Internet hackers have stolen tens of thousands of pictures of travelers and vehicles collected at the United States border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, officials confirmed the attack on Monday. The agency said the photographs were stolen from the computer network of a contractor that captures the images for the government. Officials did not name the contractor.
A CBP spokesman told the Associated Press that the agency believes that the incident involved the photographs of fewer than 100,000 people. Images were taken of travelers in vehicles entering and leaving the United States at a single land border crossing over one-and-a-half months, the spokesman said. The images also included license plates of vehicles crossing the border.
The CBP said in a statement that it learned of the cyberattack on May 31. The agency said the government contractor violated CBP policies by copying the pictures to the company’s computer network. Officials said only the contracting company’s network was hit in the cyberattack. The CBP’s computer systems remained safe.
The CBP statement said none of the image information had so far been identified as appearing on the internet or the “dark web.” The dark web is a part of the internet that cannot be found through normal search engines. It uses digital tools to hide identifying information and is often used for criminal activity.
The CBP said it was working with other law enforcement agencies “to actively investigate” the attack. The agency said it had “removed from service” all equipment related to the incident and was closely watching all CBP work done by the contractor.
“CBP takes its privacy and cybersecurity responsibilities very seriously and demands all contractors to do the same,” the agency statement said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS described its automated vehicle license readers in a 2017 privacy document. The document said the readers are used for identifying, catching “and removing individuals illegally entering the United States at and between ports of entry or otherwise violating U.S. law.”
The license plate information is checked against existing records shared among 13 federal agencies, the AP reported.
Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi serves as chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. Thompson noted that the incident was the “second major privacy breach at DHS this year.”
In March, the DHS’s inspector general announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency had wrongly released to a contractor the personal information of 2.3 million U.S. disaster survivors.
Thompson said in a statement that U.S. officials “must ensure we are not expanding the use of biometrics at the expense of the privacy of the American public.”
The British computer security website The Register said the hacker responsible informed the publication in late May of the attack. The Register identified the government contractor as the company Perceptics. The company has not yet publicly discussed the hacking incident.
The Tennessee-based company describes itself as the provider of license-plate readers for passenger vehicle inspection “at all land border ports of entry in the United States, Canada and at the most critical lanes in Mexico.”
Civil liberties groups have expressed concern at the general lack of rules covering license plate-reading cameras and image collection by government agencies and law enforcement. Critics say the technology carries the risk of abuses when the private information of citizens is widely shared among agencies or stolen in cyberattacks.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, the Financial Times and online sources. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.
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Words in This Story
hacker – n. a person who secretly gets control of a computer system to get information or cause damage
network – n. system permitting people to communicate and share information through the internet using a computer or mobile phone
contractor– n. a person or company that signs a contract to provide materials or labor to perform a service or do a job
license plate – n. a metal sign with numbers on it that is attached to the back of front of a vehicle
cyberattack – n. an attempt to illegally enter a computer system with the purpose of causing damage or harm
automated – adj. made to operate by machines or computers, not humans
breach – n. an act of breaking a rule, law, custom or practice
biometrics – n. involving the application of statistical analysis to biological data
at the expense of – phrase. in a way that harms someone or something
Beyond World Cup, US Team Hopes for Greater Support for Women's Game
The U.S. women’s national soccer team began its effort to capture a fourth World Cup championship Tuesday with a record-breaking win.
The U.S. beat Thailand 13-0 in the first round of Group F play.
Along with winning championships and setting records, the U.S. women hope to break through barriers in their sport.
For years, professional women soccer players have suffered low pay and a lack of sponsorship deals. Such problems have a common source: the lack of a large audience.
This year, however, could be different, as France holds the 2019 women’s World Cup event. FIFA, soccer’s governing body, is predicting one billion people will watch the games around the world. That would be an increase of over 30 percent from the 2015 women’s World Cup, held in Canada.
American soccer player and 2015 World Cup winner Julie Ertz says her team is thinking mainly about two things: winning and increasing the sport’s popularity.
She said, “That’s been a huge goal of this team — to continue to grow the sport...It’s exciting to be a part of the growth of the sport.”
The U.S. team is the most successful team in women’s soccer. They have won three World Cups since women joined the event in 1991, four Olympic golds in the last six Games and have topped the FIFA women's teams’ ratings every year but one for the last 11 years.
At an open training session, French children surrounded the U.S. players in hopes of getting autographs. They shouted for Alex Morgan, whose fearless way of playing has made her one of the biggest names in the sport.
Yet, even with their success, the American women earn much less prize money than the less successful U.S. men’s team.
In 2015, the women’s team made $2 million after becoming world champions. A year earlier, the men earned $9 million after losing in the Round of 16 of the World Cup event held in Brazil.
In a sign of growing recognition for the women’s game, the prize money has doubled this year to $4 million. In comparison, France’s victorious men’s team earned $38 million in 2018.
American player Lindsey Horan said this year’s World Cup, “in itself is going to change things for women’s soccer, how we play and how the world sees us.”
I’m Caty Weaver.
The Reuters news agency reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
sponsorship - n. an arrangement in which a sponsor agrees to give money to someone or something
audience - n. a group of people who gather together to listen to something (such as a concert) or watch something (such as a movie or play): the people who attend a performance
EPISODE 190612 / 12 JUN 2019
Learn language related to…
puncture-resistant – strong enough to prevent holes appearing
sensors – pieces of equipment that react to changes in heat or light
simulated – created as a model to test something
algorithms – mathematical rules used by a computer to calculate something
automation – operation using machines not humans
What percentage of stationary items could the robot identify?
This robot can automatically sort recyclable rubbish. The RoCycle system by MIT has a soft, puncture-resistant hand. Pressure sensors on its fingertips detect an object’s size and material. It then autonomously places the item in the appropriate recycle bin.
Professor Daniela Rus, Director, MIT CSAIL
With computer vision alone, the systems are not able to separate paper from plastic. Many paper and plastic cups look the same, but by introducing the ability to squeeze the object and to know whether it’s flexible or not – we are able to go one step beyond what today’s methods can do.
The goal of the system is to reduce the back-end cost of recycling. It currently has 85 percent accuracy in identifying stationary items, but only 63 percent accuracy on a simulated conveyer belt.
A common error was identifying paper-covered tins as paper. But how are researchers looking to improve the system?
Professor Daniela Rus, Director, MIT CSAIL
We plan to create a much more detailed sensorised skin. We plan to develop the hand at different sizes and we plan to improve our algorithms for recognition. We’re very excited to see the use of robot automation in solving a problem that matters globally.
Did you get it?
What percentage of stationary items could the robot identify?
The robot currently has 85 percent accuracy in identifying stationary items.
EPISODE 190612 / 12 JUN 2019
Learn today's words: puncture-resistant, sensors, simulated, algorithms, automation
EPISODE 190605 / 05 JUN 2019
Learn today's words: industrial processing, diets, nutritional content, additive, rich in
EPISODE 190529 / 29 MAY 2019
Learn today's words: rivalries, round-robin, favourites, warm-up game, trophy
EPISODE 190522 / 22 MAY 2019
Learn today's words: fungi, nutrients, subterranean, vulnerable, flourish
EPISODE 190515 / 15 MAY 2019
Learn today's words and phrases: restoring, varnish, painstaking, stroke
Boat captain says he was paid to take 65 Rohingya to Malaysia
national June 13, 2019 01:00
By THE NATION
POLICE SUSPECT a group of 65 Rohingya and five Myanmar men may have been trafficked from Bangladesh where over a million of them are being sheltered, after a Thai captain admitted that he was paid to take them across the Andaman Sea to Southeast Asia.
The Thai authorities yesterday sent 70 alleged illegal immigrants to detention at the Satun Immigration Police Office and two local police stations.
The confinement is related to a probe launched on Tuesday into alleged human trafficking.
At the Chalung Police Station where he was detained along with some 20 Rohingya, the 49-year-old boat captain, Thai national Sangkhom Paphan from Ranong province, allegedly admitted that he was hired for Bt100,000 by a Myanmar investor to collect the immigrants from Bangladesh and transport them to Malaysia. Authorities have laid initial charges against him for bringing illegal immigrants into the country.
The captain and 70 passengers were rounded up by Third Naval Region officers on Tuesday after their vessel, which ran out of fuel three days earlier, was swept ashore at Koh Rawi in Tambon Koh Sarai of Satun’s Muang district. They were brought to the mainland in Langu district at 10pm on Tuesday.
As the fuel ran out, Sangkhom said he anchored the boat in mid-seas for three days to await a refill delivery, as the investor had promised, but it failed to arrive before strong waves swept the boat to the shore – information which matched the immigrants’ initial testimony.
The passengers received health screening and primary treatment as per the humanitarian principle, and were questioned about whether they were lured by a human trafficking gang.
Meanwhile, Satun Islamic Committee president Arun Maji said he had instructed his deputy to co-ordinate donations for food aid and needed items for the 65 Muslim Rohingya. The Rohingya was sent to stay at a shelter in Songkhla’s Rattaphum district, he said.
The Rohingya community in Thailand would look out for the boat passengers, said the chairman of the Rohingya Association in Thailand, Siyeed Alam. “But we have to wait for the Thai authorities to allow us access to them,” he said, noting that he was worried that the authorities might detain them for a long time and then send them to Myanmar.
Speaking from Nya Pyi Taw yesterday, Police Brigadier General Myint Htoo of Myanmar’s anti-human trafficking police told The Nation that Myanmar authorities have yet to be made aware of the fresh group of migrants landing in Thailand.
“So far, the Thai police forces have not informed us of the arrest, so we believe they will be able to address the issue in a short period of time. Myanmar will be happy to cooperate with the Thai police and relevant authorities if there is any room for that matter. We are always willing to join hands with our neighbouring countries regarding trans-boundary issues.
“We are happy to provide any necessary support they need, if we are informed of that through an official channel,” he said.
More than 900,000 stateless Rohingya refugees live in crowded settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. It is estimated that 741,000 of them have fled from Myanmar since the most recent round of violence targeting them began in August 2017, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The repatriation plan reached by Nay Pyi Taw and Dhaka to return the first batch of 2,000 returnees hit a stalemate last November, due to the refugees’ fears for their safety upon their return.
An observer said the fear of repatriation might motivate Rohingya to take the dangerous journey across the Indian Ocean to Southeast Asia, where Malaysia is the prime destination with Thailand a transit point.
Open the stage to listen to public opinion, draft of the city plan (4th time improvement) aimed at developing Bangkok to "Create a happy city”
business June 06, 2019
Mr. Taweesak Lertprapan, Deputy Governor of Bangkok, Opened a meeting to hear the opinions of the people on the Bangkok city plan (4th time improvement) to present the essence of the Bangkok city plan to the public and listening to comments from people in all sectors in order to improve the Bangkok city plan which is a procedure under Section 19 of the City Planning Act, 1975. To develop Bangkok to "Creating a Happy City" sustainable. At the west sports Building 2, Bangkok Youth Center (Thai-Japan), Din Daeng District.
For activities within the event, there are exhibitions about laying and organizing the city plan including Bangkok (4th time improvement). To present information to attendees to participate in the drafting of the Bangkok Comprehensive Plan in addition, there is a forum to present the Bangkok city plan (4th time improvement) both the map and specification and city planning measures. Then, the participants were given the opportunity to express their opinions and ask questions. Which received a lot of attention from the participants.
Deputy Governor of Bangkok said meeting to hear the public's comments on the Bangkok city plan it is open to the public to participate in the improvement of the overall plan. The focus is to use the space to be the most suitable and useful. In the past Bangkok has continuously improved the city plan currently holding for the 4th time. By creating a comprehensive city plan consisting of 4 plans is :
- Land use plan for land use in accordance with the future development of the city in accordance with the expansion of the population, economy, society, infrastructure. To be suitable for the development of mass transit systems To promote the environment and enhance the quality of life for everyone.
- Schematic showing the open space for the benefit of preserving the environment and recreation.
- Map showing transportation and transportation projects show future transportation network In accordance with the development and expansion of the city.
- Schematic showing utility projects in order to promote and develop the utility system to be adequate for service. In the Bangkok city plan presented today get more ideas "Development of the area around the mass transit station or TOD" To promote the use of mixed land and high density in the area around the mass transit station. And also increasing the total area of the building per area or FAR Bonus from 5 forms to 8 forms and increase the rights transfer measure (TDR). Which is a measure of fairness for the owners of conservation buildings and rural and agricultural conservation areas and measures for large-scale development projects (PUD) Considered as a measure to promote land development for large projects to be more flexible.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will use the comments received from today's meeting to adjust the draft of the Bangkok city plan. To present to the Bangkok City Planning Council, Town Planning Board, To consider and approve before entering the 90 day announcement process. Which will be another step for people to participate in the comments. Subsequently, the government gazette will enter into the procedures relating to the enforcement of ministerial regulations to continue using the new Bangkok city plan. Which is expected that Bangkok will have a new city plan to enforce the current version around the end of 2020.
For interested people, can follow the progress of laying and preparing a new Bangkok city plan at Website: www.Plan4bangkok.com or call: 0 2354 1274 - 75 mobile: 09 7289 0402 and 09 7289 0403
June 13, 2019