Thursday, September 18, 2014

Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants

This just in from the Washington Post, "Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.

The move, announced with the publication of a new privacy policy tied to the release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, amounts to an engineering solution to a legal quandary: Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company — or anyone but the device’s owner — from gaining access to the vast troves of user data typically stored on smartphones or tablet computers.

The key is the encryption that Apple mobile devices automatically put in place when a user selects a passcode, making it difficult for anyone who lacks that passcode to access the information within, including photos, e-mails and recordings. Apple once maintained the ability to unlock some content on devices for legally binding police requests but will no longer do so for iOS 8, it said in the new privacy policy.

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its Web site. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

As the new operating system becomes widely deployed over the next several weeks, the number of iPhones and iPads that Apple is capable of breaking into for police will steadily dwindle to the point where only devices several years old — and incapable of running iOS 8 — can be unlocked by Apple.

Apple will still have the ability — and the legal responsibility — to turn over user data stored elsewhere, such as in its iCloud service, which typically includes backups of photos, videos, e-mail communications, music collections and more. Users who want to prevent all forms of police access to their information will have to adjust settings in a way that blocks data from flowing to iCloud.

Apple’s new privacy policy comes less than five months after the Supreme Court ruled that police in most circumstances need a search warrant to collect information stored on phones. Apple’s action makes that distinction largely moot by depriving itself of the power to comply with search warrants for the contents of many of the phones it sells.

The move is the latest in a series in which Apple has sought to distinguish itself from competitors through more rigorous security, especially in the aftermath of revelations about government spying made by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden last year.

Although the company’s security took a publicity hit with the leak of intimate photos of celebrities from their Apple accounts in recent weeks, the move to block police access to the latest iPhones and iPads will thrill privacy activists and frustrate law enforcement officials, who have come to rely on the extensive evidence often found on personal electronic devices.

“This is a great move,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Particularly after the Snowden disclosures, Apple seems to understand that consumers want companies to put their privacy first. However, I suspect there are going to be a lot of unhappy law enforcement officials.”

Continue reading the story by clicking here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

FBI launches national facial recognition system

This just in from "The Federal Bureau of Investigation has fully rolled out a new biometric identification system that includes facial recognition technology.

The FBI, working with the Criminal Justice Information Services Division, says the Next Generation Identification System is now fully operational.

The system is designed to expand biometric identification capabilities across the country and eventually replace the FBI's current fingerprint system.

The system includes two new databases.

One, called Rap Back, enables FBI authorized entities the ability to receive ongoing status notifications of any criminal history reported on specific individuals. The bureau says that it will help law enforcement agencies, probation and parole offices, and others greatly improve their effectiveness by being advised of subsequent criminal activity of persons under investigation or supervision.

The second is called the Interstate Photo System. IPS facial recognition service will provide law enforcement agencies across the country an image-searching capability of photographs associated with criminal identities. The Feds say it is a significant step forward for the criminal justice community in utilizing biometrics as an investigative tool.

This latest phase ois only one portion of the FBI's NGI System. Since phase one was deployed in February 2011, the NGI system has introduced enhanced automated fingerprint and latent search capabilities, mobile fingerprint identification, and electronic image storage.

More than 18,000 law enforcement agencies and other authorized criminal justice partners across the country will have access to the system 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Another FIVE update, more cool stuff

Amped Software updated FIVE today (Build 6514). Among the bug fixes are a few cool new things.

You can now use the playback controls to go to the next IFrame, in addition to the previous controls. This Special Seek feature will help to scrub through the video to find the best frames with which to work.

Also in this Build is support for Avigilon native files (.ave) as well as video file support for Adaptive Digital Systems' LE only body wire line of recorders. Both of these are a great addition to the feature set. Remember, .ave files can be quite large, so playback might be a bit slow.

What an outstanding way to finish the week.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Video analysis: codes of practice for forensic service providers

This just in from the UK: Video analysis: codes of practice for forensic service providers.

"This appendix covers forensic digital video analysis laboratory activity from receipt of video material through to preparation for court. It does not yet include retrieval from the scene (this is expected to be added in due course) nor expand on the requirements laid out in the codes on the presentation of expert evidence. It applies to all providers undertaking this work whether they are police facilities, commercial suppliers or academia."

It's an interesting read with some controversial suggestions.

Check it out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Interesting development in the body-worn video discussion

This just in from Ars Technica, "Claire McCaskill, the Democratic senator from Missouri, says police departments nationwide should require their officers wear body cameras in order to qualify for the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding they receive each year."

You read that right, the Senator wants to tie federal money that police agencies currently receive to compliance with this proposed nationwide body-worn video mandate.

"The lawmaker did not offer legislation to support her words. McCaskill, however, is not alone in her thinking. Last week, an online petition asking the White House to require all police departments to wear lapel cameras hit 100,000 signatures. The President Barack Obama administration has promised to publicly address petitions reaching 100,000 signatures."

The movement to get agencies to adopt body-worn video recorders is not new. Many agencies have declined to purchase recorders due to the high purchase price and the cost of maintenance, as well as the cost of storing / distributing the recorded footage.

But, linking the issue to existing federal funding puts a new twist on the story. Stay tuned.