Tag Archives | Big Brother

China Tightens Electronic Censorship: ‘Protest’ Ends Phone Calls

Photo: Yoshi Canopus (CC)

Photo: Yoshi Canopus (CC)

The New York Times reports on some disturbing developments on China:

BEIJING — If anyone wonders whether the Chinese government has tightened its grip on electronic communications since protests began engulfing the Arab world, Shakespeare may prove instructive.

A Beijing entrepreneur, discussing restaurant choices with his fiancée over their cellphones last week, quoted Queen Gertrude’s response to Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” The second time he said the word “protest,” her phone cut off.

He spoke English, but another caller, repeating the same phrase on Monday in Chinese over a different phone, was also cut off in midsentence.

A host of evidence over the past several weeks shows that Chinese authorities are more determined than ever to police cellphone calls, electronic messages, e-mail and access to the Internet in order to smother any hint of antigovernment sentiment. In the cat-and-mouse game that characterizes electronic communications here, analysts suggest that the cat is getting bigger, especially since revolts began to ricochet through the Middle East and North Africa, and homegrown efforts to organize protests in China began to circulate on the Internet about a month ago.

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Scientists Develop Better Methods To Match Police Sketches To Mug Shots

Sketch To Mug ShotReports Michigan State University:
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The long-time practice of using police facial sketches to nab criminals has been, at best, an inexact art. But the process may soon be a little more exact thanks to the work of some Michigan State University researchers. A team led by MSU University Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Anil Jain and doctoral student Brendan Klare has developed a set of algorithms and created software that will automatically match hand-drawn facial sketches to mug shots that are stored in law enforcement databases. Once in use, Klare said, the implications are huge. “We’re dealing with the worst of the worst here,” he said. “Police sketch artists aren’t called in because someone stole a pack of gum. A lot of time is spent generating these facial sketches so it only makes sense that they are matched with the available technology to catch these criminals.”
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Coming To Britain: Unmanned Spy Drones And Facial Recognition Cameras

The Telegraph reports:

Unmanned spy drones, CCTV that recognises faces and cameras in the back of taxis could soon be the norm on the streets of Britain, the Home Office admitted yesterday.

Ministers signalled that advances in technology meant there was nothing to stop such controversial surveillance measures becoming commonplace.

Thales Watchkeeper WK450 UAV

Britain's Thales Watchkeeper WK450 spy drone

The warning came in proposals for a code of practice to better regulate the spread of CCTV amid fears there will be “unchecked proliferation” without it.

Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, said last year that Britain is heading towards becoming a surveillance state of unmanned spy drones, GPS tracking of employees and profiling through social networking sites.

He said the relentless march of surveillance had seen snooping techniques “intensify and expand” at such a pace that regulators were struggling to keep up.

The Coalition Government has pledged to row back the surveillance state and restore civil liberties.

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A Sensor System To Reveal When And How You Are Being Monitored

3279141121_4e76ac28dbA system called the sensor tricorder would allow individuals to scan locations with their smartphones to detect CCTV cameras and microphones, and receive information on how the recorded data was being used. Use would depend on manufacturers’ implementing the technology into their surveillance devices, however. New Scientist reports (in a dismissive-of-privacy-concerns fashion):

A new system designed to reveal when microphones, cameras and other sensors are recording could reassure those who are paranoid about their privacy.

Each device would carry a screen displaying a QR code, a kind of two-dimensional barcode that can be read by a smartphone camera. Every 5 minutes the tricorder system generates a new QR code that encodes a privacy report detailing the sensor’s activities, such as whether it is recording, where the material being stored and how long it will be kept. The report also includes a log of past sensor activity, so you can check whether you have been monitored before.

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Women Activists In UK Protest Police Infiltration And Sex Tactics

579px-New_Scotland_Yard_sign_3For all those who still imagine that infiltration of activists is a myth… From James Meikle at the Guardian:

Women activists are to blockade Scotland Yard today, intending to demand to know the identity of any undercover police who have infiltrated their organisations.

As evidence continued to emerge of police officers having had sexual relations with people they were monitoring, the women said they wanted to know if they had been “abused” by police.

Though senior police insisted that sleeping with activists during such operations was banned, a former agent claimed such “promiscuity” routinely had the blessing of commanders.

The activists’ concerns follow the revelation that the undercover PC Mark Kennedy had sexual relationships with several women during the seven years he spent infiltrating environmental activists’ groups. Last week the Guardian identified more officers who had sex with the protesters they were sent to spy on. One officer, Jim Boyling, married an activist and had two children with her…

[continues at the Guardian]

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Facial Recognition Technology Gains AI

Steve Lohr describes a truly alarming development in facial recognition technology, showing how it is already in use to control prison populations, and in all probability before long, the general public. In the video below Dr. Rosalind Picard demonstrates two technologies invented at MIT that the company leading the research, Affectiva, is developing into products. Check it out and read the whole New York Times story, it's information you should be fully aware of:
Hundreds of correctional officers from prisons across America descended last spring on a shuttered penitentiary in West Virginia for annual training exercises...
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The Impending Police State

policestateabbyVia Media Roots:

In George Orwell’s 1984, Britain is depicted as a totalitarian police state that is ruled by the Party, or Big Brother — an enigmatic, ubiquitous elite that controls society through heavy surveillance, nationalist propaganda and historical revisionism.

The concept seems like a far-fetched portrayal of a Democratic nation’s demise into totalitarianism, but in America’s “post 9/11” climate of fear, the United States government has been building a comprehensive grid of surveillance and control that bears frightening similarities to Orwell’s fictional narrative.

The glaring difference between the two is that Orwell’s dystopian society is overtly totalitarian. America, conversely, operates under a “soft fascism” – an insidious, systematic method of preventative action and corporate top-down control over society’s media, economy and politics – while maintaining the necessary illusion of personal choice and freedom. A populous with little to no concept of their subjugation makes them the perfect subjects to rule.… Read the rest

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BrumiLeaks, CCTV and the Attempted Murder of Democracy


Brummie: a native of the British city of Birmingham.
— Oxford English Dictionary

Whilst the WikiLeaks founder was languishing in a prison cell in London, a storm was brewing in England’s second largest city Birmingham, where leaked emails reveal the lengths that advocates of surveillance cameras will go to further their agenda. The BrumiLeaks may appear less controversial than the WikiLeaks that have dominated mainstream headlines in recent weeks, but they do more to lift the lid on just how the surveillance state continues its steady creep forward and why eternal vigilance is required by freedom loving citizens. A perfect example of what is happening the world over – for Birmingham read a town near you.

The Birmingham story so far …

Last month Birmingham City Council was named and shamed as the UK local authority that had spent the most on surveillance cameras between 2007 and 2010 [1]. The council and police in Birmingham also found themselves embroiled in a public relations disaster after they failed to properly consult residents about the installation of hundreds of CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras in leafy Birmingham suburbs – part of a project named ‘Project Champion’.… Read the rest

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Hate TSA Body Scans? Homeland Security Is Monitoring More Than You Realize

Body ScansLisa Rab writes on the Broward-Palm Beach New Times:

If you thought intrusive body scans and airport pat downs were just a fluke in the War on Terror bureaucracy, fear not: The Department of Homeland Security has plenty of other programs that will make your skin crawl.

For instance, Big Brother is reading your tweets and Facebook status updates, searching for dangerous words and phrases such as militia, Iraq, and, ironically, body scanner.

The program is called the “Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness Initiative,” and yes, it’s as strange as it sounds. The goal is appropriately vague, “to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture for the federal government.” Hmmm.

Scroll to page 17 of this recent Homeland Security report and you’ll find an extremely lengthy list of the terms — posted on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and other social media sites — that will grab the attention of government search engines.

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Cybershark Feeding Frenzy

An article (largely inspired by Disinfo posts—thank you) that contextualizes recent developments in an increasingly nosey society, published by Taki’s Magazine:

BBRO1-270x192The perverse coupling of surveillance and exhibitionism forms a cornerstone of American technocracy. Most Americans, be they liberals or libertarians, are unnerved by government agents, corporate data-miners, or high-tech Peeping Toms probing their personal details. And yet invasive, weirdly intimate technologies multiply like digital cockroaches, all but devouring the expectation of privacy taken for granted only a generation ago. Progress is simply too en vogue to resist.

Reality television brings a glamorous air to perpetual surveillance. The genre has enjoyed immense popularity over the last decade—comprising nearly a fifth of new broadcast programs this season—with cameramen poking into American life’s every facet. From moneyed luxury’s heights to the working-class struggle’s dregs, everyone’s in line for their 15 minutes of fame.

Consequently, the art of living on film is continually refined.… Read the rest

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