So here's the scary number: the major wireless carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and a couple little guys like U.S. Cellular and Cricket) revealed that in total, in 2011, they received 1.3 million requests for user data from law enforcement agencies. They released this information only after an inquiry by Congressman Edward J. Markey. This is the first time we've had any overarching glimpse at how (and how often) the carriers work with law enforcement.
This is a major step forward towards transparency. It received a front-page New York Times story, and certainly a fair bit of coverage elsewhere. It provides much more information than we've ever had before, especially from AT&T, which lists a few categories of requests as well as the specific (very tiny) number of requests AT&T refused to honor. But! That 1.3 million number leaves out some legitimately important information. Most important: what information is revealed, exactly, and how often do the carriers comply?
Diginfo brings us news of this Hitachi Kokusai system that can monitor video feeds from around the world in real time, scanning for a particular face. When it finds what it's looking for, it closes in to provide footage of what the person has been doing previously and what he or she is doing next.
By David HamblingPosted 01.13.2012 at 11:02 am 12 Comments
Manned surveillance missions are critical to obtaining useful intelligence. But sending a soldier into sensitive areas can often be too dangerous. Scientists are developing robots that could do the job. Last spring, the Advanced Technologies Laboratory at Lockheed Martin unveiled a prototype that uses sensors to model its environment, detect potential threats, calculate lines of sight, and locate good hiding places.
In Washington, D.C., where there are plenty of powerful people and precious places to protect, the cops have lots of high-tech tools at their disposal. But one tool, automatic license plate readers, could become much more than a crime-prevention device. D.C. police maintain the country's densest network of plate readers, and keep a three-year database of license plate locations — meaning they can track where everyone's car is, all the time, whether at the grocery store, an ammunition shop or Planned Parenthood.
As promised, Lockheed Martin finally put its SAMARAI monocopter drone on display at AUVSI's drone extravaganza in D.C. this week, for the first time flying it before a public audience as PopSci and everyone else in the air demo area looked on in awe.
The National Security Agency is, by nature, an extreme example of the e-hoarder. And as the governmental organization responsible for things like, say, gathering intelligence on such Persons of Interest as Osama bin Laden, that impulse makes sense--though once you hear the specifics, it still seems pretty incredible. In a story about the bin Laden mission, the NSA very casually dropped a number: Every six hours, the agency collects as much data as is stored in the entire Library of Congress.
The tadpole-shaped airship formerly known as STS-111, currently known as Argus One, and commonly referred to as the sperm blimp, has completed initial flight tests and is on its way to the U.S. Army’s Yuma proving ground to undergo military testing.