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Archives for: August 2011

08/25/11

Facial Recognition is a Threat to Your Privacy

Facial Recognition is a Threat
to Your Privacy:


A Top Privacy
Issue of Our Time

San Diego, CA, August 25,
2011

Imagine you’re walking down the street and a stranger snaps
your photo with his smartphone. He uses a facial recognition app and within
minutes, he knows your name, age, where you were born, and your Social Security
number. Think it’s a scene from the movie Minority
Report
? Think again.

It’s Possible.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University combined three
technologies – facial recognition software, cloud computing, and social
networks – to identify people both online and offline. The team performed three
separate experiments
:

  1. People using pseudonyms on an online dating site were
    identified by comparing Facebook profile photos, which are publicly displayed,
    to the profiles on the dating site. Using facial recognition software to match
    up the photos, 10 percent of the dating site’s users were identified.

  2. Students walking on campus were identified by comparing
    real-time photos taken with a webcam to Facebook profile photos. The facial
    recognition software identified the students 31 percent of the time.

  3. Using only a photo of a person’s face and information
    publicly available online, the researchers figured out the person’s birth date,
    personal interests, and Social Security number.

Many individuals share a tremendous amount of information about
themselves online. As facial recognition software improves, it will inevitably
be easier to link this personal information to you just by taking your photo.

The Threat to Your
Privacy.

Facial recognition technology – especially as the technology
becomes more sophisticated – may be one of the gravest privacy threats of our
time. It has the potential to remove the anonymity we expect in crowds and most
public places. There are the obvious “chilling effects” it could have on
political demonstrations and speech, concerns being monitored by civil
liberties advocates like the ACLU,
EPIC, and EFF.  However, this technology will also very
likely be used in greater capacity in the commercial sector to further target
consumers for advertising and discriminatory pricing purposes.

According to
an article published recently by the Los Angeles Times
, several companies
have already launched, or plan to launch soon, facial recognition technology
that will be used for in-store digital displays and kiosks to make product
suggestions based on the demographics gleaned from your face.  This might include your sex, your age range,
and your race or ethnicity.  

However, the article fails to mention the possibility that
facial recognition software will likely be used for more than demographic
targeting. In his book Niche
Envy
, Joseph Turow, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, explains
how companies are using increasingly sophisticated market segmentation methods
to offer different prices to different people, a practice known as price
discrimination. The more detailed the profile a company can build on you, the
more accurately it can estimate how much you are willing to spend on a product.

Professor Turow focused primarily on online data collection,
but as the Carnegie Mellon study illustrates, facial recognition technology
makes it possible to connect your offline identity with your online identity
without necessarily obtaining your consent. This may allow for price
discrimination the moment you walk into a store. As facial recognition
technology advances and the number of consumers using social media continues to
increase, it’s not far-fetched to imagine a scenario where, for example, the
kiosk mentioned above identifies you based on information found online. What if
you then receive not only product recommendations, but also prices for those
products based on who it thinks you are? The possibility of such applications for
facial recognition technology are disturbing, to say the least. 

What You Can Do.

We believe  individuals must have control over their personal
information.  This includes who has your
information, how it is kept, and what can be done with it.
 Facial recognition software can enable companies
to identify and target you without your knowledge or permission. Privacy laws
in the U.S. have not kept pace with technology, and we are aware of no laws specifically
governing commercial use of facial recognition technology.  This is unless, of course, a company states
in a privacy policy that it does not use this technology when in fact it does.

Here are three things you can do to fight for your privacy:

  1. Educate yourself. The most important thing you can do is learn
    more about the technology and its privacy implications, so that you are an
    educated and informed consumer. To stay abreast of facial recognition and other
    emerging privacy issues, visit our
    Privacy Today webpage
    .

  2. Support legislation that defends privacy. Write to your elected representatives
    to ask for stronger privacy protections against facial recognition
    technology and other emergent technologies that you believe may be used to
    invade your privacy. Many privacy laws are created on the state level, so stay
    informed and vote for better privacy protection.

  3. Avoid companies with poor privacy practices. When possible,
    don't do business with companies that you believe collect unnecessary
    personal information or fail to protect that information. Take your money
    elsewhere - and let the companies know why.

You can also see this alert on our website at http://www.privacyrights.org/facial-recognition-threat-to-your-privacy-2011.


__________________________________________________________________


GOD'S WORD FOR TODAY

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. ACTS 2:38 (KJV)

08/02/11

Coalition Letter to Protect Online Privacy

Coalition Letter to Protect Online Privacy
Posted by James Leroy Wilson

DownsizeDC.org is part of a coalition of 30 organizations expressing privacy concerns in bill H.R. 1981, the "Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act."

Section 4 of the bill would, for the first time, "force companies that provide Internet access to keep large volumes of records on their customers." Contrary to the title of the bill, "the records would involve all Internet users everywhere and they would be available to law enforcement for any purpose."

This is an invasion of the privacy of "hundreds of millions of Americans who have no connection to the sexual exploitation of children whatsoever."

This is why we sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member John Conyers opposing this provision.

You may see the letter here and read it below:

generating records – what we read, where we go, who our friends are. If those records must
always be saved for future use, they become a persistent and pervasive assault on our privacy and an irresistible temptation to law enforcement. That is why best practices in privacy demand the deletion of records as soon as they are no longer necessary – exactly the opposite of the mandate of H. R. 1981.

Existing laws are wholly insufficient in protecting against access to such records. As this
Committee has recognized in previous hearings, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act
(ECPA) has not been substantially updated since 1986, while the type and detail of records have increased dramatically since that time. The data retention mandate of H.R. 1981 would
exacerbate ECPA’s problems, making records available and identifiable for even longer periods of time.

For all of these reasons, we urge the committee to withhold approval of H.R. 1981 in any
form containing section 4 or any other data retention mandate.
Sincerely,

Advocacy for Principled Action in Government
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Civil Liberties Union
American Library Association
Association of Research Libraries
Bill of Rights Defense committee
Center for Democracy & Technology
Center for Digital Democracy
Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights
Center for Media and Democracy
Center for National Security Studies
Consumer Action
Consumer Federation of America
Consumer Watchdog
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Defending Dissent Foundation
Demand Progress
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Friends of Privacy USA
Liberty Coalition
Muslim Public Affairs Council
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
National Workrights Institute
Patient Privacy Rights
Privacy Activism
Privacy Journal, Robert Ellis Smith, Publisher
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
World Privacy Forum

########################################################################

GOD'S WORD FOR TODAY
Psalms 100:5
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalms 100:5 (KJV)

IN THE NEWS
OBAMA NATION

US uses debt crisis to cover-up drawing spying rules
http://bit.ly/oeArYR

Corporate Tax Holiday in Debt Ceiling Deal: Where's the Uproar?
http://bit.ly/mYBAjf

As Washington struggles over debt crisis, Obama stays mum on veto threat
http://yhoo.it/pHHvmm

Obama to announce new fuel economy standards Friday
http://yhoo.it/qoeo4P

Barack Obama Thinks Your Password Sucks
http://gizmo.do/qiB7Hw

Obama ends ban on openly gay military service
http://yhoo.it/o69URP

MORE STAGED TERROR AND HORROR

Norway horror: 80 die in camp shooting, 7 in blast
http://yhoo.it/oKAojT

POLICE STATE NEWS

15 Years in Prison For Taping Cops? Eavesdropping Laws Are Taking Away Our Best Defense Against Police Brutality
http://bit.ly/oJqbah

The World’s Biggest Central Bank Has Private Shareholders
http://bit.ly/qp7JlF

Rahm Emanuel Imposes Tween Curfew
http://bit.ly/pUyDSD

House panel approves bill forcing ISPs to log users’ web history
http://bit.ly/rffep9

TSA readying new behavior detection plan for airport checkpoints
http://politi.co/odkrty

Lockheed Martin Wins $72 Million Contract To Install Body Scanners
http://bit.ly/pE1uRT

Bank Activity Required For Wisconsin Voter ID - People in WI Should Be Protesting This
http://bit.ly/pBjWGK

Caught on tape: Police 'stripped unarmed man naked, kicked, beat and tasered him as he lay screaming in snow'
http://bit.ly/oR8eId

San Francisco police say man killed in Bayview incident fired at cops first
http://bit.ly/orLbBQ

'I'm angry this time': Bladder cancer survivor left covered in his own urine AGAIN after TSA worker manhandled him
http://bit.ly/prPe8H

Mom convicted in son’s jaywalking death - The Injustice System
http://yhoo.it/ogZfU2

Walnuts Are Drugs, Says FDA - Another Example of Government Idiocracy
http://bit.ly/nk0hi1

Woman guilty after refusing TSA patdown
http://bit.ly/qjuo7W

S.C. Police on Alert After Political Activist “Liked” Article on Facebook
http://bit.ly/mT5OVH

REAL ID & PRIVACY NEWS

Judge Prohibits Texas From Denying Drivers Licenses to Legal Immigrants
http://fxn.ws/rsUO2t

ECONOMIC NEWS

No Wonder the Jobless Rate is Staying at Depression Levels
http://bit.ly/pSHL8R

Detroit to set services by neighborhood condition
http://bit.ly/qJd92l

Ghost Towns on the Increase as Rural America Accounts for Just 16% of Population
http://bit.ly/pVLpvw

Apple Now Has More Cash Than The U.S. Government
http://read.bi/pcNfD6

Stocks Reverse Entire Overnight Dump On One Headline
http://bit.ly/qNVEOV

Job listings say the unemployed need not apply - Sickening Trend In The Business World
http://yhoo.it/ni4XJc

USPS to study retail locations for new concept
http://bit.ly/po4yjG

Back to School Shoppers: Get a Break on Sales Taxes - Does The Savings Live Up To The Hype?
http://yhoo.it/pXBnnG

POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Tea party role in debt bill raises GOP eyebrows
http://bit.ly/mWyG7W

How the Justice Department Helped Birth a Multibillion Dollar Phone Scam
http://aol.it/pzAOkk

IRS says airlines can issue ticket-tax refunds
http://yhoo.it/mQKqua

Bob Etheridge Apologizes for "Poor Response" to Sidewalk Cameramen
Cameras get undesired results Hidden cameras get much more
http://bit.ly/9X4lcc

HEALTH NEWS

Tylenol daily dose cut to prevent overdose, liver failure
http://usat.ly/nkINxh

Air Force Pilots Have Anti-Freeze in Their Blood and the Air Force Doesn't Know Why
http://gizmo.do/pOKKnD

Conflict of Interest Evident in Microwave Radiation Studies
http://bit.ly/nhct9F

Gonorrhea Now Resistant to Last Type of Antibiotics
http://bit.ly/rbUjkD

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION NEWS

California "Dream Act" approved for illegal immigrants
http://yhoo.it/nGoa77

MORAL DECLINE

Drunk school anti-drinking lecture cop crashes into a tree...while towing DARE trailer - The Irony
http://bit.ly/qKJ66B

Polygamist threatens court with biblical repercussions
http://bit.ly/oqNxz6

Ex-La. gov, 83, marries 32-year-old prison pen pal
http://bo.st/qotFxD

UK Pole Dancing Class For Young Girls Sparks Outrage
http://huff.to/pZCGLe

Florida murderer caught 32 years after prison escape
http://yhoo.it/mSmoXI

Jeopardy! host injured after chasing burglar in SF
http://yhoo.it/nPAXau

Three Kennedy Middle School Boys Admit to Sexual Assault
http://bit.ly/onO7xT

Children as young as 10 DAYS old among 89 rescued from clutches of Chinese people traffickers
http://bit.ly/oan3xw

Top judge arrested on rape charges 'after victim secretly filmed him carrying out attack'
http://bit.ly/nyohZq

Man arrested over kidnap and rape of college student in broad daylight
http://bit.ly/pzv0RV

STRANGE WEATHER

Pa. girl, 11, hit by lightning on sunny afternoon
http://yhoo.it/q48kTh

MADE IN THE USA

Walmart is largest importer of Communist Chinese manufactured product into USA!
http://bit.ly/oF0hGD