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  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , north dakota, , Rekognition, ,   

    OfferUp user assaulted outside of police station, BBB warns of car scam, and Amazon’s board to vote on facial recognition 

    OfferUp user assaulted outside of police station, BBB warns of car scam, and Amazon's board to vote on facial recognition

    As we always say, when meeting someone for an online transaction you should always make the transaction at a local police department. It can go a long way in helping to ensure your safety. However, that was not the case for a man in Albuquerque. This man was meeting someone through OfferUp to sell a camera. The suspect posing as a buyer lured the man out of the view of the police department’s security cameras before trying to rob the man. The victim was dragged about 20 feet after the suspect drove off while holding on to the camera. If someone tries to get you away from the police station it may just be a trap.

    ***

    The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota is warning residents of the two states to be aware of phony car scams that are proliferating in the area. They’re reporting that there are a number of phony car dealerships who are advertising cars on craigslist for a price well below market value. The phony dealerships then ask for the money to be wired to them before cutting off all contact with the victim. When buying a car online from a dealership, always do a web search to make sure such a dealership exists and money should never be wired for a transaction under any circumstance. It’s too easy for scammers to make off with your money while remaining anonymous.

    ***

    Previously, we’ve discussed how high-ranking Amazon employees have called Amazon’s environmental practices into question. Now it seems that shareholders are also getting ready to decide on another one of Amazon’s business practices. Next month the board will vote on whether or not Amazon should ban the sale of their facial recognition software called Rekognition to governments and governmental agencies. We’ve posted before about how a number of civil liberty groups complained about Amazon trying to sell Rekognition to police departments as the tool could be easily used to violate civil rights. Combine Rekognition with all the Amazon Echoes in people’s homes and Jeff Bezos’ ownership in the Washington Post and you could see how some board members may view this all as a privacy overreach on Amazon’s part.

     
  • Geebo 8:54 am on June 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Emily Kennedy, Facesearch, , Marinus Analytics, Rekognition, Traffic Jam   

    Facial recognition being used to help stop trafficking 

    Facial recognition being used to help stop trafficking

    Previously, we posted about how Amazon’s facial recognition software, called Rekognition, is being sold to police departments around the country. Many civil liberty groups have protested the police use of the software as they feel it is ripe for abuse. However, like many tools, one person’s abuse can be another person’s salvation. One startup is using the Rekognition software to help rescue victims of human trafficking.

    Marinus Analytics is a startup that was founded by CEO Emily Kennedy that develops tools to help stop human trafficking. While attending Carnegie Mellon University, Ms. Kenedy developed a program called Traffic Jam that uses artificial intelligence to help identify trafficking victims. What once could take a police investigator days to do, Traffic Jam could do in a fraction of that time. More recently, Marinus Analytics added a feature called Facesearch to Traffic Jam which is based on the Rekognition software. Facesearch allows police to use a photograph of a trafficking victim or missing person to the Traffic Jam database in order to help locate the victim. It’s the science of fantastical TV crime dramas come to life.

    Ms. Kennedy has even said with the federal seizure of Backpage, Traffic Jam will continue to adapt to new online sources. We commend Ms. Kennedy for her dedication and innovation in the fight against human trafficking and we’ll add that it’s refreshing to see a startup try to accomplish real change in the world rather than trying to cash in on whatever the latest social trend is.

     
  • Geebo 9:51 am on May 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , facial recognition, Rekognition   

    Is Amazon watching us? 

    Is Amazon watching us?

    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos not looking Orwellian at all.

    Ever since George Orwell published his dystopian novel 1984 it’s become a cliché to accuse whatever political party you’re opposed to of being Big Brother. What if it’s not the government you have to worry about surveilling us without our knowledge? Instead, what if it’s one of the largest corporations in the world? Amazon has found itself amid a controversy lately after many civil liberty groups have called upon Amazon to stop selling its facial recognition software called Rekognition to police departments around the country.

    Now the advantages and drawbacks to law enforcement using such software can be debated ad nauseam. However, when you combine this Amazon technology with some other aspects of Amazon’s business a disconcerting picture starts to form. For example, how many of us have Amazon Echo’s in our homes with its microphone always listening for the command word from its user? Amazon claims the units aren’t recording our ambient conversations but that could potentially change at any time with just a firmware update.

    Yet the most ominous aspect of Amazon’s business holdings is the fact that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns one of the country’s most respected media outlets in the Washington Post. Jim Morrison once said that “Whoever controls the media controls the mind” while Orwell himself said “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” While we’re not ones to usually indulge in conspiracy theories, separately these actions by Amazon can be seen as benign, but when looked at as a whole it shows a potential future where corporate monoliths can become so overreaching into our lives they could have almost unparalleled influence in our daily lives.

     
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