Wow, Jarhead and I must have been visited by the same muse. He’s right though, everyone IS being watched. The government has rolled out quite the surveillance operations lately. I know we’ve talked about the drones. But have you kept up on the state-of-the-art face recognition project that is nearing completion? The FBI has cheerfully spent a billion dollars or so of our money on their Next Generation Identification program.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reached a milestone in the development of their Next Generation Identification (NGI) program and is now implementing the intelligence database in unidentified locales across the country, New Scientist reports in an article this week. The FBI first outlined the project back in 2005, explaining to the Justice Department in an August 2006 document (.pdf) that their new system will eventually serve as an upgrade to the current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) that keeps track of citizens with criminal records across America .
The FBI expects the NGI system to include as many as 14 million photographs by the time the project is in full swing in only two years, but the pace of technology and the new connections constantly created by law enforcement agencies could allow for a database that dwarfs that estimate. As RT reported earlier this week, the city of Los Angeles now considers photography in public space “suspicious,” and authorizes LAPD officers to file reports if they have reason to believe a suspect is up to no good. Those reports, which may not necessarily involve any arrests, crimes, charges or even interviews with the suspect, can then be filed, analyzed, stored and shared with federal and local agencies connected across the country to massive data fusion centers. Similarly, live video transmissions from thousands of surveillance cameras across the country are believed to be sent to the same fusion centers as part of TrapWire, a global eye-in-the-sky endeavor.
So, once the cameras get your faceprint, the FBI can use public data from social networking accounts, they can get your name and track your movements.
As of July 18, 2012, the FBI reports, “The NGI program … is on scope, on schedule, on cost, and 60 percent deployed.”
Anonymous has suggestions for possible ways around the automated facial recognition software, including laser pointers, masks, and makeup. My favorite was the instructions for how to make an IR LED hat that looks normal to humans but blinds cameras. All you need are 6 IR LED’s, some wire and a 9 V battery, modify your favorite headgear, and away you go, as nothing more than a bright blob to cameras. It appeals to my geek-streak, and it’s very OPSEC friendly, because humans would have to get pretty close to see the LED’s, and even then might not fully understand what they are seeing. (Humans can’t see Infrared light.) Be careful about changing the battery though, since you can’t tell if your LED’s are working unless you look at it with something digital.
Do we have any readers in a city big enough to have some of the Trapwire cameras? What are your thoughts? I’m super glad that I live out in no-where Iowa. It’ll be a long time before significant numbers of cameras make their way out to my city.
Anyway, every move has a counter move, just keep up with what’s out there, as best you can. If you need help with that LED hat, you let me know.
- Calamity Jane