Photo: Flickr/ Loren Javier
Last week WikiLeaks published internal emails from the U.S. private security firm Stratfor that describe a widespread surveillance network called TrapWire that was created and is run by former members of the CIA.RT first broke the story about the system’s staggering reach into the privacy of passersby and informative stories followed.
But one thing – besides the fact that the founder of TrapWire’s parent company said the software “can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition” – proves to us that the reporting on TrapWire is rooted in reality: Mickey Mouse does it.
A Naomi Wolf article in the Guardian about the rise of security cameras at Occupy hangouts and the multi-billion dollar biometric technologies industry includes this story:
A software engineer … visited Disneyland, and … the theme park offered him the photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it. He noted that he had never entered his name or information into anything at the theme park, or indicated that he wanted a photo, or alerted the humans at the ride to who he and his girlfriend were – so, he said, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology. He had never signed an agreement allowing them to do so, and he declared that this use was illegal. He also claimed that Disney had recently shared data from facial-recognition technology with the United States military.
It turns out that Disney applies biometrics – that is, the statistical analysis of biological data – in the form of scanning visitor fingerprint information and identifying people with facial recognition software.
In fact, “Walt Disney World is responsible for the nation’s largest single commercial application of biometrics” and after 9/11 the government sought “Disney’s advice in intelligence, security and biometrics,” as reported in 2006 by Karen Hamel of News 21.
Hamel listed several former Disneyland employees that have gone on to fill “some of the most sensitive positions in the U.S. intelligence and security communities,” including:
• Disney executive Gordon Levin, who was part of a group convened by the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies to help develop a plan for “Passenger Protection and Identity Verification” at airports by using biometrics.
• Eric Haseltine, who left his post as executive vice president of research and development at Walt Disney Imagineering in 2002 to become associate director for research at the NSA and then became National Intelligence Director John Negroponte’s assistant director for science and technology.
• Bran Ferren, who served on advisory boards for the Senate Intelligence Committee and offered his technological expertise to the NSA and the DHS.
So if Mickey does it at “the most wonderful place on Earth” – and willingly shares his biometrics secrets with the government – then it’s no stretch that TrapWire actively spies on people all over the world.
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