From warrantless location tracking to spooky data mining and everything in between, here's your Thursday tech links round-up.
- Remember that time you were arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or getting caught in the police kettle on the Brooklyn bridge? Or maybe you've never been arrested? Doesn't matter: either way, local police will soon be able to pull up your international travel records, criminal arrest record or no. So-called "Secure Communities" is an ostensibly immigration related program that deputizes local police to act on immigration violations in communication with DHS. But in testimony to Congress, a DHS official now tells us that the scope of the horrid data gathering and anti-immigrant deportation program goes much farther. Read more about TECS and DHS-local data sharing.
- The Obama administration wants warrantless access to our mobile location data. WTF? Tell Congress you want the opposite.
- Reports late last year indicated that the military was spending millions of dollars on a data-mining scheme to monitor all communications to and from military and military contractor personnel. The program is called "Proactive Discovery of Insider Threats Using Graph Analysis and Learning" (PRODIGAL). News this month shows that a Xerox subsidiary, PARC, has obtained a $3.5 million contract with the military's pie-in-the-sky research arm, DARPA, to continue operating the project, which aims to identify patterns or character traits in communications that seem suspicious. Or, as PARC puts it:
On the psychological context modeling and analysis side, HumRRO [another private company] is providing expertise in dynamic psychological modeling, the psychology of insider attacks, and the connection between personality traits and behavior. On the graph learning side, NASA Ames Research Center is providing unique capabilities in graph structure analysis and anomaly detection.
- That program, while disturbing, only monitors government employees' and contractors' communications. But that's not enough for Senator John McCain. He wants the military to be able to monitor and mine all of our communications, or, as the national ACLU puts it: the "domestic civilian internet." Um. No. Tell your legislators what you think about this horrid proposal.
- In related news, Lockheed Martin is building a "fence" in space, which will supposedly enable the US government to track objects in the outer limits. It has thus far cost the US over $100 million dollars, and Lockheed has only developed a prototype with all that cash. In related news, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are continuing work on drone surveillance that will enable the military to track objects on the ground very precisely.
- Scientists are trying to determine whether people are lying by tracing their eye movements. This brings to mind DHS' ridiculous and invasive FAST tracking program, which supposedly allows the agency to identify 'suspicious' people based on how they look (nervous or not), their heart rate, breathing, and movements.
- The next time you get pulled over, an officer might put an iPhone in your face to snap a photo of your iris and face in order to compare your biometrics to police records. Does this constitute a search? Among many other questions posed by digital surveillance and tracking, it remains to be seen.
- Finally, even though this isn't technology related strictly speaking, I need to ask you to help me out here, internetz: is this a joke? Is McDonalds really partnering with the NYPD to give free food to people who are stopped and frisked three times without getting arrested? And is this really part of McDonald's outreach to black people, part of their 365black campaign? Please say it's a joke. Shorter NYPD: "We know we are racially profiling you and messing up your life by making you afraid to walk down the street as a black/Latino man in NYC, but if you don't get arrested after we throw you down on the ground and frisk you three times, you can have a hamburger." Ummmm. (Brilliant work, Yes Men.)