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.: Companies profiting from fear - 23rd Oct 2004

"For companies like Kroll, terror means big business. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the global consulting firm signed multimillion-dollar federal contracts to vet the backgrounds of Customs and airport personnel for the Department of Homeland Security. The company has since posted double-digit annual revenue growth and saw its stock price quadruple through July, when Kroll was bought by technology service provider Marsh & McLennan.

"The security space suddenly became hot," said Alan Brill, senior managing director of the firm, which offers services ranging from network security audits to digital investigations. "People said, 'Oh boy, they are going to throw money at this..."

.: American Passports to Get Chipped - 22nd Oct 2004

"New U.S. passports will soon be read remotely at borders around the world, thanks to embedded chips that will broadcast on command an individual's name, address and digital photo to a computerized reader.

The State Department hopes the addition of the chips, which employ radio frequency identification, or RFID, technology, will make passports more secure and harder to forge, according to spokeswoman Kelly Shannon. "The reason we are doing this is that it simply makes passports more secure," Shannon said..."

.: Throwing money at technology - 22nd Oct 2004

"As part of California's effort in the war on terror, state legislators this year proposed that trucks hauling hazardous materials be fitted with technologies that would allow authorities to seize control of hijacked vehicles--a law that supporters said should be passed "on an emergency basis."

The bill, however, was voted down after critics contended that the communication signals used in the proposed system could be easily commandeered by the very people it was supposed to stop. "Satellite or cell phone links can be jammed by even a dull terrorist with a $20 device," said California State University professor Bill Wattenburg..."

.: Biometrics: privacy concerns over scope creep - 21st Oct 2004

"Initial public consultations on the use of biometrics for security show the most concerned section of the public are those having substantial experience with ICT, either as commercial users or intensive home users, says former Australian MP Terry Aulich, project manager for an emerging Australian industry code of practice.

This, he agrees, suggests that fears, principally of “scope creep” — the biometric identifier being used for purposes not acknowledged in the original specification — could be well-informed and based on previous experience of privacy failure and "creep", rather than just vague worries or science fiction scenarios. Aulich was speaking with Computerworld during a break at a Wellington conference on the topic this month..."

.: Privacy is eroding, bit by byte - 19th Oct 2004

"First there were security cameras, sprouting like mushrooms on street corners and buildings. Then came shopper cards, offering discounts in exchange for details about buying habits. In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of electronic tags, or “cookies,” on the Internet, software that monitors e-mail, GPS devices that pinpoint our position on the planet, and a growing number of machines that capture finger- and face-prints.

Now comes the news that federal regulators have approved the injection of microchips under the skin, enabling physicians with the right gear to know who someone is without having to ask. And this week, the omniscient-seeming search engine Google bested itself by announcing a service to probe for information both online and in your own machine. One company official called it a “photographic memory for your computer..."
[Washington Post]

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