Big Brother


Orlando International Airport to scan faces of US citizens

21st June 2018

Florida’s busiest airport is becoming the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, including U.S. citizens, according to officials there.

The expected announcement Thursday at Orlando International Airport alarms some privacy advocates who say there are no formal rules in place for handling data gleaned from the scans, nor formal guidelines on what should happen if a passenger is wrongly prevented from boarding.

Airports in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York and Washington already use face scans for some departing international flights, but they don’t involve all international travelers at the airports like the program’s expansion in Orlando would. The image from the face scan is compared to a Department of Homeland Security biometric database that has images of people who should be on the flight, in order to verify the traveler’s identity.

U.S. citizens at these airports can opt out, but the agency “doesn’t seem to be doing an adequate job letting Americans know they can opt out,” said Harrison Rudolph, an associate at the Center on Privacy & Technology at the Georgetown University Law Center.

U.S. citizens at the Orlando airport will be able to opt out just like at the other airports if they don’t want to provide their photograph, Jennifer Gabris, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in an email. However, a notice about a possible rule change for the program states that “U.S. citizens may be required to provide photographs upon entering or departing the United States.”

The Orlando announcement marks a step up in the scope of the face scan program, Rudolph said.

“We’re not talking about one gate,” he said. “We’re talking about every international departure gate, which is a huge expansion of the number of people who will be scanned. Errors tend to go up as uses go up.”

Orlando International Airport had about 6 million international passengers in the past year.

 

 

source/read more :https://apnews.com/eade4e6efbf442328b0e1eefabd98f05

 

Facebook Will Harass You Mercilessly if You Try to Break Up

20th June 2018

Breaking up with Facebook is apparently as difficult as breaking up with a bad boyfriend or girlfriend who won’t accept your decision. That’s the experience Henry Grabar of Slate had when he stopped signing on. He stopped logging in on June 6 and stayed off Facebook for ten days. He had been a member for over ten years and this was the longest period he had remained off the social network. But Facebook didn’t leave him alone. He received 17 email messages in a span of nine days urging him to return.

Grabar is not alone in trying to wean himself off Facebook for various reasons. Some do it because they realize it can be a waste of time, while others do it because of the company’s inability to protect (or lack of interest in protecting) its members’ personal data. The company has mistakenly released data of nearly 100 million of its members and friends of members to third parties, and many of them have used the data for illicit purposes. While Facebook says they are not losing members, some recent statistics paint a different story. According to a Pew study, only 51 percent of U.S. teenagers use the service now, down from 71 percent in 2015. This was the first time the numbers have fallen.

Grabar found that the messages he received actually reinforced his decision to stay off the platform. On one day he received two emails telling him a distant friend had posted a new photo. On another day he received a message telling him that 88 people liked a post in a group he belonged to. And on another day he received an email telling him there was a post to his college alumni group.

A few days later he was notified in an email that a few dozen members of a group he belonged to had commented about a news article. The email notices followed along these lines and included more messages about Facebook friends adding new photos or commenting on other posts, and even emailing him reminders to “see what people are talking about in your group.” Then he received an email in the middle of the night asking, “You up? How about a little late-night content from a guy on your soccer team who is the little brother of your colleague’s boyfriend?”

The following day there was an email saying, “5 people like a post in your group.” And another: “603 people like a photo in your group.” It continued much like this over the ten days he was off.

 

 

 

 

source/read more:https://pjmedia.com/trending/facebook-will-harass-you-mercilessly-if-you-try-to-break-up/

This nation faces a DNA dilemma: Whether to notify people carrying cancer genes

18th June 2018

Sometime in the future, U.S. researchers will be able to press a button and reliably identify the thousands of people who carry cancer-causing genes, including those that trigger breast cancer.

In Iceland, that day is already here. With a relatively uniform population and extensive DNA databases, Iceland could easily pinpoint which of its people are predisposed to certain diseases, and notify them immediately. So far, the government has refused to do so. Why? Iceland confronts legal and ethical obstacles that have divided the nation and foreshadow what larger countries may soon face.

Since the late 1990s, tens of thousands of Icelanders have agreed to contribute their DNA to a public-private science projects aimed at delivering medical breakthroughs. But in contributing their DNA — and in many cases, their medical records — these people never explicitly consented to be notified of personal health risks that scientists might discover.

Icelandic regulators have determined that without that explicit consent, neither the government nor private industry can notify people of these risks.

“That is utter, thorough bulls–t,” Dr. Kári Stefánsson, a world-renowned Icelandic neurologist and biotech leader who has been at the center of the nation’s DNA debate, told McClatchy in an interview in his Reykjavík office. “There is a tradition in American society, there is a tradition in Icelandic society, to save people who are in life-threatening situations, without asking them for informed consent. Should there be a different rule if the danger is because of a mutated gene?”

In Iceland more than anywhere, the promises of technology and “personalized medicine” are clashing with concerns over privacy and medical norms. In the United States and elsewhere, scientists and doctors will soon have the capability to tell people about their predispositions to diseases. But at what age should they be told, and with what caveats? Should researchers only tell individuals about diseases that can be prevented — such as with a mastectomy — as opposed to those they can’t stop, such as Alzheimer’s? And what if people don’t want to know?

source: https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/article213014904.html

Google Is Training Machines to Predict When a Patient Will Die

18th June 2018

A woman with late-stage breast cancer came to a city hospital, fluids already flooding her lungs. She saw two doctors and got a radiology scan. The hospital’s computers read her vital signs and estimated a 9.3 percent chance she would die during her stay.

Then came Google’s turn. An new type of algorithm created by the company read up on the woman — 175,639 data points — and rendered its assessment of her death risk: 19.9 percent. She passed away in a matter of days.

The harrowing account of the unidentified woman’s death was published by Google in May in research highlighting the health-care potential of neural networks, a form of artificial intelligence software that’s particularly good at using data to automatically learn and improve. Google had created a tool that could forecast a host of patient outcomes, including how long people may stay in hospitals, their odds of re-admission and chances they will soon die.

What impressed medical experts most was Google’s ability to sift through data previously out of reach: notes buried in PDFs or scribbled on old charts. The neural net gobbled up all this unruly information then spat out predictions. And it did it far faster and more accurately than existing techniques. Google’s system even showed which records led it to conclusions.

Hospitals, doctors and other health-care providers have been trying for years to better use stockpiles of electronic health records and other patient data. More information shared and highlighted at the right time could save lives — and at the very least help medical workers spend less time on paperwork and more time on patient care. But current methods of mining health data are costly, cumbersome and time consuming.

As much as 80 percent of the time spent on today’s predictive models goes to the “scut work” of making the data presentable, said Nigam Shah, an associate professor at Stanford University, who co-authored Google’s research paper, published in the journal Nature. Google’s approach avoids this. “You can throw in the kitchen sink and not have to worry about it,” Shah said.

Google’s next step is moving this predictive system into clinics, AI chief Jeff Dean told Bloomberg News in May. Dean’s health research unit — sometimes referred to as Medical Brain — is working on a slew of AI tools that can predict symptoms and disease with a level of accuracy that is being met with hope as well as alarm.

Inside the company, there’s a lot of excitement about the initiative. “They’ve finally found a new application for AI that has commercial promise,” one Googler says. Since Alphabet Inc.’s Google declared itself an “AI-first” company in 2016, much of its work in this area has gone to improve existing internet services. The advances coming from the Medical Brain team give Google the chance to break into a brand new market — something co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have tried over and over again.

Software in health care is largely coded by hand these days. In contrast, Google’s approach, where machines learn to parse data on their own, “can just leapfrog everything else,” said Vik Bajaj, a former executive at Verily, an Alphabet health-care arm, and managing director of investment firm Foresite Capital. “They understand what problems are worth solving,” he said. “They’ve now done enough small experiments to know exactly what the fruitful directions are.”

Dean envisions the AI system steering doctors toward certain medications and diagnoses. Another Google researcher said existing models miss obvious medical events, including whether a patient had prior surgery. The person described existing hand-coded models as “an obvious, gigantic roadblock” in health care. The person asked not to be identified discussing work in progress.

For all the optimism over Google’s potential, harnessing AI to improve health-care outcomes remains a huge challenge. Other companies, notably IBM’s Watson unit, have tried to apply AI to medicine but have had limited success saving money and integrating the technology into reimbursement systems.

Google has long sought access to digital medical records, also with mixed results. For its recent research, the internet giant cut deals with the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Chicago for 46 billion pieces of anonymous patient data. Google’s AI system created predictive models for each hospital, not one that parses data across the two, a harder problem. A solution for all hospitals would be even more challenging. Google is working to secure new partners for access to more records.

A deeper dive into health would only add to the vast amounts of information Google already has on us. “Companies like Google and other tech giants are going to have a unique, almost monopolistic, ability to capitalize on all the data we generate,” said Andrew Burt, chief privacy officer for data company Immuta. He and pediatric oncologist Samuel Volchenboum wrote a recent column arguing governments should prevent this data from becoming “the province of only a few companies,” like in online advertising where Google reigns.

Google is treading carefully when it comes to patient information, particularly as public scrutiny over data-collection rises. Last year, British regulators slapped DeepMind, another Alphabet AI lab, for testing an app that analyzed public medical records without telling patients that their information would be used like this. With the latest study, Google and its hospital partners insist their data is anonymous, secure and used with patient permission. Volchenboum said the company may have a more difficult time maintaining that data rigor if it expands to smaller hospitals and health-care networks.

Still, Volchenboum believes these algorithms could save lives and money. He hopes health records will be mixed with a sea of other stats. Eventually, AI models could include information on local weather and traffic — other factors that influence patient outcomes. “It’s almost like the hospital is an organism,” he said.

Few companies are better poised to analyze this organism than Google. The company and its Alphabet cousin, Verily, are developing devices to track far more biological signals. Even if consumers don’t take up wearable health trackers en masse, Google has plenty of other data wells to tap. It knows the weather and traffic. Google’s Android phones track things like how people walk, valuable information for measuring mental decline and some other ailments. All that could be thrown into the medical algorithmic soup.

 

 

source/read more: https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/2018/06/18/google-is-training-machines-to-predict-when-a-patient-will-die

California becomes first state to pass water law limiting toilet flushes

6th June 2018

California has become the first state in the nation to pass a controversial new law that places tough limits on home water usage, KOVR-TV reported.

That means the state will have “more focus on flushes and scrutiny over showers,” according to the report.

How many gallons per day can people use?

Starting in 2022, California will limit water to 55 gallons per-person, per-day. By 2030, the amount falls to 50 gallons.

To put this into perspective, just taking one eight-minute shower (17 gallons of water) and doing one load of laundry (up to 40 gallons) is enough to exceed the 55-gallon limit. Taking a bath can use 80 to 100 gallons of water.

Why is the state doing this?

“So that everyone in California is at least integrating efficiency into our preparations for climate change,” said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.

Some residents said the limits are unrealistic.

“With a child and every day having to wash clothes, that’s — just my opinion — not feasible. But I get it and I understand that we’re trying to preserve, but 55 gallons a day?” Sacramento mom Tanya Allen, who has a 4-year-old daughter, said to KOVR.

Rocka Mitchell and his wife, Ginger, agreed that the water limits would be difficult to meet.

“She likes to bathe three times a day and she does laundry all day,” Rocka Mitchell said of his wife.

How would people achieve this?

Water-efficient fixtures could be used to help homeowners cut back on how much water they use, advocates say.

 

 

 

 

source/read more:https://www.theblaze.com/news/2018/06/01/california-becomes-first-state-to-pass-water-law-limiting-toilet-flushes-showers

Costs of Snowden leak still mounting 5 years later

5th June 2018

National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the lid off U.S. government surveillance methods five years ago, but intelligence chiefs complain that revelations from the trove of classified documents he disclosed are still trickling out.

That includes recent reporting on a mass surveillance program run by close U.S. ally Japan and on how the NSA targeted bitcoin users to gather intelligence to support counterterrorism and to combat narcotics and money laundering. The Intercept, an investigative publication with access to Snowden documents, published stories on both subjects.

The top U.S. counterintelligence official said journalists have released only about 1 percent taken by the 34-year-old American, now living in exile in Russia, “so we don’t see this issue ending anytime soon.”

“This past year, we had more international, Snowden-related documents and breaches than ever,” Bill Evanina, who directs the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said at a recent conference. “Since 2013, when Snowden left, there have been thousands of articles around the world with really sensitive stuff that’s been leaked.”

On June 5, 2013, The Guardian in Britain published the first story based on Snowden’s disclosures. It revealed that a secret court order was allowing the U.S. government to get Verizon to share the phone records of millions of Americans. Later stories, including those in The Washington Post, disclosed other snooping and how U.S. and British spy agencies had accessed information from cables carrying the world’s telephone and internet traffic.

Snowden’s defenders maintain that the U.S. government has for years exaggerated the damage his disclosures caused. Glenn Greenwald, an Intercept co-founder and former journalist at The Guardian, said there are “thousands upon thousands of documents” that journalists have chosen not to publish because they would harm peoples’ reputation or privacy rights or because it would expose “legitimate surveillance programs.”

“It’s been almost five years since newspapers around the world began reporting on the Snowden archive and the NSA has offered all kinds of shrill and reckless rhetoric about the ‘damage’ it has caused, but never any evidence of a single case of a life being endangered let alone harmed,” Greenwald said.

U.S. intelligence officials say they are still counting the cost of his disclosures that went beyond actual intelligence collected to how it was collected. Evanina said intelligence agencies are finishing their seventh classified assessment of the damage.

Joel Melstad, a spokesman for the counterintelligence center, said five U.S. intelligence agencies contributed to the latest damage assessment, which itself is highly classified. Melstad said damage has been observed or verified in five categories of information the U.S. government keeps classified to protect national security.

According to Melstad, Snowden-disclosed documents have put U.S. personnel or facilities at risk around the world, damaged intelligence collection efforts, exposed tools used to amass intelligence, destabilized U.S. partnerships abroad and exposed U.S. intelligence operations, capabilities and priorities.

“With each additional disclosure, the damage is compounded — providing more detail to what our adversaries have already learned,” Melstad said.

Steven Aftergood, a declassification expert at the Federation of American Scientists, said he thinks intelligence agencies are continuing to do Snowden damage assessments because the disclosures’ relevance to foreign targets might take time to recognize and understand. He said the way that intelligence targets adapt based on information revealed and the impact on how the U.S. collects intelligence could continue for years. But he said that any damage that Snowden caused to U.S. intelligence partners abroad would have been felt immediately after the disclosures began in 2013.

Moscow has resisted U.S. pressure to extradite Snowden, who faces U.S. charges that could land him in prison for up to 30 years. From exile, Snowden often does online public speaking and has been active in developing tools that reporters can use, especially in authoritarian countries, to detect whether they are under surveillance.

Snowden supporters say that the government is exaggerating when it claims he took more than 1 million documents and that far fewer have actually been disclosed.

 

 

source/read more: https://apnews.com/797f390ee28b4bfbb0e1b13cfedf0593/Costs-of-Snowden-leak-still-mounting-5-years-later

New Orleans Surveillance Program Gives Powerful Tools to a Police Department With a History of Racism and Abuse

23rd May 2018

As you walk down Felicity Street in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans, red and blue flashing lights radiate from around the corner. But when you turn on to South Liberty Street, you won’t find a patrol car. Your gaze will rise to the peak of a street lamp where the lights are fastened to an NOPD surveillance camera that, just like the lights, runs 24 hours a day.

The beams engulf the small, seven-house block, reflecting off the windows of cars and homes, ricocheting off the bicycles of kids riding by, and lighting up the cheeks of Keisha Smith, who sits on her stoop eating crawfish. “I hate those lights,” she says. “There’s no privacy for us now. Everyone’s uncomfortable. I feel like somebody’s always watching me.” She looks up at the camera and shivers. “Why’d they have to put those here? It’s like trauma when I see that red and blue.”

This camera is just one of an unknown number that the city installed over the past few months, part of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s $40 million public safety plan which the American Civil Liberties Union has condemned as “surveillance on steroids.” The plan also includes new license plate readers and a controversial city ordinance that requires the installation of cameras on the outside of all bars and liquor stores.

The plan has endured criticism about its high cost and the lack of evidence that surveillance programs are an effective crime prevention strategy. Still others have worried that the Big Easy’s free-wheeling spirit and eccentricity will wane under the perpetual gaze of the police.

But more concerning is the public safety plan’s ambiguous purpose and the potential for abuse. It seems that the only oversight will come from the city’s Office of Homeland Security and from within the police department itself, which is currently under a federal consent decree for a myriad of violations including “a pattern of stops, searches, and arrests that violate the Fourth Amendment.”

A spokesperson for the New Orleans Police Department insisted that the department had controls on access to its systems, and that all activity on the system is logged and monitored, leaving an audit trail in cases of abuse. But beyond that, the department has failed to answer basic questions about how the cameras will be used, what technology it will incorporate, how long the footage will be stored, and who will have access to the footage.

The lack of details has sparked anxiety among the city’s undocumented immigrants, who fear that the new data will fall into the hands of the city’s exceptionally aggressive Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office.

But in the most incarcerated city in the most incarcerated state in the country, where black communities endure the brunt of police power, the most salient concern is how this powerful tool could exacerbate the city’s already racially disparate law enforcement.

 

 

source/read more: https://theintercept.com/2018/03/06/new-orleans-surveillance-cameras-nopd-police/