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The Extinction of Privacy and Personal Security Via Biometrics and the Cashless Society

In a survey of 1,000 UK shoppers by the retail personalisation company RichRelevance, respondents were asked to rate a suite of in-store shopping technologies as either “cool” or “creepy”, and facial recognition fell decidedly on the creepy end of the scale.

In this survey it was found that companies will soon be using a range of technical tools to achieve sales via personalised product recommendations and promotions, screens displaying their products, possibly utilising an image of you and even getting assistants to bring products, say clothes, and automatically unlock dressing room doors.

Of course, the only way they can do this is by using facial recognition systems. As soon as you walk in store, your mobile gives you away. This provides the retailer with sufficient information to identify your age and gender, whether you are are a high-value customer and your spending habits. All of this was found to be very ‘creepy’ by respondents.

There are no laws or guidelines limiting their use and as soon as it gets into the wrong hands problems occur. One would not normally think that our own security services would be a threat to innocent civilians going about their lawful business.

Police forces in England and Wales have uploaded up to 18 million “mugshots” to a facial recognition database – despite a court ruling to be unlawful. They include photos of people never charged, or others cleared of an offence, and were uploaded without Home Office approval.

Photos of “hundreds of thousands” of innocent people may be on the database, an independent commissioner said. Biometrics Commissioner Alastair MacGregor QC said he was concerned about the implications of the system for privacy and civil liberties. Speaking in his first interview, he told Newsnight that police forces had begun setting up a searchable database of mugshots last year, without telling either him or the Home Office. Almost every police force in England and Wales had now supplied photographs, he said.

Facial recognition systems are already used by Britain’s spy agencies and by the Border Force at UK airports and ports. The FBI now has a database that covers one third of the the American adult population, so does Britain’s police and security services.

And what of the accuracy of these systems? Last summer, the Facebook artificial intelligence team announced that its facial-recognition software passed key tests with near human-level accuracy. It presented a further development: Yann LeCun, the AI team’s director, boasted that a different algorithm could identify people 83 percent of the time even if their faces were not even in the picture. The program instead works from a person’s hairdo, posture, and body type.

The issue is that no one really gave the authorities or private companies for that matter the authority to use, store or sell your face. Terms and Conditions wrapped up in dozens of pages of legal speak is not good enough. What if corrupt officers or hackers switch images of the guilty to the innocent?

 

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Argentine and Brazilian Doctors Name Larvicide as Potential Cause of Microcephaly

A report from the Argentine doctors’ organisation, Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns,[1] challenges the theory that the Zika virus epidemic in Brazil is the cause of the increase in the birth defect microcephaly among newborns.

The increase in this birth defect, in which the baby is born with an abnormally small head and often has brain damage, was quickly linked to the Zika virus by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. However, according to the Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, the Ministry failed to recognise that in the area where most sick people live, a chemical larvicide that produces malformations in mosquitoes was introduced into the drinking water supply in 2014. This poison, Pyriproxyfen, is used in a State-controlled programme aimed at eradicating disease-carrying mosquitoes.

The Physicians added that the Pyriproxyfen is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese “strategic partner” of Monsanto. Pyriproxyfen is a growth inhibitor of mosquito larvae, which alters the development process from larva to pupa to adult, thus generating malformations in developing mosquitoes and killing or disabling them. It acts as an insect juvenile hormone or juvenoid, and has the effect of inhibiting the development of adult insect characteristics (for example, wings and mature external genitalia) and reproductive development. It is an endocrine disruptor and is teratogenic (causes birth defects), according to the Physicians.

The Physicians commented: “Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added Pyriproxyfen to drinking water are not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places a direct blame on the Zika virus for this damage.”

They also noted that Zika has traditionally been held to be a relatively benign disease that has never before been associated with birth defects, even in areas where it infects 75% of the population.

Since 2014, the insecticide Pyriproxyfen has been use to kill mosquitos in water tanks in Brazil

Larvicide the most likely culprit in birth defects

Pyriproxyfen is a relatively new introduction to the Brazilian environment; the microcephaly increase is a relatively new phenomenon. So the larvicide seems a plausible causative factor in microcephaly – far more so than GM mosquitoes, which some have blamed for the Zika epidemic and thus for the birth defects. There is no sound evidence to support the notion promoted by some sources that GM mosquitoes can cause Zika, which in turn can cause microcephaly. In fact, out of 404 confirmed microcephaly cases in Brazil, only 17 (4.2%) tested positive for the Zika virus.

Brazilian health experts agree Pyriproxyfen is chief suspect

The Argentine Physicians’ report, which also addresses the Dengue fever epidemic in Brazil, concurs with the findings of a separate report on the Zika outbreak by the Brazilian doctors’ and public health researchers’ organisation, Abrasco.[2]

Abrasco also names Pyriproxyfen as a likely cause of the microcephaly. It condemns the strategy of chemical control of Zika-carrying mosquitoes, which it says is contaminating the environment as well as people and is not decreasing the numbers of mosquitoes. Abrasco suggests that this strategy is in fact driven by the commercial interests of the chemical industry, which it says is deeply integrated into the Latin American ministries of health, as well as the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organisation.

Abrasco names the British GM insect company Oxitec as part of the corporate lobby that is distorting the facts about Zika to suit its own profit-making agenda. Oxitec sells GM mosquitoes engineered for sterility and markets them as a disease-combatting product – a strategy condemned by the Argentine Physicians as “a total failure, except for the company supplying mosquitoes”.

The poor suffer most

Both the Brazilian and Argentine doctors’ and researchers’ associations agree that poverty is a key neglected factor in the Zika epidemic. Abrasco condemned the Brazilian government for its “deliberate concealment” of economic and social causes: “In Argentina and across America the poorest populations with the least access to sanitation and safe water suffer most from the outbreak.” The Argentine Physicians agreed, stating, “The basis of the progress of the disease lies in inequality and poverty.”

Abrasco added that the disease is closely linked to environmental degradation: floods caused by logging and the massive use of herbicides on (GM) herbicide-tolerant soy crops – in short, “the impacts of extractive industries”.

The notion that environmental degradation may a factor in the spread of Zika finds backing in the view of Dino Martins, PhD, a Kenyan entomologist. Martins said that “the explosion of mosquitoes in urban areas, which is driving the Zika crisis” is caused by “a lack of natural diversity that would otherwise keep mosquito populations under control, and the proliferation of waste and lack of disposal in some areas which provide artificial habitat for breeding mosquitoes”.

 

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