Attention tourists entering USA — Your social media accounts are subject to inspection

Meet your tour guides

The federal government is taking another step it says would make the US homeland safer from terrorism. US border authorities are proposing that millions of tourists entering the country each year reveal their social media identities…

Here’s what will be asked: “Please enter information associated with your online presence — Provider/Platform—Social media identifier.” This field doesn’t call for additional information such as passwords, but it’s likely to yield many if applicants aren’t paying attention and overshare…

The agency said the form travelers fill out enables “the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to perform its mission related to the screening of alien visitors for potential risks to national security and the determination of admissibility to the United States.”

The proposal comes six months after President Barack Obama signed the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 that added other questions to US-bound travelers. The form now asks applicants about which countries they’ve been to after March 1, 2011. It also asks which countries they are nationals or citizens of and for which nations they have passports and Global Entry codes.

Some of Donald Trump’s police state scenario doesn’t sound especially out of line with what our government has decided is already acceptable protocol for entering the Land of the Free. Anyone giving odds on whether the answers go automagically to the NSA and FBI? Or not.

Medicare wants more time to stop using Security Security number

Five years after being told to look at taking Social Security numbers off Medicare cards, Medicare officials told lawmakers at a sometimes-tense House hearing Wednesday that they still need six more months to figure out how much it will cost.

Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee, said if military and health organizations can do it “and you were asked to do it so many years ago, I don’t understand what’s taking so long.”

Johnson introduced a bill in April that would prohibit Medicare from including Social Security numbers on benefit cards. The legislation was referred to committee, but Johnson insisted Medicare should be able to simply replace the old cards with new ones.

Medicare Chief Information Officer Tony Trenkle indicated the process would be more complicated, involving updating IT systems, educating Medicare beneficiaries about the changes and reassessing budget priorities laid out by Congress…

Trenkle assured lawmakers that the issue was a priority, but he could only offer a timetable for the change based on a report discredited by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress…

The Defense Department launched a strategy to remove Social Security numbers from identification cards issued to service members, their families and retirees in April 2011. Veterans Affairs has also stopped issuing ID cards and health authorization cards that show the veteran’s Social Security number. When asked by Johnson why the Medicare agency “can’t follow in the footsteps of DOD and VA,” Trenkle said the organizations are set up differently and conduct different operations.

“It’s not exactly comparing apples to apples,” Trenkle said.

The man’s an idiot, a liar or simply a fool. It’s like comparing an Excel spreadsheet to an Excel spreadsheet.

Kathleen King, director of health care at the GAO, indicated that changing from a Social Security number to a new ID number would require Medicare to work with health care providers who might have “antiquated” systems, complicating the process…Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said the agency would be working with “over a million small businesses, some of whom we’re trying to nudge into the world of electronic record-keeping.”

Hogwash. My Medicare doctor asks me to show my Medicare card everytime I walk in the door – just in case there’s been a change. Providers can make the change one person at a time.

“We all know Americans are told not to carry their Social Security cards to protect their identity in case a wallet is lost or stolen,” Johnson said. “Yet seniors are told they must carry their Medicare card which displays the Social Security number.”

F.B.I. sting brings cybertheft arrests in 13 countries

For hackers in search of information like credit card numbers and software to spy on computers, the site called Carder Profit appeared to be a veritable eBay for thieves. Instead, it was a creation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

After a two-year undercover operation, authorities in 13 countries arrested two dozen people who are accused of fraud involving computer crime.

Federal officials said Operation Card Shop, as the sting is being called, was unusually broad and represented a significant step in combating credit card fraud, which has grown notably more sophisticated recently.

“These guys represent the complete ecosystem of Internet fraud,” said one senior law enforcement official who requested anonymity because of the confidentiality of the investigation. “We drew them out of the shadows with the Web site as bait…”

The online forum, one law enforcement official said, was “like a restricted eBay,” open only to people who had a reputation and who had been vouched for by someone on the site. Besides the financial data, hacking tips, malware, spyware and access to stolen goods, like iPads and iPhones, were also possible on the site, the official said…

They didn’t just take down one kid and a Web site,” said Dave Marcus, director of advanced research and threat intelligence at McAfee, a major provider of computer security software. “They took down a very organized group of people.”

Bravo! It may seem like a task designed for Sisyphus; but, it’s starting to feel like some policing bodies are getting better at catching the criminal parasites who have chosen to infest cyberspace.

These ain’t some jolly offshoot of the Monkey Wrench Gang, folks. The point of their exercise is theft and extortion. They have nothing to add to hacking regardless what color hat you wear.

Identity theft ring targeted funerals

A Fort Lauderdale man who prosecutors said ran an identity theft ring that broke into people’s cars while they attended funerals was sentenced to nine years in federal prison Friday.

Oscar Diaz, 30, must also pay almost $130,000 in restitution to 50 victims from Florida, Maryland and several other states under the terms of a plea agreement he reached with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore…

Prosecutors said Diaz, and several other co-defendants from Broward County, worked together to steal the identities and use them to get cash. Some of them broke into vehicles that were parked outside churches, day care centers, parks, gyms and cemeteries up and down the East Coast, then impersonated the victims at their banks — even donning wigs to disguise themselves, according to court records.

Diaz’s co-conspirators would even follow funeral processions in order to target cars parked at graveyards,” according to a press release from Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

Diaz says he hopes to get treatment for his problems with substance abuse while he’s in prison. I think that depends on how easy it to get drugs and booze in whichever slammer he gets to spend the next nine years.

Mexico starts to use iris scans on ID cards

The USA passport card costs $55

Mexico will on Monday become the first country to start using iris scans for identity cards, according to the government.

The documents, which will include the eye’s image as well as fingerprints, a photo and signature, will be 99 per cent reliable, according to Felipe Zamora, who is responsible for legal affairs at the Mexican interior ministry…

Critics, including the National Human Rights Commission, have criticised the system, expressing concern that compiling personal data could violate individual rights.

The move will be introduced gradually, with some 28 million minors taking part in a first two-year stage, due to cost $25 million.

The cards are due to start for adults from 2013.

Iris recognition is increasingly used in airports, controlling access to restricted areas, and prisoner booking and release.

And anywhere else a copper feels like asking for your ID. Sooner or later.

The chuckle I’ll try to follow – is cost. The Mexican government says they can produce these for less than a buck apiece. When Real ID was being whined about discussed in the United States, the National Association of State Governments [which opposed the idea] said it would cost $26 billion over 5 years to implement.

Software sniffs out biometrics by focusing on your nose

Forget iris and fingerprint scans – scanning noses could be a quicker and easier way to verify a person’s identity, according to scientists at the University of Bath.

With worries about illegal immigration and identity theft, authorities are increasingly looking to using an individual’s physical characteristics, known as biometrics, to confirm their identity.

Unlike other facial features used for biometrics, such as eyes or ears, noses are difficult to conceal and also aren’t changed much by facial expression.

Dr Adrian Evans and Adrian Moorhouse, from the University’s Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, decided to investigate whether images of people’s noses could be used to recognise individuals. They used a photographic system called PhotoFace, developed by researchers at the University of the West of England (Bristol) and Imperial College London, to scan the 3D shape of volunteers’ noses and used computer software to analyse them according to six main nose shapes: Roman, Greek, Nubian, Hawk, Snub and Turn-up.

Whilst the researchers used a relatively small sample, they found that nose scanning showed good potential for use as a biometric, with a good recognition rate and a faster rate of image processing than with conventional biometric techniques such as whole face recognition…

”There’s no one magic biometric – irises are a powerful biometric, but can be difficult to capture accurately and can easily be obscured by eyelids or glasses. “Noses, however, are much easier to photograph and are harder to conceal, so a system that recognises noses would work better with an uncooperative subject or for covert surveillance…

The researchers plan in the future to build up a larger database of noses to test and refine the software to see if it can pick out individuals from a larger group of people, or distinguish between relatives from the same family.

So – keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble!

14-year-old strolls through TSA using his mom’s name


A strapping 14-year-old Canby, Oregon, runaway – Dakota Davis – was able to board a flight to Chicago using his mother’s name and credit card.

Dwayne Baird, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, said minors are not required to show identification to pass through security. He said they must show a boarding pass and are screened like all other passengers.

But, uh, then how do you ascertain you’re talking to a minor? This kid is 6’2″ tall.

Baird said a TSA screener asked the boy if his name was Virginia — the first name of the passenger listed on the ticket — and he answered, “Yes.” The boy then passed through security and made the flight.

That’s right. He ordered the ticket online using his mom’s credit card. The boarding pass was issued in his mother’s name – Virginia.

Using an AT&T program the family bought for about $9, company technicians were able to locate Dakota, who was carrying his cell phone. The program showed that he was near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Davis then alerted Clackamas County sheriff’s deputies, who contacted Chicago police. Officers met Dakota at a baggage claim area and arranged for a free return flight home, courtesy of United Airlines.


New airline rules from Homeland Insecurity start Saturday

Beginning Saturday, many air travelers will be asked their birth dates and genders when making airline reservations.

It’s the latest “publicly visible” expansion of Secure Flight, a program that transfers responsibility for checking air passengers’ identities from the airlines to the federal government, the Transportation Security Administration said…

Currently, the airlines check passenger identifications against lists of suspected terrorists. But the 9/11 Commission said the job was better suited for the federal government, which compiles the “terror watch lists.” Government control increases security, according to the TSA, while reducing the number of instances in which innocent people are mistakenly confused with possible terrorists having similar or identical names.

In May, the federal government began the first public phase of “Secure Flight” when four small airlines began asking passengers to provide their names, as the names appeared on the government-issued IDs they would be traveling with, when making reservations. Since then, additional airlines have begun asking for full names, TSA spokeswoman Sterling Payne said, though she declined to say how many airlines are participating for security reasons.

The new change requires travelers to provide three pieces of information when making reservations: the passenger’s full name as it appears on the government-issued ID they will be using, their birth date and their gender. The airline will transmit that information to the TSA, which will compare it to a “no-fly” list of people prohibited from flying or a list of “selectees” who can fly after they pass additional physical screening…

“Secure Flight is a key tool in confirming that someone identified as a ‘No Fly’ does not receive a boarding pass,” TSA acting Administrator Gale Rossides said in a statement Wednesday. “Secure Flight will make travel safer and easier for passengers.”

So, you can look forward to every stage of air travel encountering double the bureaucratic fear and trembling. All managed by folks unqualified for more than $2 an hour above minimum wage.

When will these fumble-brained beancounters step back and run the equation of time and money wasted on absolutely unnecessary “precautions” vs. number of attempts and successes at killing off the civilian population by demented gangsters?

Starting today, you may not travel around the country as an anonymous American

Americans who prefer to fly without showing ID will be turned away by airport security beginning June 21, unless they can convince screeners that their driver’s license or passport has been lost, according to a Transportation Security Administration policy change.

The TSA describes the identification rule change as the “latest in a series designed to facilitate travel for legitimate passengers while enhancing the agency’s risk-based focus — on people, not things.”

Under the current regulations, travelers who don’t wish to show identification can opt for extra-screening instead, under secret rules made public in a case brought by civil libertarian John Gilmore. Gilmore sought to overturn the requirement on constitutional grounds, but lost when the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Americans have a right to travel, just not necessarily by plane.

The new policy is about authority and beginning of the end of privacy while traveling. It has nothing to do with security.