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Digital driver’s licenses come with one small (big) problem

Iowa announces it is testing driver’s licenses on phones. But what if a police officer asks to take your phone, so that he can check your license in his own vehicle?

by Chris Matyszczyk @ChrisMatyszczyk
December 11, 2014 5:50 PM PST

Can a digital driver’s license ever be secure? Iowa wants to find out.KETV/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Our cars, our houses and the rest of our lives will soon be controllable through our cell phones.

It’s convenient and, well, it allows us to be entirely digital, traceable beings.

When Iowa’s Department of Transportationannounced Wednesday that it was testing driver’s licenses on phones, there was fascination. The idea was that there would be a free app that contained your license. When you need to show it, you tap in a PIN code and there it would be.

It’s easy to forget conventional driver’s licenses. They’re piddly and fiddly. How much more convenient it would be if they were just stored in our phones, along with our boarding passes, insurance cards and pictures of the lover we met last Friday?

Just as I was bathing in the sense of it all, I suffered a momentary lack of oxygenation. Like many others, I’m not sure I would enjoy freely handing my phone to a police officer. They can be curious people — sometimes, very curious.

If I hand them my phone in order to show them my license, won’t it be a little tempting for them to check what else I have on it? After all, during many a traffic stop, an officer will ask you to stay in your car, take your license and insurance, then go back to his or her own vehicle to check their legitimacy.

If your phone was taken, wouldn’t the temptation of additional discovery be too great? After all, who could forget the police officer who insisted that everyone who plays frisbee golf must be a pot smoker? (That happened in, oh, Iowa.)

What if he had the frisbee golfer’s phone in his vehicle and tried to search it to confirm his hunch?

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Torture report: CIA interrogations chief was involved in Latin American torture camps

Senior agent in torture programme was recommended for censure decades earlier for “inappropriate use of interrogation techniques”

US Army Sgt. Fernando Diaz blind folded has ice-cold water dumped over his head during a mock interrogation simulating water boarding at Schofield Barracks in Wahiawa, Hawaii Photo: Alamy

By Peter Foster, Washington
7:00AM GMT 11 Dec 2014

The CIA officer tasked with interrogating the most important prisoners in America’s secret detention programme allegedly abused captives during the agency’s covert operations in Latin America in the 1980s, it has emerged.
The US Senate’s three-year inquiry into the CIA’s use of torture after September 11 reveals that a senior agent involved in the programme was recommended for censure decades earlier for “inappropriate use of interrogation techniques”.

The unnamed officer was appointed to head the CIA’s “high value detainee” team in autumn 2002, shortly after the agency began waterboarding a prisoner at secret detention centre in Afghanistan.

Human rights groups said that the agent’s promotion despite his track record of abusing prisoners was evidence that that the CIA did not hold its officers accountable for torture.

“We should all be afraid that many of these agents are still at the CIA and used in the same sorts of operations when they have already shown they cannot be trusted,” said Katherine Hawkins of, a pro-transparency group.

According to the 480-page report, the CIA had engaged in torture during the Cold War, when Soviet defector Yuri Nosenko was detained for three years and subjected to the sensory deprivation and forced standing techniques that would later be used against al-Qaeda detainees.

During testimony to Congress in 1978 one former officer charged with investigating Nosenko’s torture described his treatment as an “abomination”.

The techniques used against Nosenko were taken from the CIA’s “KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Manual” drawn up by the CIA in 1963, which served as the basis of the so-called ‘torture manuals’ that were provided by the CIA to at least seven Latin American countries in the 1980s.

According to the report, the agent who would become the CIA’s chief of interrogations beginning in 2002 “was involved in training and conducted interrogations” in Latin America during that era. The report goes on to say that “the CIA inspector general later recommended that he be orally admonished for inappropriate use of interrogation techniques.”

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