Category Archives: Technology

Certain U.S. Airlines Are Testing Mandatory Facial Recognition Scans on Americans Flying Abroad, by Michael Krieger

Bit by Orwellian bit, the state introduces new surveillance technologies…for our own good, of course. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

Just when you thought air travel couldn’t get any more invasive, authoritarian and downright miserable, the Department of Homeland Security and two U.S. carriers are determined to prove you wrong.

Yesterday, Harrison Rudolph, a law fellow at the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, wrote a very troubling article at Slatetitled, DHS Is Starting to Scan Americans’ Faces Before They Get on International Flights. Here’s some of what we learned:

Decades ago, Congress mandated that federal authorities keep track of foreign nationals as they enter and leave the United States. If the government could record when every visitor stepped on and off of U.S. soil, so the thinking went, it could easily see whether a foreign national had overstayed a visa.

But in June of last year, without congressional authorization, and without consulting the public, the Department of Homeland Security started scanning the faces of Americans leaving the country, too.

You may have heard about new JetBlue or Delta programs that let passengers board their flights by submitting to a face recognition scan. Few realize, however, that these systems are actually the first phase of DHS’s “Biometric Exit” program.

For certain international flights from Atlanta and New York, DHS has partnered with Delta to bring mandatory face recognition scans to the boarding gate. The Delta system checks a passenger is supposed to be on the plane by comparing her face, captured by a kiosk at the boarding gate, to passenger manifest photos from State Department databases. It also checks passengers’ citizenship or immigration status. Meanwhile, in Boston, DHS has partnered with JetBlue to roll out a voluntary face recognition system for travelers flying to Aruba. In JetBlue’s case, you can actually get your face scanned instead of using a physical ticket.

While these systems differ in details, they have two things in common. First, they are laying the groundwork for a much broader, mandatory deployment of Biometric Exit across the country. Second, they scan the faces of everyone—including American citizens.

Treating U.S. citizens like foreign nationals contradicts years of congressional mandates. DHS has never consulted the American public about whether Americans should be subject to face recognition. That’s because Congress has never given Homeland Security permission to do it in the first place. Congress has passed Biometric Exit bills at least nine times. In each, it has been clear: This is a program meant for foreign nationals. In fact, when President Trump issued an executive order in January on Biometric Exit, it was actually reissued to clarify that it didn’t apply to American citizens.

To continue reading: Certain U.S. Airlines Are Testing Mandatory Facial Recognition Scans on Americans Flying Abroad

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A Cyberattack ‘the World Isn’t Ready For’ by Nicole Perlroth

Remember the WannaCry cyberattack last month? There is another cyberattack lurking out there that’s worse. From Nicole Perlroth at nytimes.com:

NEWARK — There have been times over the last two months when Golan Ben-Oni has felt like a voice in the wilderness.

On April 29, someone hit his employer, IDT Corporation, with two cyberweapons that had been stolen from the National Security Agency. Mr. Ben-Oni, the global chief information officer at IDT, was able to fend them off, but the attack left him distraught.

In 22 years of dealing with hackers of every sort, he had never seen anything like it. Who was behind it? How did they evade all of his defenses? How many others had been attacked but did not know it?

Since then, Mr. Ben-Oni has been sounding alarm bells, calling anyone who will listen at the White House, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New Jersey attorney general’s office and the top cybersecurity companies in the country to warn them about an attack that may still be invisibly striking victims undetected around the world.

And he is determined to track down whoever did it.

“I don’t pursue every attacker, just the ones that piss me off,” Mr. Ben-Oni told me recently over lentils in his office, which was strewn with empty Red Bull cans. “This pissed me off and, more importantly, it pissed my wife off, which is the real litmus test.”

Two weeks after IDT was hit, the cyberattack known as WannaCry ravaged computers at hospitals in England, universities in China, rail systems in Germany, even auto plants in Japan. No doubt it was destructive. But what Mr. Ben-Oni had witnessed was much worse, and with all eyes on the WannaCry destruction, few seemed to be paying attention to the attack on IDT’s systems — and most likely others around the world.

The strike on IDT, a conglomerate with headquarters in a nondescript gray building here with views of the Manhattan skyline 15 miles away, was similar to WannaCry in one way: Hackers locked up IDT data and demanded a ransom to unlock it.

But the ransom demand was just a smoke screen for a far more invasive attack that stole employee credentials. With those credentials in hand, hackers could have run free through the company’s computer network, taking confidential information or destroying machines.

To continue reading: A Cyberattack ‘the World Isn’t Ready For’

Another Gentle “Nudge” … by Eric Peters

Soon you will not be driving your car, it will be driving you…crazy. Crazy like your obnoxious older sister did when you were a kid and she bossed you around. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:

Whatever their failings, machines generally don’t second-guess you. Turn them on, turn them off. Point them in a certain direction. Command them to move or spin or do whatever it is they were made to do and – assuming they are not broken – they will usually do it.

And won’t try to nudge you to do what they think is best.

Electronic gadgets, on the other hand . . .  .

They pre-empt and nudge. Do things you didn’t ask them to – and won’t do things you want them to. They turn on – and off- at random, according to their own lights. They are not broken, either.

Which means, of course, they can’t be fixed.

They seem to literally have a mind of their own – and in a very real sense, they do. They are programmed to guess/intuit/anticipate your needs – whether you need them to or not.

It is like having an insolent intern or personal assistant who is useful to you in some ways but an aneurism-inducing  aggravation in other ways. And unlike the intern or PA – whom you can fire and replace with a more deferential one who actually does do what you ask without giving you lip or funny looks or unsanctioned advice – and doesn’t do things you didn’t ask them to – electronic gadgets are pretty much all the same. In particular, their annoying penchant to pre-empt; to nudge you along certain pathways of the software’s – that is, the programmer’s – choosing.

Always because the programmer has decided it’s good for you.

To – in  a very real way  – parent you.

It most definitely isn’t a master-servant relationship, as it ought to be. As it was, with machines.

And it is spreading.

Do you see”safety” anywhere? Where is he?

Apple announced the other day that the next iPhone will lock you out whenever your car is moving. No texting, either sending or receiving. Nor swiping or tapping, either. For your saaaaaaaaaaaafety, of course. Just like the saaaaaafetyfeatures built into the latest cars that lock you out of many of the “infotainment” features while the car is moving. Also for saaaaaaaaaaafety. And automatically – parentally – mute or turn down the volume of the radio whenever the car’s transmission is put into Reverse. Or refuse to allow you to turn off the traction control. Flashes a red light at you when you exceed the speeeeeeeeed limit (yes, really).

To continue reading: Another Gentle “Nudge”

A Digital Noose ‘Round Every Corner, by Uncola

If everyone knows everything about everyone, then no one can do anything wrong. A provocative thesis from Doug Uncola Lynn at theburningplatform.com:

Graduation season.  Parties, commencements, speeches and lots and lots of photos.  Recently, I loaded all of the pictures onto a PC and saved them into a folder, digitally labeled and timestamped, for posterity.  The next day, I noticed a message from Microsoft.  It said:  “Click here to see the photo album we created for you!”  I clicked and saw the very same photos I had loaded just hours before.  However, I never requested for my personal memories to be shared, let alone arranged into an album organized by the company whose operating system runs my computer.  Evidently, somewhere a while back, a box must have been checked, or unchecked, thus surrendering my right to privacy.

Every day I receive e-mail requests from Linkedin.com, Facebook and other networking websites to follow, like, or join, with people I am actually acquainted with in the real world.  The messages ask me if I “know” them as I see their photos and information along with the opportunity to electronically consummate with them, should I so choose.

Except I don’t Facebook, am not Linkedin, and wouldn’t care to Twitter to save my life.  Neither do I Snap-a-gram or Insta-chat. But I do e-mail, text, blog, and surf all throughout the Ethernetic Webisphere.  Furthermore, in three dimensions, I also shake hands, pat backs, punch shoulders and give hugs whenever I can. Nonetheless, in so doing, I do wonder how all these internet applications and websites find me.  I assume they identify the connections to round off established social circles via my e-mail as accessed through the shared contact listings of those who know me.

One time I was having lunch out of town with a friend when he looked up to the waitress and said that he knew her parents.  Because she had never seen him before, she seemed somewhat startled, shocked in fact, until he explained how he knew all about her from her parent’s various postings on Facebook.  I also had a friend once tell me how the Facebook “Memories” program resent an embarrassing message and photo he had posted years ago while extremely intoxicated.  Evidently, Facebook doesn’t forget.

To continue reading: A Digital Noose ‘Round Every Corner

Visualizing The Expanding Universe Of Cryptocurrencies, by Tyler Durden

SLL is on a mission to expand our knowledge, and that of our readers, of cryptocurrencies. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency, and its meteoric rise has made it a mainstay of conversation for investors, media, and technologists alike.

In fact, as Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins details, the innovation of the blockchain is changing entire markets, while causing ripples with central banks and the financial industry. At time of publication, the bitcoin price now hovers near US$2,200, a massive increase from this time last year.

But the true impact of Bitcoin is actually far more reaching than this – it’s actually helped to birth new markets for over 800 other cryptocurrencies and assets that are available for online trading. And while the market for bitcoins is worth nearly $40 billion itself, the rest of these cryptocurrencies are actually worth even more in combination.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

THE ALTCOIN UNIVERSE

For the first time since Bitcoin was founded, it now makes up the minority of the entire cryptocurrency market at about 47.9% of all coins and assets.

So what are the other altcoins that make up the rest of this universe, and where did they come from?

Litecoin

Litecoin is one of the first altcoins, and it is nearly identical to Bitcoin after being “forked” in 2011. Litecoin aims to process blocks 4x faster than Bitcoin to speed up transaction confirmation time, though this creates several other challenges as well. At time of writing, Litecoin’s market capitalization is worth $1.3 billion.

Ethereum

Ethereum, launched in 2015, is the largest coin by market capitalization aside from Bitcoin. However, it is also quite different. While Bitcoin is designed to be a payments protocol first, Ethereum enables developers to build and deploy decentralized applications, while also enabling smart contracts. The tokens used to power the network are called Ether, but they can also be traded online. At time of writing, Ethereum’s market capitalization is $15.4 billion.

To continue reading: Visualizing The Expanding Universe Of Cryptocurrencies

He Said That? 5/25/17

From Arthur C. Clarke 1917 – 19 March 2008), British author, inventor, and futurist,The Exploration of Space (1951):

If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run — and often in the short one — the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.

A New Financial System is Being Born, by Michael Krieger

It’s probably time, in fact it’s probably past time, to start paying attention to cryptocurrencies. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

If Bitcoin blew you away when you first discovered it, and continues to do so to this day, Spiral Dynamics can help explain why. Bitcoin was an expression in the physical world of the newly emergent leading-edge integral level consciousness. It drew lessons from history and attempted to take the best of orange and green worldviews and incorporate them into an entirely new form of money. We see the clear presence of free markets and individualism, as well as the intentional separation of the system from dominator hierarchies (bureaucratic government meddling), which had corrupted all money before it. Its greenness is evident in the fact that by design no individual or company controls the network. Global, decentralized, revolutionary technology. This is perhaps the perfect example of integral consciousness operating on our planet at this time from an economics standpoint, and why it has captured the imagination of so many, while at the same time being violently rejected by so many others.

From February’s post: Why Increased Consciousness is the Only Path Forward

Although I had heard about it much earlier, I didn’t truly start investigating Bitcoin until the summer of 2012. The more I learned the more my mind was blown away, and for a while I couldn’t think about anything else. What truly solidified its real world usefulness to me was when I discovered it had been used by Wikileaks to accept payments in the midst of a financial services blockade against the renegade publisher. This realization inspired my first Bitcoin related post in August 2012 titled, Bitcoin: A Way to Fight Back Against the Financial Terrorists? 

In that piece, I linked to a Forbes article that detailed the revolutionary events taking place. We learned:

Following a massive release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables in November 2010, donations to WikiLeaks were blocked by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union on December 7th, 2010. Although private companies certainly have a right to select which transactions to process or not, the political environment produced less than a fair and objective decision. It was coordinated pressure exerted in a politicized climate by the U.S. government and it won’t be the last time that we see this type of pressure.

Fortunately, there is way around this and other financial blockades with a global payment method immune to political pressure and monetary censorship.

On its public bitcoin address, Wikileaks has taken in over $32,000 equivalent in more than 1,100 separate bitcoin donations throughout the blockade (1BTC = $10.00). But these amounts may be significantly higher, because it does not even include the individually-generated bitcoin addresses that WikiLeaks provides for donors upon request.

To continue reading: A New Financial System is Being Born