Predictive Analysis ‘Crystal Ball’ To Employ Digital DNA Avatar

TN Note: The ultimate data collection model about you will include your DNA, activities, personality, lifestyle factors, etc. iCarbonX declares its “intention of recommending tailored wellness programs, food choices and possibly prescription medicines.”  To the extent that your avatar exists in the computing ether, you will be micro-managed like cattle in a feed lot, until the day you die. Remember that China has been a Technocracy since at  least 1995, and so Technocrats are encouraged to think this way.

Wang Jun spent 16 years expanding the world’s understanding of what living things are made of — sequencing genomes including those of the giant panda and potatoes.

Now he’s attempting to build on that: using DNA as one component to create online avatars that could act as health-care test dummies for people. Asia’s biggest internet company believes he’s onto something.

Wang’s iCarbonX wants to construct a “digital you” containing biological samples such as saliva, proteins and DNA; bolstered by environmental measurements such as air quality; and lifestyle factors such as workout regimes and diet. The Shenzhen, China-based company is developing algorithms to analyze the data, with the intention of recommending tailored wellness programs, food choices and possibly prescription medicines.

Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Zhongyuan Union Cell & Gene Engineering Corp. invested in iCarbonX, making it one of only three health-care startups in China with a $1 billion-plus valuation, according to CB Insights. Preventive medicine is burgeoning in the nation as cancer and diabetes diagnoses increase. Artificial intelligence systems will generate $6.7 billion in global revenue from health care by 2021, compared with $811 million last year, researcher Frost & Sullivan said.

“I’m trying to build a crystal ball,” Wang, 40, said. “By analyzing all the data that we can get our hands on, we will be able to see more clearly to predict what might happen to your body in the future.”

He has some powerful backers. Tencent, owner of social-media app WeChat, led a $200 million series A funding round in April and is providing computing power, Wang said. The companies’ offices are 10 minutes apart in Shenzhen.

The iCarbonX website shows Tencent Chairman Ma Huateng, China’s third-richest man, attending the founding ceremony in October. Canny Lo, a spokeswoman for Tencent, didn’t respond to an e-mail and text message seeking comment.

Shanghai-listed Zhongyuan Union, also known as Vcanbio, does gene testing and blood banking. Two calls to Vcanbio’s offices weren’t answered. There are two other investors, including a big data company, and Wang said he would announced the names soon.

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The Matrix: 24 Ways We’re Tracked On A Regular Basis

TN Note: The Total Surveillance Society is not funny, cute or convenient. Rather, it is the singular conduit to deliver us directly into an Orwellian-style Scientific Dictatorship. Technocracy requires surveillance, and there is no such thing as ‘enough’. Surveillance data will one day be fed into quantum computers for instant analysis, correlation and tabulation, with the outcome being ‘instructions’ for the masses. This is the ‘science of social engineering’. 

The design of the internet of everything, and the nature of the cloud that it floats in, is to track data. The 34 billion internet-enabled devices we expect to add to the cloud in the next five years are built to stream data. And the cloud is built to keep the data. Anything touching this cloud that is able to be tracked will be tracked.

Recently, with the help of researcher Camille Hartsell, I rounded up all the devices and systems in the U.S. that routinely track us. The key word is “routinely.” I am leaving off this list the nonroutine tracking performed illegally by hackers, criminals, and cyberarmies. I also skip over the capabilities of the governmental agencies to track specific targets when and how they want to. (Governments’ ability to track is proportional to their budgets.)

This list, instead, tallies the kind of tracking an average person might encounter on an ordinary day in the United States. Each example has been sourced officially or from a major publication.

  • Car movements – Every car since 2006 contains a chip that records your speed, braking, turns, mileage, accidents whenever you start your car.
  • Highway traffic – Cameras on poles and sensors buried in highway record the location of cars by license plates and fast-track badges. Sev enty million plates are recorded each month.
  • Ride-share taxis – Uber, Lyft, and other decentralized rides record your trips.
  • Long-distance travel – Your travel itinerary for air flights and trains is recorded.
  • Drone surveillance – Along U.S. borders, Predator drones monitor and record outdoor activities.
  • Postal mail – The exterior of every piece of paper mail you send or receive is scanned and digitized.
  • Utilities – Your power and water usage patterns are kept by utilities. (Garbage is not cataloged, yet.)
  • Cell phone location and call logs – Where, when, and who you call (meta- data) is stored for months. Some phone carriers routinely store the contents of calls and messages for days to years.
  • Civic cameras – Cameras record your activities 24/7 in most city down towns in the U.S.
  • Commercial and private spaces – Today 68 percent of public employers, 59 percent of private employers, 98 percent of banks, 64 percent of public schools, and 16 percent of homeowners live or work under cameras.
  • Smart home – Smart thermostats (like Nest) detect your presence and behavior patterns and transmit these to the cloud. Smart electrical outlets (like Belkin) monitor power consumption and usage times shared to the cloud.
  • Home surveillance – Installed video cameras document your activity inside and outside the home, stored on cloud servers.
  • Interactive devices – Your voice commands and messages from phones (Siri, Now, Cortana), consoles (Kinect), smart TVs, and ambient micro phones (Amazon Echo) are recorded and processed on the cloud.
  • Grocery loyalty cards – Supermarkets track which items you purchase and when.
  • E- retailers – Retailers like Amazon track not only what you purchase, but what you look at and even think about buying.
  • IRS – Tracks your financial situation all your life.
  • Credit cards – Of course, every purchase is tracked. Also mined deeply with sophisticated AI for patterns that reveal your personality, ethnic ity, idiosyncrasies, politics, and preferences.
  • E-wallets and e-banks – Aggregators like Mint track your entire financial situation from loans, mortgages, and investments. Wallets like Square and PayPal track all purchases.
  • Photo face recognition – Facebook and Google can identify (tag) you in pictures taken by others posted on the web. The location of pictures can identify your location history.
  • Web activities – Web advertising cookies track your movements across the web. More than 80% of the top thousand sites employ web cookies that follow you wherever you go on the web. Through agree ments with ad networks, even sites you did not visit can get information about your viewing history.
  • Social media – Can identify family members, friends, and friends of friends. Can identify and track your former employers and your cur rent work mates. And how you spend your free time.
  • Search browsers – By default Google saves every question you’ve ever asked forever.
  • Streaming services – What movies (Netflix), music (Spotify), video (You Tube) you consume and when, and what you rate them. This includes cable companies; your watching history is recorded.
  • Book reading – Public libraries record your borrowings for about a month. Amazon records book purchases forever. Kindle monitors your reading patterns on ebooks – where you are in the book, how long you take to read each page, where you stop.

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FBI’s Secret Surveillance Tech Budget Is ‘Hundreds of Millions’

TN Note: The Intel community in the U.S. now exists to monitor every aspect of society and human activity, which is a necessary requirement for the implementation of Technocracy. The FBI’s budget is controlled 100 percent by the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. Clapper is also the principal intelligence advisor to President Obama. The point is, the FBI is not acting autonomously but rather in a synchronistic manner with all other intel agencies in the nation, and the web of surveillance they have created is completely obscured.

The FBI has “hundreds of millions of dollars” to spend on developing technology for use in both national security and domestic law enforcement investigations — but it won’t reveal the exact amount.

Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI James Burrell spoke about the secretive budget of the Operational Technology Division — which focuses on all the bureau’s advanced investigative gizmos, from robots to surveillance tech to biometric scanners during a roundtable discussion on encryption technology.

In December 2015, The Washington Post reported the budget of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division at between $600 and $800 million, but officials refused to confirm the exact amount.

The FBI did not respond to a request for comment from The Intercept on the division’s budget.

The intelligence community sponsored the roundtable on Thursday and Friday to spark discussion among academics, scientists, developers, and tech officials on the finer points of encryption — and to try to answer whether it’s technically possible to give law enforcement access to secure devices without compromising digital security.

The National Academies of Science, Technology, and Medicine hosted the workshop, which included Chris Inglis, former deputy director of the NSA; James Baker, the top lawyer for the FBI; and tech officials from Apple, Microsoft, and other companies.

Burrell said the FBI divides its technical focuses into two areas: core IT capabilities, and the Operational Technology Division, which devotes resources to researching and developing technology “specifically for use in investigations.”

The division’s budget had to be put “into context,” Burrell stressed. Resources are split between tools developed for national security investigations versus domestic law enforcement. “Sometimes we’re not able to use the technology we develop for one side equally on the other,” because some technology is classified, he said.

The FBI has tried to keep evidence gleaned from its advanced, national security technology secret in court proceedings relating to domestic investigations — technology like Stingrays, which mimic cell phone towers to track location information of an entire geographical area. The FBI has even chosen to throw out legal prosecutions to hide its technical capabilities — a controversial decision that’s been criticized by advocates for transparency.

The bureau has also repeatedly stressed how challenging and expensive it is to develop capabilities to hack into devices rather than have a mandated access point in encryption. “Hacking devices, … of course we do it, but it is slow,” Baker said in his concluding remarks. “It’s expensive, it’s very fragile.”

The FBI has requested over $100 million more dollars for its operational technology division and cyber division for 2017 — pushing the grand total closer to a billion, if the Washington Post‘s figure is accurate. The FBI asked for over $85 million to bulk up its cyber offense and defense — and over $38 million to counter the problem encryption and other anonymity software poses during investigations through technological means.




DNA

FBI’s Massive Facial Recognition Database Is Dangerously Flawed

TN Note: How many times has the intel community been slapped down by Congress and/or the Judiciary for illegal surveillance on innocent Americans? Nevertheless, their activities have accelerated with impunity, and this is a clear confirmation that Technocracy is marching forward on its own agenda and timetable. How is it that the FBI now has million of records from state driver’s licenses? Fusion Centers! I have warned for years that the real function of Fusion Centers was never about national security, but rather about the collection and reformatting of disparate types of data from state and local databases. Fusion Centers were implemented by the Department of Homeland Security, but the data they collect winds up in the hands of the FBI and NSA.  This cooperation further confirms that intel agencies are acting in concert and answering to a higher authority, namely, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) The DNI has unified all intel operations under a single command, even though the various agencies retain their former names and branding. This unified intel behemoth is fully dedicated to surveilling all American citizens at all times.

The problem is: The system is deeply and dangerously flawed. 

The FBI steadily, stealthily compiled a massive facial recognition database without oversight and in disregard of federal law, according to a report released today by the Government Accountability Office.

The bombshell report reveals that the FBI dipped into driver’s license photo databases from 16 states, as well as passport and visa photo databases from the State Department, feeding its facial recognition with millions of photos of Americans and foreigners who have never been accused of a crime. The FBI has access to a whopping 411.9 million images for use in facial recognition, roughly 30 million of which are mug shots.

The sheer number of photos described in the GAO report is staggering, but what’s worse is that the FBI didn’t make public disclosures about the program required by law, the report says. The GAO recommended that the FBI make several improvements to its transparency process and assess its past failures. The report instructs that the U.S. Attorney General should determine why the FBI didn’t publish legally mandated privacy assessments as it expanded its facial recognition program.

The Privacy Act requires government agencies to disclose how they harvest and use personal information like ID photos, but the GAO found that the FBI didn’t make the mandatory disclosures.

“There appears to be no internal oversight on this system and that’s remarkable,” Alvaro Bedoya, the executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law, told TechCrunch. Bedoya previously worked for Senator Al Franken, the legislator who has frequently pushed for oversight of facial recognition technology and requested that the GAO audit the FBI’s use of the technology.

“Today we found out that they have no idea if they’re misusing it or not,” Bedoya said of the FBI. “They’ve literally never done an audit.”

Bedoya pointed out that many Americans don’t expect their driver’s license photos to end up in a federal law enforcement database.

 “When you turn 16 or 17, you don’t go down to the police station and give them your fingerprints; you go get your driver’s license. Turns out, it’s the same thing as far as the FBI is concerned,” he said. “They might not be storing these photos at Quantico but it has built, in effect, a nationwide biometric database using driver’s license photos. It’s breathtaking.”

The GAO report also notes that the reliability of the FBI’s facial recognition technology is virtually untested, and testing it for accuracy is complicated, given that the FBI searches several different state and federal databases for photos. Studies have consistently found facial recognition software to be faulty when identifying minorities, women and young people, and it’s probable that the FBI’s databases are susceptible to similar biases.

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Privacy Experts Attack Russian Hi-Tech Spy Devices

su_note note_color=”#daf2fd” radius=”2″]TN Note: Technocrats invent because they can. That people would not like what they invented does not concern them in the least. It is this very mentality that fuels the mantra to use science to engineer society as they see fit. [/su_note]

New Russian technologies, including phonecall interception and a facial recognition app, have stirred a fierce debate about privacy and data monitoring.

Infowatch, a Moscow-based IT security company managed by businesswoman Natalya Kasperskaya, found itself in hot water last month after it revealed it had invented a system that companies can use to intercept employees’ mobile phone conversations.

Companies outside Russia have also devised call interception software, and Infowatch already markets products that monitor employees’ e-mails, USB keys and printers.

But Kasperskaya says she was taken aback by the storm that surrounded the mobile phone innovation.

“We weren’t expecting this. For us it was only another channel of communication,” Kasperskaya told AFP in an interview.

The Russian authorities and members of the public lashed the invention as a breach of law or infringement of privacy.

Infowatch traces its origins back to 1997, when Kasperskaya and her then-husband, now divorced, Eugene Kaspersky co-founded the Kaspersky Lab security software company, which has gone on to global success.

The goal behind phonecall interception, Kasperskaya said, is to provide large businesses with a tool to prevent information leaks, including companies whose success depends on protecting corporate secrets.

Communications minister Nikolai Nikiforov said a court ruling was needed to get permission to tap phones.

The speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, Sergei Naryshkin, said he feared such technologies could be used to malicious ends.

Facing objections from the authorities, the company has refrained from designing a voice recognition system, even though there is demand from sensitive sectors including banking, the oil industry and large public companies.

Monitoring of communications by private corporations touches a nerve in a country where the shadowy KGB security service once monitored dissidents and where the state is keen to retain its grip on citizens’ personal data.

The KGB’s post-Soviet successor, the FSB, has long used a sophisticated system called SORM to carry out surveillance communications by telephone or on the Internet.

The revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that the US National Security Agency also carries out surveillance on a mass scale.

Human rights advocacy group Agora has said that nine million Russians, including opposition figures and political activists, have come under state surveillance since 2007.

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EU Technocrats Want You To Log Into Social Media With Gove-Issued ID Cards

TN Note: European Technocrats are blatant and blunt about their goals now, and U.S. counterparts will be emboldened by their initiatives. Remember that “Technocracy is the science of social engineering, the scientific operation of the entire social mechanism to produce and distribute goods and services to the entire population…” (The Technocrat, 1938) The time to reject all of it is now!

The European Commission plans to attack citizens’ right to online privacy, insisting that state-issued ID cards should be used to log into platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and even Uber.

The Vice President for the Digital Single Market on the European Commission, former Communist Andrus Ansip, is behind the next European Union (EU) raid on personal freedoms, promoting the idea of using national ID cards to log in to online services.

Leaked documents from within the European Commission revealed a call for the roll out of a more extensive use of national ID cards across the EU. The documents have since been uploaded to the Commission’s own website.

Mr. Ansip is from Estonia, a small Baltic country and former Communist state which has the most highly-developed national ID card system in the world. The Estonian state website boasts: “Much more than simply a legal picture ID, the mandatory national card serves as the digital access card for all of Estonia’s secure e-services.”

The paper outlines that: “In particular, online platforms need to accept credentials issued or recognised by national public authorities, such as electronic ID cards, citizens cards, bank cards or mobile IDs… for every consumer to have a multitude of username and password combinations is not only inconvenient but becomes a security risk.”

This draft document entitled ‘Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market’ is dated 25 May this year, and urges the log in policy on the basis that fake user reviews are misleading European consumers. The document states: “Online ratings and reviews of goods and services are helpful and empowering to consumers, but they need to be trustworthy and free from any bias or manipulation. A prominent example is fake reviews, where loss of trust can undermine the business model of the platform itself, but also lead to a wider loss of trust, as expressed in many responses to the public consultation

Breitbart London has previously reported on how the European Union plans to roll out a continent-wide ID card, with a view to using the data to impose Europe-wide taxes, and an EU-wide minimum wage, further bypassing elected national parliaments and handing more power to the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

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Facial Recognition Software Spells The End Of Anonymity

TN Note: In order for Technocracy to be fully implemented, a fully ubiquitous surveillance system must be in place. On top of the myriad of ways to collect data on citizens, which are already being used, facial recognition will effectively track everywhere you go and everything you do. There is no ‘opt-out’ box to check. Nobody will ask you permission. You will have no way to correct data errors. In other words, your reality will be the one they conjure up as they sift, sort, slice and dice your data. 

Nearly 250 million video surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the world, and chances are you’ve been seen by several of them today. Most people barely notice their presence anymore — on the streets, inside stores, and even within our homes. We accept the fact that we are constantly being recorded because we expect this to have virtually no impact on our lives. But this balance may soon be upended by advancements in facial recognition technology.

Soon anybody with a high-resolution camera and the right software will be able to determine your identity. That’s because several technologies are converging to make this accessible. Recognition algorithms have become far more accurate, the devices we carry can process huge amounts of data, and there’s massive databases of faces now available on social media that are tied to our real names. As facial recognition enters the mainstream, it will have serious implications for your privacy.

A new app called FindFace, recently released in Russia, gives us a glimpse into what this future might look like. Made by two 20-something entrepreneurs, FindFace allows anybody to snap a photo of a passerby and discover their real name — already with 70% reliability. The app allows people to upload photos and compare faces to user profiles from the popular social network Vkontakte, returning a result in a matter of seconds. According to an interview in the Guardian, the founders claim to already have 500,000 users and have processed over 3 million searches in the two months since they’ve launched.

What’s particularly unsettling are the use cases they advocate: identifying strangers to send them dating requests, helping government security agencies to determine the identities of dissenters, and allowing retailers to bombard you with advertisements based on what you look at in stores.

While there are reasons to be skeptical of their claims, FindFace is already being deployed in questionable ways. Some users have tried to identify fellow riders on the subway, while others are using the app to reveal the real names of porn actresses against their will. Powerful facial recognition technology is now in the hands of consumers to use how they please.

This leads to a situation that conjures up our worst fears with surveillance. You have no control whether your face is linked to other databases — such as loyalty rewards programs or police watch lists — or how that information is shared. Facial recognition is usually done without your permission, and there is no established way to opt out.

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Yahoo Publishes One Of The FBI’s Most Secretive Tricks To Get User Info

TN Note: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” (Walter Scott, 1808) The FBI has dodged discovery, intentionally misled and outright lied in many cases to cover its tracks. Release of inactive National Security Letters gives us a glimpse of how the world of deception works. 

One of the FBI’s most secretive tactics, under which it’s allowed to send a tech company a letter that demands data on a user—and then force that company to stay quiet about the whole thing—is now a lot more public.

Yahoo has, for the first time, published three National Security Letters. NSLs are used by the FBI to get information, and they’re particularly controversial because they don’t require a warrant or allow the recipient to acknowledge them. But, thanks to the USA Freedom Act, signed into law almost exactly a year ago, the FBI periodically must reconfirm that an NSL’s gag order is still relevant.

The fact that Yahoo published these three indicates the NSLs refer to cases that have concluded. Only a handful of NSLs have ever been published, meaning it’s impossible for the public to have a good sense of how often they’re sent.

The three letters follow a clear pattern. The first two are dated March 29 and August 1 of 2013, and both by agents in Dallas. The third was sent just May 29, 2015 by an agent in Charlotte, North Carolina. All three ask for information on a single, presumably different, owner of a yahoo.com email address.

“Our understanding is that the vast majority of NSLs of these kind that are issued go to tech companies, and that it’s a basic tool that the FBI uses to start investigations involving people’s communications,” Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Vocativ. He added that there are other standard forms of NSLs for other industries, like banks and travel agencies.

What’s most revealing about the Yahoo letters is the scope of information they demand. All ask for “electronic communications transactional records,” which is to be expected from an NSL. But each letter includes an attachment showing just what that phrase is supposed to mean—something that hasn’t been public since a controversial NSL from 2004.

In short, it’s practically anything the FBI could consider metadata, as asking for a user’s actual emails or chats would require a warrant. Everything else, though, is fair game, and includes the dates an account opened, the IP addresses used to log in, any physical address or phone number associated with the account, the credit card number it used to pay for any service, any listed aliases—pretty much anything a user gives when they create an account. Metadata also includes email header information, so with whom an account was communicating along with the associated subject line.

Each wanted essentially all information, save the actual contents of emails and chats, associated with a single Yahoo email address. (Presumably they were after different addresses, though the account name is redacted in each case.)

Further down, the letter details to the extent to which Yahoo is instructed to act as if nothing has happened. “While fulfilling your obligations under this letter, please do not disable, suspend, lock, cancel, or interrupt service to the above-described subscriber(s) or accounts. A service interruption or degradation may alert the subscriber(s)/account user(s) that investigative action is being taken.” It further prohibits anyone with knowledge of the letter “from disclosing this letter, other than to those to whom disclosure is necessary to comply.”

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Secret Text In Senate Bill Would Give FBI Warrantless Access To Email Records

TN Note: The FBI simply refuses to stop its relentless pursuit of total data domination over U.S. citizens. With any setback, they drop out of the public’s scrutiny and then come charging  back with stunts like this. Remember, however, that every step taken by every intel operation in the U.S. is micro-managed by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) who is currently James R. Clapper.

 

A provision snuck into the still-secret text of the Senate’s annual intelligence authorization would give the FBI the ability to demand individuals’ email data and possibly web-surfing history from their service providers without a warrant and in complete secrecy.

If passed, the change would expand the reach of the FBI’s already highly controversial national security letters. The FBI is currently allowed to get certain types of information with NSLs — most commonly, information about the name, address, and call data associated with a phone number or details about a bank account.

Since a 2008 Justice Department legal opinion, the FBI has not been allowed to use NSLs to demand “electronic communication transactional records,” such as email subject lines and other metadata, or URLs visited.

The spy bill passed the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, with the provision in it. The lone no vote came from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who wrote in a statement that one of the bill’s provisions “would allow any FBI field office to demand email records without a court order, a major expansion of federal surveillance powers.”

Wyden did not disclose exactly what the provision would allow, but his spokesperson suggested it might go beyond email records to things like web-surfing histories and other information about online behavior. “Senator Wyden is concerned it could be read that way,” Keith Chu said.

It’s unclear how or when the provision was added, although Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., — the committee’s chairman — and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., have both offered bills in the past that would address what the FBI calls a gap and privacy advocates consider a serious threat to civil liberties.

“At this point, it should go without saying that the information the FBI wants to include in the statue is extremely revealing — URLs, for example, may reveal the content of a website that users have visited, their location, and so on,” Andrew Crocker, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in an email to The Intercept.

“And it’s particularly sneaky because this bill is debated behind closed doors,” Robyn Greene, policy counsel at the Open Technology Institute, said in an interview.

In February, FBI Director James Comey testified during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats that the FBI’s inability to get email records with NSLs was a “typo” — and that fixing it was one of the FBI’s top legislative priorities.

Greene warned at the time: “Unless we push back against Comey now, before you know it, the long slow push for an [electronic communication transactional records] fix may just be unstoppable.”

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Giant Tech Lobbyists Seek To Gut America’s Strongest Biometric Privacy Law

TN Note: The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act is under attack. Rumors are still circulating, but fingers are being pointed at Google and Facebook lobbyists who are working behind the scenes. 

For years, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act has been a headache for any tech company working with facial recognition. It’s a simple law, requiring a person’s explicit consent before a company can make a biometric scan of their body. In the eight years since the law was first passed, those scans have become a central part of products like Google Photos, Snapchat filters, and Facebook’s photo-tagging system. All three companies are currently facing lawsuits for allegedly violating the Illinois law, producing biometric face prints without notifying Illinois citizens.

Now, Illinois’ law is facing sudden and quiet changes that would dramatically reduce its power.

Yesterday, Illinois State Senator Terry Link quietly proposed a revision to the biometrics act, attached to a long-delayed bill concerning unclaimed property procedures. Under Link’s revisions, the bill would be limited to “data resulting from an in-person process whereby a part of the body is traversed by a detector or an electronic beam.” That conveniently rules out scans from preexisting photography, and — if the revisions become law — would end all three lawsuits in a single stroke.

The property bill has been working its way through the legislature since February, and it’s unclear why the biometric amendment was added now — but the timing has led many observers to be suspicious. Today is the last full session before the legislature goes into recess for Memorial Day, and many legislators may already be understaffed as a result. It’s the ideal time to rush through legislation.

Many of the plaintiffs suspect Google or Facebook to be behind the last-minute proposal to change the law. “We believe that Facebook is a lobbyist that is a part of this,” said Chris Dore, an Edelson partner who is working on the lawsuit against Facebook’s photo-tagging system. “The changes that have been proposed certainly mirror the arguments that have been made in our case.” Facebook’s most recent motion to dismiss confirms this impression, devoting an entire section to the argument that the Illinois law does not apply to information derived from photographs.

In a statement to The Verge, Facebook applauded the amendment, pointing out that State Senator Link originally introduced the Biometric Information Privacy Act in 2008. “We appreciate Sen. Link’s effort to clarify the scope of the law he authored,” a Facebook representative said. Google did not respond to a request for comment.

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