Daily Archives: October 30, 2012

TSA Wants To Track All ‘Daily Travels To Work, Grocery Stores & Social Events’

It seems as if the massive DHS database of secret watchlists will continue to grow with U.S. citizens’ names even if the threat of terrorism does not.

While the TSA can’t explain why invasive patdowns without probable cause are legal, that isn’t stopping TSA from future plans to track all your daily travels, anywhere you go, from work, to stores, or even when you go out to play.

networkworld.com | Aug 23, 2012

By Ms. Smith

When the TSA was asked to provide legal reasons that definitely spelled out why physically invasive patdowns are legal, without any probable cause, not one TSA person had an answer. There was no legal documentation for enhanced patdowns other than it serves “the essential administrative purpose.”

Peep show, police state or privacy invasion, patdowns and body scans are not just in airports. EPIC said DHS is refusing to disclose details of mobile body scanner technology. In fact, in answer to EPIC’s FOIA request, DHS handed over “several papers that were completely redacted.”

Meanwhile at airports, the TSA is rolling out “less-invasive gingerbread man” body scanners to a tune of $2.7 million for 240 machines. At this point, I don’t think skinnier versions of the Pillsbury Doughboy via kinder and gentler naked body scans are going to placate people who are secretly murmuring that America is truly becoming a police state. Spending countless billions of dollars on all this ‘security theater’ makes it look like the TSA is “doing their best to ensure that if there’s a terrorist attack the public doesn’t blame the TSA for missing it.”

According to TSA Blogger Bob, in the 10 years after 9/11, there have been vast improvements and new technology as well as a “professionalized workforce” of Transportation Security Officers. Professional as in claiming no more enhanced groping of children under 12, only to break that promise and seemingly molest this little boy dressed as Spiderman?

The Los Angeles Times reported on TSA launching a behavior-detection program at Boston’s Logan International Airport. These TSA officers received a whopping two weeks of training and are supposed to ask each passenger a “few” questions “in an effort to detect suspicious behavior.” Doesn’t this seem like yet another strike at your privacy? Some people are stressed or even nervous when they are traveling. What if you don’t feel like talking or being questioned? Is this too going to become yet another TSA-mandated “you will answer if you want the privilege of flying?”

A MSNBC travel article warned that when it comes to airport security, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.” Some security analysts suggest Big Brother will employ an even Bigger Brother in the form of “chip-embedded passports that someday tell the federal transportation watchdogs all about your daily commutes to work, the mall — even to parties.”

Other security analysts suggest it will all be about “gathering intelligence technologically” or that increased biometrics is the security answer. The Known Traveler Program will launch this fall so previously known and trusted travelers will “have bar codes stamped on their boarding passes, authorizing TSA screeners to allow those passengers to skip shoe and laptop removals.” TSA Administrator John Pistole said, “Enhancing identity-based screening is another common sense step in the right direction as we continue to strengthen overall security and improve the passenger experience whenever possible.”

So even though the TSA is building up its ranks with bomb-sniffing dogs, there will be dramatic changes in store for travelers within the next 30 years. There will be biometric fingerprinting as well as other biometric and personal info stored in government databases.

Senior policy analyst at the Center for Health and Homeland Security Vernon R. Herron told MSNBC that your official travel document “will not only have information as to who you are and where you have traveled, but it will also … allow government officials to track your travel not only in the air, but your daily travels to work, grocery stores and social events.” In the future the “government will detain passengers who have traveled to places that are suspicious in nature” once they enter an airport, Herron added. “All these measures seem extreme. However, after we declared a war on terror, we must be more proactive than reactive when it comes to airport security.”

Ah, again with the “suspicious” lists even if it’s places to which you traveled this time. Regarding the dreaded list after list of supposed suspicious activity, are they meant to keep the public in a state of paranoia and fear so they just roll over and watch it happen? Digg commenter leodin said, “Strange… The actual threat of terrorism hasn’t increased, and the odds of actually dying in a terrorist attack make the lottery look like a sound investment, and yet the government seems insistent upon taking more and more measures to protect us from these imaginary threats.”

It seems as if the massive DHS database of secret watchlists will continue to grow with U.S. citizens’ names even if the threat of terrorism does not.

Mind’s Eye surveillance to watch, identify and predict human behavior

The future surveillance society world could have a very Orwellian no-privacy flavor.

Carnegie Mellon researchers, taking part in DARPA’s Mind’s Eye program, have created visually intelligent software to recognize human activities in video and then predict what might happen next.

networkworld.com | Oct 29, 2012

By Ms. Smith

If a person holding a gun were to walk up to you, what might you think would happen next? Researchers from Carnegie Mellon have created intelligent software that will identify human activities in videos and then predict what might happen next. It should come as little surprise that the spookily named ‘Mind’s Eye’ program is sponsored by DARPA’s Information Innovation Office.  

“A truly ‘smart’ camera would be able to describe with words everything it sees and reason about what it cannot see,” said DARPA. Visually intelligent technology previously ‘thought’ in terms of nouns to describe a scene, but Carnegie Mellon researchers have made smart software that can also think in terms of action verbs. “A video shows a woman carrying a box into a building. Later, it shows her leaving the building without it. What was she doing?” asked Carnegie Mellon University.

The Mind’s Eye software “will compare the video motion to actions it’s already been trained to recognize (such as walk, jump, and stand) and identify patterns of actions (such as pick up and carry). The software examines these patterns to infer what the person in the video is doing. It also makes predictions about what is likely to happen next and can guess at activities that might be obscured or occur off-camera.”

Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center explained the image below as: “The Mind’s Eye program will automate video analysis – recognizing current behavior, interpolating actions that occur off-camera, and predicting future behavior.”

The next step is to make the ‘Cognitive Engine’ even smarter. According to the report “Using Ontologies in a Cognitive-Grounded System: Automatic Action Recognition in Video Surveillance”, the researchers “plan to extend the system functionalities in order to support a wider range of action verbs and run tests on a large video dataset.”

DARPA explained, “In the first 18 months of the program, Mind’s Eye demonstrated fundamentally new capabilities in visual intelligence, including the ability of automated systems to recognize actions they had never seen, describe observed events using simple text messages, and flag anomalous behaviors.” Carnegie Mellon is one of twelve research teams and three commercial integrators participating in the five-year Mind’s Eye Program.

Previously, BRS Labs had the “smartest AI suspicious behavioral recognition system” with “the capability to learn from what it observes, remember activity patterns and adjust to changes in the environment, field of view and equipment – without manual interaction.” Phys reported that the Carnegie Mellon “researchers’ approach is designed to help prevent crimes or dangerous events from happening.” The newest visually intelligent software “system would eventually sound an alarm if it recognized that an action was not permitted, detecting anomalous behaviors. One example of such a scenario would be the cameras at an airport or bus station, flagging a bag abandoned for more than a few minutes.” This Army-funded AI research was disclosed “at the Semantic Technology for Intelligence, Defense, and Security conference at George Mason University.”

The Mind’s Eye system could potentially be used to analyze live drone footage. Who knows, it might even be integrated to work with the unblinking surveillance stare of the Army’s 7-story flying football field-sized blimp? It will likely be embraced in the future by the police and by the military to keep soldiers out of harm’s way. It might have home security applications, watching the surveillance video and alerting home owners with a text message before burglars break in.

On the creepy privacy invasion side of the coin, it’s one more surveillance technology hunting suspicious behavior. Let’s hope the researchers get it right because when added to social media surveillance helping the government read your mind and future TSA plans to track all ‘daily travels to work, grocery store and social events’, the future surveillance society world could have a very Orwellian no-privacy flavor.