This app will invade anyone’s privacy and the FBI loves it

Clearview AI, a small startup that was mostly unknown until a story from The New York Times called it the app to “end privacy as we know it,” lets strangers figure out your identity through the quick snap of a single photo.

Hundreds of law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are already using this facial recognition technology, despite bans on the tech in cities like San Francisco.

The app uses over three billion images to find a match. These photos were sourced from social media sites and even apps like Venmo…

These fears and disavowals of facial recognition tech come just months after two senators introduced a bipartisan bill to limit how the FBI and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency could use it.

“Facial recognition technology can be a powerful tool for law enforcement officials,” Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, said in a statement at the time. “But its very power also makes it ripe for abuse.”

Poisonally – and not too seriously – I have to think it might be useful for average Americans to experience what every insurgent activist has experienced for decades in the United States. Every decent-sized police department has a Red Squad that includes photo-recording every insurgent activist on their patch. At a minimum.

First time I recall being aware of some flavor of gumshoe snapping my photo was at a civil rights demonstration in New England prepping for the March on Washington the following year – in 1963. I don’t doubt that this went on earlier in my life as I woke up to folks rallying together against injustice. The swarm of tech and snoops has never diminished since. If you believe it has, I have a Bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Pentagon says they’re worried about consumer DNA testing


Lisa Ferdinando/DOD

The Pentagon is advising troops that there are security risks, to include mass surveillance and potential tracking, associated with using consumer DNA kits. The products have become popular in recent years with people looking to discover potential medical issues or uncover information about ancestry and even find unknown relatives…

“These DTC [direct-to-consumer] genetic tests are largely unregulated and could expose personal and genetic information, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission,” the memo reads.

“Moreover, there is increased concern in the scientific community that outside parties are exploiting the use of genetic data for questionable purposes, including mass surveillance and the ability to track individuals without their authorization or awareness,” the memo states.

Humbug! Yes, we all should be concerned about privacy and access to personal information. Automatic call for anyone spending any time on the Web. Anyone applaud the Pentagon for worrying about citizens becoming security risks from DNA testing? Drivel!

As much as geeks drive concern over privacy and corporate use of that info – it should take a century or two for non-government snoops to catch up to the files in possession of the FBI, NSA and the rest of the vegetable soup tracking ordinary citizens under the umbrella of security. Cripes, last time I was involved with challenges to federal snoops, the active file went back to my first sit-in over sixty years ago.

Military warned about extremist violence at screenings of “JOKER” – no one warning civilians

❝ The U.S. military has warned service members about the potential for a mass shooter at screenings of the Warner Bros. film Joker, which has sparked wide concerns from, among others, the families of those killed during the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado…

In a September 18th email, service members were instructed to remain aware of their surroundings and “identify two escape routes” when entering theaters. In the event of a shooting…“Run if you can,” the safety notice said. “If you’re stuck, hide (also known as ‘sheltering in place’), and stay quiet. If a shooter finds you, fight with whatever you can.”

RTFA for details, background – a copy of the Army email – and discussion of the Great American Pastime of mass murder.

Trump’s flunkies are purging Chinese-Americans from cancer fresearch


Xifeng Wu, MD, PhD, Epidemiologist

The NIH and the FBI are targeting ethnic Chinese scientists, including U.S. citizens, searching for a cancer cure. Here’s the first account of what happened to Xifeng Wu.

❝ In recent decades, cancer research has become increasingly globalized, with scientists around the world pooling data and ideas to jointly study a disease that kills almost 10 million people a year. International collaborations are an intrinsic part of the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Moonshot program, the government’s $1 billion blitz to double the pace of treatment discoveries by 2022. One of the program’s tag lines: “Cancer knows no borders.”

❝ Except, it turns out, the borders around China. In January, Wu, an award-winning epidemiologist and naturalized American citizen, quietly stepped down as director of the Center for Public Health and Translational Genomics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center after a three-month investigation into her professional ties in China. Her resignation, and the departures in recent months of three other top Chinese American scientists from Houston-based MD Anderson, stem from a Trump administration drive to counter Chinese influence at U.S. research institutions. The aim is to stanch China’s well-documented and costly theft of U.S. innovation and know-how. The collateral effect, however, is to stymie basic science, the foundational research that underlies new medical treatments. Everything is commodified in the economic cold war with China, including the struggle to find a cure for cancer.

I confronted this crap for over twenty-five years. Nothing as sensational as cancer research; but, still, working for American firms that relied on Asian design improvements and production smarts you get the party line on intellectual “theft” forever. It ain’t theft if you’re willing to sign a contract handing over whatever technology concerned because you’re out to make a buck like every one of your competitors. No one twists your arm or holds your children hostage to sign a contract. “Here’s the terms! Want to do business or not?”

There’s always a quid pro quo in so-called “intellectual property theft” and it always comes down to the almighty dollar.

What we’re witnessing now is the inevitable resurgence of McCarthyism in all its racist stink. It’s always been part of populism American-style.

Cesar Sayoc’s van – annotated

❝ News crews arrived at the auto parts store in Florida where authorities arrested mail-bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc, 56, before FBI agents could secure and remove a white van that purportedly belongs to Sayoc. Television cameras obtained images of the van, revealing windows covered with apparent images of President Trump and slogans and rhetoric common among Trump supporters. Mixed in were graphics apparently created by Sayoc himself. Authorities soon covered the van with a heavy blue tarp…

❝ The images spread quickly on social media, with several people indicating that they’d seen — and photographed — the van in the area of Florida where Sayoc lived. Natalie Kline photographed the van in May 2017 and provided photos to The Washington Post.

What follows is a detailed analysis of images posted in the windows of Sayoc’s van. The van most assuredly is a rolling billboard for all the crap ideology espoused by our Fake President.

Yank Brexiteer, Trump Nutball Wonk, Detained by FBI debarking at Boston Airport — Subpoenaed by Mueller


Frank Augstein/AP

❝ A controversial London-based academic with close ties to Nigel Farage has been detained by the FBI upon arrival in the US and issued a subpoena to testify before Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Ted Malloch, an American touted last year as a possible candidate to serve as US ambassador to the EU, said he was interrogated by the FBI at Boston’s Logan airport on Wednesday following a flight from London and questioned about his involvement in the Trump campaign.

❝ In a detailed statement about the experience, which he described as bewildering and intimidating at times, Malloch said the federal agents who stopped him and separated him from his wife “seemed to know everything about me” and warned him that lying to the FBI was a felony. In the statement Malloch denied having any Russia contacts.

Malloch said he had agreed with the special counsel’s office that he would appear before Mueller’s grand jury in Washington DC on 13 April.

Dude – you don’t just “agree” to appear before a grand jury when you receive a federal subpoena. This continues to grow into the best corruption jigsaw puzzle since Nixon’s Watergate stupidity.

Geek Squad employees have worked as FBI informants for over a decade

❝ Geek Squad employees have been working as FBI informants for more than a decade, newly released documents show, revealing a much closer relationship between the two organizations than formerly reported…

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents last year and released them on Tuesday. The Bureau refused to confirm or deny if it has similar relationships with other electronics repair companies.

❝ The documents indicate Geek Squad technicians only flagged federal agents when they found child pornography on a client’s computer, so it’s hard to be too upset. Nevertheless, it raises concerning questions about potential violations of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The article goes on to offer instances where the information turned over wasn’t obtained legally – and, please, don’t waste my time saying actions like this are limited to potential lawbreaking.

First, it is the purview of the courts to decide if that potential for crime is present and justification.

Second, I have personal experience with the FBI and jolly little elves in local government, universities and my friendly neighborhood phone company colluding with the FBI totally absent from legal permissions and court supervision – snooping on thousands of people in just a single metropolitan area. They all lost our suit and picked up the tab for corrupt and unconstitutional practices – eventually leading to internal reforms which may or may not be sticking. There were several thousands of victims and over a thousand of us who stayed with the case to the successful end.