Big Brother could be at your favorite store.
As CBS 2?s Don Champion reported, a growing number of stores are using discrete and sophisticated technology — including mannequins with facial-recognition cameras hidden in their eyes — to track shopper demographics in an effort to boost sales. Retailers say the marketing data technology allows them to cater their business to customers better, but it’s also raising privacy concerns.
Alfonso Perez built a system called Shopperception that Walmart has utilized. It uses motion-sensored cameras to track a shopper’s product choice on a shelf and the time it takes to make a decision. Perez’s business has doubled in the past year.
In response to documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden, the congressional committees in charge of overseeing the government’s intelligence operations have come to the defense of the surveillance and data collection programs, and the agencies that administer them. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have rejected attempts to reform the programs while advancing legislation to bolster their legal status and providing a funding boost to the National Security Agency (NSA) to protect their secrecy.
The U.S. intelligence budget for 2013 is $52.6 billion. According to the Washington Post, “top secret spending” is divided into four main spending categories: data collection, data analysis, management, facilities and support, and data processing and exploitation. Seventy percent of the intelligence budget is used to pay private contractors. Several of the companies receiving intelligence contracts are major donors to members of the intelligence committees, including L-3 Communications, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Honeywell International.
Chinese authorities have told pilots who fly to Beijing they must be qualified to land their aircraft in the low visibility bought about by smog – the latest missive related to the capital’s heavy air pollution, which the government this week lauded as a beneficial shield against missile attacks.
From 1 January pilots flying from the country’s 10 busiest airports into the Chinese capital must be qualified to use an instrument landing system on days when smog reduces visibility to around 400 metres (1,315 feet), the official China Daily said, citing China’s civil aviation regulator.
“It is part of a series of measures the administration took recently to raise the flights’ on-time performance,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed aviation official as saying.
Via: New York Times:
Canada’s postal service said Wednesday that it would cease home delivery over the next five years, and substantially increase postal rates.
Though Canada would become the first Group of 7 country to end all residential mail delivery in cities and older suburbs, Canada Post shares many problems with postal services in the United States and elsewhere, including rapidly declining mail volumes and high wage and pension costs. Along with the service cuts, the government-owned service said it would eliminate 8,000 jobs, mostly through attrition.
“A leaner work force will create a more flexible and competitive Canada Post,” the post office announced in the summary of a five-point plan. “Canada Post has a mandate to fund its operations with revenues from the sale of its products and services, rather than become a burden on taxpayers.”
In place of home delivery, Canadians who live in cities would have to pick up their mail and parcels at so-called community mailboxes, which would be established in neighborhoods across the nation. (Apartment-dwellers would continue to pick up their mail in their buildings.)
While the service argued that the communal boxes had “advantages for busy Canadians,” the announcement was swiftly and widely criticized by opposition politicians and labor leaders, who noted that the price of a stamp bought in a booklet would increase, to 85 cents from 63 cents.
Via: Washington Post:
The National Security Agency is secretly piggybacking on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using “cookies” and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.
The agency’s internal presentation slides, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, show that when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better serve them advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government. The slides also suggest that the agency is using these tracking techniques to help identify targets for offensive hacking operations.
Via: Ars Technica:
Developers of the FreeBSD operating system will no longer allow users to trust processors manufactured by Intel and Via Technologies as the sole source of random numbers needed to generate cryptographic keys that can’t easily be cracked by government spies and other adversaries.
The change, which will be effective in the upcoming FreeBSD version 10.0, comes three months after secret documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) subcontractor Edward Snowden said the US spy agency was able to decode vast swaths of the Internet’s encrypted traffic. Among other ways, The New York Times, Pro Publica, and The Guardian reported in September, the NSA and its British counterpart defeat encryption technologies by working with chipmakers to insert backdoors, or cryptographic weaknesses, in their products.
The revelations are having a direct effect on the way FreeBSD will use hardware-based random number generators to seed the data used to ensure cryptographic systems can’t be easily broken by adversaries. Specifically, “RDRAND” and “Padlock”—RNGs provided by Intel and Via respectively—will no longer be the sources FreeBSD uses to directly feed random numbers into the /dev/random engine used to generate random data in Unix-based operating systems. Instead, it will be possible to use the pseudo random output of RDRAND and Padlock to seed /dev/random only after it has passed through a separate RNG algorithm known as “Yarrow.” Yarrow, in turn, will add further entropy to the data to ensure intentional backdoors, or unpatched weaknesses, in the hardware generators can’t be used by adversaries to predict their output.
We now know that the NSA is collecting location information en masse. As we’ve long said, location data is an extremely powerful set of information about people. To flesh out why that is true, here is the kind of future memo that we fear may someday soon be uncovered…
Bitcoin is not anonymous on it’s own. Never was. Never will be.
And if this JPMorgan thing is anonymous, my name is Santa Claus.
JPMorgan Chase has patented a digital payment system that could rival Bitcoin.
The system includes digital wallets, the ability to transfer money to anyone and anonymity too, according to a patent application filed to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office on Aug. 5. The Financial Times first reported the story.
JPMorgan has also patented payment software that would latch onto your Internet browser and allow you to shop without pausing to fill out forms with personal financial information. And with what the bank calls its Internet Pay Anyone Account, moving funds would be anonymous and as easy as sending an email.
Related: What is Bitcoin?
“The credit pushes can be made completely anonymously, with the recipient of the credit having no way to determine from where the credit originated,” the bank says in the application.”
Another aspect of the digital payment system is a virtual private lockbox. Think of it as a bank account that can only accept funds. That way, users can receive funds from anyone by publishing its digital address publicly without fear that someone can pull money out of it.
The impetus for the project is likely Bitcoin, the independent electronic currency created in 2009 that has gained lots of recent attention. But the patent application shows no mention of Bitcoin.
“Rooster Monkburn” the cowboy sock monkey is without his pistol, thanks to a diligent TSA agent in St. Louis.
May and her husband were going through the screening process when she noticed that one of her bags was missing.
“And the (TSA agent) held it up and said ‘whose is this?’” she said. “I realized oh, my God this is my bag.”
May said the TSA agent went through the bag, through the sewing supplies and found the two-inch long pistol.
“She said ‘this is a gun,’” said May. “I said no, it’s not a gun it’s a prop for my monkey.”
“She said ‘If I held it up to your neck, you wouldn’t know if it was real or not,’ and I said ‘really?’” said May.
The TSA agent told May she would have to confiscate the tiny gun and was supposed to call the police.
“I said well go ahead,” said May. “And I said really? You’re kidding me right, and she said no it looks like a gun.”
“She took my monkey’s gun,” said May, who has retained her sense of humor.
“Rooster Monkburn has been disarmed so I’m sure everyone on the plane was safe,” she said. “I understand she was doing her job but at some point doesn’t common sense prevail?”
Via: Sydney Morning Herald:
The chemical spill at Ranger Uranium Mine last weekend was the second such incident in a week for the mine’s parent company, Rio Tinto, placing further scrutiny on the company’s uranium mining operations.
Processing at the Ranger site, in Kakadu National Park, was suspended by the federal government on Tuesday. Environment Minister Greg Hunt ordered ”an immediate investigation” into the incident in which a leach tank burst, spilling about 1 million litres of highly acidic uranium slurry.
It has since emerged that a virtually identical incident occurred just days before, at Rossing, Rio Tinto’s other uranium mine, in Namibia. On December 3, one of the 12 leach tanks at Rossing had a ”catastrophic structural failure”, spilling a large quantity of radioactive slurry.
”This is obviously a very serious incident, which is currently under investigation,” the mine’s general manager of operations, Ben De Vries, was quoted as saying.
”It’s the same company, same mineral, same piece of infrastructure,” said Dave Sweeney, of the Australian Conservation Foundation. ”This copycat incident shows there is a serious structural issue here and that the halt on processing at Ranger should not be lifted.”
Mr Sweeney believes that plans for an underground expansion of the Ranger mine, known as the 3 Deeps project, should be shelved.
”The mine is at full design life stretch: the pipes, pumps and tanks are over 30 years old,” he said. ”If the 3 Deeps project is processed through the same infrastructure, as ERA proposes, we will see an increasing likelihood of uncontrolled and unpredicted equipment failures.”
Ranger’s operating company, Energy Resources of Australia, maintains that water testing at the site shows no environmental damage has been caused to the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, which surrounds the mine.