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NSA Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images 136

Posted by timothy
from the no-smiling-please dept.
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents. The spy agency's reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show. The agency's ambitions for this highly sensitive ability and the scale of its effort have not previously been disclosed."
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NSA Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images

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  • ....you put online stays online. Forever!!

  • 1984+100=2084 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:02AM (#47140543)

    I think George Orwell's classic 1984 needs an update... Any bids from the rest of you /. reading cellar dwelling SciFi nerds on what 2084 will be like? Will our kids and grandkids have micro drones hovering about them, recording their every utterance and their every move and reporting it to private corporations and/or christian conservative ayatollahs in Washington? Will people be walking around with masks to avoid the omnipresent surveillance society? Will masks even be legal? In the UK hey've already entertained the idea of banning hooded garments because they enable you to hide your face from CCTV.

    • In an energy-starved future with people in government who view power as unlimited, Game of Thrones sounds reasonable.

      • by rubycodez (864176)

        funny this world will never be energy starved, we've fossil fuel for centuries.

        instead, we have cartels that would like us to stay with fossil fuels and so have governments and armies in their pockets

    • They already did make wearing a mask a crime in Canada [www.cbc.ca], punishable by 10 fucking years in jail.

  • Reciprocal approach (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BSAtHome (455370) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:17AM (#47140597)

    Why not start spying on the spies and publish every single move and action they make. Follow the spies by spying on them and publish the results. Not only celebrities are public goods, the spies who collect information should be must be as transparent as they live on and deal in public goods. What is good for the goose...

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:25AM (#47140635) Homepage Journal

      Why not start spying on the spies and publish every single move and action they make. Follow the spies by spying on them and publish the results.

      Because they will put you in PMITA prison for interfering with law enforcement or obstructing an investigation or some other bullshit. You can't use their techniques against them, those techniques only work when you have the upper hand.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Yup. Much of what the NSA is doing is just taking stuff done by black hats all over the place and industrializing it.

        If you hack into a bunch of PCs you'll eventually be traced, caught, and put in prison.

        If the NSA hacks into a bunch of PCs and somebody notices and calls the FBI, they just get sent a national security letter telling them that if they talk about it to anybody else they'll be the ones going to jail.

        When a PC is hacked it can be handled over to the rootkit management team, who runs an automat

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why not start spying on the spies and publish every single move and action they make.

      Because it is illegal of the worst kind, namely unconstitutional. Which is the same reason why they have no business doing that kind of thing without warrant and oversight. If you want to fantasize about what to do to those who are violating the constitution they have been sworn to without restraint, that's easy: throw them into jail. It's the law. This is indeed a case for "What is good for the goose..."

    • Why not start spying on the spies and publish every single move and action they make.

      Okay. Here's [router-switch.com] a start.

      Oh, wait! I think I saw one of them blink.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just beat them at their own game, we should push for a law to make 24/7 surveillance required for everyone and all records open to everyone.

      I bet you I don't have as much to hide as goverment employees, politicians, corporate management of a lot of other people. The old "if you have nothing to hide routine"

      So why do some have the right to privacy when the people don't.

      • by rubycodez (864176)

        but they already gather such info on politicians and employees, whoever is in power can use the dirt

        • Every politician who is a threat to the system, when they get the power to do something they suddenly flip. Why is that??

          Sure, in some cases when they hear the arguments they change their minds; but it seems that it is extremely easy to make any politician to flip sides and behave. It is naive to just assume that it is always a result of lying politicians and whatever other stereotypes you are more comfortable with than questioning whether the system is so corrupt that it has working control over politicia

          • It is naive to just assume that it is always a result of lying politicians and whatever other stereotypes you are more comfortable with than questioning whether the system is so corrupt that it has working control over politicians who threaten the soft spots.

            So, you find it far more reasonable to assume a vast conspiracy rather than that people will lie to get elected?

            Wow, just wow....

            • For politicians, conspiracy is part of the job description! Most the FBI's job is investigating criminal conspiracy. fact.

              Lying is needed to get the job and keep the job; but conspiracy is how the job works and how government functions.

              Some politicians will fight the NSA and some won't but since all of them end up on the same page--- one has to wonder. You are claiming that ALL politicians are 100% for the NSA and just always lie about it. That is not the case; we can't know for sure because... you can ra

              • You are claiming that ALL politicians are 100% for the NSA and just always lie about it.

                No, I am claiming that "We never learn even deserts burn and all politicians lie They won't do nothin' 'till we reach high noon"

                Note that most likely most politicians (remember some of them are on oversight committees and, at least theoretically, get the straight scoop from the NSA directly) don't actually see what people are getting excited about, since it's likely that NSA is MUCH MUCH LESS CAPABLE of actually doing

                • The NSA knows probably everything the oversight does and we don't actually know if the oversight is aware of everything going on. They sure don't seem able to do actual oversight; a few of them seem to indicate that they can't do any oversight or share anything with others in government who should be able to hear about it. How does one pass laws to fix things if only a select minority of politicians know anything and the other just must trust them as to what the law needs to say?

                  Politicians wait until aft

    • They suggested that any public be able to access public camera feeds. That is the spy targets spy on the spyers. The writing was n the wall then with video prices dropping, you could install thousands of cameras everywhere. Many businesses and police do so.
  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:20AM (#47140611) Homepage

    NSA Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images

    The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts

    Intercepted communications aren't "the web."

    emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences

    Apart from social media (largely), none of those things are "the web."

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Apart from social media (largely), none of those things are "the web."

      If you read further, there's a lot of other sources the NSA is (not denying that they are) pulling from.

      declining to say whether the agency had access to the State Department database of photos of foreign visa applicants.
      also declined to say whether the N.S.A. collected facial imagery of Americans from Facebook and other social media
      gathers airline passenger data
      collects photographs from national identity card databases created by foreign countries
      asked whether the agency is now [gathering iris scans], officials declined to comment
      The documents also indicate that the N.S.A. collects iris scans of foreigners through other means.
      a program called Pisces, collecting biometric data on border crossings from a wide range of countries

      Am I doing it wrong, or do (un)ordered lists not work on /. anymore?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is a top News for Nerds story?
  • by dingen (958134) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:22AM (#47140621)

    It's funny how little difference there is between what Facebook's servers are doing and the NSA's. I wonder who has more info on you.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The NSA for sure ... they get all Facebook data and combine it with everything else they collect

    • Facebook is interested in selling you things, NSA in terrorism. Either could be misused by a politician to spy on opponents, feeding them critical political info, and no one would ever notice.

      We know no alarms go off when someone listens in on a conversation without a warrant in the NSA. It's more of a checklist, "you did get a warrant, right?". You don't think some kind of google or facebook analytics is up for sale, or just given, to preferred candidates?

    • is that facebook wants every bit of info about me in order to shill me products, mot to retroactively incriminate me if i were ever to become a threat. Facebook also doesn't care about what you fap to, but it's been proven that the NSA does--want to guess why?
  • Honestly it is kind of what you would expect that kind of organisation to be doing..
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The "it is no surprise the NSA does X" line is just a way to let them off the hook.

      It is exactly the short of thing we should expect from an organization charged with saving society by undermining it.

      Remember what Osama bin Laden said [cnn.com] in his only post-9/11 interview.

      "I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed," bin Laden said as the U.S. war on terrorism raged in Afghanistan. "The U.S. government will lead the American people in -- and the West in general -- into an unbearable hell and a cho

    • by hey! (33014)

      Honestly it is kind of what you would expect that kind of organisation to be doing..

      And that's supposed to be reassuring?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I thought they were collecting feces. I waited a full 30 minutes in the bathroom before I realized my error.

  • by jamesl (106902)

    ... according to top-secret documents.

    Should read, " ... according to formerly top-secret documents."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Documents don't stop being top secret just because someone leaked them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sadly no. A terrifyingly stupid EO was signed that made it so that the wikileaks info was still classified. So that every single person with a clearance that ran across it on the web had to report it as a security violation. Yes, the national security adviser is that stupid.

  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @11:29AM (#47141501)

    The flip side of posting the most innocuous details of your life online for all to see. What did you THINK would happen?

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Interesting that they mention videoconferences as well.

      So, if you're at a meeting at work, the NSA is capturing that. If you stay off the grid at home, they can still figure out where you work. If they archive the footage then if you're interesting they could probably work out your name/etc from the meeting content. If not, they can just show up at work with your picture.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Where are the filthy, filthy shills who screamed over and over again, in every forum, that the Xbox One was an 'innocent' device, and anyone who said otherwise was a tin-foil hat wearing 'nutter'.

    Bill "I made inBloom in partnership with Rupert Murdoch" Gates dedicates his life to advancing the police state, and thinking of new ways to enhance the full surveillance programs of the NSA. Gates personally forced Microsoft to spend may tens of billions of dollars buying every available company that might have te

  • ... So at some point the capabilities that the NSA now has, may be available to the average citizen. Then it will be time to lift the rocks under which the watchers live, and report publicly on their every move. Payback's a bitch.
  • People would have to be incredibly naive to assume the worlds government intelligence agencies and commercial intelligence are not collected and analyzing any data they can.
    • "But we KNEW they had colluded with google, microsoft and facebook to spy on us!" "But we KNEW the NSA was intercepting shipments of cisco routers to compromise them!" "But we KNEW they're hiring an army of paid trolls to pollute forums!"

      NSA-related posts on /. get way more comments than most other topics--is that indicative of "old news"? Think about that next time you say this BS.
  • The NSA is the world's largest collection of amateur porn

  • They're worried that at the next incident they'll get blamed and then dismantled because they failed to prevent it. The solution-- throw even more technology and data collection at the problem-- technology and enough data can fix anything, don't you know?. And then when they get called up to testify before Congress why they weren't able to prevent it, it won't be because they didn't collect the right data. Of course, it'll be because they had so much data they couldn't make useful sense of it, but that's
  • Time to fill up your facebook profile photos with thousands of bogus images.
    • Time to fill up your facebook profile photos with thousands of bogus images.

      Or just tag everyone in the picture as being the director of the NSA. [wikipedia.org]

    • by deodiaus2 (980169)
      Actually, time to fill facebook with lots of people who look sort of like you. I am sure that if you fill it with people who don't look like you, the algorithm will do a good job of discerning them. However, if you put these up, maybe you'll just end up fine tuning the algorithms!
  • ... posts pictures on the web and expects them to be private.

    Only a moron would find it surprising that government agencies aren't looking at them.

  • I think I spending too much time on slasdot...

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