November 17th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

This story in Technology section of the Guardian Unlimited regarding the new biometric passports reveals that secure, hard to defraud biometric ID cards/passports are either a lot harder to make or, and I suspect this may be the case, the government has not thought it through properly.

…the UK had just begun to issue new, ultra-secure passports, incorporating tiny microchips to store the holder’s details and a digital description of their physical features (known in the jargon as biometrics). These, the argument went, would make identity theft much more difficult and pave the way for the government’s proposed ID cards in 2008 or 2009.

Today, some three million such passports have been issued, and they don’t look so secure. I am sitting with my scary computer man and we have just sucked out all the supposedly secure data and biometric information from three new passports and displayed it all on a laptop computer.

The UK Identity and Passport Service website says the new documents are protected by “an advanced digital encryption technique”. So how come we have the information? What could criminals or terrorists do with it? And what could it mean for the passports and the ID cards that are meant to follow?

And we’re expected to trust these jokers with private, confidential medical information on one big database…?

Filling the Gap Between Shoot & Shout

October 5th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

I have got to get me one of these toys!
It’s called a Silent Guardian and it:

  • Provides a zone of protection
    that saves lives and protects
  • Minimizes collateral damage
  • Provides real-time ability to
    establish intent and
    de-escalate aggression
  • Does not cause physical harm;
    prevents injury and death
  • Provides precise effects at a
    longer range than current
    less-than-lethal systems

Sounds good don’t it?

I’ll let Raytheon tell you how it works from their flyer:

The system’s antenna emits a focused beam of millimeter wave energy. The beam travels
at the speed of light and penetrates the skin to a depth of 1/64 of an inch, producing an intolerable heating sensation that causes the targeted individuals to instinctively flee or take cover. The sensation ceases immediately when an individual moves out of the beam or the operator steers the beam away. Silent Guardian does not cause injury because of the shallow penetration depth of the millimeter wave.

I heard about it here, and the way this guy describes it, just makes it more appealing:

Imagine you’re at a protest – at a nuclear plant, perhaps, or a military installation. You approach the perimeter fence, carrying your placard. The loudhailers warn you to keep away. But you ignore them; this is a protest, after all. And then it happens. Your skin feels as if it’s on fire – a burning, relentless, intense pain as if you were touching a frying pan. You scream and jump back, trying to escape the sudden agony. You scrabble a few metres away and it stops. Then you look closer at the buildings that are the object of your protest. Did it come from there? You approach the fence again and the pain starts again – until you jump back.

“This technology is capable of rapidly heating a person’s skin to achieve a pain threshold that has been demonstrated by AFRL human subject testing to be very effective at repelling people, without burning the skin or causing other secondary effects.” The device, it adds, “is an alternative to lethal force.”

The human testing showed that the beams will penetrate even tiny openings and cracks in any physical barrier, including clothes, walls and shields. It is as though it wraps around corners to affect any piece of exposed body – the fingers or face, say, of those trying to hide.

Tests carried out with the Active Denial System at Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico between 2003 and 2004 raised questions about the safety of this technology in practice, since volunteers were asked to remove glasses and contact lenses to avoid the possibility of eye damage. Volunteers were also asked to remove metallic objects next to the skin to prevent hot spots forming. Demonstrators might not be so cooperative.

This is a sweet line: Raytheon: Aspiring to be the most admired defense and aerospace systems supplier

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