Ghosting in the land of surveillance

Using makeup as camouflage

Public opinion about the use and spread of drones is still up in the air, but burgeoning drone use has sparked numerous efforts to curtail drones. These responses range from public policies exerting community control over local airspace, to the development of sophisticated jamming equipment and tactics for knocking drones out of the sky…Anti-drone measures range from simple blunt force, 10-gauge shotguns, to the poetic: well-trained hawks.

The article develops analysis and then suggests techniques to disguise yourself…which is truly worthy and affordable. And fun.

The…most practical, thing you can do to protect yourself from drone surveillance is to get a disguise. The growth of mass surveillance has led to an explosion in creative experiments meant to mask one’s identity. But some of the smartest ideas are decidedly old-school and low-tech. Clothing is the first choice, because hats, glasses, masks and scarves go a long way toward scrambling drone-based facial-recognition software…

Artists and scientists have taken these approaches a step further, developing a hoodie wrap that’s intended to shield the owner’s heat signature and to scramble facial recognition software, and glasses intended to foil facial recognition systems.

And, not so incidentally, driving spooks from the FBI and your local Red Squad crazy is fun.

China bureaucrats disguise illegal roadway as vegetable patch

Motorway being covered with mud to stop government spotting it by satellite

The new road, in a suburb of Xiangyang city, Hubei province, was built illegally earlier this year and was quickly spotted on satellite maps of the area.

Instructions were sent from Beijing to tear up the road and return the land to local farmers, but instead of complying, local officials decided to try to hide the road. They covered its surface with plastic sheets and then spread a thin layer of soil over the top, in which they planted vegetables. The ruse worked for about a month, until angry farmers, whose land had been seized, reported the trick to the government.

“The workers turned up in May, dug up our crops and just laid the road over our land,” said Mao Huancheng, a farmer. “They never gave us any compensation for the land. And then they spread the earth to try to avoid a national inspection and trick the higher-up officials,” he added.

The deputy director of the district said that the road was a vital link to a new industrial park, which was supposed to attract investment to the area. However, it has now been demolished and the local government faces a hefty fine.

Not the first attempt at camouflaged logistics.

Last September, officials in the central province of Shaanxi attempted to make an area blighted by stone quarries look like it had been planted with trees by painting the mountains green. “This is very advanced, we learned how to do it from the internet,” said a spokesman from the local mining office.

Har. Must be watching Clean Coal commercials.

Weird supermarket bank robber turns out to be supermarket clerk

The Los Angeles area bank robber had an outrageous disguise for an audacious plan, authorities said. He wore pink hospital scrubs, a Darth Vader mask, black wig, and gloves.

His unusual weapon: a hatchet.

His target: a Bank of America teller inside a Los Angeles area grocery.

The menacing get-up worked, and the robber allegedly got away with an undisclosed amount of cash on Thursday, authorities said.
But the heist was successful for only three hours…

Investigators found the alleged robber back at the scene of the crime — this time working his job as a courtesy clerk inside the same Albertson’s grocery in Rowland Heights, California…

Authorities declined to disclose how they tracked down the alleged robber.

Gregory Sanchez, 46, of West Covina, California, was charged with the bank robbery and was being held on $100,000 bail…

Maybe I shouldn’t let prospective bank robbers know this; but, exploding dye packs in the cash are so 5 minutes ago. Nowadays, banks salt the money with tiny RFID tags – radio traceable from nearby.

Bet numbnuts had some of the money in his pocket when he returned to the scene of the crime – to go to work.

Canada and Hong Kong air security fooled by mask

A bizarre case of a young Asian man successfully boarding a plane disguised as an elderly Caucasian man has the governments in Hong Kong and in Canada scrambling to review their security procedures at airports and placed an airline under scrutiny for its passenger screening procedures.

The story of the Asian man in his 20s who stowed away aboard a Hong Kong-to-Vancouver flight continues to play prominently in newspapers and TV news broadcasts as well. And it has captivated a public puzzled over how screening staff at airports would fail to halt a person who wore a silicone mask disguised to be significantly older than his actual age of a different race…

What is known is that the man boarded the plane wearing the disguise and presenting a U.S. passport of a Caucasian man born in 1955. The aging face contrasted with the traveler’s “young-looking hands,” according to a Canadian Border Service bulletin issued over the case. Sometime during the flight the man removed his disguise, further alerting airplane staff who notified the Canadian authorities. Border officers met the man as he arrived in Vancouver…

Golly! They actually noticed the difference.

No link to terrorism has been suggested in the case.

Phew! I’m glad I needn’t worry about that for another day or two.

RTFA and you can add all the excuses to your list of Homeland Insecurity favorites.

US indicts 11 executives for honey smuggling

US authorities have indicted 11 German and Chinese executives for conspiring to illegally import $40 million worth of honey from China. The executives were accused of being part of an operation which mislabelled honey and tainted it with antibiotics in an attempt to avoid import duties.

The case is part of a crackdown on illegal imports of substandard and counterfeit products.

Officials say it is the biggest food smuggling case in US history.

Ten of the suspects were senior executives at Alfred L Wolff, a German company, which allegedly bought cheap Chinese honey and, en route to the US, filtered out “pollen and other trace elements that could indicate that the honey originated from China”, according to the charge sheet.

A sales manager from the Chinese-based QHD Sanghai Honey was also indicted…

Those involved are alleged to have made 606 illegal shipments over six years, beginning in March 2002.

Senator Charles Schumer said he welcomed the fact that law enforcement agencies were taking “honey laundering” seriously.


Burka armed robbery provokes debate in Australia

An armed robbery allegedly carried out by a man wearing a burka has sparked a row in Australia on whether the full-face Islamic veil should be banned.

Opposition Liberal Sen Cory Bernardi said the robbery showed the burka was “emerging as the preferred disguise of bandits and ne’er-do-wells”.

Both PM Kevin Rudd and Liberal leader Tony Abbott dismissed the comments and said they would not support a ban.

The row follows similar debates on the burka in European countries.

Last week, Belgian politicians voted for a ban which would outlaw the full-face veil in public.

Mr Bernardi, senator for South Australia, made his comments after a man was held up at gunpoint in a car park in Sydney on Wednesday and robbed of a bag of cash.

The victim said his attacker had been a man wearing sunglasses and a burka, meaning he could not be identified.

Writing in his blog, Mr Bernardi said the burka was “un-Australian” and should be banned on safety grounds and for the good of society.

Mandating a dress code for religions is highly suspect in my neck of the prairie. Especially since one of the most powerful religions in the region happens to be Sikh. Folks who already survived enough harassment from the rednecks and bigots of America.

The critical question comes down to “official” dress codes outside the context of acceptable venues, e.g., school, sunbathing in public, etc..