8 Things You Wouldn’t Think Are Spying On You, But Are (1 Viewer)

wizehop

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http://theantimedia.org/8-things-you-wouldnt-think-are-spying-on-you/

Jake Anderson
April 3, 2015


(ANTIMEDIA) The next time you take a trip to the mall, make sure you give those mannequins a big smile. The surveillance industry’s latest recruit—joining the ranks of the Statue of Liberty, vending machines, Kinect, and a litany of other seemingly innocuous retail products—is store mannequins. The $245 billion dollar luxury goods industry currently avails itself of five companies in Europe and the U.S. that use the EyeSee polystyrene frame mannequins, whose eyes are equipped with police grade face-recognition cameras.


More than just surveillance cameras

Most shoppers think store cameras are just used to detect and deter shoplifters, but now some stores are tracking shoppers to gather information about target markets, and what products shoppers like and don’t like.

Shopperception is another high-tech company offering this type of technology, and it’s being used at large retailers like Walmart. This technology uses motion-sensor cameras placed in the eyes of mannequins. These cameras come equipped with facial recognition software and track customers’ demographics, what they purchase, and how long it takes consumers to buy certain items.

Another popular technology uses heat maps that are put on top of security camera images to see what items customers are drawn to the most. Different colors like orange or red detect interest in a product; this is determined by the length of time the consumer has stood in front of and handled the product.

Questions of privacy

Although shopper surveillance devices hidden in a mannequin’s eyes are not viewed as a privacy violation by many, some retailers are upping the ante and have begun tracking customers via information from their cell phones. Many see this as an invasion of privacy.

But retailers like Nordstrom, who use WiFi signals from customers’ cell phones to track shopping habits, argue that it is a great way to learn about customer habits and how they can improve the services offered in the retail setting.

New privacy laws and code-of-conduct agreements are governing the use of retail surveillance practices. These agreements are designed to protect customers, while also allowing retailers to collect data for marketing reasons.

Among consumers, cell phone tracking has proven the most troublesome, and many feel this practice should only be conducted with full disclosure and permission given by the consumer. This is especially important because shoppers don’t know how the tracking information is stored, used and sold. With recent disclosures regarding corporate and government collusion in data mining operations, the motives and ethics behind targeted marketing must be reexamined.

The following are also involved in feeding the 100 billion dollar data mining industry:

State of Liberty

surveillance-state-300x157.jpg
AntiMedia CC 3.0

That’s right, Lady Liberty, the monolithic structure that greets our poor, tired, huddled masses, is part of Big Brother’s surveillance enterprise. Actually, it has been since 2002, when early face-recognition software was installed. Since then, the technology has evolved and so has the amount of money infused into the surveillance industry. In 2012, contractor Total Recall Corp. outfitted our fair lady with FaceVACS-VideoScan software, which tracks millions of New Yorkers’ faces in real-time, pinpointing race, gender, ethnicity, age, and even “client behavior.”

There’s certainly a bit of irony in the government using a larger than life symbol of liberty and democracy for arguably unconstitutional domestic surveillance practices.

Vending Machines

In Tulsa, a vending machine robbery was solved after the criminals’ faces were captured on a camera situated inside. The cameras are owned and installed by the vending machine companies themselves. The purpose – besides law enforcement – is unknown but is likely related to target market research.

Kinect

Everybody knows that Kinect, the motion sensing console featured in millions of family living rooms, has a camera. Of course it does, that’s how it senses your movements, but what if you found out that not only is Kinect recording and storing your activity, it may also be recording and storing the conversations you have while you’re playing — and even while it’s turned off?

Microsoft officially denies that Kinect records conversations, but then in the same sentence they brag about the device’s ability to read your heartbeat and recognize individual voices!

Billboards

The company Immersive Labs has created software for digital billboards that allows them to watch your face and then tailor a specific ad based on your facial features.

Jell-O, Adidas and Kraft

Jell-O, Adidas and Kraft all use facial recognition software in supermarkets to help them craft more effective TV commercials. The creepiest part of this is the cameras are actually linked up to Facebook as well, so the company could hypothetically couple their video surveillance with social media profiles for an even juicier data grab.

The Big Bang Theory

As of April 2013, Verizon had applied to patent a new cable box that uses infrared cameras and microphones totrack the activities of viewers during blocks of The Big Bang Theory.

The City of Seattle

A new apparatus that is capable of hi-tech surveillance (and more) will be installed at many of the major intersections in downtown Seattle. So what, all cities have surveillance, right? Well, rumor has it that there is a new technology being used here that involves triangulating our cell phones, so that we essentially become rogue devices.

This article (8 Things You Wouldn’t Think Are Spying On You, But Are) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TheAntiMedia.org. Tune in to the Anti-Media radio show Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Help us fix our typos:[email protected].
 
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Matt Derrick

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"so that we all become rogue devices" is an incredibly vague statement. Being an IT guy, I know what a 'rogue device' is, but what does that mean in that sentence? It doesn't make any sense, and gives me the feeling that the author used that line just to scare people.

I'm certainly pro privacy, but the quality of some of these articles make the movement look bad.
 

Tude

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I've been following the hacked nanny cams - scary stuff - news show this morning was answering reporter questions and it was brought up that do not (I never do anyway) use the default password for one thing- http://www.people.com/article/nanny-cam-hack-family-finds-images-childs-crib-online

The details sound like something straight out of Poltergeist, but this is real life: A Minnesota family said the "nanny cam" in their child's nursery was hacked, emitting strange music at will, and images from it were posted online.

A Rochester, Minnesota, mom, who chose to remain anonymous, told KTTC in a Friday report that they first noticed something wrong with the Foscam nursery camera after it began playing strange music at night.

She said they were able to track the offending IP address through the camera's software back to Amsterdam. The IP address had a link with it, to a site with "thousands and thousands" of images inside people's homes, including of their child's crib.

"There's at least fifteen different countries listed and it's not just nurseries – it's people's living rooms, their bedrooms, their kitchens," the mom said. "Every place that people think is sacred and private in their home is being accessed."

What's worse, the hackers could allegedly control the camera. The family faced the camera toward a wall, and in a few hours found it was facing the closet.
 

Matt Derrick

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The last paragraph fails to mention that the angle of the camera could be changed, so that's a bit misleading.

Also, that article is clearly a situation of a bunch of idiot yuppies that don't understand technology. "Duh, what's a default password? I'll just face it towards the wall instead". The device is obviously connected online (how else would you watch it) so these idiots get what they deserve.
 

autumn

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"so that we all become rogue devices" is an incredibly vague statement. Being an IT guy, I know what a 'rogue device' is, but what does that mean in that sentence? It doesn't make any sense, and gives me the feeling that the author used that line just to scare people.

I'm certainly pro privacy, but the quality of some of these articles make the movement look bad.
Yeah its a load of crap. Facial recognition isn't there yet. There's a really interesting defcon talk by a guy whose been working in the security industry for twenty years. Casinos have the best facial recognition systems in the world, which they pay millions of dollars for, and they're still practically useless. The problem is that in order to recognize faces, you need very expensive very high resolution cameras, millions of dollars worth of storage, and even then, the best software has a fourty percent mismatch rate.

Facial DETECTION is there, but really easy to fool with a tiny amount of makeup or face paint.

Even with the NSAs fancy new data center, they don't have the millions of highres cameras and unlimited manpower it would require to keep tabs on just one city.

As far as tracking demographics goes, that's bullshit too. Even accounting for lighting, facial recognition software works in greyscale. It can't even tell the difference between races, let alone male or female. Currently, it works by observing your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, interpupilary distance and the distance between your forehead and eyebrows. It has no ability to detect race or gender because that would infinitely complicate this otherwise simple, fallible, fetus of a technology.
 
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Jaguwar

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It can't even tell the difference between races, let alone male or female. [...] It has no ability to detect race or gender because that would infinitely complicate this otherwise simple, fallible, fetus of a technology.
It doesn't need to, all it needs is a reasonable pool of suspects, and a little detective work to narrow that firm further ("Do you know so and so? Any idea where they were on such a day?" or even more simply "Oh they were on vacation and couldn't have done it")

Of course, people are not only arrested but SENTENCED on a regular basis with even less information all the time. While I'm willing (even eager) to embrace the idea that the technology isn't yet at a point where we could trust it for removing "reasonable doubt", the point of most of this stuff is data mining, not criminal prosecution, and the tech standards for THAT are much lower. Nonetheless, spying is spying and in that sense this is, indeed, discouraging.
 

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