Xbox One will be able to see your kids’ privates
Source: Adan Salazar
If the successes of its past game console launches are any indicator, sales of Microsoft’s latest effort – set to hit the market November 22 – can be expected to be strong. However, this console, which seeks to be your living room’s all-in-one home entertainment unit, is immensely different from the rest.
In line with the pervading surveillance culture, where microphones and cameras embedded within tablets, cell phones, laptops, light posts, vehicles and other devices watch and listen intently, Microsoft is making sure to load its gaming device with the latest spy tech goodies, which they claim will enhance users’ experiences.
But the most disturbing and worrisome Xbox One/Big Brother gossip is not that Xbox maker Microsoft was reportedly involved in the NSA PRISM scandal, or that the console’s Kinect peripheral sits listening with a multi-microphone array 24/7 for voice commands, or that its noise-isolation capabilities enable it to distinguish your voice among a crowd of your friends.
The most startling revelation is that the new Kinect device, to be sold in combination with the XBox One, at times has the ability to map out in high-definition the shape of genitalia, something fine and dandy for consenting adults, but which could be a source of consternation for parents concerned over the privacy of their kids’ junk.
The cameras aren’t exactly designed to scope out your man or womanhood; it just happens that way because the technology simply works too well, says Fast Company writer Mark Wilson.
In viewing a demo of the new Kinect from Microsoft Research, Wilson says he noticed something unmistakable that gave him cause for concern. “… I noticed, alongside the intricacies of a hoodie and jeans–and there’s no graceful way to put this–a dong.”
“The Kinect hardware/software is now so effective at deciphering the bumps and folds of clothing,” says Wilson, “that it can pinpoint a man’s package down to its pant leg, carving out the distinctive folds in our trousers that society, backed by a bit of shadowy denim, has become remarkable at ignoring.”
It was already widely known that the new Kinect’s sensors would be highly invasive, but this should add a whole new level of unease for parents who buy their kids all the latest, trendiest gadgets.
For instance, it was already known that the Kinect’s high-definition camera creates a model of your human skeleton and can track you moving about in your home, in addition to being able to monitor your heart rate in order to gauge your level of enjoyment.
And, it was already known that the Kinect will carefully study users’ eye movements and facial expressions in order to “reward” them with meaningless “virtual rewards” like avatars, in addition to creating profiles of individuals’ likes and dislikes, allowing it to serve up customized ads, services, or shows it thinks users might like.
The fact that Microsoft’s already had to revamp a few Xbox One features means more people are becoming concerned with privacy. It’s had to revise the requirement of a permanent Internet connection, as well as its decision to require the Kinect, both of which were initially needed for the console to function.
As Wilson notes, allowing the new Kinect into your living room is on par with inviting one of the TSA’s millimeter wave scanners or backscatter X-ray machines into your home. But in contrast to the somewhat voluntary nature of the TSA’s prying eyes, the most unnerving thing about Kinect’s genitalia-viewing potential is that the gaming market’s target audience is primarily children and most will not know they can “opt-out.”
Nevertheless, Wilson approaches his find optimistically, saying “a small percentage of Xbox owners may ever have such an experience. This topographical view is essentially a debug mode (I believe, accessible to gamers, but far from standard), and most Kinect experiences will likely render you as a bubbly asexual cartoon or a character with stock anatomy, smoothing over everything from hoodie strings to the overzealous nipples.”
However, anxieties over Microsoft’s alleged participation in setting up backdoors for the NSA should still leave gamers and parents wary of next generation consoles’ supposed technological advancements.
Source: Jonathan Benson
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently in the process of trying to ram through passage of a new “modernization” rule for conventional poultry production that would eliminate a large percentage of USDA inspectors and speed up the factory production process. And existing safeguards, as minimally effective as they currently are, would also be eroded, allowing for more hidden feces, pus, bacteria and chemical contaminants to persist in conventional chicken and turkey meat.
Even though salmonella rates as detected in meat and poultry have been steadily dropping year after year in the U.S., roughly the same numbers of people seem to be getting infected with the pathogen annually. The primary reason for this statistical anomaly appears to be that the current testing methods authorized by the USDA for meat and poultry are wholly inadequate and outdated and actually cover up the presence of contaminants borne on factory farms and in processing plants.
But a whole new set of guidelines being proposed by the USDA will make things even worse by allowing companies to self-inspect themselves, as well as use an even more aggressive barrage of chemicals to treat their tainted meat before selling it to consumers. This is good news for the factory poultry industry, of course, which is expected to cut its costs by about $250 million a year, thanks to its buddies at the USDA, but it’s bad news for consumers who will be subjected to all the toxic consequences.
If you have ever seen any of the shocking, undercover footage showing how chickens, turkeys and other animals are treated at factory farms, then you already know the type of filth and abuse to which these poor animals are routinely subjected. Because of their horrific living conditions, factory farm animals are often teeming with harmful pathogens, which is why their meat has to undergo chemical treatments in the first place before being packaged and served on dinner tables — it is a truly disgusting process, to say the least.
According to documented reports, after the animals are slaughtered, conventional poultry is essentially hung on long conveyor lines and sprayed, bathed and injected with all sorts of chemical solutions, including chlorine bleach, before ultimately being hauled off to the supermarket. These chemical solutions are, of course, carefully designed to kill any bacteria and render the meat “safe” for human consumption, the ultimate “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for the factory food industry, if you will.
USDA intends to throw more chemicals, less regulation at poultry industry dilemma
But like all other chemical-based solutions that compliment industrial food production, this process is ultimately failing to subdue and kill pathogens the same way that it used to back in the old days. A cohort of new scientific research recently submitted to the USDA reveals that the routine processes by which the factory food industry covers its frightful tracks are no match to a whole new generation of “superbugs” that resist these chemicals — and the USDA’s proposed solutions only further add to the problem by covering it up with even more chemicals.
“If the new rule is implemented, all chicken will be presumed to be contaminated with feces, pus, scabs, and bile and washed in a chlorine solution,” explains ChickenJustice.org. “Consumers will eat chicken with more chemical residue and contaminants. With faster production rates, workers’ injuries will increase. They will also face breathing and skin problems from constant exposure to chlorine wash. OSHA will take the next 3 years to study the impact of the faster processing lines on workers, but USDA wants to implement the rule immediately.”
To take direct action against this heinous USDA agenda for factory chicken, you can contact the White House by visiting the ChickenJustice.org “Take Action Now!” page:
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WASHINGTON (AP) – Government agents in 74 countries demanded information on about 38,000 Facebook users in the first half of this year, with about half the orders coming from authorities in the United States, the company said Tuesday.
The social-networking giant is the latest technology company to release figures on how often governments seek information about its customers. Microsoft and Google have done the same.
As with the other companies, it’s hard to discern much from Facebook’s data, besides the fact that, as users around the globe flocked to the world’s largest social network, police and intelligence agencies followed.
Facebook and Twitter have become organizing platforms for activists and, as such, have become targets for governments. During anti-government protests in Turkey in May and June, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called social media “the worst menace to society.”
At the time, Facebook denied it provided information about protest organizers to the Turkish government.
Data released Tuesday show authorities in Turkey submitted 96 requests covering 173 users. Facebook said it provided some information in about 45 of those cases, but there’s no information on what was turned over and why.
“We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or vague requests,” Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel company said in a blog post. “When we are required to comply with a particular request, we frequently share only basic user information, such as name.”
Facebook and other technology companies have been criticized for helping the National Security Agency secretly collect data on customers. Federal law gives government the authority to demand data without specific warrants, and while companies can fight requests in secret court hearings, it’s an uphill battle.
Facebook turned over some data in response to about 60 percent of those requests.
It’s not clear from the Facebook data how many of the roughly 26,000 government requests on 38,000 users were for law-enforcement purposes and how many were for intelligence gathering.
Technology and government officials have said criminal investigations are far more common than national security matters as a justification for demanding information from companies.
The numbers are imprecise because the federal government forbids companies from revealing how many times they’ve been ordered to turn over information about their customers. Facebook released only a range of figures for the United States.
The company said it planned to start releasing these figures regularly.
A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian’s earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisasurveillance court oversight.
The files shed light on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10.
“I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email”.
US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden’s assertion: “He’s lying. It’s impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.”
But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.
XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA’s “widest reaching” system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”, including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as theirmetadata.
Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing “real-time” interception of an individual’s internet activity.
Under US law, the NSA is required to obtain an individualized Fisawarrant only if the target of their surveillance is a ‘US person’, though no such warrant is required for intercepting the communications of Americans with foreign targets. But XKeyscore provides the technological capability, if not the legal authority, to target even US persons for extensive electronic surveillance without a warrant provided that some identifying information, such as their email or IP address, is known to the analyst.
One training slide illustrates the digital activity constantly being collected by XKeyscore and the analyst’s ability to query the databases at any time.
The purpose of XKeyscore is to allow analysts to search the metadata as well as the content of emails and other internet activity, such as browser history, even when there is no known email account (a “selector” in NSAparlance) associated with the individual being targeted.
Analysts can also search by name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used.
One document notes that this is because “strong selection [search by email address] itself gives us only a very limited capability” because “a large amount of time spent on the web is performing actions that are anonymous.”
The NSA documents assert that by 2008, 300 terrorists had been captured using intelligence from XKeyscore.
Analysts are warned that searching the full database for content will yield too many results to sift through. Instead they are advised to use themetadata also stored in the databases to narrow down what to review.
A slide entitled “plug-ins” in a December 2012 document describes the various fields of information that can be searched. It includes “every email address seen in a session by both username and domain”, “every phone number seen in a session (eg address book entries or signature block)” and user activity – “the webmail and chat activity to include username, buddylist, machine specific cookies etc”.
In a second Guardian interview in June, Snowden elaborated on his statement about being able to read any individual’s email if he had their email address. He said the claim was based in part on the email search capabilities of XKeyscore, which Snowden says he was authorized to use while working as a Booz Allen contractor for the NSA.
One top-secret document describes how the program “searches within bodies of emails, webpages and documents”, including the “To, From, CC, BCC lines” and the ‘Contact Us’ pages on websites”.
To search for emails, an analyst using XKS enters the individual’s email address into a simple online search form, along with the “justification” for the search and the time period for which the emails are sought.