Could the FBI See Your Selfies?

Court case may enable FBI to request more photos for new facial recognition database.

Investigative Database - FBI Can See Your Selfies?

Investigative Database – FBI Can See Your Selfies?

The FBI could have 52 million face images on file by 2015, according to new research.

Article Courtesy of:  U.S News – By 

U.S. News & World Report

The FBI is preparing to launch a facial recognition database this summer that includes photos of people without criminal records- and a court case in New York may expand the ability of the government to request data from Facebook to help.

The bureau’s database, called the Next Generation Identification system, or NGI, builds upon the government’s fingerprint database and is slated to be operational this summer, according to the FBI.

This database will contain photos of anybody who sends images as part of an application for a job that requires fingerprinting or a background check – even if that person has no criminal record – according to research by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital privacy advocacy organization. The FBI is slated to have 52 million face images by 2015, according to the EFF.

Facebook, by comparison, processes more than 350 million new images each day from its 1.28 billion monthly active users. The social network’s friends lists and group pages also make it easier for the company to narrow down possible results when helping customers tag photos using facial recognition.

Facebook’s DeepFace facial recognition system has a 97 percent level of efficiency, which any government surveillance network would envy.

That’s even better than the FBI’s new system, which so far promises an 85 percent chance of identifying a suspect from a photo, according to the EFF.

The social network is appealing a court case from 2013 that might allow the FBI the chance to request some of the facial recognition information as it uses biometrics to follow targets.

Last year a New York judge ordered Facebook to turn over nearly all of the social network’s account data on 381 people, including pages they liked, their messages – and perhaps most dangerously – their photos. Facebook is arguing this broad use of warrants for data requests violates the Fourth Amendment freedom from unreasonable searches by the government. The warrants led to 62 charges in a disability fraud case but the government may keep the seized data indefinitely.

“Facebook says its face recognition system uses…”

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Social Media Use Common among Neighborhood Crews & Street Gangs

Cyberspace Emerges as Law Enforcement’s New Battleground

Investigative Database - Cyber Crimes

Times Herald CLICK HERE

By Robert Rogers/MediaNews Group | Article Courtesy of: Times Herald

When gunshots ring out in Richmond, familiar scenes unfold. Calls to 911 and alerts from the city’s ShotSpotter gunshot-detection system trickle in. Police cruisers scream to the scene. Detectives show up soon after.

But other detectives go somewhere else: to their computers to troll Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media for clues, often provided by people involved in the crime who can’t resist boasting.

“We have seen situations where someone will commit a shooting or a homicide, and they’ll immediately write something on social media, ” said Matt Anderson, a Richmond gang detective. “‘Man down,’ ‘scoreboard,’ those are the kinds of phrases they’ll use, and it gives us a lot of clues about what just happened. ”

As social media increasingly have become an extension of who we are and how we communicate, it has emerged as a new battleground in the age-old struggle between Bay Area criminals and the detectives who seek them. Social media use is common among neighborhood crews and street gangs, who have inadvertently supplied police and prosecutors with troves of photos and other information often used to nab and then prosecute them.

However, law enforcement agencies with low-staffing issues like the Vallejo Police Department said they have not been using social media due to it being “labor intensive.”

“We do recognize the importance of social media,” Vallejo Capt. Jim O’Connell said. “But it’s something that’s part of our long-term plan. It’s just a personnel issue with us right now.”

Like braggadocio on a street corner or graffiti on a wall in yesteryear, gang members have come to use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to tout their criminal prowess, taunt rivals, boast about crimes and even gather information about potential targets of violence.

“What we see on social media brings an insight that you normally might not otherwise see, ” said Jeff Palmieri, a veteran gang investigator for the San Pablo Police Department. “You can get a view of who a person is, what they’re about, and that not only helps us but can help a jury in a courtroom. Our intelligence information has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. ” Online postings can help prosecutors establish a level of intent, premeditation, motive and gang affiliation, said Derek Butts, a Contra Costa deputy district attorney.

During the 2012 murder trial of Joe Blacknell, 23, Butts used the reputed Richmond gang member’s MySpace account to prove to the jury that he committed numerous shootings in retaliation for the killing of his friend.

Among the evidence presented to the jury were photos of Blacknell holding an AK-47 while dressed in a shirt memorializing his fallen friend, and private messages sent to rivals and friends boasting about the demise of Marcus Russell, an emerging Bay Area rap artist that Blacknell was convicted of murdering.

“The MySpace photos and messages were very revealing to jurors, ” Butts said. “It’s one thing to have a gang expert testify about what the gang members say, but when you have the defendant’s own communications, it paints a very compelling picture. ”

The same is true in San Jose, where Santa Clara County deputy district attorney Lance Daugherty, who supervises the gang unit, said more than a quarter of gang felony cases involve evidence gleaned from social media.

“It’s such a widespread part of how we communicate today. Often, we get information about defendants who aren’t even on social media themselves, but their fellow gang members may talk about that defendant or post pictures of them to their own accounts, ” Daugherty said. “They know this information is being used in prosecutions, but they still do it; it’s part of their identities.”

Assistant Contra Costa County district attorney Tom Kensok estimates that evidence from social media factors into more than half of the county’s gang trials, although that number may be on the decline.

“In the beginning, a few years ago, it was often the equivalent of making a key find in a search warrant,” he said. “Back then, they never had a sense that these postings would end up in a courtroom, that they were far from the law. Now, that advantage is gone. ”

The advantage was key a few years ago to trials involving members of Varrio Frontero Locos, a subset of the Sureno gang, who committed a string of homicides in San Pablo.

“The gang members were driving around, hunting rivals, ” Palmieri said.

When a half-dozen members were arrested and sent to trial, Palmieri was a key witness, testifying to juries that the killings were done to advance the gang’s interests. He used photos from defendants’ Facebook pages to prove it.

“Their own pictures showed them flashing gang signs, alongside other gang members, and holding guns, Palmieri said. “The average sentence was 55 years to life. ”

The cat-and-mouse game online is endlessly complex and in constant flux. Amid the infinite realm of the Web, images and words, often in coded language, circulate throughout cyberspace. MySpace was a platform of choice among Bay Area gang members a few years ago but was overtaken by Facebook and YouTube.

Instagram is now en vogue, thanks to looser restrictions on identities and a platform that is more image-driven and esoteric in its messaging.
“Instagram’s popularity is a challenge, Anderson said. “It’s harder to identify people; the messaging is more coded. “

During an investigation last year that netted 11 arrests, including for charges of attempted murder, Anderson and his colleagues conducted extensive social media surveillance, and they discovered that the targets of their investigation were using social media to track rivals and plot attacks.

“Our investigation revealed that gang members will plan assaults based on disrespect of each other taking place on the social media, ” Anderson said. “They are pretty much doing the same thing we are doing, peeking around the social media accounts to gather information. “

Click HERE for the Complete Article… “Cyberbanging, as the communication is sometimes called… 

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Facebook & Big Data Collide

Big Data Could Cripple Facebook

Article Courtesy of:  TechCrunchJON EVANS

Big Data - Investigative Database

So there’s this startup called SmogFarm, which does big-data sentiment analysis, “pulse of the planet” stuff. I spotted them last year, and now they’ve got an actual product with an actual business model up and running in private beta: KredStreet, “The Social Stock Trader Rankings,” which performs sentiment analysis on StockTwits data and a sampling of the Twitter firehose to determine traders’ overall bullish/bearish feeling. They also compare reality against past sentiment to score and rank traders based on their accuracy, which is more interesting.

It’s a first iteration, but it looks pretty nifty, and I like the idea of a ranking system wherein unknowns can leave high-profile loudmouths in their dust by virtue of simply being right more often. Even if I feel slightly uneasy when I imagine such a system being applied to, say, tech bloggers.

Actually being held accountable for what I’ve written in the past?  

Doesn’t that just seem terribly wrong?

And of course it’s early days yet for companies like SmogFarm/KredStreet, and sentiment analysis, and natural language processing (such as that which powered Summly), and Palantir-style data mining. Just imagine what they’ll be able to do in five years.

And when they turn all that big-iron, big-data searchlight power on, say, Facebook timelines… what won’t they be able to determine???

A few years ago the EFF discovered that something as simple as your browser settings make you a lot less anonymous online than you might believe. Last week a study found that “human mobility traces are highly unique,” and when polling allegedly anonymous cell-phone location data, “four spatio-temporal points are enough to uniquely identify 95% of the individuals.” Good software can mine a lot of meaning out of apparently sparse and empty data.

So just imagine what happens when next-generation language and image-processing software, and then the generation after that, and the generation after that, is unleashed on your Facebook timeline. It seems very plausible that all those innocuous things you say, and how you say them, and the pictures you post, and the games you play, will subtly and invisibly add up to a terrifyingly accurate portrait of you, including any and/or all of the things about yourself that you never actually wanted to make public.

What’s worse is that it will be ridiculously easy. Would-be employers won’t have to scroll through your Facebook timeline themselves, they’ll just need to point their profiling software in your direction and 30 seconds later read its high-confidence predictions of your work habits, neuroses, personal failures, emotional instabilities, attitude towards authorities, and sexual proclivities, all expertly extrapolated from the tapestry of subtle-to-invisible nuances accumulated from all of your photos, comments, Likes, upvotes, etc.; all individually meaningless, but collectively highly illuminating. Individual profiling is a huge business just waiting to be tapped by ethically challenged startups.

(This could be mitigated somewhat if you were to keep all your activity friends-only, of course; but even then, every app or distant acquaintance you’re connected to will be able to learn more about you than you ever intended. And it’s easy to envision employers requesting that you connect to them on Facebook as part of the job-application process, and filtering out those who refuse…)

I can imagine what that kind of profiling software would have said about me, early in my career: Hopeless bibliophile. Afflicted with incurable wanderlust. Doesn’t like being told what to do. Extremely chancy hire: likely to quit any job after six months to travel or try to write the Great Canadian Novel.

Which, er, would have been one thousand per cent true; but obviously I didn’t want my potential employers back then to know about it.

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Facebook Search Tools

Facebook Graph Search to add posts, comments to search

Article Courtesy of:  CNET by 

In addition to searching users, pages, and photos, Facebook’s search tool will be able to search through things like posts and comments soon, the company says.

facebook
(Credit: Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET)

Facebook posted a deep dive of the tech behind its Graph Search ranking system today and buried at the bottom was a promise of new features: posts and comments search.

Sriram Sankar, an engineering manager on Facebook’s search infrastructure team, wrote in the post that Facebook next steps include a better search on mobile and new content.

“We are also extending our search capabilities to do better text processing and ranking and have better mobile and internationalization support. Finally, we are also working on building a completely new vertical to handle searching posts and comments,” he wrote.

Sankar explained that Facebook builds the search on top of different verticals — categories that house a different Facebook element.

This includes users, pages, and photos, which are categories Facebook members can already search through in Graph Search.

To figure out what categories to add, Facebook engineers are paying attention to what users like to look up most and what kind of answers they are looking for.

“While we have achieved a lot with the launch of Graph Search — by growing our index to hundreds of billions of nodes and trillions of edges — we have in many ways only scratched the surface in building a comprehensive search engine over the Facebook Graph,” he wrote