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Face recognition software gets a boost

And other 'collateral damage' in the war on civil liberties

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Face recognition software is attracting interest in the US Department of Transportation, which, according to reports in the Washington Post, is considering installing the Visionics 'FaceIt' system at National Airport when it reopens. This is going to make us all safer by scanning crowds for terrorist look-alikes. When the cops using it get bored, they can always add deadbeat dads and parking-meter scofflaws to the mix....



A ghastly draft bill called the Mobilization Against Terrorism Act (

MATA

) is set to be rammed through Congress this week. Among the windfalls for the US securocracy is a nice little exception allowing evidence gathered by foreign intelligence services against US citizens to be used against them in court. In other words, the CIA can just hire the Mossad to do its dirty work, skirting laws which forbid such agencies from spying on US citizens....



A report by

Time

magazine claims that the Bush Administration is considering the establishment of special military tribunals to deal with suspected terrorists, without the irritating protections afforded by the US Constitution. If this is true, we can look forward to an exemplary conviction rate....



There is also talk of stricter crypto export controls, key escrow, and an absurd notion advocating the insertion of back doors in crypto products, which is just what the financial sector needs. If it's easier for the Feds to get in, then it's easier for criminals to do the same. Hello?

US Senator Judd Gregg (Republican, New Hampshire) is leading the anti-crypto charge on the Hill, and says he'll likely have a draft measure available this week....



The government may be biding its time with its promised attack on Al Qaeda, but it's not wasting a split second going to war with the Bill of Rights, in a frenzy of bureaucratic and legislative measures aimed at exploiting the tragedy of 11 September for the benefit of the law-enforcement, national security and intelligence establishments.

Most people are, for now, willing to accept a good deal of this federal Nanny action, being still largely in a state of shock from the atrocities witnessed this month. But it's important to remember that individual rights conceded to the government for particular purposes have a funny way of never getting restored. ®

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