There’ll be no escape from the FBI’s new facial recognition system

[Note:  This item comes from reader Randall Head.  The pieces to enable 'The Machine' depicted in CBS's 'Person of Interest' are coming together.  Who will watch/oversee the watchers?  DLH]

There’ll be no escape from the FBI’s new facial recognition system
Apr 15 2014
If you thought that the NSA wanted too much personal information, just wait a few months. The EFF is reporting that the FBI’s new facial recognition database, containing data for almost a third of the US population, will be ready to launch this summer. Codenamed NGI, the system combines the bureau’s 100 million-strong fingerprint database with palm prints, iris scans and mugshots. Naturally, this has alarmed privacy advocates, since it’s not just felons whose images are added, but anyone who has supplied a photo ID for a government job or background check. According to the EFF’s documents, the system will be capable of adding 55,000 images per day, and could have the facial data for anything up to 52 million people by next year. Let’s just hope that no-one tells the Feds aboutFacebook, or we’re all in serious trouble.

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States

[Note:  This item comes from friend Mike Cheponis.  Note the source!  DLH]

From: Michael Cheponis <>
Subject: FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source
Date: April 16, 2014 at 16:39:18 EDT

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States
A recent al-Qaeda video shows a militant training to carry out his mission of lying back and watching America’s status as a superpower erode
Apr 15 2014

WASHINGTON—Putting the nation on alert against what it has described as a “highly credible terrorist threat,” the FBI announced today that it has uncovered a plot by members of al-Qaeda to sit back and enjoy themselves while the United States collapses of its own accord.

Multiple intelligence agencies confirmed that the militant Islamist organization and its numerous affiliates intend to carry out a massive, coordinated plan to stand aside and watch America’s increasingly rapid decline, with terrorist operatives across the globe reportedly mobilizing to take it easy, relax, and savor the spectacle as it unfolds.

“We have intercepted electronic communication indicating that al-Qaeda members are actively plotting to stay out of the way while America as we know it gradually crumbles under the weight of its own self-inflicted debt and disrepair,” FBI Deputy Director Mark F. Giuliano told the assembled press corps. “If this plan succeeds, it will leave behind a nation with a completely dysfunctional economy, collapsing infrastructure, and a catastrophic health crisis afflicting millions across the nation. We want to emphasize that this danger is very real.”

“And unfortunately, based on information we have from intelligence assets on the ground, this plot is already well under way,” he added.

A recently declassified CIA report confirmed that all known al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations—from Pakistan to Yemen, and from Somalia to Algeria—have been instructed to kick back and enjoy the show as the United States’ federal government, energy grid, and industrial sector are rendered impotent by internal dissent, decay, and mismanagement. According to statements made by top-level informants and corroborated by leading Western terrorism experts, if seen through to its conclusion, al-Qaeda’s current plot could wreak far more damage than the events of 9/11.

In the past year, money transfers to al-Qaeda cells around the world have reportedly been accompanied by instructions to use the funds to outfit safe houses with the proper equipment to receive American cable news broadcasts and view top U.S. news websites, allowing terrorists to fully relish each detail of the impending demise of the last global superpower.

Additionally, FBI officials made public an internal al-Qaeda video today in which the terrorist organization’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri chillingly exhorts his followers to “take a load off” and “unwind” in the name of jihad, and really cherish the victory over their enemy.

“Praise Allah, for soon every American city shall be plagued with disaster and hardship,” al-Zawahiri said in the video, which includes several minutes of footage of young, masked al-Qaeda militants casually sipping beverages as they thumb through the latest issues of Time and U.S. News And World Report. “The infidels have brought this pain and destruction upon themselves through their arrogance and callousness. Soon, the United States will watch in horror as its bridges crumble, its desperate citizens suffer in want of medicine and paying employment, and its once vast riches are reduced to naught. The righteous warriors among our ranks must now unite, get comfortable, and look on from afar at the calamity unfolding in the West.”

“We vow that we will not cease sitting around and laughing it up until America is reduced to rubble,” he continued.

Al-Zawahiri, who is seen in the video reclining back in his chair, putting his feet up, and flipping on CNN, later shouts “Allahu Akbar!” when a story is aired about the decade-long trend of stagnant wages among American workers.


AT&T hates plan to help small carriers, threatens boycott of FCC auction

AT&T hates plan to help small carriers, threatens boycott of FCC auction
That TV spectrum auction everyone’s excited about? AT&T might skip it.
By Jon Brodkin
Apr 16 2014

AT&T is hopping mad that the Federal Communications Commission wants to give smaller carriers a more favorable shot at buying broadcast TV spectrum that will be shifted to the cellular industry.

The airwaves in the 600MHz band are set to be auctioned next year, and the FCC seems to be leaning toward putting restrictions on the biggest carriers. The restrictions could limit the amount of money the auction takes in but help prevent AT&T and Verizon from further dominating the US wireless market.

AT&T pulling out of the auction could be good for its rivals, but would make the spectrum sales less lucrative for the government and TV broadcasters.

“AT&T could either participate in the auction, accepting that it will likely obtain only a fragmented and inefficient 600MHz footprint, or it can choose to withhold its capital for other investments and sit out of the auction entirely,” AT&T VP Joan Marsh wrote to the FCC. “AT&T has never declined to participate in a major spectrum auction and certainly did not intend to do so here, where capital contributions will be needed across the wireless industry for a successful outcome. But if the restrictions as proposed are adopted, AT&T will need to seriously consider whether its capital and resources are directed toward other spectrum opportunities that will better enable AT&T to continue to support high quality LTE network deployments to serve its customers.”
You can read AT&T’s letter here, courtesy of FierceWireless. A FierceWirelessstory notes that restrictions under consideration could mean that when “auction bidding hits an as-of-yet unknown threshold in a given market, the FCC would set aside up to 30MHz of spectrum in that market. Companies that hold at least one-third of the low-band spectrum in that market then wouldn’t be allowed to bid on the 30MHz of spectrum that has been set aside.”

The restrictions could affect AT&T in 70 percent of the country, Marsh wrote.

“In short, in all band plans less than 70MHz, restricted bidders—specifically AT&T and Verizon (and in a small number of markets, potentially US Cellular or CSpire)—would be limited to bidding for only three blocks,” she wrote. “And in each market where the restrictions attach to at least two carriers, at most only one restricted carrier could emerge from the auction with a 10×10 MHz allocation.”


FCC’s rules for spectrum auction may level playing field for small carriers

FCC’s rules for spectrum auction may level playing field for small carriers
Re/code sources shed light on rules that may factor in upcoming spectrum auction.
By Megan Geuss
Apr 15 2014

On Monday evening, Re/code wrote about the complicated set of rules that the FCC’s wireless bureau is hoping will be adopted for the TV spectrum auctionthat will take place in 2015. According to these restrictions, carriers with lots of spectrum like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, could be prohibited from bidding on up to one-third of the auctioned-off spectrum in a given area, at least when the bidding in that area reaches a particular price.

The auction rules would dictate how many licenses a wireless company could purchase by creating two classes of spectrum licenses: restricted and unrestricted. According to Re/code, all companies would be allowed to bid on the available spectrum at first, generally in blocks of 5 MHz. Then if the bidding reaches a “threshold price,” 30 percent of the spectrum in that market would be reserved for smaller competitor companies.

Additionally, the FCC is looking to adopt new “spectrum screens” which would limit how much spectrum a wireless carrier could hold in a certain market. Under the rules, if a carrier tried to buy up more than a certain amount of spectrum in the market, that would trigger extra scrutiny at the FCC before the deal could go through. The upcoming availability of spectrum, combined with new rules for who can own it, has garnered a lot of attention.

The rules that Re/code’s sources spoke about aren’t set in stone yet and still need to be shown to other members of the FCC to get their approval. But the FCC’s wireless bureau may be trying to strike compromises before the proposal has even drawn objections. Re/code explains the tension:


Google’s recent TOS update reminds us what little choice we have

Google’s recent TOS update reminds us what little choice we have
Apr 16 2014

So, Google analyzes your email. Who knew? Well, judging by a recent wave ofinternet chatter regarding a two-sentence update the search giant made to its terms of service this week, not that many. The truth is, of course, that most Gmail users did know that Google scans your email, or parses it in some way so that it can place those oh so important personalized adverts along side them. Like anyone on Facebook who got dating ads after changing their relationship status can attest to. The backlash this week, however, seemed to take two basic flavors. One being paranoia that some deep change had taken place that the search giant was looking to sneak past us. The second being that this was a sign of how our rights are constantly being eroded, and that this constant “policy creep” will soon have us handing over our deepest darkest digital secrets, without any powers to negotiate. So which is it?

We asked Google directly, and it tells us that on this occasion, the additional text is merely a clarification of the existing policy. It’s spelling out what it already does. We spoke to London-based media lawyer John Haggis about this kind of amendment, who confirmed that if there were significant changes to the meaning of the policy, then Google (and others, like PayPal’s shown below) would have an obligation to communicate that to its users. Not doing so would be an incredibly risky strategy for any firm. Minor housekeeping and clarifications, however, might not warrant a (potentially alarming) email blast — though this recent Google case shows that it’s still worth considering your strategy every time.

For those that were concerned about the specific part in Google’s TOS that refers to email you receive (i.e. that sent by people whom might not have agreed to said TOS), Haggis reminds us to think along the lines of how images etc. are shared on Facebook. You might not be on Zuckerberg’s social network, but a photo you took and sent to a friend could be. Facebook might even learn it’s a picture of you via tagging, and have a moderate profile of you based on multiple such photos. But, the truth is, there’s not a lot it can do with that information if you’re not a signed up (and contractually agreed) member.


Spotify Starts Shutting Down Its Massive P2P Network

For more than half a decade Spotify has relied on P2P technology to quickly deliver songs to its millions of subscribers. This will be over soon. The music streaming service has started to phase out P2P technology to rely fully on central servers instead.
Apr 15 2014

When Spotify launched its first beta in the fall of 2008, we branded it “an alternative to music piracy.”

With the option to stream millions of tracks supported by an occasional ad, or free of ads for a small subscription fee, Spotify appeared to be a serious competitor to music piracy.

In the years that followed Spotify conquered the hearts and minds of many music fans. Currently available in 61 countries, the service has amassed dozens of millions of users. A true success story, one that was in part made possible due to Spotify’s heavy reliance on P2P technology.

In fact, Spotify has long been one of the largest P2P networks on the Internet. When Spotify subscribers play a track in the desktop client, this could come from three sources: a cached file on the computer, one of Spotify’s servers, or from other subscribers through P2P.

In 2011 we reported that of all tracks that were not accessed over the Internet, roughly 80% went through the P2P network. This allowed Spotify to reduced server resources and associated costs, which is a pretty big deal for a startup.

However, the end of the road is coming soon for this massive private sharing network. TorrentFreak has learned that Spotify plans to discontinue its P2P technology altogether, to rely solely on central servers instead.

“We’re gradually phasing out the use of our desktop P2P technology which has helped our users enjoy their music both speedily and seamlessly,” Spotify’s Alison Bonny informs TF.

Where Spotify previously needed P2P to guarantee that all tracks could be played with the lowest lag possible, this is no longer needed. During the months to come Spotify will effectively shut down its P2P servers.

“We’re now at a stage where we can power music delivery through our growing number of servers and ensure our users continue to receive a best-in-class service,” Bonny says.

P2P has been central to Spotify’s success for a variety of reasons. For one, it allowed the service to scale up quickly without having to invest heavily in servers and bandwidth. This must have saved the company millions of dollars per year.

Also, one of the lead engineers since the start is none other than Ludvig Strigeus, the original creator of the BitTorrent client uTorrent. Strigeus sold uTorrent to BitTorrent Inc. in 2006, and some believe that part of this money went into the development of Spotify.


Ars Technica covers NJ Verizon scandal

[Note:  This item comes from Dave Farber's IP List.  DLH]

From: Dan Gillmor <>
Subject: Ars Technica covers NJ Verizon scandal
Date: April 16, 2014 at 4:17:57 PM EDT
To: Dave Farber <>

Finally, journalists are taking note of what Bruce Kushnick has been
yelling about for years, or at least, in this case, one piece of a
gigantic scandal.


Where are the journalists from the Big Media companies just across the
river? Maybe they’re stuck in traffic on a bridge somewhere, but
whatever the reason, their failure to make a stink about the telcos’
universal breaking of promises — and various states’ refusal to enforce
their laws — is journalistic malpractice, IMO.