This 12 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:
This 8 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:
This 12 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:
This 8 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:
This 8 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:
Some of the top law enforcement agencies in the United States, including the FBI and ICE, have been using the DMV’s database of driver license photos for facial recognition. This is being done without the knowledge or consent of those who have had their pictures taken, and represents a major violation of privacy for American citizens. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins explains what’s happening.
By Kevin Reed in the USA:
A mounting attack on democratic rights
10 July 2019
A report in the Washington Post this week revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been using facial recognition software to secretly scan databases of millions of driver’s license photos—a violation of basic democratic rights. The federal agencies have been engaged in the program for at least eight years.
According to documents made available to the Post by the Georgetown Law Center for Privacy and Technology, the FBI alone has logged more than 390,000 facial recognition searches of federal and state databases since 2011, including the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) digital catalog of driver’s license photos in at least 21 states.
In Utah, according to the article, the “DMV database was the subject of nearly 2,000 facial-recognition searches from outside law enforcement agencies between 2015 and 2017—sometimes dozens of searches a day,” with dozens having returned a “possible match.”
The Post report says that many of the searches are part of the push to find and deport undocumented immigrants, and “that federal investigators have forged daily working relationships with DMV officials.” In states such as Utah, Vermont and Washington, where undocumented immigrants are permitted to obtain full driver’s licenses or limited driving privilege cards, “ICE agents have run facial-recognition searches on those DMV databases.”
According to Jake Laperruque, a senior counsel at the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, “People think this is something coming way off in the future, but these [facial recognition] searches are happening very frequently today. The FBI alone does 4,000 searches every month, and a lot of them go through state DMVs.”
The latest exposure of widespread use of facial recognition software by federal police agencies is further evidence that the state apparatus is systematically violating basic democratic rights with high-tech surveillance tools. Behind the backs of the public, integrated networks, databases and artificial intelligence technologies are being used to build up a mass of information in the form of digital profiles or dossiers on every citizen. Other recent examples of the increased use of biometric surveillance of the public include:
• A March 9 report by NBC 7 San Diego based on a leaked Customs and Border Protection document showed that dossiers on 59 individuals who were involved in political activity opposed to the Trump administration’s immigration policy were gathered from social media accounts and used by the Department of Homeland Security to put a travel ban on the passports of US citizens.
• A June 17 report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called “The Dawn of Robot Intelligence” said that the merger of the security camera infrastructure built up over decades with state surveillance “deep learning” and “neural networks” of artificial intelligence are being used to monitor the public 24/7 across the country.
• A hack and subsequent publication on June 14 of the corporate data of DHS contractor Perceptics revealed that facial recognition technology is being utilized by the US government on roadways and border crossings to monitor the traveling public.
• A Georgetown Law Center for Privacy and Technology report called “America Under Watch” revealed that major US cities such as Detroit have secretly built up a facial recognition infrastructure that is monitoring the public in “parks, schools, immigration centers, gas stations, churches, abortion clinics, hotels, apartments, fast-food restaurants, and addiction treatment centers,” and is connected with “databases containing hundreds of thousands of photos, including mugshots, driver’s licenses, and images scraped from social media.”
Facial recognition technology is the marriage of high-resolution video and photographic images with artificial intelligence software. The images on photo IDs or those captured by security cameras in public places such as airports, parks, roadways or businesses—are scanned by the software to assemble a map of key facial geometric relationships.
Among these relationships are the distance between the eyes, the distance from the forehead to the chin or from the nose to the chin. These “facial landmarks”—some systems measure as many as 97 landmarks—are then assembled into a profile known as the “facial signature.” These facial signatures, which are being collected and stored by the millions in government databases, are unique to each individual and a form of biometric data comparable to fingerprints and human DNA.
However, fingerprints and DNA are ostensibly collected by law enforcement according to procedures based on long-established legal principles of “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause.” In the mass processing and storage of facial signatures by the FBI and ICE derived from state-issued ID photo databases, all such formalities have been dropped. In many cases, requests for searches are made with nothing more than an email from the police agency to a DMV official. Among the providers of advanced facial recognition systems for the law enforcement agencies is Amazon. According to earlier media reports , Amazon’s Rekognition artificial intelligence software is used by the state of Oregon for the purpose of scanning photo databases and matching facial identities, including locating individuals through photos on their social media accounts.
Other reports said that Amazon met with ICE officials and promised to help “target or identify immigrants.” Also, in one of its facial recognition patent applications, Amazon proposed to develop a “database of suspicious persons” that could be integrated with home security technologies and create a “neighborhood-wide surveillance system.”
That these truly Orwellian biometric data gathering techniques are being developed by the tech giants and utilized increasingly by the state intelligence apparatus is a warning to the working class. These revelations represent an escalation of the surveillance of the public that was exposed in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked documents showing that the US government is electronically storing every phone call and email of the entire population.
The House Homeland Security Committee heard testimony on Wednesday regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s use of facial recognition and biometric technology after numerous recent media reports exposed the use of these tools for secret police surveillance of the public. The hearing was chaired by Representative Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, who set the tone for the two-hour exercise in obfuscation and defense of mass public surveillance with his opening remarks, saying, “I am not opposed to biometric technology, and recognize it can be valuable to homeland security and facilitation”: here.
By Kevin Reed in the USA:
Detroit’s facial recognition surveillance system exposed
9 July 2019
The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners decided on June 29 to postpone a vote on the expansion of its use of camera and facial recognition technology amid growing public outrage over the system that has been in place since 2016.
The decision to delay the vote followed a report the previous day in the Detroit Metro Times that the core surveillance technology—which is scanning and recording the activity of everyone in the city within sight of its extensive camera network at all times—was purchased for $1 million and installed without any public review or discussion let alone a vote of the Detroit City Council or the Police Commission.
Earlier reports in the Metro Times exposed the use of the high-definition video cameras and face-scanning software by the Detroit Police Department (DPD) to identify and track the movements of individuals at “parks, schools, immigration centers, gas stations, churches, abortion clinics, hotels, apartments, fast-food restaurants, and addiction treatment centers.” The article also said that police can identify people in real time using “databases containing hundreds of thousands of photos, including mugshots, driver’s licenses, and images scraped from social media.”
Additionally, the report said the system is integrated with Detroit police body cams and the city’s highly touted “ground-breaking and crime-fighting” public-private-community partnership called Project Green Light Detroit. The program involves placing cameras—at a cost of $4,000 per location—that stream live video to the DPD’s Real Time Crime Center at its downtown headquarters.
A web page at detroitmi.gov dedicated to the Project Green Light hosts a map showing the location of nearly 600 surveillance cameras and says this infrastructure is for “improving neighborhood safety, promoting the revitalization and growth of local businesses, and strengthening DPD’s efforts to deter, identify, and solve crime.”
After the extent of the surveillance was exposed and public anger began to rise, Detroit Police Chief James Craig hastily called a press conference on June 27 in an effort to downplay the invasive nature of the system and justify its implementation.
Forced to admit that the artificial intelligence and biometrics system had been in place for the past two years without review, Craig became irritated. When questioned by the media about its legality, he said, “How come we never talk about the criminals?” Chief Craig also said that the department had the right to detain people based on the technology because it constitutes “reasonable suspicion” that an individual identified by the system had committed a crime.
When asked about it, Democratic Mayor Mike Duggan has repeatedly refused to comment, even though he was a key decision-maker in signing the three-year contract with DataWorks Plus. The firm, located in Greenville, South Carolina, provides technology to more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies in North America and New Zealand.
DataWorks Plus specializes in hardware and software systems that integrate traditional police identification databases like mug shots and fingerprints with more-advanced biometric data such as iris- and tattoo-matching and voice and facial recognition analytics. According to the Metro Times, the city contract also allows for thousands of hours of surveillance video to be shared with third-party law enforcement vendors.
While the smaller circulation alternative weekly Metro Times has played a role in questioning the city’s surveillance operation, the two major daily publications—the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News—have engaged in a campaign to cover up the anti-democratic implications of the police program. Both papers have published multiple articles extolling the benefits of the system to the public and just recently began reporting on growing public concerns.
Among these Free Press and News coverage have been public relations pieces promoting the crime-fighting potential of Project Green Light and quoting Mayor Duggan and the president of the Black McDonald’s Operators Association on how it will bring a “safer environment” and “make criminals think twice before committing a crime” at a participating business.
Detroit’s 24-hour live video surveillance system was initially exposed on May 16 when Georgetown Law School’s Center on Privacy & Technology published a study called “America Under Watch: Face Surveillance in the United States.” This report compared pilot facial recognition programs in Detroit and Chicago to similar systems operated in the Southwest China city of Guiyang where “police are purportedly able to locate and identify anyone who shows their face in public—in a matter of minutes.”
The Georgetown Law report explains that Detroit signed a contract for the “FACE Watch Plus real-time video surveillance software” that operates “not less than 100 concurrent video feeds.” The DPD’s face recognition policy, which was approved by the Board of Police Commissioners and went into effect on July 1, 2018, “may connect the face recognition system to any interface that performs live video, including cameras, drone footage, and body-worn cameras.”
The city contract with DataWorks Plus also includes a mobile app that Detroit police officers may use to run facial recognition searches on the city’s 500,000 mug shots. The system also provides access to Michigan’s Statewide Network of Agency Photos (SNAP), a database that includes driver’s license photographs.
In their analysis of the Detroit system, Georgetown Law explains that Project Green Light was essentially a Trojan Horse used to pitch businesses that are open late at night “as a way to deter crime and improve police response times to incidents at locales across the city.” However, by April 2019 the number of Green Light Partners had been expanded to many other locations including churches, schools and support centers that “reveal deeply personal information” about “religious, political or social views or activities” of people in a “noncriminal organization or lawful event.”
It was Georgetown Law that brought to light efforts by Detroit city officials to obscure the facial recognition aspects of the Project Green Light program. The study points out that neither the application to participate nor the agreement signed by private business partners with the city mention “the use of real-time face surveillance.”
The Georgetown Law study also reviewed the democratic and constitutional issues raised by video-based facial recognition technology in general, writing, “By enabling the secret and mass identification of anyone enrolled in a police—or other government—database, it risks fundamentally changing the nature of our public spaces.”
Among the constitutional violations of these technologies is a “chilling effect” on First Amendment free speech and peaceful assembly rights in public places under video surveillance and the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures by secretly monitoring and cataloging “every single movement” of someone across time.
The fact that Detroit’s secret surveillance system has been in place for two years and plans were well advanced for a major expansion behind the backs of city residents is a political warning to the working class about the complicity of the local media and Democratic Party in the buildup of the infrastructure of a police state. Not a word would have been said about the issue if the public had not been informed about it and begun demanding that the program be stopped.
For example, Police Commissioner from the Fifth District Willie E. Burton—who is an up-and-coming figure of Detroit Democratic Party politics with connections to Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders—is just now calling for public hearings and a referendum on the facial recognition system following his enthusiastic endorsement of Project Green Light over the past two years.
Meanwhile, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Democratic congresswoman from Michigan’s 13th District, which includes much of Detroit, had said nothing about police surveillance of the city’s citizens until the Georgetown study was published.
Starting with a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on May 22, Tlaib has been calling for a moratorium on the use of the technology “until we do something about it at a federal level.” In other words, she would approve the use of facial recognition systems under US government regulations approved by congressional Democrats and Republicans.
The selection of Detroit as a testing location for advanced systems of facial recognition has both a political and historical significance. Despite the decimation of its industrial base, Detroit remains a center of the American working class with a long history of class struggle against big business and the state. Detroit is the location of an urban uprising in the summer of 1967 in which federal troops and tanks were mobilized for the first time against the population of a major American city. …
The ruling class are well aware of the seething anger and fighting capacity of the working class and youth today in Detroit and other cities and growing opposition to capitalism more generally. It is to this threat that the system of facial recognition software tied to real-time video surveillance of the public is being developed and deployed.
This 5 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:
Bill Black discusses Feacebook‘s new proposed crypto-currency, called “Libra.” Facebook could use this technology to standardize identity and create a world of ultimate surveillance, and then profit from it, says Black.
Late in 2014, I made this Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I wanted to try to do something about that.
It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty. So, I made the award with this logo then.
It is good to see that this award, which later came back to me, since then has gone to many places of the blogosphere. And that some people have made new logos for it; like the one at the top of this blog post.
The rules of this award are:
My seven questions for my nominees are:
1. Who is your favourite visual artist?
2. Which is your favourite bird species?
3. Which is your favourite mammal species?
4. What is your favourite insect?
5. What is your favourite plant?
6. Where do most visits to your blog come from?
7. If you would be invited to make a space journey, then to which solar system planet would you like to go?
My nominees are:
10. SUBURBAN TRACKS
11. Ler Agora
12. MARJİNAL KAFA
14. Read Treat
15. Maxpower’s Blog
This 11 August 2010 video from British daily The Guardian says about itself:
Iraq war: 10 years on
Thousands of leaked US military papers from Afghanistan contain evidence of possible war crimes that must be urgently investigated, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says at press conference in London.
By Alex Lantier in France:
Facebook blocks ad for PES meeting in Paris to defend Assange
22 June 2019
On Thursday morning, members of the Parti de l’égalité socialiste (PES) received an email from Facebook, stating that it was suspending a paid advertisement for the June 23 PES meeting in Paris calling for freedom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
PES members campaigning for the meeting have met a warm response among workers, youth and “yellow vest” protesters in Paris. By Thursday, over 700 people had clicked “interested” on the meeting event page, a common form of expressing political solidarity with or support for an event. This points to the broad popular support in France for the courageous journalist and principled whistleblower, who have played central roles in exposing imperialist war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond, amid growing working class opposition to President Emmanuel Macron.
Last week, Facebook had approved the purchase by PES members of advertising for the meeting’s Facebook page, which made the meeting’s page appear on the Facebook feeds of users who have expressed relevant interests. Yesterday, Facebook reversed course, blocking further purchases of ads for the meeting.
The notice from Facebook stated: “We have reviewed your ad more closely and have determined it doesn’t comply with our Advertising Policies. This ad will not be active any longer until you edit it to comply with policy.” This would require creating an authorized account, a process that can take 48 hours, during which time the advertising has been cancelled.
Under Facebook’s Advertising Policies, adopted after Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential elections, anyone posting a political ad is required to undergo an onerous authorization process. This includes submitting images of a state-issued ID, verifying their address and providing further personal information.
These events underscore that the fight to free Assange and Manning and prevent Assange’s extradition to the United States, where he faces 175 years in prison and threats of further charges carrying the death sentence, is the focal point of a campaign to defend the democratic rights of working people internationally against the growing danger of capitalist police-state rule.
Facebook now censors and manipulates posts of its billions of users around the world. Under orders from Zuckerberg to Facebook to push its users to have “personal moments” not political discussion, including by demoting “viral videos” because they are not “good for people’s well-being and for society”, a vast censorship campaign is underway. Facebook Artificial Intelligence algorithms and its army of thousands of “content reviewers” now scour social media for content to remove and report to police and intelligence agencies.
Apart from the US government itself, the French government is among the most closely tied to Facebook censorship. Last November, as “yellow vest” protests against social inequality began in France, Macron hailed France’s World War II-era fascist dictator Philippe Pétain as a great soldier and launched an unprecedented collaboration on social media censorship with Facebook. Countless “yellow vest” social media posts have been deleted since, as police detained over 7,000 protesters in the largest wave of mass arrests in metropolitan France since the Nazi Occupation.
On May 10, Zuckerberg personally met with Macron to review six months of this collaboration, in which French officials are invited directly into Facebook “content moderation” offices to monitor and examine posts culled from Facebook users’ feeds. The French state also issued a social media report co-written by Google France executive Benoît Loutrel, denouncing “unacceptable content” and “individuals pursuing political or financial objectives”, and calling for “struggle against content that is damaging for users and for social cohesion.”
Shortly after Zuckerberg’s visit to France, the 350,000-member France en colère (Angry France) “yellow vest” Facebook page was frozen for a day, during the European elections.
The decisions leading Facebook to reverse its approval of the PES meeting ad are shrouded behind a veil of corporate secrecy. But what is clear is that the company works intimately with the intelligence agencies of the US government who are seeking to destroy Assange and Manning. As for the French regime, it is so terrified of the workers that it sees all criticism of the despised “president of the rich”, including of its own acquiescence to US persecution of Assange and Manning, as a mortal threat to “social cohesion”—that is, to its enforcement of the banks’ austerity diktat.
The meeting organized by the PES is part of a worldwide campaign to free Assange and Manning and mobilize the vast social opposition in the working class against austerity and the growing threat of authoritarian danger and war. The PES appeals to its supporters to share the announcement of its meeting and its material in defense of Julian Assange and Manning, as well as the “yellow vests,” to discuss these issues broadly in workplaces and schools, and to attend its meeting in Paris:
Sunday, June 23, 3 p.m.
177 rue de Charonne, 75011, Paris
Métro: Charonne, Alexandre Dumas.
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[20 June 2019]
Last Thursday, lawyers for the courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning issued a legal challenge to punitive fines that were imposed upon her by a federal district court judge last month. Her legal team has warned that the unprecedented financial penalties threaten her with imminent bankruptcy: here.
Last Thursday, without notice or explanation, Twitter arbitrarily suspended the account of @Unity4J, a platform dedicated to circulating information and advocacy for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. As of this writing, the account has been gone for two days: here.
This 25 April 2019 video says about itself:
Sri Lanka‘s government is maintaining a ban on most social media. It says it is necessary to stop the spread of misinformation and the incitement of violence in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings.
The ban raises questions as to whether it is censorship or a government fulfilling its duty of care to its citizens.
Al Jazeera’s Mereana Hond reports.
By Naveen Dewage in Sri Lanka:
Sri Lankan government moves to criminalise “fake news”
19 June 2019
Tabled by the acting Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms Ranjith Maddumabandara, one of the proposals calls for fines of up to 1 million rupees ($US5,715) or a five-year prison sentence, or both, for anyone found guilty of “false news distribution.” The other change would impose as yet unspecified fines or imprisonment for “hatred statements”.
Maddumabandara presented the planned measures following requests from parliament’s Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security, which includes MPs from all political parties in the ruling coalition and the official opposition.
The terms “false news” and “hatred statements”, which are not defined in the proposed measures, will be used to persecute all perceived political opponents, including, in particular, socialists, workers and youth challenging the government and the state apparatus.
Attempting to justify the laws, the government information department declared: “Law and order authorities as well as civil society leaders have been increasingly concerned about the rising social tensions and worsening ‘hate speech’ messaging both on the internet as well as in public statements by various groups in recent weeks following the shock suicide bombing attacks on Easter Sunday, April 21st.”
The so-called civil leaders and law-and-order authorities raising these concerns are none other than President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, parliamentary opposition leaders and the military and police top brass.
Sirisena responded to last April’s Easter Sunday terrorist attacks by reactivating the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which grants wide-ranging powers to the police and the military, and by extending the draconian measures for a second month.
A total ban on social media was lifted only after users were warned “to act in a responsible manner.” Two weeks after the terror attacks the ban was re-imposed for two days when government and opposition-instigated racist thugs went on a rampage against Muslims. One person was killed, many others were injured, and widespread destruction of property took place. Police and security forces turned a blind eye to the attacks.
A year ago, in March 2018, Sirisena totally banned social media for about two weeks when Sinhala-Buddhist racist groups launched violent anti-Muslim attacks at Digana in the central hills district.
The “concerns” of Sirisena, Wickremesinghe and the parliamentary opposition about “false news” and “hatred statements” are as fraudulent as their claims that emergency laws and mass deployment of the military are needed to stop terrorist attacks. Key government and opposition leaders as well as the defence hierarchy were warned in advance of the Easter Sunday bombing attacks and have exploited the tragic death of hundreds of innocent people to introduce police-state measures.
Sri Lanka’s criminalisation of so-called false news and hate speech is a direct attack on freedom of expression and part of a broad-ranging international assault on the internet, social media and investigative journalism.
In the US, the Trump administration is collaborating with the giant Google and Facebook corporations to censor socialist and anti-war content on the internet. Similar restrictions are in place in the UK, Germany, France, India and other countries.
The escalating attacks on investigative journalism and freedom of the press are highlighted by the arrest and jailing of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Britain and the Trump administration’s attempt to extradite him to the US on espionage charges.
Early this month Australian Federal Police launched unprecedented raids on the Sydney office of the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a national network, and the home of a senior journalist for News Corp. The police seized hundreds of digital files in the raids, claiming the journalists had published secret government documents.
Underlying the determination of the ruling classes to censor and control the internet is their fear of the resurgence of working-class struggles internationally and growing interest in socialism. Internet and social media platforms are being widely used by workers and youth to organise their struggles and fight for their social and democratic rights.
Social media usage is widespread in Sri Lanka. According to recent reports, Sri Lanka, which has a population of just 21 million, has active social media usage by 6 million people, or almost a third of the country’s citizens.
As Colombo moves to criminalise “false news”, it is also seeking new methods to intensify its control of the internet.
The Sri Lankan president’s media division has reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping told Sirisena during his recent visit to Beijing that he would send technical experts and equipment to Sri Lanka to help “trace individuals who propagate false information through social media.” Xi’s offer was in response to requests from Sirisena.
China uses high-powered Internet surveillance techniques to clamp down on the growing opposition of workers, students and intelligentsia to the repressive bureaucratic regime.
Colombo systematically blocked websites during its 26-year communal war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The war ended in 2009 but the blockades continued. Like its predecessor, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government has targetted social media and websites, and maintains its special Internet military intelligence unit established during the war.
Last November, the Telecom Regulatory Commission, which is under the control of President Sirisena, blocked lankaenews.com, and demanded the extradition of its editor-in-chief from the UK, after the publication began criticising him.
Shakthika Sathkumara, a writer, has been held in remand since April after being falsely accused of spreading hatred and disrupting communal harmony after he posted a short story in his Facebook account. He has been repeatedly remanded in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Colombo’s planned new measures to censor and control the Internet and social media are clear moves towards the establishment of dictatorial forms of rule. Workers and youth must vehemently oppose this crackdown.
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Facebook deletes WSWS post on Sri Lanka
[14 November 2018]