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Along with owning the largest stockpile of photos in the world, Facebook has announced it now plans to unleash facial recognition technology with a new program that promises to identify the subject of an untagged image with nearly unparalleled accuracy.

Researchers at the social media giant claim that humans who look at two faces can identify if they are the same person with a 97.53 percent accuracy. They promise that the company’s new “DeepFace” program will be able to do the same with 97.25 percent accuracy.

Facebook users may have already noticed that the site is able to suggest friends to tag when a new picture is uploaded. It does so by analyzing the distance between an individual's eyes and nose in both profile pictures and already tagged images.

The new DeepFace program will be much more intensive, using software to correct the angle of a face in an image, then comparing that to a 3D model of an average face. It then simulates what has been called a neural network to find a numerical description of the face. If there are enough similarities, Facebook will know if the faces are in fact the same.

DeepFace was developed by Facebook artificial intelligence (AI) analysts Yaniv Taigman, Ming Yang, and Marc' Aurelioa Ranzato, along with Lior Wolf, a faculty member at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Their research paper was first published last week in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Technology Review.

This deep network involves more than 120 million parameters using several locally connected layers without weight sharing, rather than the standard convolutional layers,” the company announced.

This we trained it on the largest facial dataset to-date, an identity labeled dataset of four million facial images belonging to more than 4,000 identities, where each identity has over a thousand samples. The learned representations coupling the accurate model-based alignment with the large facial database generalize remarkably well to faces in unconstrained environments, even with a simple classifier.”

DeepFace is still in the research stage and has not been exposed to the 1.23 billion Facebook users.

The team, which plans to announce the program in June at a computer vision conference, said it released the research paper last week to solicit the opinions of other qualified experts and gauge public opinion as a whole. That could perhaps be motivated by the number of questions that were raised when Facebook announced 18 months ago that it had purchased the Israeli startup Face.com for a reported price of approximately US$60 million.

With this announcement, Facebook's acquisition of Face.com clarifies concerns about an Orwellian future inspired by news of the 2012 deal.

As Facebook's database develops, it's conceivable that within a few years you could see someone on the street, point your iPhone at her, and pull up a list of possible identity matches within seconds,” Slate technology blogger Will Oremus wrote at the time.

For now, Facebook only auto-suggests the identities of people who are among your friends. Still, the company will possess the information and capacity to identify and track people on a broad scale...Only the company's concern for your privacy will stand in the way.”

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who phoned US President Obama last week to complain about the National Security Agency surveillance policies, announced earlier this year that the company has been investigating how to best implement AI technology in the future.

The goal really is just to try to understand how everything on Facebook is connected by understanding what the posts that people write mean and the content that's in the photos and videos that people are sharing,” Zuckerberg said on a conference call with investors earlier this year, as quoted by Bianca Bosker of the Huffington Post. “The real value will be if we can understand the meaning of all the content that people are sharing, we can provide much more relevant experiences in everything we do.”


 
 
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Top-secret documents reveal that the National Security Agency is dramatically expanding its ability to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process.

The classified files – provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – contain new details about groundbreaking surveillance technology the agency has developed to infect potentially millions of computers worldwide with malware “implants.” The clandestine initiative enables the NSA to break into targeted computers and to siphon out data from foreign Internet and phone networks.

The covert infrastructure that supports the hacking efforts operates from the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, and from eavesdropping bases in the United Kingdom and Japan. GCHQ, the British intelligence agency, appears to have played an integral role in helping to develop the implants tactic.

In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.

The implants being deployed were once reserved for a few hundred hard-to-reach targets, whose communications could not be monitored through traditional wiretaps. But the documents analyzed by The Intercept show how the NSA has aggressively accelerated its hacking initiatives in the past decade by computerizing some processes previously handled by humans. The automated system – codenamed TURBINE – is designed to “allow the current implant network to scale to large size (millions of implants) by creating a system that does automated control implants by groups instead of individually.”


 
 
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A secret spy program developed by the National Security Agency and reported publicly for the first time,  has given the United States the ability to digitally record the contents of each and every phone call occurring across entire nations.

Citing previously unpublished documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and statements from individuals with direct knowledge of the effort, the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani wrote that the US-administered surveillance system is capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls.

The program, “MYSTIC,” was launched back in 2009, according to the Post, but by 2011 it was ready to be rolled-out at full capacity and was subsequently deployed against at least one target nation. The Post says they are withholding details “that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed or other countries where its use was envisioned” upon the request of US officials.

Once it was ready to put to the test in 2011, MYSTIC and its “retrospective retrieval” tool known as RETRO were being used to indiscriminately record “every single” conversation occurring across the entire target country, the Post reported.

Those calls — “billions,” according to the Post — are stored for 30 days, and the oldest conversations are purged as new ones are logged. Once the content entered the NSA’s system, however, analysts are able to go back and listen in as much as a month later to find information on a person who might never have been suspected of a crime at the time that their initial conversation was collected unbeknownst to them by the US government.

Unlike the surveillance effort previously exposed by Mr. Snowden in which the US intelligence community compels telecommunication companies for the metadata pertaining to millions of Americans on a regular basis, the latest program to be exposed does more than divulge the basic user info and call duration details provided by metadata. Combined, MYSTIC and RETRO let the NSA collect the actual voiced communications of foreign parties, and without requiring the agency to explain why. Instead, the program systemically logs actual content, which the NSA can choose to disseminate at a later time if and when it decides to.

The Post said that documents provided by Mr. Snowden, a former systems administrator who has exposed a number of previously secret NSA programs since last June, was corroborated by government officials, including one senior manager who equated the surveillance system’s capabilities as being akin to a “time machine.”


 
 
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The United States government has taken disciplinary action against three members of the intelligence community implicated in the security breach caused by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, a new document reveals.

An unclassified NSA memorandum obtained by NBC News and published Wednesday evening suggests a civilian employee of the secretive spy agency recently resigned after he “failed to comply with security obligations” and allegedly entered his log-in credentials on the computer terminal used by Mr. Snowden, the 30-year-old former intelligence contractor accused of committing one of the largest breaches in US history.

The memo alleges that the unnamed employee told Federal Bureau of Investigation agents back in June that he allowed Snowden to use his credentials to access classified information on an internal computer network.

“Unbeknownst to the civilian,” the memo reads, “Mr. Snowden was able to capture the password, allowing him ever greater access to classified information.”

The NSA suspended the civilian employee's access to sensitive information as a result, and his security clearance was revoked entirely as of last November. According to the document, that employee resigned from the agency last month. The memo is dated February 10, 2014.

Additionally, the document alleges that an active duty member of the US military and another contractor have been implicated in the breach, but the memo is absent details regarding any disciplinary action.

“Has anybody been disciplined at NSA for dropping the ball so badly?” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) asked of NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander during a congressional hearing in December. The memo obtained by NBC is signed by the Ethan Bauman — the director of the NSA's Legislative Affairs Office — and addressed to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Last November, Reuters reported that an unidentified source told the newswire that Snowden “may have persuaded between 20 and 25 fellow workers at the NSA regional operations center in Hawaii to give him their login and passwords by telling them they were needed for him to do his job as a computer systems administrator.”

“I never stole any passwords, nor did I trick an army of co-workers,” Snowden fired back during a recent online question-and-answer session“With all due respect to [Reuters reporter] Mark Hosenball, the Reuters report that put this out there was simply wrong.”

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist responsible for breaking some of the earliest stories based off of leaked Snowden documents, jokingly suggested Thursday morning on Twitter that the government's latest claims should be accepted as fact without further discussion.




 
 
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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has delivered a sabre-rattling speech to Iran’s ‘Revolutionary foster children’ (in other words, university students) to prepare for cyber war.

The supreme leader has urged his country’s students – whom he called “cyber war agents” – to prepare for battle, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported Wednesday.

“You are the cyber-war agents and such a war requires Amman-like insight and Malik Ashtar-like resistance. Get yourself ready for such war wholeheartedly,” wrote Khamenei.The supreme leader was referring to two of Prophet Mohammad’s warrior companions in early Islamic history.

He also urged the students to be devout and zealously follow the Quran.

Israel, Tehran’s main adversary in regional politics, has voiced similar statements recently; Major General Aviv Kochavi, speaking at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said that cyber warfare will change the nature of conflict.

“Cyber, in my modest opinion, will soon be revealed to be the biggest revolution in warfare, more than gunpowder and the utilization of air power in the last century,” he said.

Iran has claimed to be the victim of cyber-attacks in the past. In 2010 cyber experts said that the Iranian Bushehr nuclear plant was the victim of the computer stuxnet virus.

Experts said that it was purpose built to attack the power plant and was so sophisticated that it could only have been developed by a nation state, most likely the CIA or Mossad.

Stuxnet can disable computers used to control industry and power generation and is the first malware that can be described as a “cyber-weapon.”

In May 2012, Iranian officials said that Iran was targeted again, this time by a data mining virus called Flame, and that it was the most destructive since Stuxnet.

The Flame malware was apparently planted by a USB stick and caused massive data loss, according to Iran’s Computer Emergency Response Coordination Center.

But Iran is also thought to be behind a number of cyber-attacks in the region, including so-called “kinetic” cyber-attacks (meaning destructive to real world objects) on energy facilities in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as denial of service attacks on a number of American banks.

Israel has also been the victim of cyber warfare. The Carmel Tunnel network leading to Haifa, where Israel’s main naval base is situated, was shut down last September in what was believed to be a cyber-attack.There has also been a major cyber-attack on Haifa’s water system.

Also on Wednesday, Iran’s military chief of staff, General Hassan Firouzabadi, said his country is ready for a “decisive battle against the US and the Zionist regime,” he said, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

Firouzabedi said that Iran’s enemies have been preparing to invade the country for the last 10 years, but that if any invasion were to take place Iran would prevail.

“If any war is launched against Iran, we won’t give any ground to the enemy and they themselves know this very well,” he said.

Meanwhile, talks are underway between Iran and six major world powers to resolve the country’s longstanding nuclear dispute with the West. Iran has agreed to cut uranium enrichment from 20 percent, in return for limited sanctions relief, while a more permanent solution is found.

Western nations accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran insists that its atomic program is only for peaceful purposes.


 
 
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Two top ranking American bankers working in senior positions in London have committed suicide in the space of two days.

Gabriel Magee, a 39-year-old JP Morgan bank executive, died early this morning after he jumped 500ft from the top of the bank’s European headquarters. His body was discovered on the ninth floor roof, which surrounds the 33-story Canary Wharf skyscraper.

Just two days earlier, on Sunday, fellow American banker, William ‘Bill’ Broeksmit, 58, was found hanging in his South Kensington home.

Broeksmit – who retired last February – was a former senior manager at Deutsche Bank and had lived in London many years. He started working for the bank in 1996 but left for a period of 7 years before returning in 2008.Tragedy: IT executive Gabriel Magee has been found dead today after jumping from the top of JP Morgan’s headquarters in Canary Wharf, London, and landing on a surrounding roof.

Magee was a vice president in the corporate and investment bank technology department having joined JP Morgan in 2004 and moved with the bank from the U.S. to Britain in 2007.

Magee was named in an email sent to all JP Morgan staff Tuesday afternoon.

A company spokesman said: ‘We are deeply saddened to have lost a member of the J.P. Morgan family at 25 Bank Street today. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his family and his friends’.

A source close to Magee said he was in ‘good standing with his bosses and colleagues. He was well liked.’

Scotland Yard said they were called to 25 Bank Street at 8.02 a.m. and detectives are not treating the death as suspicious.

‘No arrests have been made and the incident is being treated as non-suspicious at this early stage’, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said.

Canary Wharf workers were in shock today, with one trader telling MailOnline that his body lay on the flat roof until around midday.

‘My colleague yelled that he could see that someone had jumped from the top of the building onto a lower roof. His body lay there uncovered for at least two hours,’ he said.



 
 
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The surprise storm that has largely crippled the southeastern US has generated a buzz online as people post videos of the snow’s weird characteristics.

People all across the country have recently began posting videos, and photo’s, of snow that will not melt. Some people are even reporting that the snow has a strange odor, like chemicals. Is the snow natural, or the result of a Geo-Engineered or HARRP attack?

There are some videos going around that claim to show that recent snowfalls are somehow “fake”, because when people try to melt the snow with a lighter or blowtorch, they are surprised by the results.

There is no doubt in many minds, that there is some sort of geoengineering going on across the Nation, and around the world.



 
 
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Former screener at the Transportation Security Administration Jason Harrington says that TSA workers harassed travelers during pat downs and laughed at naked images of passengers.


“Most of my co-workers found humor in the I.O. room on a cruder level. Just as the long-suffering American public waiting on those security lines suspected, jokes about the passengers ran rampant among my TSA colleagues,” he told POLITICO.

Harrington added the TSA agents also deliberately targeted attractive women for enhanced screening.

“Then there was the infamous “guyspeak” in my “Insider’s TSA Dictionary.” One of the first terms I learned from fellow male TSA officers at O’Hare was “Hotel Papa,” code language for an attractive female passenger—“Hotel” standing for “hot,” and “Papa” for, well, use your imagination,” he explained.

According to the former screener, the agents punished those who did not display the proper attitude with enhanced screening.

“We would also sometimes pull a passenger’s bag or give a pat down because he or she was rude. We always deployed the same explanation: “It’s just a random search,” he said.

Harrington believes that the Transportation Security Administration does not stop terrorists.

“I hinted several times on the blog that a determined terrorist’s best bet for defeating airport security would be to apply for a job with the TSA and simply become part of the security system itself. That assertion stemmed from personal experience,” he said.

He noted that the US agency is a monumental waste of money and has been incredibly harmful.

“As I saw it, $40 million in taxpayer dollars had been wasted on ineffective anti-terrorism security measures at the expense of the public’s health, privacy and dignity.”

Meanwhile, the agency rejected Harrington’s remarks in a statement on Friday.

“Many of the TSA procedures and policies referenced in this article are no longer in place or are characterized inaccurately,” TSA said.

“TSA does not tolerate any form of unethical or unlawful behavior by its employees and takes swift disciplinary action if discovered,” the agency said.



 
 
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Sellafield nuclear site, has been partially closed due to "the detection of elevated levels of radioactivity".

The plant in Cumbria, northeast England was closed to all day workers on Friday following Sellafield Ltd.’s warning that radioactivity readings exceeded naturally occurring levels.

"Levels of radioactivity detected are above naturally occurring radiation but well below that which would call for any actions to be taken by the workforce on or off the site," said plant operator Sellafield Ltd.

However, it stressed in a statement that the warning poses no risk to the public or workforce.

"One of the 20-odd site perimeter monitors that we have is registering above normal levels of radiation. It's not a level that would trigger any kind of activity on or off site. It's below levels that would demand us to do sheltering or anything like that," said Rory O'Neill, director of stakeholder relations.

As the UK’s largest nuclear site, the plant is located around 480km northwest of London, and it’s been a key player in the country’s nuclear industry since the 1940s.

Britain suffered its worst nuclear incident in 1957, when a fire broke out in one of the site's reactors.

The plant is going through a decommissioning programme, which includes dismantling infrastructure and decontaminating nuclear waste.

The cost of decommissioning the plant has been estimated at over 70 billion pounds.

Objections to the site have been raised by the governments of Ireland, Norway and the Isle of Man, which are concerned by the risks of contamination.

MOL/HGH



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Britain’s Court of Appeal has blocked a legal challenge against the British government over assisting secret US drone attacks in Pakistan by passing on information to the CIA.
 
Noor Khan, whose father was killed in a US drone strike in northwestern Pakistani tribal regions in March 2011, was told by London’s Court of Appeal on Monday that he could not continue his legal battle as it could require a UK court to pass judgment on the US affairs.

Lawyers from Britain’s Foreign Office had told the judges that considering the issue by a British court and a possibility of a ruling in favor of Khan could damage relations between the UK and US.

“[A] finding by our court that the notional UK operator of a drone bomb which caused a death was guilty of murder would inevitably be understood… by the US as a condemnation of the US,” the lawyers argued.

In December 2012, the High Court also ruled against Khan, who argued that the UK spy agency GCHQ had assisted the murder by providing “locational” intelligence to the CIA.

Khan said he is still determined to “get answers from the British government” about their involvement in his father’s death.

“I used to think that Britain stood for justice, but now it seems as though the government has put itself above the law.”

Human rights charity Reprieve, which is supporting Khan, also described the court ruling as “shameful,” saying the risk of embarrassing the United States has trumped British justice in Khan’s case.

“It now appears that the UK government can get away with murder, provided it is committed alongside an ally who may be sensitive to public criticism,” said a spokesperson for the charity.

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism Ben Emmerson said in October that data from the Pakistani government show that at least 2,200 people have been killed in Pakistan by US drone attacks since 2004.