Tag Archives: Program

India Is Planning a Huge China-Style Facial Recognition Program

India Is Planning a Huge China-Style Facial Recognition Program(Bloomberg) — India is planning to set up one of the world’s largest facial recognition systems, potentially a lucrative opportunity for surveillance companies and a nightmare for privacy advocates who fear it will lead to a Chinese-style Orwellian state.Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will open bids next month to build a system to centralize facial recognition data captured through surveillance cameras across India. It would link up with databases containing records for everything from passports to fingerprints to help India’s depleted police force identify criminals, missing persons and dead bodies.The government says the move is designed to help one of the world’s most understaffed police forces, which has one officer for every 724 citizens — well below global norms. It also could be a boon for companies: TechSci Research estimates India’s facial recognition market will grow sixfold by 2024 to $ 4.3 billion, nearly on par with China.But the project is also ringing alarm bells in a nation with no data privacy laws and a government that just shut down the internet for the last seven weeks in the key state of Kashmir to prevent unrest. While India is still far from implementing a system that matches China’s ability to use technology to control the population, the lack of proper safeguards opens the door for abuses.“We’re the only functional democracy which will set up such as system without any data protection or privacy laws,” said Apar Gupta, a Delhi-based lawyer and executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, a non-profit group whose members successfully lobbied the government in 2015 to ensure net neutrality and reject platforms like Facebook Inc.’s Free Basics. “It’s like a gold rush for companies seeking large unprotected databases.”Black MarketA draft data protection bill presented to the government last year still hasn’t been approved by the cabinet or introduced into parliament. The country has already had problems implementing Aadhaar, one of the world’s biggest biometric databases linking everything from bank accounts to income tax filings, which been plagued by reports of data leaks and the growth of a black market for personal information.So far, not much is known about which companies might bid on the facial-recognition system. Minutes of a meeting with potential bidders, obtained by the Internet Freedom Foundation through a right to information request, showed unidentified companies sought clarifications on integrating facial recognition data with state databases and whether it should be able to identify people with plastic surgery.Vasudha Gupta, a spokeswoman for the Home Ministry, didn’t respond to an email seeking comments about the system.For some in the police force, the system will be an essential tool to fight crime if implemented properly. India has seen more than 100 terrorist attacks in the last three decades, including one on luxury hotels and a train station in Mumbai that killed 166 people in 2008.‘Powerful Tool’Nilabh Kishore, who headed a unit fighting organized crime in the state of Punjab until last year, had success against gangsters after he set up a system linking data from police stations across the state.“A system that can identify criminals is invaluable — facial recognition is a powerful tool,” said Kishore, who is now deputy inspector general of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. “But human intentions are also very important. You can make the best of technology, but if human intentions are wrong it can be a tool for misuse.”That’s particularly a worry for vulnerable minority groups that have long faced discrimination in India. Lower castes and tribals account for about a quarter of the population but constitute 34% of India’s prisoners, according to the National Dalit Movement for Justice.In January, the Delhi High Court said it was “unacceptable“ that facial recognition had not helped trace any of the 5,000 children missing from the city in three years. Earlier this month, photos and phone numbers from a Madurai city police facial recognition database in the southern state of Tamil Nadu were leaked online.Surveillance ThreatThe threat of foreign spying is also persistent. Last month a federal government think tank criticized the local administration in Delhi for hiring the Indian arm of Chinese firm Hikvision to set up 150,000 CCTVs, saying the move could spur illegal hacking and data leaks to the Chinese government.Foreign surveillance companies operating in India include CP Plus, Dahua, Panasonic Corp., Bosch Security Systems, Honeywell International Inc., and D-Link India Ltd. Many Indian companies won’t be able to bid on the facial-recognition system because the current tender requires them to meet standards established by the U.S. National Institute of Science and Technology, according to Atul Rai, chief executive officer of Staqu Technologies, an Indian startup.Rai, whose company has developed facial recognition for eight local police forces, said India doesn’t have the same quality cameras as China — making it harder to meet the goal of being able to identify any person with an integrated system. He also said it would be more difficult to implement a national network in India because state governments are responsible for law and order under its constitution.“But if this one happens in line with the government’s plan, it should be a China-like system,” Rai said. “Any powerful country wants to be like China when it comes to using technology to monitor people — even western countries.”\–With assistance from Santosh Kumar.To contact the reporter on this story: Archana Chaudhary in New Delhi at achaudhary2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Poll: Majority Backs Banning Assault-Style Rifles, Opposes Federal Gun-Confiscation Program

Poll: Majority Backs Banning Assault-Style Rifles, Opposes Federal Gun-Confiscation ProgramA majority of Americans supports banning the future sale of assault-style rifles but is against a federal gun-confiscation program that would force current owners to forfeit such weapons, according to a new Monmouth University poll.About 56 percent of respondents in the Monmouth poll supported banning assault-style weapons, while 38 percent opposed it. Only 43 percent of respondents supported a "mandatory buyback program," in which the federal government would confiscate such weapons from current owners, while 53 percent of respondents opposed such a program.“An assault weapons sales ban has majority support but there are deep pockets of opposition among gun-owning Americans," said poll director Patrick Murray. "There is even greater opposition to programs that would try to take these weapons out of the hands of people who already own them.”Other gun-control measures tested in the poll garnered more significant bipartisan support. 83 percent of those polled said they support comprehensive background checks for gun purchases. About 75 percent of respondents, including 59 percent of those who are NRA members, said they support "red-flag laws," which allow those close to an individual, such as family members, to petition a court to temporarily restrict the individual's access to firearms if they believe the he poses a threat of violence. 62 percent also said they support establishing a national gun registry, a database of all guns in the U.S.The poll of 800 American adults was conducted by telephone between August 16 and August 20, several weeks after a gunman opened fire in an El Paso, Texas Walmart, killing 22, and another shooter opened fire a day later in Dayton, Ohio, killing 10.



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U.S. unveils unusual $15 million reward program targeting Iranian military group

U.S. unveils unusual $  15 million reward program targeting Iranian military groupThe goal is to get more information about the financing for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the U.S. has designated a terrorist group.



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US imposes sanctions on Iran space program

US imposes sanctions on Iran space programThe United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Iran’s space program, saying that a recent explosion on a launch pad was a sign of missile work. “The United States will not allow Iran to use its space launch program as cover to advance its ballistic missile programs,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “Iran’s August 29 attempt to launch a space launch vehicle underscores the urgency of the threat,” he said.



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Georgia's Abrams announces new voter protection program

Georgia's Abrams announces new voter protection programDemocrat Stacey Abrams, who vaulted onto the national political stage championing voting rights during an unsuccessful 2018 run for Georgia governor, announced on Tuesday that she’s launching a new multistate voter protection initiative and not running for president in 2020. Abrams revealed plans for the initiative, called Fair Fight 2020, during a speech before a labor union convention in Las Vegas that was livestreamed on Facebook. The multimillion-dollar project will staff and fund voter protection teams in battleground states across the country ahead of next year’s elections.



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Biden calls for reinstating assault weapons ban, buyback program

Biden calls for reinstating assault weapons ban, buyback programFormer vice president Joe Biden, the frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, called on Monday for reinstating a ban on assault weapons and including a buyback program to get them off the streets. In a column in The New York Times, Biden also called for stricter background checks for gun buyers and greater use of “smart-gun technology” that allows a weapon only to be fired by its authorized owner. “We have a huge problem with guns,” Biden said in the article published about a week after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, left 31 people dead.



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North Korea took $2 billion in cyberattacks to fund weapons program: U.N. report

North Korea took $  2 billion in cyberattacks to fund weapons program: U.N. reportNorth Korea has generated an estimated $ 2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction programs using “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” cyberattacks to steal from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, according to a confidential U.N. report seen by Reuters on Monday. Pyongyang also “continued to enhance its nuclear and missile programmes although it did not conduct a nuclear test or ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) launch,” said the report to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee by independent experts monitoring compliance over the past six months. The North Korean mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment on the report, which was submitted to the Security Council committee last week.



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UPDATE 1-U.S. removing Turkey from F-35 program after its Russian missile defense purchase

UPDATE 1-U.S. removing Turkey from F-35 program after its Russian missile defense purchaseThe United States said on Wednesday that it was removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program, a move that had been long threatened and expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of an advanced Russian missile defense system last week. The first parts of the S-400 air defense system were flown to the Murted military air base northwest of Ankara on Friday, sealing Turkey’s deal with Russia, which Washington had struggled for months to prevent. “The U.S. and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the program and initiate the process to formally remove Turkey from the program,” said Ellen Lord, the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.



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US kicking NATO ally Turkey out of fighter program

US kicking NATO ally Turkey out of fighter programIn a significant break with a longtime NATO ally, the Trump administration on Wednesday said Turkey can no longer be part of the American F-35 fighter jet program. The White House did not say explicitly that Turkey will be kicked out of the F-35 program, but the Pentagon was expected to do so. Turkey makes numerous components for the stealth aircraft, which is sold internationally.



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Supreme Court to rule on Trump bid to end 'dreamers' program

Supreme Court to rule on Trump bid to end 'dreamers' programAdding a high-stakes immigration case to its election-year agenda, the Supreme Court said Friday it will decide whether President Donald Trump can terminate an Obama-era program shielding young migrants from deportation. The president ordered an end to the program known as DACA in 2017, sparking protests and a congressional effort to salvage it. A federal judge in Texas has declared the program is illegal, but refused to order it halted .



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