Friday, December 28, 2012

The FBI Treated Occupy Like a Terrorist Group

The FBI Treated Occupy Like a Terrorist Group

Now that it's been over a year since the Occupy movement swept across the country, FOIA requests are being fulfilled, revealing uncomfortable details about how authorities viewed the protestors. One such request by the Partnership for Civil Justice came through this weekend, and the 112 heavily redacted pages reveal that theFBI approached the Occupy Wall Street protests as "criminal activity" -- which is not terribly surprising -- and investigated the groups as perpetrators of "domestic terrorism" -- which is fairly unsettling. More specifically, the Feds enlisted its own as well as local terrorism task forces in nine different cities across the country to investigate Occupy. In Memphis, the group was lumped together with Anonymous and theAryan Nation in discussing the threat of "domestic terrorism." White supremacists and 99 Percenters aren't really two groups that we think about hand-in-hand but whatever.
This isn't the first time that a FOIA request has shown the FBI to have engaged in some suspicious activity around the Occupy movement. In September, a FOIA request from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) showed extensive surveillance of the movement's prominent players, leading ACLU attorney Linda Lye to ask, "Why does a political protest amount to a national security threat?" The FBI denied the surveillance accusations by saying that its investigation did not  include "unnecessary intrusions into the lives of law-abiding people" and that its prohibited from investigating Americans "solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment or the lawful exercise of other rights." Of course, if you classify the actions as "domestic terrorism," other rules apply.
That in mind, we still don't really have any idea how far the FBI went in chasing the Occupiers. At the time of this latest disclosure over two-thirds of the bureau's records on the movement have been made public. As the Partnership for Civil Justice said in a press release, this latest batch of documents is only "the tip of the iceberg."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Augmented Reality Game Gets Player Busted: The First Of Many?

Augmented Reality Game Gets Player Busted: The First Of Many?

Cormac Foster December 11th, 2012
Augmented Reality Game Gets Player Busted: The First Of Many?
Ingress, the Alternate/Augmented Reality (AR) game from Google's Niantic Labs, is a major evolution of mobile gaming. Apparently, it's also a good way to get arrested.
According to a post on Reddit (I know, I know – but stay with me on this), an Ingress player in Ohio was detained by police for his in-game actions. Specifically, he was "hacking a portal" near a police station. His phone had technical difficulties, which led him to linger by the portal/police station for a bit, catching the eye of local law enforcement and leading to the detention.
After the original post, other Ingress players responded with similar stories. One aroused suspicions by wandering around an empty parking lot at night. Another, trying to hack a portal next to an air traffic control station, had to run from the local sheriff. A third was called in for questioning after hacking a portal outside of a "high-traffic drug area."

It's In The Game

As Dan Rowinski mentioned in his earlier post, there's plenty of "creep" factor built into the game. In fact, much likegeocaching (Ingress' non-digital ancestor), lurking in strange and hard-to-get-to places at odd hours is kind of the point.
Getting detained (as many Redditors pointed out, the poster wasn't technically arrested) probably adds to the intrigue, and certainly gives a player a certain amount of street cred. It could also call into question the boundary between the First Amendment and public safety.

Legal, But Risky

All of Ingress' portals are on public land. There's no law against walking past a police station, post office or airport. There are, however, very legitimate safety concerns held by the people charged with protecting those facilities and keeping an eye out for potential risks.
As one law enforcement professional joked, "I hope they don't put one of those in front of the White House." In fact, there are apparently abunch of portals in front of the White House, embassies and other sites that could be high-interest targets for vandalism or worse.
At least Ingress doesn't require players to dig up or bury physical objects, a phenomenon that has caused some high-profile problems in the geocaching community. Still, as similar games take off (and they will), we're going to see more friction between gamers and law enforcement, particularly in full AR environments that use cameras. In addition to trespassing and loitering violations, there's greatly increased potential for distraction, perhaps leading gamers to injure themselves or others. It's all the danger of texting - plus headphones - with the added possibility of being labeled a terrorist by overzealous cops.

The Future

By all accounts, Niantic labs has been responsible about these issues. The game doesn't encourage trespassing or dangerous behavior, like using your phone in a car. Other developers may not feel the same sense of duty, or their goals may encourage "creative" players to take unnecessary risks.
If enough negligence, trespassing, and public nuisance suits (and maybe some claims of police harassment) hit the courts, we'll eventually wind up with legislation governing the balance between gameplay and public safety. We might see an increase of no-device buffer zones around sensitive areas, or certain games limiting accounts to only users of age to accept legal responsibility for their actions. There could even be outright bans on AR games in certain areas.
Until then, it's up to game developers to police themselves and players to stay smart. One dumb move could lead to a ton of regulation that could really spoil everyone's fun.

Monday, December 3, 2012

US military developing multi-focus augmented reality contact lenses

US military developing multi-focus augmented reality contact lenses

Innovega's near- and far-focusing contact lens

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Proving that biological limitations are only a problem for other people, the US Department of Defense and Innovega have begun work on a system, called iOptik, that gives humans the ability to focus on the near foreground and distant background at the same time.
The plan is that soldiers will be able to use these contact lenses to focus on a head-up display (HUD) projected on a pair of spectacles, while retaining wide-angle vision of the background. Current systems require the user to divert all of their attention to the HUD, thus reducing their field of view immensely — which is obviously a bit dangerous if you’re in the middle of a fire fight.
To do this, Innovega has developed a contact lens that has two different focusing lenses. One lens focuses foreground light into the middle of your pupil, while the other lens focuses the background onto the edge of your pupil. This way, two focused images arrive at your retina — and presumably, if the DoD is pushing ahead, your brain has no problem processing these two images. There’s a video embedded below that demonstrates this dual-focus functionality, and then another video of the CTO chatting at CES 2012.
A rendering of the iOptik systemThe other half of the iOptik system is a HUD, which seems to be projected onto a pair of glasses using some kind of pico projector. There isn’t much information available about this portion of the project, though. It’s also worth noting that the contact lens, as far as I can tell, isn’t actually very novel. Bifocal contact lenses — the analog of bifocal eyeglasses — have existed for a while, and they do roughly the same thing.
Beyond military applications, Innovega says that it hopes to make iOptik available to consumers in 2014. Just last week Google confirmed the existence of its augmented reality Google Glasses — and for all we know, something very similar to this contact lens is being used. Without the ability to near- and far-focus at the same time, HUDs will be incredibly dangerous in an urban setting — just imagine trying to cross the road or ride your bike while everything more than an inch away from you is a big blur.
Innovega also points out on its website that, if you use two contact lenses, you could create a huge, virtual 3D display right in front of your eyes.

BART Board Approves Authoritarian Cell Shutdown

BART Board Approves Authoritarian Cell Shutdown Policy, confirms intention to suppress speech during protest.
BART Board confirmed this morning a policy of shutting down Cellphone Networks to quell dissent. BART was the first agency in the United States to use Chinese Communist, Iranian Theocratic and Mubarak style suppression of free speech to quell protest. As the US Secretary of State has strongly condemned Iran and Egypt for similar communication network shutdowns,  Chinese officials were quick to state their pleasure that US officials were beginning to recognize the value of suppression of free speech in quelling of dissent. However now that the ink has dried on official policies confirming the intention suppress free speech, The US Corporate news media seem to have taken a different tact, pretending that BART Board of Directors has made amends, and is in fact limiting cellphone shutdowns to rare occurrences.
BART limits cellphone service blackouts‎ , San Jose Mercury News
Feds Pressured BART to Strengthen Cell Phone Policy by Zusha Elinson, the Bay Citizen

The Corporate News reported that BART has strictly limited Cellphone Shut Down to three extremely rare categories. The first two examples cover categories that in my opinion do not require clarification, Terrorist Explosives, and Terrorist Hostage Taking. This shouldn’t have required board action, and is indicative that the General Manager is incompetent, as a company memo should have been sent months ago confirming and clarifying that shutting down cell nets to thwart terrorist strikes is an imperative. The third category is a successful or apparently successful protest. 
“Illustrative examples of “Extraordinary Circumstances” include, but are not limited to, strong evidence of the use of cellphones to: (i) [terrorism!] (ii) [Moar Terrorism] … (iii) To facilitate plans to … Substantially Disrupt Public Transit Services [*protest].” ~page 68, BART Board Meeting Agenda Packet, [square brackets are for my paraphrasing of deleted sections] [*My Clarification Note, as legalese typically says the worst things in just a few words.]
Updates according to the Bay Citizen the ACLU was involved in writing the Cell Phone Policy..

Friday, November 30, 2012

Syria shuts off internet access

Syria shuts off internet access across the country

Shutting down of communications seen as bid to stymie rebel moves as militias attempt assault on the regime's power base

Middle East live blog: all the latest developments
A Syrian rebel fires towards regime forces in Aleppo
The government has previously cut phone lines and internet access in areas where regime forces are conducting major military operations. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
Syrian officials shut down nationwide internet access on Thursday and closed Damascus airport as rebels mounted offensives nearby and tried to advance on the capital from four directions. Phone networks were also crippled in much of the country, causing fear and confusion on both sides and fuelling claims that a new rebel push was gaining momentum.
Syria's information minister blamed "terrorists" for the outage, but the communications shutdown was seen as an attempt to stymie rebel moves as militias try to co-ordinate an assault on Damascus. It was also thought to be aimed at thwarting any plans for advances in other towns and cities.
Opposition groups have also been advancing in northern Syria, particularly near the second city, Aleppo, where the downing of two regime aircraft with surface to air missiles this week has given impetus to a rebel campaign that had become a series of attritional battles.
While officials have frequently shut down internet and mobile phone access to opposition-held areas since the uprising began in March 2011, sometimes for weeks at a time, they have never before cut web and voice communications nationwide.
Soon after noon on Thursday, all 84 of Syria's ISP address blocks were unreachable, web specialists Renesys said. Five ISP addresses did continue to function. Renesys analysts said they were used to deliver malware to anti-regime activists earlier this year, a fact that would appear to link the addresses to the government.
Landline phones began to slowly come back on line later in the day.
Throughout 20 months of insurrection, Damascus has remained a regime stronghold, with loyalist army divisions able to rout a rebel offensive in July and mount large-scale reprisals in rebel areas nearby.
Rebels have long regarded the capital as the most difficult cog in the formidable state machine they have been trying to dismantle as the early days of street protests morphed into the uncompromising civil war now ravaging the country. As night fell on Thursday, regime rocket fire reverberated from the city centre and there were sustained heavy clashes near the international airport. Two airlines, Egypt Air and the Dubai-based Emirates, said they had suspended inbound flights. Two more airlines said they were likely to follow suit. The ground radar at the airport had been turned off by early evening.
Rebel groups said fighting near the airport was the most intensive since the uprising began.
The Free Syrian Army, an umbrella group of militias that has mostly led the fight against regime forces, confirmed it had launched a big push in Damascus. Regime forces were also heavily deployed and appeared to be digging in for a fierce defence of the city.
While apparently besieged, the city does not appear to be at risk of falling soon – and spelling the end of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and the regime he inherited from his father, Hafez al-Assad, who laid the foundations of the ruthless police state close to 40 years ago.
Syrian officials have persistently labelled the opposition as foreign-backed terrorists. Bashar al-Assad has denied the groups now fighting him are Syrian and insists rebel groups want to replace his secular regime with an Islamic state that will widely persecute minority communities.
Rebel groups continue to rail against the regime's claims, insisting their campaign is nationalistic and aimed solely at removing a vengeful regime.
In Syria's north, the opposition is being led by the rural poor – a group almost exclusively drawn from the country's Sunni majority, which is estimated to account for at least 65% of the population.
However, since the summer, the battle in northern and eastern Syria has steadily been joined by jihadist groups, who are now playing prominent roles in most clashes with regime forces, from Aleppo to Idlib and Deir el-Zour near the eastern desert.
Chief among the groups is Jabhat al-Nusra, a mainly Syrian network of militants, many of whom have fought in Iraq. Foreign fighters are also joining the fray.
While much smaller in number than regular Free Syria Army units, which are comprised of defectors and citizens, the influence of the jihadists is being increasingly felt even in Damascus, where car bombs and suicide attacks have hit many regime targets.

Friday, October 12, 2012

augmented activists beware!!- US Navy Helps Create Camera-Hijacking Smartphone Malware

US Navy Helps Create Camera-Hijacking Smartphone Malware

 | 1 OCTOBER 2012 1:35 PM
PlaceRaider quietly builds a model of your world as seen through your Android smartphone.
Tinfoil hats at the ready, ladies and gentlemen: Researchers at the United States Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana, in cooperation with scientists from the University of Indiana, recently set out on a mission to see what security flaws they could uncover in smartphone devices running on Android 2.3 and above. After a few months of tinkering, their investigations led them to create a piece of smartphone malware that silently takes photos using your device's camera, uploads them to a central database, and then uses the photos to construct a 3D image of your surroundings for the purpose of stealing things from said surroundings at a later date.
The team named their sneaky malware PlaceRaider, and described details of its use by saying that "remote burglars" could use it to "download the physical space, study the environment carefully, and steal virtual objects from the environment (such as financial documents, information on computer monitors, and personally identifiable information)." In addition to visual information stolen from your camera, the malware also picks up location and orientation data from across your smartphone's sensors that enable it to place you, quite precisely, in the world. A simple image filter designed to detect extremely dark or blurry image patterns stops the app from inundating its servers with pictures of the inside of your jacket pocket. Any noises associated with its activities - such as the little shutter noises some smartphone cameras make - are disabled. All in all, it's a pretty impressive piece of work.
According to the researchers, PlaceRaider would gain access to your phone by basically sneaking in behind a legit-sounding download that asks your permission to access your phone's sensor systems (think Instagram, for instance, or one of its ilk). Once inside, it would run as a background program.
In order to test the malware, the team gave 20 unsuspecting smartphone fans an infected phone each and set about testing how much personal information they could glean from the data the malware sent back. In doing so the team discovered that, A) The photos are really pretty good for stealing information and, B) The photo-generated 3D models are even better for stealing information. Neat, huh?
Oh, and before anyone with an iPhone thinks of getting on some kind of Android-is-inferior shaped horse over this, it's worth noting that the app's creators "expect such malware to generalize to other platforms such as iOS and Windows Phone." We're all in this together, friends.
While there are infinite upsides to living in a super-connected, tech-based world, exploitable security flaws of this kind (not to mention those present in desktop computers; Flame says hello) serve as sobering reminders of the potential downsides. This time, it was a benign team of scientific researchers who found the flaw and exposed it to the world, dragging it out into the light and reminding us to pay attention to what permissions an app asks for when we consider downloading it. The era of smartphone-based antivirus programs is almost here, but til then, I hear tinfoil's set to be one of the hottest trends of winter 2012/13. That hat is so totally you.
Source: arXiv via Technology Review

Leak in your home town - in

Friday, September 28, 2012

Occupy Novels, Trading Dreams

Announcement of the free eBook giveaway of one of the first Occupy novels, Trading Dreams by author JL Morin. It will be FREE on Amazon from October 10-14. It just got some excellent reviews:

"An ideal read for suspense lovers interested in the current financial
                         ― Booklist

"...exposing enough greed, hypocrisy, and blatant illegality to make even the least informed reader deliciously angry."
                         ― Harvard Independent

...and one coming up from MIT

Book Synopsis:

Finally! A humorous who-done-it that tosses corruption onto the horns of the Wall Street bull. Trading Dreams slams the forces that undermined our stolen economy in a tale that is funny and thrilling. Author J.L. Morin unveils the ironies of Wall Street greed to the baseline of the Occupy movement.
   This suspenseful redemption story depicts the pitfalls of a new-hire at a bank. When her villain CFO sets her up as a scapegoat, Jerry fights back, teetering spectacularly between life as a trading-floor cyborg and as a revolutionary battling Wall Street corruption . . . as if she didn’t have enough to worry about running from a murderer.
   For Jerry, New York in its heyday means hanging with the guys, finding only users, and developing a sex addiction. She surmises, “If I could just be the bitch that he wanted, we could be happy forever as masochist and dominatrix.”   
   The economic crisis descends like a praying mantis devouring its mate at the moment of ecstasy. Not one to push clients into stocks the bank wants to dump, Jerry transforms herself and spreads the word through the human microphone. There’s little prospect of finding another job when Jerry blows the whistle.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Anti- "The Innocence of Islam" Video Petition

The Anti- "The Innocence of Islam" Video Petition 

We, the people of the world of all faiths, and in good conscience, DO NOT approve of the video "The Innocence of Islam," and those who created it. We believe all peoples have an inherent right to practice their faith in peace. We feel that "The Innocence of Islam" is the product of the divisive forces of hatred and ignorance, and does not reflect the opinion of the majority of people in the world, who practice their religious traditions in the spirit of peace, love, and mutual understanding. We apologize, as citizens of an enlightened humanity, for the offense committed by this movie, and extend our hands in peace and understanding. Whether or not the makers apologize, we will.

The names collected will be viewed  as a list of names on this website, in the Middle East and world-wide with the aid of augmented reality [AR]. The AR petition will not be placed near the protests. Instead they will be placed in the "safest" public location possible. 

This project was organized by Mark SkwarekPatrick Lichty, Alan Sondheim, and Wafa Bourkhis. It is a work in progress and we look forward to feedback. The goal of the project is to create a voice for those in the global community who denounce the "Innocence of Islam" Video.  The petition will be viewed online at this website and around the world with augmented reality. We look forward to your feedback.
Send questions/thoughts/ideas here.

 When Gil-Scott Heron wrote that "The revolution will not be televised" he was right. Instead, it will be youtubed, it will be statused, and it will be retweeted. Social networking sites reach more than 82% of the global population: 1.2 billion people. And governments are afraid. Today, a handful of users on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube can launch a movement that can topple a regime. Just look at Tunisia. Just look at Egypt. It can organize the frustration of middle class Americans from the impotent complaints of individuals into a spontaneous, passionate and primal force. A wave doesn't demand concessions, but you have no choice but to acknowledge it when it crashes down on you. We are the 99 percent. And what are the results? New governments, an informed and politically active people, and validation. A little over a year ago, The United Nations declared internet access a basic human right. You are a change agent whether you know it or not. Whether you want to be or not. Everyday you blithely browse your virtual network you participate in an engine of social transformation. Welcome to the Hyper Revolution.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yo Soy 132 // Augmented Reality Protest - Shot TODAY

Yo Soy 132 // Augmented Reality Protest - 
Screen cap from Paseo de La Reforma, Mexico City!!!
shot today! in the rain- thx xabier!!!
shot by- xabier perez
Live- seen on “AR Intervention” on the Layar app @ Paseo de La Reforma in Mexico City.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Yo Soy 132 AR Protest

Yo Soy 132 AR Protest

this sculpture was made as part of  the yo soy 132 protest in mexico.

This work is live in Mexico City at the
Monumento a CuauhtĂ©moc, ‎Paseo de la Reforma.

It can be seen on Layar app/search/ AR Intervention [ no audio yet...]  I will do different ones at the other intersections. They are animated.