- First we heard Carrier IQ was stealing our most intimate mobile data details and sending it to god knows who, possibly including the FBI. Then we heard, no, actually that's not happening. Then we heard: "Wait, yes! It is. Sorry for the confusion." Screw the confusion. Read EFF's definitive blog on the subject. (Spoiler: in some cases, like with Android phones, keystrokes and other intimate data is in fact logged and can be transmitted to third parties without your knowledge or consent.)
- As we've written about elsewhere here, the US military has spent much of the past 10 years amassing huge amounts of biometric data in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that the US troops are leaving Iraq and claiming that the war is over, the Americans are taking those fingerprints, iris scans and face images with them back to the 'homeland' security ground zero, Virginian suburban DC. In preparation to leave Iraq, last year the DOD was putting in requests for DHS staff to move to Iraq to continue the biometrics program.
- In a related project, DHS has awarded a $71 million contract to the firm Accenture to begin testing new biometrics methods at the border. The tests will include voluntary submissions of iris scan and face recognition data as part of the US VISIT program, under which visitors to the US from most countries are required to submit electronic fingerprints at the border. All of this information will likely be fed into the FBI's NGI database.
- The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a lawsuit against DHS seeking records related to their social media monitoring program. As EPIC writes:
In news reports and a Federal Register notice, the DHS has stated that it will routinely monitor the public postings of users on Twitter and Facebook. The agency plans to create fictitious user accounts and scan posts of users for key terms. User data will be stored for five years and shared with other government agencies. The legal authority for the DHS program remains unclear.
- Following in Facebook's footsteps, Google has announced plans to use face recognition in its G+ social networking platform. The search giant chose to enable more privacy-respecting features from the outset, however, unlike the big blue dominator of the industry: the feature will require an opt-in from each user, and you'll have to approve it when a friend wants to tag a photo of you using face recognition.
- The militarization of the police has been a hot subject of late, particularly given the militaristic response many police departments have shown non-violent Occupy movements nationwide. The Center for Investigative Reporting yesterday published a truly astounding report on just that subject. Among their finds? The US has spent $32 billion domestically on 'security' since 9/11.
- Customs and Border Patrol has been given over $10 billion for its 2012 operations, $400 million of which will be spent on its border security projects.
- DHS is still trying to figure out how to spot a terrorist. Now it is putting more money into the START program, which aims "to explore the social, behavioral and cultural factors that influence violent extremism, including political, financial and religious causes while examining the emergence and operations of domestic terrorists and how they interact with law enforcement strategies."