By itself, your license plate doesn’t say much except in what state, month, and year you registered your car. But start tracking where and when that license plate goes, and you’ve suddenly got a whole huge pile of personal data about all the comings and goings in someone’s life. We’ve reported before that license plate scanning by public and private entities is both widespread and unregulated. Now, the ACLU is suing police in one state to get them to stop. [More]
When you hear the phrase “vast hidden network of cameras that scan license plates,” what do you think of? The police? The Department of Homeland Security? While the government and privacy advocates argue over government use of plate-scanning data, private companies are already collecting and selling that data with little regulation. [More]
Shoppers at discount store Tesco in the U.K. might get the unnerving feeling that someone is watching them. Something is. The chain is using sophisticated software to identify customers and beam ads at them. No, not by name: by demographic. [More]
You know that tingly feeling you get at the nape of your neck when it feels like someone’s watching you? Londoners might be getting that titchy touch of spy vibes just from walking past recycling bins in the city. Officials have told a company it has to stop using those bins to track the smartphones of people strolling by, because [insert whole lot of privacy concerns right here]. [More]
There’s a hot book on the scene — have you heard about it? It’s this wacky vision of a dystopian future where the government is always listening. And oh yeah, it’s George Orwell’s 1984, which was published 64 years ago. Sales of the futuristic cautionary tale to society have been hopping in the wake of the National Security Agency surveillance scandal, with one edition jumping from No. 73797 to No. 125 on the Amazon.com best-seller list. [More]
Law enforcement officers put themselves at great risk, perform a vital public service and give society the peace of mind to be able to function with confidence. Even so, it has been said that some cops have been known to do things that could be classified as annoying or abusive. [More]
If you happen to be going to Cannes this summer (and, really, if you aren’t, you should be) mega-conglomerate Unilever is ready to tempt you with a treat straight out of Minority Report. The company has set up a vending machine that lets anyone who walks by score some free ice cream. The price? Just smile for the machine’s facial recognition software, which will determine your age, gender and emotion. Only the most happy will get ice cream. The rest? We don’t really know, but we seem to remember something having to do with stolen eyeballs that can be used to trick such systems. [More]
The history of online social networking is rife with faux pas. From celebrities trolling hookup sites to people being fired for thinking they could blab about their boss on Facebook with impunity, there are countless tales of Internet lessons learned the hard way. And an ingenious — and some say dangerous — new site is out to demonstrate just how easy it is to find out when you’re away from your home so people can steal your stuff. [More]
The Motion Picture Association of American wants to rent movies to TV viewers earlier in the release window, but they don’t want anyone potentially streaming that video out to other appliances. That’s why last week they went back to the FCC to once again ask for the power to disable analog ports on consumer television sets.
Last week, a developer discovered that the iPhone has the capability to quietly connect to Apple’s servers to check an application blacklist, and then disable any installed apps that are on the list. The story was quickly defused by blogs, but today the Wall Street Journal says Steve Jobs has confirmed that there really is an application “kill switch.”
Qwest, Verizon, and AT&T have until October 12th to provide information on how the government went about asking for private customer records, and how the three companies provided the information. The Committee on Energy and Commerce opened an official investigation Tuesday. “If reports about the government surveillance program are accurate, Congress has a duty to inquire about whether such a program violates the Constitution, as well as consumer protection and privacy laws,” said committee chairman Rep. John Dingell.
Good Morning America ran a clip about how we’re using technology to keep tabs on Alzheimer’s patients. Verichip is a small barcode you inject into an old person that contains all their medical history.