Privacy Consequences Jan 1, 2015

(Jan 1, 2015 by Steve Meyer)  A brief look into today's privacy news.
 
As the U.S. Commerce Department works with multiple stakeholders to create a voluntary code of ethics for the use of facial recognition in commerce (broadcastingcable.com/news) the vending machine of the future is already here (telegraph.co.uk/finance) boasting it's facial recognition capabilities.  Even Pizza Hut launches it's state of the art digital menu that "reads your mind" in less than 2.5 seconds (Swedish firm: Tobii Technology).  Kohls and Macys are testing low frequency technology to improve sales (AssociatedPress).
 
The facial recognition capable vending machine touts it's ability to recognize and greet a user, recall that user's preferences and even refuse to vend certain items based on that person's age, medical records, dietary requirements, or purchase history.  Another tie-in of biometrics with personal information; a major privacy threat.
 
Pizza Hut's digital menu claims to follow your eye movements as you read the menu.  Within less than 3 seconds it tells you what to order based on your subconsious eye movements.
 
Canada's supreme court rules that limited warrentless phone searches are legal.
 
The State of Iowa has proposed a mobile phone app drivers license.  This digital license can be used instead of one's physical drivers license and its as simple as pulling it up on your phone to show interested parties.  The Iowa DOT declares this will be a secure app, touted as the "identity vault app", which requires a PIN to access (InformationWeek).  No mention has been given to what a law enforcement official would do if your phone's battery expired before displaying the digital drivers license.
 
U.S. Federal Prosecuters want encrypted phone devices decrypted.  They have invoked an 18th century law, the All Writs Act, to force smart phone makers to decrypt seized devices in 2 separate cases; and judges in both cases agreed and ordered the devices decrypted by the manufacturer (theregister.co.uk).  I'm guessing there will be some fashion of back door enabled on future smart phones so that the manufacturers would be able to comply with such court orders.
 
Verizon announced it's new smart phone and communications encryption standard jointly with Cellcrypt.  Known as Verizon Voice Cypher, it allows for the decryption of any Verizon communications on iOS, Android and Blackberry devices equipped with a special app.  Law enforcement will have access to decrypt communications if they can "prove that there's a legal law enforcement reason for doing so" (BusinessWeek).
 
The U.S. Treasury Department says that many financial account hijackings could have been avoided had the financial institutions known to block transactions that came from the Tor network (Krebs).  The Constitutional Alliance uses automated technologies, including limiting certain Tor accesses, to inhibit malevolent activities in order to defend our reader's privacy.
 
Information thieves gained access to over 100 health care and pharmaceutical firms to gather merger, product, and legal action information which could help better formulate investment decisions (CNN).
 

 

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Steve Meyer is co-founder of Constitutional Alliance, an alliance of groups and individuals who support the Mission Statement. Get in touch with Steve on Twitter.