Review Category : Security News

Update: Maryland Holding Off on Audio Surveillance on Trains And Buses For Near Future

finishedserviceMaryland’s acting transportation chief has chosen to scrap an internal proposal to use listening devices on its buses and trains for recording conversations of passengers and employees, citing concerns about privacy as the motivating factor in his decision. After inquiries from the Baltimore Sun Monday about reports of the Maryland Transportation Authority’s top official asking for the opinion of the state’s Attorney General’s office on the legality of this surveillance, acting Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley ordered the request withdrawn and stated,

“It certainly should have been vetted at the department level and it was not.” “We have not weighed the issues we should weigh before making a decision like this.”

Staley said the question of surveillance was raised legally before it could be discussed thoroughly policy-wise and that she will now spend time deciding whether to move forward with the program. By backing off the proposal, Swaim-Staley may avert a confrontation with the General Assembly. Some legislators have already expressed the thought that the plan would have led to opposition legislation almost immediately. (Via the Baltimore Sun)


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Apollo 11 Tapes Being Refurbished 40 Years Later Due to NASA Blunder

setupcamera_540 In a surprising revelation Thursday, NASA acknowledged that they treated one of the iconic recordings in American history like just another tape, erasing the Apollo 11 moon footage years ago in an effort to reuse the tape. Luckily for NASA, Hollywood is the land of second chances, and that is exactly what the agency is getting.

Lowry Digital, of Burbank Calif., is digitally sharpening and cleaning up the ghostly, grainy footage of the moon landing, making it even better than what TV viewers saw on July 20, 1969. Even more remarkable about their effort is that they are working with only four copies of the landing that NASA was able to pick up from across the world. In a move that seems eerily similar to re-releasing a film on its anniversary as a means of promotion, the first group of restored footage was released just in time for the 40th anniversary of the landing.

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Maryland's MTA Wants to Install Audio Surveillance on Buses and Trains

5012The Maryland Transit Administration may install audio surveillance equipment on its buses and trains to record conversations of passengers and employees, according to a letter sent by the organization to Maryland’s Attorney General’s Office.

The document searches for legal guidance on whether installing this equipment would fall under the jurisdiction of Maryland’s anti-wiretapping law. MTA Administrator Paul J. Wiedefeld noted in the letter that the MTA has already taken the step of using video cameras for security aboard its vehicles and writes, “As part of MTA’s ongoing efforts to deter criminal activity and mitigate other dangerous situations on board its vehicles, Agency management has considered adding audio recording equipment to the video recording technology now in use throughout its fleet.”

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GPS Electronic Monitoring Becoming Tool in Fight Against Domestic Abuse

rhianna_02Last month, Texas joined a coalition of seventeen states that protect victims of domestic violence and interpersonal violence by using GPS electronic monitoring systems. This tracking system enables authorities to both monitor a convicted offender and to realize when he or she goes to certain locations of interests, such as a victim’s home or place of employment.

Diane Rosenfeld, who is a Harvard Law lecturer and a very important figure in the campaign to get GPS electronic monitoring used in many states, stated in an interview that the system can be a key tool in the fight against domestic violence due to its ability to establish boundaries when they are broken, and because warning could be given to the victim if need be.

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GPS Being Used to Save Pine Trees Killed by Beetles

whitebark-pine-trunks-702938-swWe’ve seen GPS tracking systems being used for some very unusual purposes, but this is the first time we’ve seen GPS used to help save the environment, and in this case – trees. Foresters in Jackson, Wyoming, have decided they will begin using GPS to track the damage to whitebark pine trees being killed by beetles. U.S. Forest Service officials are using a budget of $150,00 to start the survey of beetle damage in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The forest officially contains about 400,000 acres of whitebark pine, but the species has begin to decline due to beetle attacks. The process will begin with mapping through an aerial survey, with the survey then being used to map the pine population and to help lay out the area that will be used for the GPS. This work should be completed by next spring. Foresters specifically want to know where the damage is worst, and why some pockets of pines appear to be unaffected.

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GPS Fleet Tracking Growing Strong in the Middle East

82765-imageSmart Infrastructure, a highly influential IT provider based in Ryadh, Saudi Arabia, is making a difference in the day-to-day operations of the nation’s companies and corporations with the new GPS Fleet Software developed by High-Tech Solutions. HTS is the Dubai based specialist for GPS vehicle tracking and fleet solutions. The GPS Fleet Software allows companies and corporations to pinpoint the exact position of their vehicles. It does this through a GPS black box that sends the location of the vehicle position to a head office where an operator can observe and control vehicles as they see fit. The Fleet Software also generates a logbook and data about driving times and driving behavior. This product has become particularly popular in Saudi Arabia, but it is also being used by companies in the Middle East in countries such as Quater, as well as Europe.
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Surveillance Cameras Help Avoid Malpractice Claims

37-starface1With five stars more than the flag, the true face of a teenage girl is finally revealed.

Claiming that she had mistakenly been tattooed with 56 stars on her face, 18 year old Kimberly Valminck recently admitted that she had lied about the whole ordeal. Valminck blamed tattoo artist, Toumaniantz, for ruining her face and turning her into a “freak” while she was asleep under his needle. Toumaniantz adamantly insisted that she had asked for the stars despite what Valminck was telling her parents and the press. Valminck promised to sue Toumaniantz for 9000 euros, the cost of the surgery needed to remove the stars. Even though Toumaniantz maintained that she had asked for the stars, he agreed to pay for half of the surgery because he felt bad that his client was so unsatisfied.

Recently, Valminck said that she had indeed asked him for the 56 various size and shaped stars to be tattooed on her face and that she was awake the whole time he tattooed them onto her face. She made the whole story up because when she showed her father he was “furious.”

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New York State Outlaws GPS Tracking of Criminal Suspects Without a Warrant

otlawgpsThe New York State Court of Appeals recently issued a ruling baring police from tracking the cars of criminal suspects with GPS systems unless a warrant is first obtained from a judge. The ruling was set in motion by a case in Albany County where the state police believed a man may have been committing burglaries. The GPS device was used to place the suspects car at the scene of a shopping center burglary. However, Chief Judge John Lippman ruled that this type of GPS tracking violated the state Constitution.

In the majority opinion, Lippman wrote that “It is quite clear that this would not, and indeed, realistically could not be done without GPS and this dragnet use of of this technology at the sole discretion of law enforcement authorities to pry into the details of people’s daily lives is not consistent with the values at the core of the state Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable searches.”

A New York State attorney who had been involved in a similar case with a man who was tracked by a GPS device praised the verdict as a strong one. William Tendy, a native of Poughkeepsie, stated that “The decision makes good sense; it’s well-reasoned.” He also said that the ruling was a good sign, as law enforcement agencies are usually believed to be slow in addressing advancements in technology that are seen as eroding citizens privacy.

Ulster County D.A. Holley Carnight, who said that GPS devices are sometimes used in law enforcement cases in the county, particularly in drug investigations, was one law enforcement official who disagreed with the Court of Appeals ruling. He believes that GPS tracking does not give enough information on drivers to be an infringement on privacy.

“It doesn’t tell you who the driver is or what he’s doing, so I don’t think the situation is as sinister as the majority seems to believe,” Carnight said.

The New York State Court of Appeals may have the state’s citizens best interests at heart, but with this ruling, law enforcement may face a major set back in fighting crime. The vehicle GPS tracking systems that law enforcement uses in both New York and other states at this moment in time are very simple and have a clear goal: to track and stop suspected criminals and in doing so, protect communities. Our pinion is that there is no “Big Brother” effect at work here with the trackers. Rather, it is just law enforcement serving and protecting, as it’s their duty to do so.

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GPS Tracking Device Used to Fight the War on Drugs

airportcopsThe buzz of people waiting to board the plane drowns out the heavy breathing of the suspicious looking people clutching their fists hoping to release some tension in their body.  Their darting eyes screen the room for any threats as they walk through security.  They hold their breath praying that nothing goes wrong and close their eyes as they take their first step under the beams of metal. Then it comes, the beautiful, refreshing sound of absolutely nothing.  No alarms.  No flashing lights.  Plain and utterly priceless nothing.  Ignorant is everyone to the fact that another drug dealer just successfully smuggled more drugs into the country.

According to an article written in Stuff.co.nz,  an astounding 80% of drugs smuggled into New Zealand go undetected every year, as reported by the National Drug Intelligence Bureau, and changes need to be made to substantially lower that number.

Authorities are trying to respond to the surprisingly high number of successful transportation of illegal drugs into New Zealand every year by implementing a new technology.  While the exact methodology of how these devices could be used to prevent drug trafficking cannot be released, authorities have confirmed that they need to implement GPS tracking devices in order to track intercepted shipments. However, there are some obstacles to overcome before any real progress can be made.

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