initiative - of which these projects are part - out of history as an embarassment. What he can't hide however is that this costly scheme has not worked and that antisocial behaviour continues to rise on the government's own measures.'

Robert Whelan of the Civitas think tank said: "There have been many expensive attempts to improve people's behaviour without sending them to jail - community punishments are the greatest example - which in the long term do not work. "In the end changing behaviour is very difficult if people have grown up in a culture where there are no controls on their behaviour. "These families are at the extreme end of family breakdown and they are not used to any restrictions on what they do. "These fixes appeal to politicians but in terms of what they achieve they are very disappointing."

Supporters of the schemes have claimed they a big money-savers because they cost much less than the £250,000 a year that would be spent on keeping family members in jail, rehousing others, and taking children into care. However the cost is heavy given high failure rates. Those familes helped in their existing homes cost between £9,000 and £18,000 each over a two year period. Those living in the sin bins cost between £50,000 and £59,000 over two years.
Don't believe anything they say.
And at the same time,
Don't believe that they say anything without a reason.
---Immanuel Kant
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Re: Surveillance

Postby stefano » Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:25 pm

Thanks, Pele'sDaughter, but I see the article I posted is more recent than yours. One hopes they'd have dropped such a stupid idea, but at the same time that kind of thing is totally in line with developments in general... Googling "family intervention units" I found a review of Gordon Brown's September 2009 speech to the Labour Party conference promising an extension of family intervention units. I must say news coverage of the idea is sparse.
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Re: Surveillance

Postby chump » Tue May 04, 2010 11:59 pm

Like he says on , this is old news, but there is a good video at the link.
Via: CBS:

The majority of Americans use all these cell phones to talk, text or tweet.
But all this high tech communication hides a dark and troubling danger.

“I don’t think the general public is aware how insidious this can be,” said private investigator and cell phone spyware expert Tim Wilcox.

Wilcox owns and runs one of the premier private investigative companies in the country, International Investigators, Inc. International Investigators does a lot of things. But one the company’s specialties and expertise is uncovering and exposing hidden spy tools like bugs in cell phones and other appliances.

“It takes about 90 seconds to download the spyware and you’re in business,” said Wilcox of some versions of this software that can be loaded onto someone’s cell phone.

The spyware is a lurking danger that turns your cell phone into a secret listening device, an instrument used to spy against you. Worse yet, you’ll likely never know it is on your phone.

“There could be anywhere from three to five or six million cell phones that are infected with spyware (at any one time),” said Wilcox.

This spyware, otherwise called malware, can be found through a simple search on the Internet. The software can be loaded onto your phone in a matter of minutes or even seconds. Once it is on your phone and operating it can turn your cell phone against you.

video -

story -
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Re: Surveillance

Postby chump » Tue May 18, 2010 12:31 am

I chanced upon this long January article (worth reading if you haven't already). I cut a few bytes to chew on here.

US oil industry hit by cyberattacks: Was China involved?
By Mark Clayton, Staff writer / January 25, 2010 ... a-involved

At least three US oil companies were the target of a series of previously undisclosed cyberattacks that may have originated in China and that experts say highlight a new level of sophistication in the growing global war of Internet espionage.

The oil and gas industry breaches, the mere existence of which has been a closely guarded secret of oil companies and federal authorities, were focused on one of the crown jewels of the industry: valuable “bid data” detailing the quantity, value, and location of oil discoveries worldwide, sources familiar with the attacks say and documents obtained by the Monitor show.

The companies – Marathon Oil, ExxonMobil, and ConocoPhillips – didn’t realize the full extent of the attacks, which occurred in 2008, until the FBI alerted them that year and in early 2009. Federal officials told the companies proprietary information had been flowing out, including to computers overseas, a source familiar with the attacks says and documents show.

The data included e-mail passwords, messages, and other information tied to executives with access to proprietary exploration and discovery information, the source says.

While China’s involvement in the attacks is far from certain, at least some data was detected flowing from one oil company computer to a computer in China, a document indicates. Another oil company’s security personnel privately referred to the breaches in one of the documents as the “China virus.”

“What these guys [corporate officials] don’t realize, because nobody tells them, is that a major foreign intelligence agency has taken control of major portions of their network,” says the source familiar with the attacks. “You can’t get rid of this attacker very easily. It doesn’t work like a normal virus. We’ve never seen anything this clever, this tenacious.”

Neither Marathon Oil, ExxonMobil, nor ConocoPhillips would comment on the attacks or confirm that they had happened. But the breaches, which left dozens of computers and their data vulnerable in those companies’ global networks, were confirmed over a five-month Monitor investigation in interviews with dozens of oil industry insiders, cybersecurity experts, former government officials, and by documents describing the attacks

“We’ve seen real, targeted attacks on our C-level [most senior] executives,” says one oil company official, who, like others familiar with various aspects of the attacks, spoke only on condition of anonymity. “I was at a meeting with the FBI earlier this year [2009] that was pretty eye-opening.”

The new type of attack involves custom-made spyware that is virtually undetectable by antivirus and other electronic defenses traditionally used by corporations. Experts say the new cyberburglary tools pose a serious threat to corporate America and the long-term competitiveness of the nation.

“We’ve had friends in the petroleum industry express grave concern because they’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars finding out where the next big oil discovery will be,” says Ed Skoudis, cofounder of InGuardians, a computer security firm, who was called last year to help a big oil and gas company secure its bid data after its computer network was infiltrated. He wouldn’t name the company. “The attacker would be saving huge expenses for himself by stealing that data.”...

... Still, a simple thirst for oil is no proof that a country is conducting corporate espionage. Even the suggestion, contained in one of the documents, that some data had flowed from a ConocoPhillips computer to a computer in China could have been the result of some other nation’s cyberspy unit co-opting Chinese servers to cover their tracks, experts say. Lee and other specialists admit that it will be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to ever determine definitively who was behind the attacks...

... On Nov. 13, 2008, a senior executive at Marathon Oil in Houston looked at a strange e-mail on her screen. It appeared to be a response to a message she had sent a corporate colleague overseas. The only problem was, according to a source familiar with the incident who asked for anonymity, she hadn’t sent the original e-mail.

Yet there, on her screen, was a “reply” to what looked like her request for a comment on the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act” – the federal bailout of US banks. And the original e-mail contained something else: an embedded Internet link. Recognizing the danger, the executive alertly sent out an internal warning that the e-mail was fake and may contain a computer virus.

But, according to the source and documents obtained by the Monitor, her response was too late. The fake had already been forwarded to other people – and someone had clicked on the link it contained. Instantly, an unseen spy program started spreading stealthily across Marathon’s global computer network...

... “Identity theft is small potatoes compared to this new type of attack we’ve been seeing the past 18 months,” says Scott Borg, who heads the US Cyber Consequences Unit, a nonprofit that advises government and the private sector. “This is a gigantic loss with significant economic damage.”...

... “Antivirus software misses more than 20 percent of the Trojans in my testing,” says Paul Williams, a cybersecurity expert who spoke at a recent oil and gas industry conference in Houston...

And another about the conflicker worm:

The Enemy Within ... in/8098/1/

When the Conficker computer “worm” was unleashed on the world in November 2008, cyber-security experts didn’t know what to make of it. It infiltrated millions of computers around the globe. It constantly checks in with its unknown creators. It uses an encryption code so sophisticated that only a very few people could have deployed it. For the first time ever, the cyber-security elites of the world have joined forces in a high-tech game of cops and robbers, trying to find Conficker’s creators and defeat them. The cops are failing. And now the worm lies there, waiting …

Summation at the end of a long, informative article:

By Mark Bowden

... Imagining Conficker’s creators as a skilled group of illicit cyber entrepreneurs remains the prevailing theory. Some of the good guys feel that the worm will never be used again. They argue that it has become too notorious, too visible, to be useful. Its creators have learned how to whip computer-security systems worldwide, and will now use that knowledge to craft an even stealthier worm, and perhaps sell it to the highest bidder. Few believe Conficker itself is the work of any one nation, because other than the initial quirk of the Ukrainian-keyboard exemption, it spreads indiscriminately. China is the nation most often suspected in cyber attacks, but there may be more Conficker-infected computers in China than anywhere else. Besides, a nation seeking to create a botnet weapon is unlikely to create one as brazen as Conficker, which from the start has exhibited a thumb-in-your-eye, catch-me-if-you-can personality. It is hard to imagine Conficker’s creators not enjoying the high level of cyber gamesmanship. The good guys certainly have.

“It’s cops and robbers, so to speak, and that was a really interesting aspect of the work for me,” says Martinez. “It’s guys trying to outwit each other and exploit vulnerabilities in this vast network. “

In chess, when your opponent checkmates you, you have no recourse. You concede and shake the victor’s hand. In the real-world chess match over Conficker, the good guys have another recourse. They can, in effect, upend the board and go after the bad guys physically. Which is where things stand. The hunt for the mastermind (or masterminds) behind the worm is ongoing.

“It’s an active investigation,” Joffe says. “That’s all I can say. Law enforcement is fully engaged. We have some leads. This story is not over.”
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Re: Surveillance

Postby stefano » Wed May 19, 2010 3:49 am

Thanks, operator Kos

BCCLA supports class action against DNA database
British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
16 May 2010, accessed 19 May 2010

The BCCLA welcomes the news that a Vancouver parent is launching a class action lawsuit against the Province following revelations that B.C. had been secretly storing 800,000 DNA records without consent.

The DNA records, literally dried blood on index cards that have the child’s name and date of birth recorded on them, are collected from infants in B.C. and the Yukon as part of a genetic screening test, but are not destroyed when the testing is complete. 11 years of blood test records are now on file, representing approximately 800,000 children’s DNA, stored at a private facility.

“The BCCLA supports this class action, and we will continue our work on the privacy complaint while the lawsuit proceeds independently,” says Holmes. “It seems that the Health Ministry does not feel there is an issue in building a database of this kind without any public input, enabling legislation, or consent, but we do not agree that government can trample on individual rights. The courts will ultimately determine the matter unless the government relents.”

Combined with sections 165-167 of Bill 11, which was passed just weeks ago, these DNA records are now available across government and to law enforcement on demand, without a court order. The BCCLA is actively involved in a privacy complaint against the Newborn Screening Program for failing to disclose to new parents that their infant’s blood tests would be used for medical research and stored indefinitely.

“It seems obvious to us from their media comments that the Province won’t give these sensitive records up without a fight,” said Holmes. “Well, it looks like they’ve found one. These cards and Bill 11 could easily lead to genetic discrimination against children, or gross privacy violations by law enforcement. This is now a matter for the Courts to resolve.”

The class action was filed on behalf of the parent by Jason Gratl of Gratl & Company.
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Re: Surveillance

Postby stefano » Wed May 19, 2010 4:17 am

Two pearlers on the same day.

UC Berkeley Asking Incoming Students For DNA
18 May 2010, accessed 19 May 2010

BERKELEY, Calif. -- UC Berkeley is adding something a little different this year in its welcome package -- cotton swabs for a DNA sample.

In the past, incoming freshman and transfer students have received a rather typical welcome book from the College of Letters and Science's "On the Same Page" program, but this year the students will be asked for more.

The students will be asked to voluntarily submit a DNA sample. The cotton swabs will come with two bar code labels. One label will be put on the DNA sample and the other is kept for the students own records.

The confidential process is being overseen by Jasper Rine, a campus professor of Genetics and Development Biology, who says the test results will help students make decisions about their diet and lifestyle.

Once the DNA sample is sent in and tested, it will show the student’s ability to tolerate alcohol, absorb folic acid and metabolize lactose.

The results of the test will be put in a secure online database where students will be able to retrieve their results by using their bar code.

Rine hopes that this will excite students to be more hands-on with their college experience.

"This type of experience is one of the true, unique values of a Berkeley education. We don't just give you books to read,” Mark Schlissel, dean of the division of biological sciences said. “We involve you in cutting edge issues in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. You won't see this anywhere else in higher education."

Previously incoming students were advised to read Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and Stephen Hawking's "A Briefer History of Time" as behavioral guides.

There will also be a variety of events and lectures at the campus on lifestyle choices for all undergraduate students who choose not to participate in the DNA program.

There will also be a science-themed art contest that will award the four best entries with a full genetic analysis.
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Re: Surveillance

Postby stefano » Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:58 am

Good time to dust off this two-year-old thread with an article by Naomi Wolf that is a bit of a data dump itself. Extensive links in original; Homeland Security News Wire deserves a look for an idea of the casual and entitled authoritarianism underlying much of this.

The new totalitarianism of surveillance technology

Naomi Wolf, Wednesday 15 August 2012 21.12 BST

A software engineer in my Facebook community wrote recently about his outrage that when he visited Disneyland, and went on a ride, the theme park offered him the photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it. He noted that he had never entered his name or information into anything at the theme park, or indicated that he wanted a photo, or alerted the humans at the ride to who he and his girlfriend were – so, he said, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology. He had never signed an agreement allowing them to do so, and he declared that this use was illegal. He also claimed that Disney had recently shared data from facial-recognition technology with the United States military.

Yes, I know: it sounds like a paranoid rant.

Except that it turned out to be true. News21, supported by the Carnegie and Knight foundations, reports that Disney sites are indeed controlled by face-recognition technology, that the military is interested in the technology, and that the face-recognition contractor, Identix, has contracts with the US government – for technology that identifies individuals in a crowd.

Fast forward: after the Occupy crackdowns, I noted that odd-looking CCTVs had started to appear, attached to lampposts, in public venues in Manhattan where the small but unbowed remnants of Occupy congregated: there was one in Union Square, right in front of their encampment. I reported here on my experience of witnessing a white van marked "Indiana Energy" that was lifting workers up to the lampposts all around Union Square, and installing a type of camera. When I asked the workers what was happening – and why an Indiana company was dealing with New York City civic infrastructure, which would certainly raise questions – I was told: "I'm a contractor. Talk to ConEd."

I then noticed, some months later, that these bizarre camera/lights had been installed not only all around Union Square but also around Washington Square Park. I posted a photo I took of them, and asked: "What is this?" Commentators who had lived in China said that they were the same camera/streetlight combinations that are mounted around public places in China. These are enabled for facial recognition technology, which allows police to watch video that is tagged to individuals, in real time. When too many people congregate, they can be dispersed and intimidated simply by the risk of being identified – before dissent can coalesce. (Another of my Facebook commentators said that such lamppost cameras had been installed in Michigan, and that they barked "Obey", at pedestrians. This, too, sounded highly implausible – until this week in Richmond, British Columbia, near the Vancouver airport, when I was startled as the lamppost in the intersection started talking to me – in this case, instructing me on how to cross (as though I were blind or partially sighted).

Finally, last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to unveil a major new police surveillance infrastructure, developed by Microsoft. The Domain Awareness System links existing police databases with live video feeds, including cameras using vehicle license plate recognition software. No mention was made of whether the system plans to use – or already uses – facial recognition software. But, at present, there is no law to prevent US government and law enforcement agencies from building facial recognition databases.

And we know from industry newsletters that the US military, law enforcement, and the department of homeland security are betting heavily on facial recognition technology. As PC World notes, Facebook itself is a market leader in the technology – but military and security agencies are close behind.

According to Homeland Security Newswire, billions of dollars are being invested in the development and manufacture of various biometric technologies capable of detecting and identifying anyone, anywhere in the world – via iris-scanning systems, already in use; foot-scanning technology (really); voice pattern ID software, and so on.

What is very obvious is that this technology will not be applied merely to people under arrest, or to people under surveillance in accordance with the fourth amendment (suspects in possible terrorist plots or other potential crimes, after law enforcement agents have already obtained a warrant from a magistrate). No, the "targets" here are me and you: everyone, all of the time. In the name of "national security", the capacity is being built to identify, track and document any citizen constantly and continuously.

The revealing boosterism of a trade magazine like Homeland Security Newswire envisions endless profits for the surveillance industry, in a society where your TV is spying on you, a billboard you drive by recognizes you, Minority Report style, and the FBI knows where to find your tattoo – before you have committed any crime: "FBI on Track to Book Faces, Scars, Tattoos", it notes; "Billboards, TVs Detect your Faces; Advertisers Salivate", it gloats; "Biometric Companies See Government as the Driver of Future Market Growth", it announces. Indeed, the article admits without a blush that all the growth is expected to be in government consumption, with "no real expectation" of private-sector growth at all. So much for smaller government!

To acclimate their populations to this brave new world of invasive surveillance technologies, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and and his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, both recently introduced "snoop" bills. Meanwhile, in the US – "the land of the free" – the onward march of the surveillers continues apace, without check or consultation.
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