Tag Archives: Laws

Smile! FBI facial recognition database set to pass 50 million recorded pictures


The FBI’s Next-Generation Identification (NGI) scheme, is snapping up pictures left, right and centre. According to data dug up by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the scheme, which is the bureau’s giant biometric database, will include more than 50 million images of peoples’ faces by 2015.

The database will include photos like mugshots, but according to the documentation found by the EFF also contain photos of non-criminals.

“Currently, if you apply for any type of job that requires fingerprinting or a background check, your prints are sent to and stored by the FBI in its civil print database. However, the FBI has never before collected a photograph along with those prints. This is changing with NGI. Now an employer could require you to provide a “mug shot” photo along with your fingerprints. If that’s the case, then the FBI will store both your face print and your fingerprints along with your biographic data,” Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, writes in a piece for Ars Technica.

Basically, you need to stay unemployed if you want to stay out of the database…thanks, FBI.

US Navy ready with operational laser weapon – rubs Air Force’s nose in it

The US Navy has succcesfully demonstrated the power of the latest addition to its arsenal – a laser cannon capable of downing flying drone plane and sinking speedboats.

The demonstration of the Navy’s Laser Weapons System (LaWS) showed that the weapon was capable of igniting a drone airplane in full flight.

The US Navy has announced that the first fully operational prototype of the LaWS system will be installed of a ship next year.

The choice of ship might raise a few chuckles on the other side of the pond, as the ship chosen to carry the weapon is the amphibious docking ship USS Ponce.

The current version of LaWS is to be used against small boats and drone planes, but the Navy is currently working on a larger, more powerful version of the weapon.

US Navy sources claims that LaWS is a very cheap weapon to operate, as the power consumed by a single blast of the infrared laser amounts to about $1.

The current prototype of LaWS costs about $32 million to build, but, although that might sound like a lot, it’s in fact a great double whammy victory for the US Navy in the always ongoing inter-departemental war between the branches of the US Armed Forces.

The US Air Force has been trying to develop a laser for their planes for years. The program is thought to have cost over $1 billion dollars by now, without having produced anything remotely close to the success of the LaWS.

In spite of the succesful tests, the US Navy admits that LaWS can struggle in poor weather conditions. And seeing as infrared rays can be reflected by various materials, including aluminium, then I guess it’s unclear if an enemy couldn’t just make their drones look like flying disco balls and thereby negate the efficiency of LaWS….

Florida about to ban internet cafés – but backs online Bingo

The state of Florida is heading into muddled waters with a new bill that in effect outlaws internet cafés throughout the state, the reasoning being that they facilitate illegal online gambling. The bill recently made its way through the Florida House.

“It’s a great day in the Florida House,” Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, who sponsored the bill, told Tampa Bay Times.

The new bill has come in the wake of an online gambling scandal in the state, which showed that an online gambling ring had given up to $1.4 million to legislative campaigns and about a week after it emerged that a chain of internet cafes had been involved in illegal gambling, money laundering and racketeering.

Critics have called it a knee-jerk reaction, and some people are already having fun with the fact that the bill, which is in effect aimed at outlawing online gambling in the state, has made loopholes for online bingo.

Probably a smart move when you think of the age demographic of Florida…..

Cheap 3D printing kills Obama’s clip control stone dead

In the wake of another school massacre, the US Government is once again looking at introducing some sort of control to the American gun market.

Now as a European, the fact that a large percentage of Americans seemingly think you really do need that semi-automatic rifle when hunting squirrels makes absolutely no sense. It’s like saying you need a canon to get rid of the sparrows who’ve set up shop on your roof and then being surprised when the cannon takes part of your roof with it in the attempt to get rid of said sparrows.

That minor tirade taken care of, let’s turn to a new suggestion by the Government who, instead of talking about squirrels and cannons, are thinking about introducing a law to prohibiting the size of magazines.

The proposal actually comes from California Senator Diane Feinstein, but President Obama has voiced support.

What the Government wants to is re-introduce the ban on high-capacity magazines that are capable of holding, well, a lot of bullets.

However, the suggestion isn’t likely to have the desired effect. And the rise of new technology is (sort of) to blame.

A group of gun-happy and slightly tech savvy people called Defence Distributed have already show that the rise of cheap 3D printing and the Internet is going to make it nigh on impossible to enforce a new ban on high-capacity magazines by just making it impossible for shops to sell them legally.

Defence Distributed’s plan is to prove that it is possible to create and build a lethal firearm with a high-capacity magazine solely using the blueprints supplied by the organisation and access to a 3D printer. Recently the group said that they had successfully a 30 round magazine for a semi-automatic and that they had fired a total of 86 round from the magazine.

So the end result they are looking for is a working gun with a massive clip that can be built by anyone with access to a 3D printer and the Internet.

Obama seems to be fighting an up-hill battle with people who want the right to not only build and fire their own canons at sparrows. They want ‘Mad Mike’ down the street to have exactly the same possibility. ANd the right to blame Obama when ‘Mad Mike’ decides that canons could be the thing that the game ‘Tag’ has been missing all these years….