Friday, July 6, 2012

FBI Hopes To Launch Iris-Scan Database To Track Criminals

Original Article

07/05/2012

By Ryan Gallagher

First it was fingerprints, then DNA. Now databases of iris scans are next on the biometrics list for law enforcement agencies in their efforts to track criminals.

As part of a $1 billion upgrade, the FBI is implementing a Next-Generation Identification System that will expand its old fingerprint database to allow for “rapid matching” of physical identifiers including iris scans, facial images, and palm prints, Mashable reported today.

The FBI, which is reportedly working with Massachusetts-based BI2 Technologies, aims to launch a pilot nationwide database of iris scans by 2014. The FBI has already been provided with more than 12,000 iris images from “current law enforcement agency clients” for analysis and testing, according to BI2’s president, Sean G. Mullin.

This isn’t a wholly new development. BI2 says agencies in 47 states have been gathering iris data in prisons as part of an inmate identification scheme for six years. The company is also rolling out a biometric device—built into an iPhone app—that can be used remotely to recognize and identify people based on iris, face, or fingerprint.

There are obvious civil liberties concerns around collecting ever more kinds of biometric data on a nationwide scale, even if only of convicts. BI2 says that its iris technology addresses privacy issues because subjects have to “agree to enroll and participate” in order to have their eyes photographed. But because currently all of BI2’s iris scans from across the United States are stored centrally on a server located in Texas, the ultimate safety and security of the technology is questionable. Though the iris scans are encrypted, there is always the possibility hackers could gain access.
- Oh come on, you expect us to believe the highlighted?  I'm sure someone in jail/prison won't have a choice.  So what happens if someone decides to not participate?  I'm sure they'd go to jail/prison and then be forced to comply!

In addition to what the FBI is calling an “iris repository,” it is also further embracing facial recognition technology. Last year the agency revealed that it wants to allow local police to identify unknown subjects in photos. Meanwhile, not to be outdone, biometrics are also on the Department of Homeland Security’s agenda. The DHS is building a program called Future Attribute Screening Technology that it hopes will "detect cues indicative of mal-intent" based on factors including ethnicity, gender, breathing, and heart rate.


TX - Fort Worth neighbors troubled by lack of sex offender residency restrictions

Original Article

07/05/2012

By CASEY NORTON

FORT WORTH - Neighbors are keeping a close eye on a registered sex offender who lives right in the middle of a school zone in southwest Fort Worth.

They can't believe city laws allow him to live right across the street from an J.T. Stevens Elementary School.

Dorothy Parker has lived in the area for 47 years.

"We need to protect our children," she said. "They're innocent. We are talking about kindergartners who are five."

The offender was convicted of fondling a child under the age of five, so he is required to register his address with police every year. But Fort Worth does not have residency restrictions for sex offenders.

News 8 checked the department of public safety website. There are 11 sex offenders within one mile of J.T. Stevens. The offenders have to check in with police.

A Tarrant County Community Supervision and Corrections official said the state does have child safety zones for sex offenders, but only for those still on parole or probation. Leighton Iles told News 8 once parole and probation are complete, it is up to cities to enforce their own laws.

Some North Texas cities have their own ordinances which set safe distances from schools, playgrounds and parks. Fort Worth does not.

In this case, the offender completed his probation, so he only has to register his address until October. At that point, Fort Worth police say he will have completed that phase of monitoring.

Neighbors still want to know why he chose a house so close to a school.


TX - As Former Death Row Inmate Tries to Clear His Name, His Life Is on Hold

Original Article

I've heard people say before "We have sent a man to the moon, why can't we prevent sexual abuse?"  Well, the same can be said for sending the wrong people to prison!

07/05/2012

By BRANDI GRISSOM

Kerry Max Cook had been out of prison for about three years when his son was born.

As Kerry Justice Cook slept in his crib, his father would peer down at him and cry, battling suicidal thoughts that he says have haunted him since his 20 horrific years on Texas’ death row.

I’d tell K. J., ‘You’ve got to hurry up so you can talk to me. I’m so alone,’” Mr. Cook said.

K. J. is 11 now, and talking seems to be one of the mature youth’s fortes. He introduces his father to crowds at speaking engagements across the world.

I find it quite amazing that he was able to go there for 22 years and go through every obstacle which he had to go through,” said the fifth grader, wearing a Mickey Mouse T-shirt and brushing shoulder-length blond hair away from his face. “I think he’s the most respectable man that I know.”

Mr. Cook, 56, was convicted of the 1977 rape and murder of Linda Jo Edwards in Tyler, Tex. His first conviction was overturned, a second trial ended in a hung jury and a third ended with a conviction that was reversed after a court found it was tainted by prosecutorial misconduct. Before Smith County attempted to try Mr. Cook a fourth time, he agreed to a plea deal in 1999. Pleading no contest, he was set free. DNA testing subsequently revealed another man’s biological matter on the victim’s clothes.

Mr. Cook has written a book, actors like Tim Robbins have portrayed him in a play about exonerations and he teaches courses about overcoming adversity. In the eyes of the law, though, Mr. Cook is still a convicted murderer. Normal life, he said, is beyond his reach.
- This is why the "justice" system is flawed. If DNA was found to exonerate this man, then his record should be wiped clean, and he shouldn't still be considered a convicted murderer.

This freedom means nothing with a conviction,” he said.

Thirteen years after his release, Mr. Cook is battling with Smith County prosecutors to officially clear his name. He is seeking new DNA testing that he hopes will result in the addition of his name to a list of at least 86 convictions in Texas that were overturned from 1989 to 2011. In an analysis of court rulings, news reports and pardon statements in each of the 86 cases, The Texas Tribune found that in nearly one-quarter of the cases — 21 in all — courts ruled that prosecutors had made errors, most of which contributed to the wrong outcome.


CANADA - New online scam holds computers for ransom

Original Article

07/06/2012

By Jeremy Warren

A new online scam that freezes computers with a message purportedly from RCMP and associating users with child pornography has moved across the world and into North America.

RCMP issued a warning about the new computer virus after receiving 200 reports since February of the malware attacking Canadian residents.

The "ransomware," which in recent years had been contained to Russia and nearby countries, freezes the computer and creates a pop-up message - claiming to be from the RCMP or other government agencies - informing users that their computer is associated with child pornography or illegal music downloading and demands a $100 payment to unlock the computer.

The mention of child pornography often shocks victims who rush to pay the ransom through an online payment service called Ukash. The illegal activity accusation mixed with a fake message from law enforcement scares people, said Sgt. Stephane Turgeon of the RCMP technological crime unit.

"People think it must be true and they'll be charged so maybe they should send the money right away," Turgeon said. "These messages are scams - never send money to somebody you don't know. RCMP and the government do not ask for money in this way."

RCMP have received one report of the scam in Saskatchewan. The malware is probably more widespread in Canada than the 200 reports to RCMP since it is likely many more people with affected computers have not reported the incidents, Turgeon said. People should not hesitate to report the scam since it could help the RCMP investigation, he added.

Investigations into computer scams are difficult because technology allows suspects to conceal their actual location through proxy servers in different countries and the malware's computer code changes often, Turgeon said.

"These are highly complex investigations involving international jurisdictions," he said. "The best way to investigate is through old-fashioned police work through interviewing witnesses and following tips."

The attacks appear to originate in eastern European countries, Turgeon said. The first widespread use of the malware happened in Russia several years ago, but has since moved across Europe and now North America.

The malware attacks out-of-date operating systems so computer users should make sure their operating systems and anti-virus and firewall software are running with the latest updates installed, Turgeon said. If you have an infected computer, take it to a technician who can remove the malware.

People can report incidents of the "ransomware" to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.


Internet Access Is a Human Right, Says United Nations

Original Article

So tell me, how is it that Indiana, Louisiana and other US states getting a way with violating human rights by denying people (ex-sex offenders) access to social networks?

07/06/2012

By Alex Fitzpatrick

Is Internet access and online freedom of expression a basic human right? The United Nations’ Human Rights Council unanimously backed that notion in a resolution passed Thursday.

The resolution says that all people should be allowed to connect to and express themselves freely on the Internet. All 47 members of the Human Rights Council, including notoriously censorship-prone countries such as China and Cuba, signed the resolution.

China’s support for the resolution came with the stipulation that the “free flow of information on the Internet and the safe flow of information on the Internet are mutually dependent,” as Chinese delegate Xia Jingge told the Council in a sign that the country isn’t about to tear down the so-called “Great Firewall of China.”

The concept was first affirmed by a U.N. agency, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in 2003. The ITU has recently come under fire after rumors arose that member states were preparing proposals to give the United Nations more control over the Internet ahead of a December conference. The ITU has rejected many of those claims.

Internet access as a human right has since been supported by several of the Internet’s most well-known proponents, including Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.

[It's] an empowering thing for humanity to be connected at high speed and without borders,” Berners-Lee told the BBC in April of last year while reflecting on the Internet’s role in the Arab Spring uprisings.


The Human Rights Council is a United Nations body that monitors human rights progress and violations across all member countries. It has previously called the right to freedom and expression “one of the essential foundations of a democratic society” and has recognized the Internet’s importance in the “promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”

A separate United Nations report called Internet access a human right in June of last year.