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DoJ Budget Request Details Advanced Surveillance, Biometrics

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the you-can-trust-us dept.

Privacy 39

An anonymous reader writes with a report about programs revealed in the Department of Justice's 2010 budget request, which includes $233.9 million in funding for an "Advanced Electronic Surveillance" project, and $97.6 million to establish the Biometric Technology Center. The surveillance project is designed to help the FBI "deal with changing technology and ways to intercept phone calls such as those used by VOIP phones or technology such as Skype. The program is also conducting research on ways to conduct automated analysis to look for links between subjects of surveillance and other investigative suspects." The Center for Democracy and Technology's Jim Dempsey warns, "It is appropriate for the FBI to develop more and more powerful interception tools, but the privacy laws that are supposed to guide and limit the use of those tools have not kept pace." The biometrics plan lays groundwork for a "vast database of personal data including fingerprints, iris scans and DNA which the FBI calls the Next Generation Identification," a system we have discussed in the past.

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39 comments

Ha Ha Ha (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27897169)

What do you call a bunch of old black slaves? Antique farm equipment!

Next up ... (5, Interesting)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#27897179)

Quote (2007) [bbc.co.uk] :

So far there is no gadget that can actually see inside our houses, but even that's about to change.

Ian Kitajima flew to Washington from his laboratories in Hawaii to show me sense-through-the-wall technology.

"Each individual has a characteristic profile," explained Ian, holding a green rectangular box that looked like a TV remote control.

Using radio waves, you point it a wall and it tells you if anyone is on the other side. His company, Oceanit, is due to test it with the Hawaii National Guard in Iraq next year, and it turns out that the human body gives off such sensitive radio signals, that it can even pick up breathing and heart rates.

CC.

Re:Next up ... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27897217)

And in an unrelated story, aluminum prices appear to be skyrocketing due to an unexpected surge in buyers.

stucco revival (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27897325)

stucco houses have chicken wire in their plaster matrix, and so act as a pretty good Faraday cage.

Re:stucco revival (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27897437)

stucco houses have chicken wire in their plaster matrix, and so act as a pretty good Faraday cage.

What's so different about a Faraday chicken? Do they disturb radio waves?

Re:Next up ... (5, Informative)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 4 years ago | (#27897399)

So far there is no gadget that can actually see inside our houses, but even that's about to change.

First, IR cameras have existed for decades. They can see inside very well.

Second, in the US, police need a warrant to use it -- that is, the evidence they need to use anything that sees "inside" your house is no less that what they need to kick the door down and look inside themselves. Since the US Courts are very strict on the "fruit of the forbidden tree" doctrine, anything the police learn subsequent to such a search is going to be very hard to admit in court.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyllo_v._United_States [wikipedia.org] and read the opinion for the difference between "through the wall" and "off the wall". Also of note, the two most "conservative" Justices (Scalia and Thomas) were in the majority along with three more "liberal" members. The 4 dissenters were all moderates on the Court.

Finally, an OT note, I'm consistently surprised that various countries that are considerably more liberal with respect to criminal law nevertheless allow the introduction of evidence that was obtained in violation of the law. In the US, the police have a bit more latitude, for sure, but any evidence they gather in violation of the law is absolutely inadmissible. By contrast, in Canada, the police have much less latitude but the courts have discretion on whether to admit evidence gathered in violation.

Re:Next up ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27897601)

First, IR cameras have existed for decades. They can see inside very well.

IR cameras cannot see through walls, as you can see from this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3jv8XYkvA4

Re:Next up ... (2, Informative)

Binty (1411197) | more than 4 years ago | (#27897965)

Whoa man, that certainly illustrates your point (that IR doesn't see through walls), but that video is fairly shocking.

To anybody with fragile sensibilities, the video shows a police car chase which turns into a foot chase, which ends when the suspect shoots himself in the head.

Re:Next up ... (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#27897649)

In the US, the police have a bit more latitude, for sure, but any evidence they gather in violation of the law is absolutely inadmissible.

Not anymore. [usatoday.com]

courts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27897731)

Since the US Courts are very strict on the "fruit of the forbidden tree" doctrine, anything the police learn subsequent to such a search is going to be very hard to admit in court.

Who said anything about the courts? Depending on who's running things at the top, you may simply be disappeared.

CAn see very well inside ? IR ? (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 4 years ago | (#27898931)

I am very doubtful of that. All material used for house construction are AFAIK not transparent to IR. So looking at a wall with a person inside, you would only see the temperature of the wall. I think also window are IR opaque.

Re:CAn see very well inside ? IR ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27899465)

Correct, if you look at the spectrum IR is on the low end with a larger wavelength and less energetic than visible light.

You need higher energies (smaller wavelength) radiation (think x-rays or gamma rays) to really see through stuff and get an idea of whats inside.

Having said that heat (emitted as IR radiation) can be transferred from lets say someone hiding in a box to the box itself and change the emission characteristics of the box which are quite detectable. Likewise wearing a coat and jeans does nothing to mask your IR signature as the radiation from your body is transmitted to the cloting which in-turn emit IR into the environment.

Thankfully what you see on TV re use of IR is mostly pure fiction :-)

x-ray backscatter imaging is a different story.

Re:CAn see very well inside ? IR ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27913545)

I don't know whether it's with "far-infrared" or "X-ray backscatter" or something else, but I do know that some of our troops are being issued a smart binocular that can see humans through concrete walls.

Re:Next up ... (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#27903503)

"Second, in the US, police need a warrant to use it -- that is, the evidence they need to use anything that sees "inside" your house is no less that what they need to kick the door down and look inside themselves."

Are you sure? I'm not saying you're wrong, but that sounds surprising to me coming from the UK. Here our police helicopters have this tech and use it to look for houses letting off unusual amounts of heat that could be cannabis factories, but also looking for fugitives and so on. It'd be hard to use this technology from a helicopter and not accidently see people's houses for which you have no warrant I'd imagine, particularly in the case where it's used to find out which houses to get a warrant for in the first place.

Do US police helicopters not use this technology, or is there some other fundamental difference I've missed?

Re:Next up ... (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 4 years ago | (#27908899)

Do US police helicopters not use this technology, or is there some other fundamental difference I've missed?

Oh, they use it all right. The point is that if they observe something ("accidentally" or otherwise), inside a private residence for which they do not have a warrant, that evidence is absolutely inadmissible in a court. Moreover, if an officer uses the IR and then, based on the IR, goes an applies for a warrant, that warrant is invalid and everything seized (including, for instance, dead bodies under the floorboards even if he was searched for dope) is not admissible in court.

There are scattered accusations that LEOs will illegally use the IR to find drug houses and then investigate them in other ways without ever mentioning or admitting the initial IR sweep. I don't doubt it happens (although I doubt it happens pervasively) but I don't see it as particularly different from most LEO rule-breaking.

Hope!!! Change!!! OBONGO!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27899249)

LOL @ idiots who thought Obama wasn't a lying douchebag. Just LOL!

Hey, I've seen this movie... (2, Interesting)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#27897341)

The biometrics plan lays groundwork for a "vast database of personal data including fingerprints, iris scans and DNA which the FBI calls the Next Generation Identification.

...GATTACA [wikipedia.org] . Can't wait to see who Feds declare "valid" and "in-valid".

Well, if you're at all concerned about privacy (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#27897375)

and civil liberties in this country, and if this plan makes you nervous, there is one ray of hope in all this. Federal law enforcement has a dismal record of implementing such sophisticated database systems. The FBI, for example, has spent billions and failed repeatedly. Not just law enforcement, either: the IRS and the FAA have both spent enormous sums on failed systems upgrades and botched implementations. I have the feeling this will be no different ... although that doesn't mean it won't be a real problem, privacy-wise, regardless of its (unfounded, unproven and probably worthless) utility as an antiterrorism tool. Furthermore, given law enforcement's proven inability to maintain accurate and auditable records, its unwillingness to correct any errors, and the effect such errors have on the populace (the TSA's no-fly list comes to mind) it's clear that the Feds should never be allowed to operate such a system.

Terrorism is an evil enterprise, true enough. But this isn't all that far behind.

Re:Well, if you're at all concerned about privacy (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#27897673)

That's NOT a feature, it's definitely a BUG. The fact WILL be used to engage in illegal arrests [usatoday.com] for the purpose of fishing. "So sorry, our systems are having problems. But look at all the criminals we catch as a result! Obviously we need more wiretapping &c!"

Re:Well, if you're at all concerned about privacy (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#27898277)

But look at all the criminals we catch as a result!

Which is another good point. If they're going to run such a system, they'd better be prepared to provide accurate and public records on just how well it performs, and precisely what activities were embarked upon in response to collected data. The TSA's approach of doing whatever the hell they want, and then lying to Congress about it is completely unacceptable, but I think there's a good chance this effort will head down the same road.

Sad fact is, law enforcement in any county, under any legal system, cannot and should not be given more power than they can be trusted to use wisely. In the United States today ... that's not very much power at all.

FBI WATCH (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27897377)

to view a partial list of crimes committed by FBI agents over 1500 pages long see
http://www.forums.signonsandiego.com/showthread.php?t=59139

to view a partial list of FBI agents arrested for pedophilia see
http://www.dallasnews.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3574

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27897435)

So much for "Hope and Change".

Either Obama's a lying sack of shit, or George W. Bush wasn't as stupid and as evil as portrayed.

Because not only does the domestic surveillence continue, but Obama's also:

1. Restarted military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees,

2. Kept to Bush's timetable for withdrawing from Iraq.

Take your pick. Obama's a liar, or Bush wasn't evil.

Re:Meet the new boss, same as the old boss... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27901287)

How dare you go against the /. hive mind and criticize the merciful lord Barry Soetoro!

Re:Meet the new boss, same as the old boss... (2, Insightful)

vandan (151516) | more than 4 years ago | (#27902495)

Actually I would say:

a) Obama is a liar, sure ... but:
b) Bush is too stupid to be evil. He just had evil people pulling his strings

But more generally, I think you're on the right track. The similarity between Obama's and Bush's policies demonstrates that the US has yet to achieve anything even remotely democratic, and further, that it doesn't appear to matter who becomes president or which party wins government ... the same shit keeps happening.

Time to organise outside the political establishment.

Biometrics database? (2, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#27897463)

Face it. They just want to find out who's got a bigger schlong than they do.

Not me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27897509)

In many thing's EUA government is falling.

With such a bad economy, your government should not be wasting billions of dollars in weapons and others... should be returning in tax refunds to every EUA citizen part of that money, to help all rebuild the trust.

Stop try to control network, people (us all) will never accept that, and more, we will always found ways around, and finally some of us get into the positions and change all, and arrest all of those that are putting to much in your life's.

EUA and other country government's must understand, you are your employs! You work for us, you are paied by us all, if we start getting pissed of with all that spending, and put your nose where you shouldn't in no time you will see what that costs for you.

US-UK big brother race (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27897765)

Keeping up with technology is important but it sounds like some important boundaries are being crossed.
The UK government is trying to do this too.
The Intercept Modernisation Programme, Communications Data Retention, the National Identity Register and the DNA database (for everyone, not just crime-related samples) are being pushed forward and expanded against significant public opposition.

National security, protection of the public, and the usual simplistic, unthinking "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" argument are used in justification. There may even be vacuous remarks about how concerned they are for the privacy of the citizen while they trample over it.

We should bid on it... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#27897785)

Put together a slashdot team of contributors, and bid on an open source solution to this, and then, uh, spend the money.

fuckHer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27898739)

Hhapless *BSD BSD's codebase Resulted in the

Encrypted VoIP? (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#27898835)

How hard would it be to setup the equivalent of a phone to phone VPN connection, and then use a VoIP application similar to Skype across it? Of course you'd have to have a mobile data plan, or access to a WiFi connection, but would such a setup provide an eavesdropping resistant communications channel?

IMHO the court erred. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#27899337)

IANAL. And I don't recall if this was federal or Michigan. But...

I understand that using a directional microphone for eavesdropping requires a warrant. The reason: When nobody is within view in a location were nobody would be able to hide within earshot, you have the expectation that your conversation is private. So it requires probable cause and a warrant, rather than just "happening to overhear" with a directional microphone, to satisfy the Fourth Amendment.

Similarly if you throw out your documents intact the police can fish them out of your trash and, if they find anything incriminating, use it against you. But if you shred it they have to get a warrant to seize and reassemble the shreds and use them in an investigation or in court. Again this is because you have a reasonable expectation of privacy if you shred your documents and none if you discard them intact.

While a skilled surveillance operation (or traffic cameras "installed for other reasons") might be able to see where you are without your noticing, it would be hard to do this if you, for instance, traveled an untrafficked route with no security cameras and noticed that there were no cars or people nearby to observe you. In that case you would have a reasonable expectation that your whereabouts were unknown, despite being in a public place where, in principle, someone might happen to notice you. Yet a tracking device would record your whereabouts when police observers could not. So the same principle should apply.

eyes yes, dna/fingerprints no (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 4 years ago | (#27899593)

The wild concept of Minority Report aside, I wouldn't terribly mind providing my retinal scan (or possibly iris scan) for identification, because I can know and control when my eye is examined. However, I also believe that people should not have to identify themselves for everything, either.

Fingerprints and DNA are a whole different story. Those can be used to monitor and track people's ID without their knowledge or consent. I don't go around leaving my eyes, but we all leave fingerprints and DNA all over the place. You can be a suspect in a crime, just because you happened to be nearby. People can easily plant DNA and fingerprint "evidence". And DNA can be abused for a LOT more things than just ID'ing someone without their knowledge or consent....

All the laws in the world trying to protect privacy will be meaningless... if the government has access to the data, they are GOING to use it. And it is likely big business will, too.

Time to watch GATTACA again (and their vision of the future is nowhere near as bad as it could be).

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