Via The Atlantic
Get ready for DHS’s pre-crime technology
The U.S. Department of Homeland security is working on a project called FAST, the Future Attribute Screening Technology, which is some crazy straight-out-of-sci-fi pre-crime detection and prevention software which may  come to an airport security screening checkpoint near you someday soon. Yet again the threat of terrorism is being used to justify the introduction of super-creepy invasions of privacy, and lead us one step closer to a turn-key totalitarian state. This may sound alarmist, but in cases like this a little alarm is warranted. FAST will remotely monitor physiological and behavioral cues, like elevated heart rate, eye movement, body temperature, facial patterns, and body language, and analyze these cues algorithmically for statistical aberrance in an attempt to identify people with nefarious intentions. There are several major flaws with a program like this, any one of which should be enough to condemn attempts of this kind to the dustbin. Lets look at them in turn.

Via The Atlantic

Get ready for DHS’s pre-crime technology

The U.S. Department of Homeland security is working on a project called FAST, the Future Attribute Screening Technology, which is some crazy straight-out-of-sci-fi pre-crime detection and prevention software which may  come to an airport security screening checkpoint near you someday soon. Yet again the threat of terrorism is being used to justify the introduction of super-creepy invasions of privacy, and lead us one step closer to a turn-key totalitarian state. This may sound alarmist, but in cases like this a little alarm is warranted. FAST will remotely monitor physiological and behavioral cues, like elevated heart rate, eye movement, body temperature, facial patterns, and body language, and analyze these cues algorithmically for statistical aberrance in an attempt to identify people with nefarious intentions. There are several major flaws with a program like this, any one of which should be enough to condemn attempts of this kind to the dustbin. Lets look at them in turn.

Via Wired
CIA’s Secret Fear: High-Tech Border Checks Will Blow Spies’ Cover
 The increasing deployment of iris scanners and biometric passports at worldwide airports, hotels and business headquarters, designed to catch terrorists and criminals, are playing havoc with operations that require CIA spies to travel under false identities.

Via Wired

CIA’s Secret Fear: High-Tech Border Checks Will Blow Spies’ Cover

 The increasing deployment of iris scanners and biometric passports at worldwide airports, hotels and business headquarters, designed to catch terrorists and criminals, are playing havoc with operations that require CIA spies to travel under false identities.

The Sniper’s Nest At Super Bowl XLVI

I suppose this makes sense, so why is it so morbid and shocking? Perhaps because every aspect of the Super Bowl is supposed to symbolize some element of the broader culture? Deadspin stumbled upon some photos of the armed-and-ready-to-shoot man who watches while you watch the big game:

According to Business Insider, the photos were taken by a ranking member of the Indianpolis SWAT team, and obtained by Alamo Four Star, maker of the tripod.

The Sniper’s Nest At Super Bowl XLVI

I suppose this makes sense, so why is it so morbid and shocking? Perhaps because every aspect of the Super Bowl is supposed to symbolize some element of the broader culture? Deadspin stumbled upon some photos of the armed-and-ready-to-shoot man who watches while you watch the big game:

According to Business Insider, the photos were taken by a ranking member of the Indianpolis SWAT team, and obtained by Alamo Four Star, maker of the tripod.

Future of Personal Identification: Buttock Scanners

Apparently everyone has a unique “buttprint”. In the future, the driver’s seat of your car or your spot on the train may be reserved for a butt that the scanner recognizes. Via Yahoo!:

Put your fingerprint scanners away. Stand aside iris measurers. Buttocks are the new way to prove who you are.
A team of Japanese scientists claim their pressure sensor sheet can accurately identify an individual’s backside and when placed on a driver’s seat could be used as a last line of defence to stop someone else driving away your motor.
“The sheet has 360 sensors, which collect data for 39 features to recognise a person, such as pressure patterns and the dimensions of the buttocks,” said Dr. Shigeomi Koshimizu, who led the research.
Koshimizu, an associate professor at Tokyo-based Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology, said his device is 98 percent accurate and far less onerous than conventional biometrics as it requires nothing more than someone to sit naturally.

Future of Personal Identification: Buttock Scanners

Apparently everyone has a unique “buttprint”. In the future, the driver’s seat of your car or your spot on the train may be reserved for a butt that the scanner recognizes. Via Yahoo!:

Put your fingerprint scanners away. Stand aside iris measurers. Buttocks are the new way to prove who you are.

A team of Japanese scientists claim their pressure sensor sheet can accurately identify an individual’s backside and when placed on a driver’s seat could be used as a last line of defence to stop someone else driving away your motor.

“The sheet has 360 sensors, which collect data for 39 features to recognise a person, such as pressure patterns and the dimensions of the buttocks,” said Dr. Shigeomi Koshimizu, who led the research.

Koshimizu, an associate professor at Tokyo-based Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology, said his device is 98 percent accurate and far less onerous than conventional biometrics as it requires nothing more than someone to sit naturally.

You would all be surprised how easy it would be for anyone to install a remote screen share software on you computer and see everything that’s on your computer screen live without you even knowing about it. Entering a credit card number, typing a personal email, whatever, they see it all. It’s very very easy. I have to believe there are tons of people taking advantage of this as we speak. 

Guy Who Created The TSA Says It’s Failed, And It’s Time To Dismantle It

Via Techdirt

One of the politicians instrumental in creating the TSA, Rep. John Mica, who wrote the legislation that established the TSA, has apparently decided that the whole thing has been a failure and should be dismantled. He notes that “the whole program has been hijacked by bureaucrats.”

“It mushroomed into an army,” Mica said. “It’s gone from a couple-billion-dollar enterprise to close to $9 billion.” 

As for keeping the American public safe, Mica says, “They’ve failed to actually detect any threat in 10 years.” 

“Everything they have done has been reactive. They take shoes off because of [shoe-bomber] Richard Reid, passengers are patted down because of the diaper bomber, and you can’t pack liquids because the British uncovered a plot using liquids,” Mica said. 

“It’s an agency that is always one step out of step,” Mica said. 

It cost $1 billion just to train workers, which now number more than 62,000, and “they actually trained more workers than they have on the job,” Mica said. 

“The whole thing is a complete fiasco,” Mica said.

There’s a lot more at that link. Now, one could (and perhaps should) note that when Mica wrote the legislation, his particular political party was in power, and now it’s not. So the cynical voice might say that his words are somewhat politically motivated. And one can (and probably should) ask how it was that Mica didn’t expect this kind of result. This is what the government does. It creates agencies that are then “hijacked by bureaucrats.” While it’s nice to see him realizing this now, it’s too bad he didn’t see it back then.

“Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), a US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) programme designed to spot people who are intending to commit a terrorist act, has in the past few months completed its first round of field tests at an undisclosed location in the northeast,” Looks like fun!!

TSA Continues to Half-Defend “Cookie Cutter” Screening Procedures

For the second time in as many months, the TSA has admitted publicly that its non-negotiable screening procedures are really just security theater. After a picture surfaced of two smiling TSA agents patting down a diapered baby, “Blogger Bob” at the TSA Blog wrote that “the child’s stroller alarmed during explosives screening. Our officers followed proper current screening procedures by screening the family after the alarm.” A Drudge headline asked if the TSA was checking for “poop bombs.” Blogger Bob answered that the TSA was not: “The child in the photo was simply receiving a modified pat-down which doesn’t even come close to what the headline implies.”

And then he went on to write this: 

You may have read recently that our Administrator is looking into ways to move past the cookie cutter approach to screening. Recognizing that terrorists are willing to manipulate societal norms to evade detection, TSA has been actively assessing less invasive screening methods for low-risk populations, such as younger passengers, while still maintaining a high level of security.

Blogger Bob wrote the same thing after video surfaced in April of a TSA agent patting down a 6-year-old, but only after defending the agent who did the petting patting: 

Some folks are asking if the proper procedures were followed. Yes. TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures.

All this in the face of Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s recent pronouncement that said conduct is in “clear violation of TSA’s explicit policy not to conduct thorough pat-downs on children under the age of 13.” But never mind the inconsistency in application; inconsistency in PR is even more mind-boggling. Here’s DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano defending pat-downs in a November 2010 op-ed in USA Today: 

Pat-downs have long been one of the many security measures used by the U.S. and countries across the world to make air travel as secure as possible. They’re conducted by same-gender officers, and all passengers have the right to request private screening and have a traveling companion present during the screening process.

The deployment of this [back-scatter x-ray machines] and the implementation of these measures represent the evolution of our national security architecture, an evolution driven by intelligence, risk and a commitment to be one step ahead of those who seek to do us harm. [Emphasis added.]

Let me see if I have this right: The TSA’s “cookie cutter” approach to screening, which terrorists can “manipulate” to “evade detection,” is the product of “intelligence, risk and a commitment to be one step ahead of those who seek to do us harm.” 

That doesn’t sound right.