Since 2011, Facebook has implemented facial recognition technology for their “Tag Suggest” function. This software allows Facebook users to see when they appear in a newly added photo. The software matches new photos with items in its database of tagged photos for each user, which allows the program to put a name to the face. Facebook has recently expressed its intention to expand the scope of the software to include profile photos.
The software is intended to facilitate transparency, according to Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan. She says that the software’s ability to match photos to names provides users with the tools to discover when photos of them are uploaded to the web by another user. She makes it clear that any user who is opposed to this technology has the ability to opt out and to exclude their profile photos from the database. Her argument, however, has not convinced some skeptics. This software’s existence has raised red flags for several privacy organizations and government officials; and regulators in Europe have chosen not to allow this feature at all.
This software, while interesting and possibly helpful, makes some people uncomfortable. Many wonder what dangers might appear in the future as a result of facial recognition software. Some even fear cooperation between Facebook and other entities, though Facebook resoundingly denies such theories. To get the full story, click here.
Plans for securing government networks in order to protect against cybercrime and hacking is essential. The problem of cyber security is vital—and will only become more important with time—for courts. Information that is stored within a courtroom is sensitive; maintaining control over who has access to those materials is crucial. As legal and courtroom technology continues to advance, security of courtrooms’ networks will be one of the most important areas of development and one of the areas most vital to success.
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Police officers are prohibited from searching a phone during or after an arrest unless they have obtained a warrant. The time that elapses between seizure of a cell phone and the obtaining of the warrant provides enough of a window for a person to successfully remotely wipe the contents of the phone before the police are able to secure the necessary evidence. This creates a dilemma – how can police keep people from destroying possible evidence without violating the Fourth Amendment?
Apparently, the only ‘technology’ required to protect the contents of the phone from being wiped is a simple roll of aluminum foil. When the police seize a phone, they simply have to wrap the phone in a few layers of aluminum foil and the chance of remote wiping of the phone will be almost completely eliminated. To learn more, http://gigaom.com/2013/08/28/how-tin-foil-could-prevent-warrantless-cell-phone-searches-while-preserving-evidence/.
During the Zimmerman murder trial today, remote testimony was being given via Skype with unexpected results. Scott Pleasants, a criminal justice professor at Seminole State College, was about two minutes into testimony when incoming call boxes started popping up on the screen. A loud “bing” noise accompanied each call and made it impossible to hear his testimony. Apparently Pleasant’s username was visible on the screen prompting the barrage of calls.
Pleasants tried to ignore the calls, but the judge ordered the lawyers to hang up the phone. Testimony eventually resumed via a cell phone conversation. To learn more go to www.huffingtonpost.
A paper just published in PNAS took a look at how our memories are reconsolidated after their retrieval. Once touched, a memory is no longer exactly the same. In showing just how easy it is to change certain kinds of memories, the authors not only raise new concerns for eyewitness testimony in the courtroom, but may explain in part why such testimony often tends to accumulate doubt in the face of continued questioning. In six experiments, researchers show that reconsolidation-associated amnesia can be achieved 48 hours after formation of the original memory, but only if relearning occurred soon after retrieval. The results demonstrate that human declarative memory can be selectively rewritten during reconsolidation. To learn more, click here.
Researchers at MIT are working on so-called “4D printing” technology that aims to bring the process up to the macro scale, enabling 3D-printed materials to be programmed to self-assemble into predefined shapes and structures. The 4D printing process (with the assembly over time) involves the use of materials that changes their shape in response to movement or environmental factors, such as the presence of water, air, and/or temperature changes. This is thought to be the first time that a program of transformation has been embedded directly into a material itself. The Self-Assembly Lab believes the technology has the potential to revolutionize a wide variety of fields, including “biology, material science, software, robotics, manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure, construction, the arts, and even space exploration.” To learn more, click here.
The idea of using definitions developed by popular consensus to define words in court cases arose when some lawyers and judges were confronted with unfamiliar words that aren’t defined either by Webster’s or Black’s dictionaries. They have turned to a street-slang resource, the Urban Dictionary. Though the Urban Dictionary gives some clarification of informal language, it is not totally reliable and could prove to be disastrous in court. Although a fan of the Urban Dictionary, Tom Dazell, senior editor of the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, notes that just because the definitions have popular support, it does not indicate they can be defended in court to represent true meaning. To learn more, go to http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/urban_dictionary_defines_slang_for_some_court_cases_but_is_it_accurate/.
Photography company Hama has announced a wireless card reader that is designed to wirelessly transfer photos to iOS devices. The wireless reader is compatible with SD, SDHC, SDXC, and mircoSD memory cards, in addition to portable USB drives. Users will be able to transfer their files via the free Wi-Fi Reader App. Additionally, users can stream content from the wireless device to the app, thus, allowing for expanded, wireless storage. Furthermore, the Reader can be used as a wireless router when connected to a hardwired network.
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BriCom Solutions has announced a docking device that will transform smartphones into walkie-talkies. The Alianza DxB will work without a network signal on VHF, UHF, and 800Mhz. When a network signal is available, the range of the walkie-talkie extends to anywhere in the world. Additionally, the device features an internal battery that powers the walkie-talkie, and charges the smartphone. Even if the smartphone is dead, the case will still perform walkie-talkie functions. Currently, BriCom is soliciting funding for the device’s development on the website KickStarter.
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