dryriver writes in with a link to a Times story about the U.S. government's capabilities when it comes to facial recognition. "The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project. The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used. There have been stabs for over a decade at building a system that would help match faces in a crowd with names on a watch list — whether in searching for terrorism suspects at high-profile events like a presidential inaugural parade, looking for criminal fugitives in places like Times Square or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos."
mspohr writes "For over a year, EFF has been fighting the government in federal court to force the public release of an 86-page opinion of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). Issued in October 2011, the secret court's opinion found that surveillance conducted by the NSA under the FISA Amendments Act was unconstitutional and violated 'the spirit of' federal law."
v3rgEz writes "The days of anonymous commenting on The Huffington Post are numbered. Founder Arianna Huffington said in a question-and-answer session with reporters in Boston Wednesday that the online news site plans to require users to comment on stories under their real names, beginning next month. 'Freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they’re saying and not hiding behind anonymity,' Huffington said."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Tom Groenfeldt reports in Forbes that the U.S. Postal Service has awarded a contract to SecureKey to implement the Federal Cloud Credential Exchange (FCXX) designed to enable individuals to securely access online services at multiple federal agencies — such as health benefits, student loan information, and retirement benefit information — without the need to use a different password or other digital identification for each service. SecureKey already operates a trusted identity service in Canada using identification keys provided by one of five participating Canadian banks. It allows Canadians to connect with 120 government programs online with no additional user names or passwords for everything from benefits queries to fishing licenses. The SecureKey program is designed to connect identity providers — such as banks, governments, healthcare organizations, and others — with consumers' favorite online services though a cloud-based broker service. The platform allows identity providers and online services to integrate once, reducing the integration and business complexity otherwise incurred in establishing many-to-many relationships."
Despite being part of public court proceedings, Comcast sent a notice of infringement ordering Torrent Freak to stop hosting a letter linking a subscriber to Prenda Law. From the article: "Comcast has sent TorrentFreak a cease and desist letter, claiming copyright over contents of an article which revealed that Prenda Law was involved in operating a pirate honeypot. Failure to comply will result in a lawsuit in which the Internet provider will seek damages, a Comcast representative informs us. In addition, Comcast also alerted our hosting provider, who is now threatening to shut down our server."
An anonymous reader writes with bad, but not unexpected news: "The U.S. soldier convicted of handing a trove of secret government documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks has been sentenced to 35 years in prison. Pte First Class Bradley Manning, 25, was convicted in July of 20 charges against him, including espionage. Last week, he apologized for hurting the U.S. and for 'the unexpected results' of his actions. He will receive credit for three and a half years, but be dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army."
mask.of.sanity writes "Criminals have stolen millions from three unnamed U.S. banks by launching slow and stealthy denial of service attacks as a distraction before attacking wire payment switches. The switches manage and execute wire transfers and could have coughed up much more cash should the attackers have pressed on. RSA researcher Limor Kessem said, 'The service portal is down, the bank is losing money and reliability, and the security team is juggling the priorities of what to fix first. That's when the switch attack – which is very rare because those systems are not easily compromised [and require] high-privilege level in a more advanced persistent threat style case – takes place.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Yet another privacy concern story, this time from Florida. The Longboat Key police have their new license plate camera up and running, but according to the police chief, this one stores all images as 'evidence' for up to ten years. When questioned about the possibility for abuses of this camera's historical record, the chief said, 'There are regulations, policies and laws in place that prohibit that kind of abuse. And if abuse is discovered, it's punished.' What could possibly go wrong?"
jfruh writes "As we discussed this weekend, David Miranda, the partner of the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, was detained while transporting encrypted data on the Snowden affair from Berlin; all his electronics were seized. Over at the Guardian offices, British police destroyed more of the newspaper's hard drives. Privacy blogger Dan Tynan sees where this one is going: reporters like Greenwald are going to stop even bothering to be circumspect with their revelations. Sorting through the contents of such infocaches to redact sensitive information just gives the government time to track you down. Eventually, the information will just be dumped online, warts and all, as soon as someone who wants the information public gets ahold of it."
New submitter niftymitch sends this quote from an article at SFGate: "San Francisco's fire chief has explicitly banned firefighters from using helmet-mounted video cameras after images from a battalion chief's Asiana Airlines crash recording became public and led to questions about first responders' actions leading up to a fire rig running over a survivor. ... Filming the scene may have violated both firefighters' and victims' privacy, Hayes-White said, trumping whatever benefit came from knowing what the footage shows. 'There comes a time that privacy of the individual is paramount, of greater importance than having a video,' Hayes-White said. Critics, including some within the department, questioned the chief's order and its timing — coming as Johnson's footage raised the possibility of Fire Department liability in the death of 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan. .. [Battalion Chief Kevin Smith, president of the employee group that includes Johnson, said,] 'The department seems more concerned with exposure and liability than training and improving efficiency. Helmet cams are the wave of the future - they can be used to improve communication at incidents between firefighters and commanders.'"
New submitter herbalt writes "The code of the free FPS game Urban Terror (a standalone game based on a Quake 3 mod), has been stolen. The development team, Frozen Sand, at first stated their Git Repository had been hacked, but later issued an announcement stating the perpetrator of the leak was a member of the development team. Frozen Sand also states they have found chat logs indicating there had been 'a plot to get B1naryTh1ef to steal the code so they could sell Urban Terror under a different name on Steam.'"
cold fjord writes "The People's Republic of China continues its long march toward liberalization with two steps forward (And one+ step back?). The BBC reports, 'A senior Chinese official has said the country will phase out the practice of taking organs from executed prisoners from November. Huang Jiefu said China would now rely on using organs from voluntary donors under a new national donation system. Prisoners used to account for two-thirds of transplant organs, based on previous estimates from state media. For years, China denied that it used organs from executed prisoners, but admitted it a few years ago... Human rights groups estimate that China executes thousands of prisoners a year, but correspondents say that the official figures remain a state secret.'"
WillgasM writes "Changing your IP address or using proxy servers to access public websites you've been forbidden to visit is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, according to a judge's broad ruling (PDF) during a case on Friday involving Craigslist and 3taps. Opponents argue that this creates a slippery slope that many unsuspecting web users may find themselves upon. With your typical connection being assigned an address dynamically, is an IP ban really a 'technological barrier' to be circumvented? How long until we see the first prosecution for unauthorized viewing of a noindex page?" Probably a long time; the judge in the case rejected the slippery slope argument: 'There, and sprinkled throughout its earlier, ostensibly text-based, arguments, 3taps posits outlandish scenarios where, for example, someone is criminally prosecuted for visiting a hypothetical website www.dontvisitme.com after a "friend" — apparently not a very good one — says the site has beautiful pictures but the homepage says that no one is allowed to click on the links to view the pictures. Needless to say, the Court’s decision [regarding 3taps' actions]... does not speak to whether the CFAA would apply to other sets of facts where an unsuspecting individual somehow stumbles on to an unauthorized site.' Willful evasion of blocks for commercial gain, on the other hand ...
An anonymous reader was the first to write with news that Groklaw is shutting down: "There is now no shield from forced exposure. Nothing in that parenthetical thought list is terrorism-related, but no one can feel protected enough from forced exposure any more to say anything the least bit like that to anyone in an email, particularly from the U.S. out or to the U.S. in, but really anywhere. You don't expect a stranger to read your private communications to a friend. And once you know they can, what is there to say? Constricted and distracted. That's it exactly. That's how I feel. So. There we are. The foundation of Groklaw is over. I can't do Groklaw without your input. I was never exaggerating about that when we won awards. It really was a collaborative effort, and there is now no private way, evidently, to collaborate." Why it's a big deal.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Can it be true? The US government claims it really wants to hear from us on the subject of how copyright law needs to be modified to accommodate the developing technology of the digital age? I don't know, but the US Patent & Trademark Office (which btw has nothing to do with administering copyright) says 'we really want to hear from you' and the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force wrote a 122-page paper (PDF) on the subject, so they must really mean it, right? But I couldn't find the address to which to send my comments, so maybe that was an oversight on their part."
lightbox32 writes "Porn-trolling operation Prenda Law sued thousands for illegally downloading porn files over BitTorrent. Now, a new document from Comcast appears to confirm suspicions that it was actually Prenda mastermind John Steele who uploaded those files. The allegations about uploading porn to The Pirate Bay to create a 'honeypot' to lure downloaders first became public in June, when an expert report filed by Delvan Neville was filed in a Florida case. The allegations gained steam when The Pirate Bay dug through its own backup tapes to find more evidence linking John Steele to an account called sharkmp4." The problem for Prenda being that initiating the torrent would give anyone who grabbed it an implied license.
An anonymous reader writes with revelations that the UK government has been pressuring the Guardian over its publication of the Snowden leaks for a while, and that it ultimately ended with GHCQ officials smashing drives of data to pieces. From the article: "The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: 'You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.' ... one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred — with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. 'We can call off the black helicopters,' joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro." The paper had repeatedly pointed out how pointless destroying the data was: copies exist, and all reporting on the Snowden leaks is already being edited and published from locations other than the UK.
An anonymous reader writes "Curious about the recently purposed NSA cuts, Courtney Nash explores a few myths about systems automation 'In the aftermath of Edward Snowden's revelations about NSA's domestic surveillance activities, the NSA has recently announced that they plan to get rid of 90% of their system administrators via software automation in order to "improve security." So far, I've mostly seen this piece of news reported and commented on straightforwardly. But it simply doesn't add up. Either the NSA has a monumental (yet not necessarily surprising) level of bureaucratic bloat that they could feasibly cut that amount of staff regardless of automation, or they are simply going to be less effective once they've reduced their staff.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "When Ars Technica editor Nate Anderson sat down to write The Internet Police, Edward Snowden hadn't yet decided to add some excitement to the National Security Agency's summer by leaking a trove of surveillance secrets to The Guardian. As a result, Anderson's book doesn't mention Snowden's escapade, which will likely become the security-and-paranoia story of the year, if not the decade. For anyone unaware of the vast issues highlighted by Snowden's leak, however, The Internet Police is a handy guide to the slow and unstoppable rise of the online security state, as well as the libertarian and criminal elements that have done their level best to counter that surveillance." Read below for the rest of Nerval's Lobster's review.