HOUSTON – An arriving passenger uses a biometric scanner at George H. W. Bush Intercontinental Airport February 1, 2008 in Houston, Texas. Under President Donald Trump, technology companies have started cashing in on a little-noticed government push to ramp up the use of biometric tools -- such as fingerprinting and iris scanners -- to track people who enter and exit the country. Silicon Valley firms that specialize in data collection are taking advantage of a provision tucked into Mr. Trump's executive order on immigration, which included his controversial travel ban, that called for the completion of a "Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System" for screening travelers entering and leaving the United States. The tracking system was mandated in a 1996 immigration law passed by Congress but never fully implemented by Trump's past three predecessors. In Trump's first months in office, federal courts blocked the sections of his original and revised immigration orders that called for a temporary travel ban on visitors from seven majority Muslim countries.
The rail industry has come up with a plan that may as well be out of a science-fiction movie to cope with growing demand and overcrowding: charging rail passengers for journeys by fingerprint or iris scan. The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the organisation representing train operators and Network Rail, claims biometric technology would enable fares to be automatically charged marking the start of an era that could radically accelerate commute times. The technology represents the next step from travellers being able to us smartphones' Bluetooth signals to open station barriers. That will be trialled on Chiltern Railways' route between London Marylebone and Oxford Parkway over the coming months. The use of digital signalling technology will also allow trains to operate closer together, cutting delay, according to the RDG.
Facebook will face a class action law suit in the wake of its privacy scandal, a US federal judge has ruled. Allegations of privacy violations emerged when it was revealed the app used a photo-scanning tool on users' images without their explicit consent. The facial recognition tool, launched in 2010, suggests names for people it identifies in photos uploaded by users. Under Illinois state law, the company could be fined $1,000 to $5,000 (£700 - £3,500) each time a person's image was used without consent. The technology was suspended for users in Europe in 2012 over privacy fears but is still live in the US and other regions worldwide.
Why the American Civil Liberties Union is calling out Amazon's facial recognition tool, and what the ACLU found when it compared photos of members of Congress to public arrest photos. A group of Amazon shareholders is pushing the tech giant to stop selling its controversial facial recognition technology to U.S. government agencies, just days after a coalition of 85 human rights, faith, and racial justice groups demanded in an open letter that Jeff Bezos' company stop marketing surveillance technology to the feds. Over the last year, the "Rekognition" technology, which has been reportedly marketed to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has come under fire from immigrants' rights groups and privacy advocates who argue that it can be misused and ultimately lead to racially biased outcomes. A test of the technology by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) showed that 28 members of Congress, mostly people of color, were incorrectly identified as police suspects. According to media reports and the ACLU, Amazon has already sold or marketed "Rekognition" to law enforcement agencies in three states.
This week's furor over FaceApp has largely centered on concerns that its Russian developers might be compelled to share the app's data with the Russian government, much as the Snowden disclosures illustrated the myriad ways in which American companies were compelled to disclose their private user data to the US government. Yet the reality is that this represents a mistaken understanding of just how the modern data trade works today and the simple fact that American universities and companies routinely make their data available to companies all across the world, including in Russia and China. In today's globalized world, data is just as globalized, with national borders no longer restricting the flow of our personal information - trend made worse by the data-hungry world of deep learning. Data brokers have long bought and sold our personal data in a shadowy world of international trade involving our most intimate and private information. The digital era has upended this explicit trade through the interlocking world of passive exchange through analytics services.