Tuesday, December 22, 2009

DirecTV saga complete

DirecTV just called me; the new lady in charge of arbitration cheerfully and apologetically refunded the $210 early cancellation fee. See past posts for the drama. Contractually I had to wait 60 days after notification of arbitration before I could file for arbitration; that would've been this past Sunday.. so it took them just over 2 months to respond to my notice.
It was well worth the letters and phone calls I had to make.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Orwell would be proud

Big Brother is watching you.
THE retail giant Westfield is considering introducing controversial face recognition technology at its Penrith shopping centre in Sydney's west.

Unlike closed circuit television (CCTV), the identification system matches images captured by surveillance cameras to an existing database of faces.

The Herald understands Westfield is considering upgrading its already advanced CCTV to include the biometric technology in its security measures.

Police said they could not comment on the centre's intentions, but would welcome any move to improve security and technology in the area. They said many businesses already used face recognition systems without public knowledge.

''You'd be surprised at how many have it,'' Detective Inspector Grant Healey of Penrith said. ''Any tool that helps us identify offenders is a great tool for us, too.

''Some [face recognition systems] can go live, so if they walk into the place, it will tell you that they're in there.''

Westfield would not comment on any plans to introduce the technology at its Penrith shopping centre, but a company spokeswoman said it was not used at present. ''I wouldn't comment on what we might be considering,'' she said.

''There are different security needs at different centres.''

The use of face recognition surveillance has alarmed privacy advocates.

''I think it's an extremely dangerous thing,'' the chairman of the Australian Privacy Foundation, Dr Roger Clarke, said. ''There's no control to ensure it will only be used for crooks.''

The technology has already been used at Sydney Airport for passengers to check themselves through passport control and it is used by police and by the Roads and Traffic Authority to combat identity fraud.

Professor Maciej Henneberg, of the University of Adelaide, said the recognition technology would be particularly useful in shopping centres. ''I would advocate this to be used more and more,'' he said.

''It will prevent many individuals who have criminal records of being a danger to normal shoppers in malls.

''Most of the CCTV systems now in shopping malls, service stations and in banks produce images of poor quality,''Professor Henneberg said.