The California State Senate approves a bill that would allow for a pilot program to test digital license plates. Will it involve tracking?
by Chris Matyszczyk
California is the home of everything that's new, exciting, and, well, accidentally nefarious.
It's a delight, therefore, to hear that we here in the Golden State might be the first to get electronic license plates.
Yes, the young and the restless of tech will be able to have their new "TE$LA1" plate beamed directly to their car.
What could be more moving? I am beaming at Ars Technica for discovering that a bill has passed the California State Senate, allowing for a pilot program to launch the scheme.
The ICO re-opened its investigation after a US probe uncovered more detail about the data captured Google is back under investigation after gathering personal data while cameras on its cars took pictures for its UK Street View service.
The Information Commissioner’s Office previously dropped a probe into the affair after being told limited data had been “mistakenly collected”.
However, it said it had since become aware of reports that a Google engineer had deliberately written software to obtain a wider range of material.
The ICO has asked for more information.
PHOENIX -- A group of pro-immigrant rights activists in Arizona aim to develop a smartphone application that would help immigrants notify friends, family and their attorney if they are detained and arrested during a traffic stop.
Arizona was the first state to pass a law to make it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant (SB 1070), leading to an increased crackdown and climate of fear among immigrants. A recent Department of Justice investigation on racial profiling of Latinos by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office found that Latinos were four to nine times more likely to be pulled over in a traffic stop than non-Latinos
“When someone gets pulled over the first thing to worry about is the family,” said Lydia Guzman, the president of the nonprofit Respect/Respeto.
For years, the nonprofit’s emergency hotline has monitored cases of possible civil rights violations against Latinos by local law enforcement, provided information about rights, and tracked down missing family members in immigration custody after undocumented drivers are detained.
“It’s difficult. We try to get all of this information from them to reach their family, while at the same time we’re trying to advise them about their rights,” she said.
It was Guzman’s experience with Respect/Respeto and the increased crackdown on undocumented immigrants by local police using state laws that inspired her friend Todd Landfried, a spokesperson for Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform, to come up with an idea for a smartphone app that could do what the group does and more.
The app will allow users to notify family, friends, attorneys and even their consulate when they get pulled over by law enforcement or when they are facing an emergency situation that puts their safety or civil rights at risk.
With the touch of a button, Landfried says, the “Emergency Alert and Personal Protection” app will send a pre-set list of people information about the person’s location using GPS technology and date and time of the incident. The app will also have an option to record audio and video, which is a common function on most mobile phones, but it will take it a step further by sending the audio and video to a “web interface” where the data can be stored and accessed by lawyers, for example.
It will also inform them, in English and Spanish, of their civil rights if they are arrested during a traffic stop; for example, reminding them that they have the right to remain silent and have an attorney present during questioning.
Guzman says the app could help people make split-second decisions at a crucial moment about who to call and how to get help. She says it would also provide immigrant advocates a starting point to search for undocumented immigrants once they are in the detention system – a search that can sometimes take days.
In order to take the app from idea to reality, Landfried and Guzman recently launched a 30-day crowdfunding campaign to support the development of the app. If they reach their goal of raising $225,000, they will work with a software developer to have the app ready by July. Donors would get the app, which will cost about $2, for free.
The app is similar to the “I’m Getting Arrested” app that launched in response to the arrests of protestors involved in the Occupy movement. Landfried and Guzman say their app would be designed to specifically address the situation of undocumented immigrants pulled over in traffic stops. They say it would consolidate functions on the phone to allow users to document, store and send photos, audio and video to web interface that can be used to document racial profiling or violations of civil liberties.
Landfried says he believes Latinos are well-positioned to make use of such an app based on recent trends of Latinos' usage of smartphones.
According to a 2010 Nielsen Company report, 45 percent of Hispanic mobile users have a smartphone compared to just over a quarter of white mobile users.
Landfried and Guzman say they hope the app can be a tool for tracking statistics of potential instances of racial profiling.
“Keeping in mind you have to protect the attorney-client privilege,” Landfried said. “If data was made anonymous, we can track how many times people hit the button for traffic stops and they can fill in later what the outcome was.”
“This is about protecting people. Everybody has rights, whether you like it or not,” he said.
He knows when you are sleeping...
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Attention holiday shoppers: your cell phone may be tracked this year.
Starting on Black Friday and running through New Year's Day, two U.S. malls -- Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va. -- will track guests' movements by monitoring the signals from their cell phones.
While the data that's collected is anonymous, it can follow shoppers' paths from store to store.
The goal is for stores to answer questions like: How many Nordstrom shoppers also stop at Starbucks? How long do most customers linger in Victoria's Secret? Are there unpopular spots in the mall that aren't being visited?
While U.S. malls have long tracked how crowds move throughout their stores, this is the first time they've used cell phones.
But obtaining that information comes with privacy concerns.
The management company of both malls, Forest City Commercial Management, says personal data is not being tracked.
"We won't be looking at singular shoppers," said Stephanie Shriver-Engdahl, vice president of digital strategy for Forest City. "The system monitors patterns of movement. We can see, like migrating birds, where people are going to."
Still, the company is preemptively notifying customers by hanging small signs around the shopping centers. Consumers can opt out by turning off their phones.
The law applies to unincorporated Marin, home to about 70,000 of the county's 260,000 residents. In addition to electromagnetic health risks, the board cited concerns about meters being used to collect information about residents' activities, impacts on aesthetics and potential damage to amateur radio networks.
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The Federal Trade Commission testified before congress this week on what it calls "Do Not Track Legislation". According to the FTC's web site, "The testimony describes the FTC’s efforts to protect consumer privacy for 40 years through law enforcement, education, and policy initiatives. It also provides highlights from the FTC staff’s new report on consumer privacy, released yesterday, and proposes a framework to promote privacy, transparency, business innovation, and consumer choice."
The commission suggests that tracking should be controlled at a user (likely browser) level, but could be enacted either via strict legislation or industry-supported self-regulation.
For the most part, the mechanisms utilized by web sites to track user activity are inherent in the browsers themselves, and have retained an element of user-control since their inception. The most common method is through the use of what is known as a "browser cookie"--a small piece of unique data saved by a web site into the the web browser for later retrieval. Although users have the ability to "flush" cookies from their browsers, or simply configure the browser not to accept cookies at all, these features tend to be buried well within the browser settings, and difficult for most people to understand. What's worse, enabling such privacy features often renders many web site features semi or non-functional.
The FTC is not calling for specific mandates at this time, but rather for comment.
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