back to article US spooks want 'stand off' biometrics-harvesting iPhones

Sinister government agencies will soon be able to harvest our biometrics from afar without us even realising it has happened, according to reports. Even worse, one of the main tools of the coming surveillocracy is expected to be the beloved Jesus Phone, evilly twisted from its intended purpose of bringing peace and wellbeing to …


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  1. Dan
    Thumb Down

    Only one problem...

    ...the iPhone camera is crap. What's the point in all this genius-tech if the original image is pants?

    The Animetrics blurb also reads disturbingly like Apple hype.

    Yours, an iPhone user.


  2. Tom Clark

    they're joking, surely...

    "operators are able to quickly and easily capture high quality images of people"...

    Obviously whoever wrote that has never actually used an iPhone - the image quality is appaling and invariably all you get is a picture of the floor!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not to start a a fanboy war or anything..

    But wouldn't a phone with a decent camera be better for this?

  4. Ian Michael Gumby
    Black Helicopters

    Its a good thing that the iPhone isn't powerful enough..

    While yeah, you can record voices, you can take pictures on your iPhone, it doesn't have enough power to easily and quickly isolate a face or a voice from the background noise. (Maybe if you have one person talking and you're in a silent sound proof room...

    There's no reason why using a 4G (WiMax) connection that you couldn't take the shot, crop it and send the cropped (uncompressed) image and or a voice file to a larger computer and let it do the heavy lifting.

  5. Russell Rimmer

    Better be good at removing motion blur

    Wait - "quickly and easily capture high quality images"?!

    Have these guys actually used the camera in the iPhone?

  6. Jonathan White
    Black Helicopters

    Haven't they seen Spooks?

    Err.. sounds like they still have to take a photo of you to do it. Taking a photo with an iPhone ain't exactly a subtle thing to do. Plus there's no reason they couldn't do the same thing with a windows mobile phone, if some bothers to write an app for it.

    In fact, why are they mucking about with phones at all? Given the prevalance of CCTV in our new shiny 'enhanced freedom' Britain, why not just grab the photos off CCTV feeds from nice warm offices without having to go out and mix with the surly proletariat?


  7. Ian Ferguson
    Paris Hilton

    Are they mad?

    "quickly and easily capture high quality images of people for identification purposes"

    Have they ever tried taking a photo with an iPhone? 'Quick', 'Easy' and 'High Quality' are attributes I would NOT apply!

    I take it they'll be using some kind of external face-grabbing gadget. And then... er... emailing it to the iPhone, given it's lack of bluetooth or wired data transfer potential?

    I'm wondering if these geniuses have seen an iPhone firsthand, or just noticed that all the cool kids have them nowadays.

  8. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Once upon a Time, in a Land of Plenty and Rot .....

    But does it stop Central Intelligence Agencies from running around as effectively as a Headless Chicken?

    I don't think so. In fact, it will probably result in a plague of chaotic non-effective action/dead end action . Although that all depends on whether they can get their Act together with a Write to Maximum Utility Script which Captures the Colourful Vital and Virile XXXXStreams Flooding into the MainStream WhiteWash.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    this is a title

    Well.... better dust off my trusty old anti camara hammer then.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Apple barstewards

    And iPhoto '09 intergrates a face recognition system as well. Boycott all Mac products before we're all doomed. Doomed I say.

    Also, on a similar note, welcome IARPA, our evil face-grabbing new overlords.

  11. Pavlovs well trained dog

    I was..

    .. going to point out how utterly shyte the iPhone camera is, but, well, many have got there first.

    yours truly

    a happy iphoner

  12. Richard Pennington

    Biometric evasion technology

    Biometrics from photographs only work if the picture actually includes a few biometric reference points. For me, most of the reference points in the lower half of my face are hidden by my Biometric Entropy And Randomness Device ... which I have been wearing, in various configurations, since 1979.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Waht utter bollocks

    No other way to descibe super hi tech surveillance equipment defeated by a crap pair of sunglasses and a peak cap.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    false positive

    As the purpose for doing this is probably to authorize a hellfire missle strike from an orbiting predator drone, it's gonna put a whole new layer of meaning on "eliminating false positives".

  15. ian

    The future is blindingly bright!

    Simply create a new iTunes store application named iDossier.

    Mine's the one with cosh in the pocket.

  16. Eddy Ito
    Black Helicopters

    How long?

    It's only a matter of time before they're sampling DNA from pheromones and body odor. Not only will they know where you were, they'll know who you were doing at the time too! McCarthy never had it so good.

  17. Steve

    I, for one...

    ...welcome our new hip and fashionable overlords

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @ Richard Pennington

    Hahahaha.... Brilliant!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple drinks the kool-aid

    Not only is the Jesus phone helping them but iPhoto 09 has face recognition too. A dubious feature for users but great for spooks !!

    Couple pics with the faces recognized to the serial number that the camera stamps in the image file (metadata) and the spooks (or anyone really) can link YOU the picture taker to the people in the pictures.

    Now how many pictures have you uploaded to the Free Spook Biometrics Library er... I mean Flikr, Facebook, MySpace etc ????

  20. Charles Manning

    Wh do the editiong in the field?

    Send the raw piccy back to an office where a desk-jockey can edit/biomteritise the image on a PC with better editing tools.

    Don't need an iphone for that.

  21. Francis Liu

    They're trying to justify ubying iphones for their field spooks

    It's clear that this is an attempt by some folks in the Agency to try and justify spending a bunch of $$$ on iPhones for the spooks in the field. They want all that lovely goodness that the civilian have. So they've invented this twaddle.

    All the managers and higher-ups have them, this is a lame excuse for them to have them too.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MacBook, etc...

    My nice little MacBook has a nice little camera built into the lid, pointing at my face all the time! I have just ordered iLife09. Should I be worried? Would a lump of BluTack keep me out of The Database? Help!

    What's next, fingerprint-sensing keyboards?

    Posting anonymously because - well, you know!

  23. Anonymous Coward

    CCTV Face Regonition

    The technology is already available and in use to perform real-time face recognition from CCTV. This could easily track you as you walk about the streets of London. The only thing preventing it's wider-scale use is the fact that most CCTVs (currently) have crap quality.

  24. Tom Chiverton


    Shh... don't mention the Data Protection Act requires informed consent...

  25. Anonymous Coward


    The DPA requires informed consent, unless the government has given that particular data gathering exercise an opt-out. Such as the number plate cameras in the London congestion charge zone, and your Oyster travel records.

  26. John Sawyer

    But wait, there's more

    When I read the headline of this article, I thought "They're talking about taking pictures of you, using your own cellphone, whenever you use it to make a video call, or even by remotely activating it."

    Though the article doesn't mention these possibilities, they're still possible, or likely. It's already been revealed lately, that the "intelligence" communities record ALL electronic communications of every sort. They're able to get amazing compliance for their surveillance goals, from governments, communications companies, etc.--and, no doubt, from manufacturers too. It's the old "In Russia, TV watches YOU!" bit.

    As for retina scanning from a high-flying surveillance drone, don't count on it--too high up--it will be done from the ground. Though if an individual wants to foil a retina scanner, it's likely that a contact lens could be developed (if it doesn't already exist) that prevents it, while still allowing the user to see through the lens quite well. Though if they detect anyone wearing these contacts, that would probably automatically trigger action for more direct observation.

    @Eddy Ito:

    "It's only a matter of time before they're sampling DNA from pheromones and body odor."

    No, there's no DNA in pheromones and body odor, but it might be possible to grab a few skin cells you shed as you walk past a collection/analysis device.

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