Tag Archives: wired

So what is it that an iPhone can’t do? Because now it can read fingerprints, scan irises and ID your face

Wired published today one of those stories that make me flinch for a couple of seconds and wonder where is technology going to stop, which is its final purpose and does it really have such a purpose?

Apparently, according to Wired, cops and soldiers may soon be able to pull out their iPhones to track the eyes, facial features, voice and fingerprints of suspected criminals and combatants.

In my mind, this story reads like “potentially unlimited small big brothers will roam around the world and will categorize virtually anyone according to their irises, fingerprints and their facial structure, with no obvious purpose”. This piece of news is yet another strong argument to leave aside the consent paradigm in privacy and data protection and to focus on enacting safeguards, strong safeguards so that this sort of categorizing is only made for specific purposes, that those purposes and the use of the data are transparent, that the use of the data is limited in time and that erasure must occur after the said time passes…

source: wired.com

source: wired.com

The California-based company AOptix rolled out a new hardware and app package that transforms an iPhone into a mobile biometric reader. As first reported by Danger Room in February, AOptix is the recipient of a $3 million research contract from the Pentagon for its on-the-go biometrics technology.

Opting for what it considers ease of use, the company decided to build its latest biometrics package, which it calls Stratus, atop an iPhone. A peripheral covering wraps around the phone — it’s an inch and a half thick, three inches wide and six inches tall — while the AOptix Stratus app presents a user interface familiar to any iOS user. Except you’re not going to be recording Vine videos, you’re going to be recording the most unique physical features of another human being.

“From an end-user perspective, it’s much, much smaller, lighter and easier to use an app-based capability” than the bulky biometrics tools currently in military use, Joey Pritikin, an AOptix vice president, tells Danger Room. “Anyone who’s used an iPhone before can pick this up and use it.” (read the whole story HERE)


Ample Study On Surveillance in Ex-Soviet States

A diagram of the SORM surveillance system. Illustration: MFI-Soft

A diagram of the SORM surveillance system. Illustration: MFI-Soft

A joint investigation by Agentura.RuCitizenLab and Privacy International with the title “In Ex-Soviet States, Russian Spy Tech Still Watches You” was recently published in Wired magazine. It explains how the SORM surveillance system, initiated in the mid 1980s’, is still working not only in Russia, but also in former USSR states, like Ukraine and Belarus. It also explains why the SORM surveillance mechanisms are different than the mechanisms used by Western societies. It is definitely worth reading for those curious about the Surveillance Society. I am not extremely convinced that the difference between surveillance techniques associated with SORM and surveillance techniques associated with Western mechanisms is a consistent one, but perhaps it is just me.

On November 12, the Russian Supreme Court okayed the wiretapping of an opposition activist. The Court ruled that spying on Maxim Petlin, a regional opposition leader in Yekaterinburg, was lawful, since he had taken part in rallies where calls against extending the powers of Russia’s security services were heard. The court decided that these were demands for “extremist actions” and approved surveillance carried out by the national interception system, known as SORM.

Manned by the country’s main security service, the FSB, this ”System of Operative Search Measures” has been in use for more than two decades. But recently, SORM has been upgraded. It is ingesting new types of data. It is being used as Moscow’s main tool for spying on the country’s political protesters. And it has become extremely useful in the quest to make sure that the Kremlin’s influence in the former Soviet Union continues long into the second regime of Vladimir Putin.

Meet the New Boss

When the Soviet Union collapsed, many of the KGB’s regional branches became the security services of the newly independent states. But they didn’t stray far from the Kremlin’s lead. They modeled their governing laws after Moscow’s, and used similar technology, too. Namely, SORM — Russia’s nationwide system of automated and remote legal interception on all kinds of communications.

SORM’s tactical and technical foundations were developed by a KGB research institute in the mid-1980s. Initially SORM was installed on analogue telephone lines. As new technologies developed, SORM did, as well.


Today SORM-1 intercepts telephone traffic, including mobile networks, while SORM-2 is responsible for intercepting internet traffic, including VoIP. SORM-3 gathers information from all communication media, and offers long-term storage (three years), providing access to all data on subscribers. In addition, SORM enables the use of mobile control points, a laptop that can be plugged directly into communication hubs and immediately intercept and record the operator’s traffic.

SORM also proved essential to spy on social networks based in Russia. “We can use SORM to take stuff off their servers behind their backs,” an FSB official told us. According to figures published by Russia’s Supreme Court, over the last five years the number of legal telephone intercepts alone has almost doubled, from 265,937 intercepts and recordings of phone calls and e-mails to 466,152 in 2011.

Read the whole study HERE.