Tag Archives | Surveillance

A Letter to George Orwell from a High School Student

The Library of Congress hosts a national reading and writing program (Letters about Literature) that invites students in grades 4-12 to write letters to an author – living or deceased. Here’s one such letter from Devi Acharya in Missouri.

via The Library of Congress blog:

George Orwell

George Orwell

To George Orwell:

You were right, you were right, you were right. I’m sorry I never saw it before, and I feel like an idiot, sitting here and penning this to you when you were so unspeakably right. You shouldn’t have published those books of yours under the guise of fiction—how could fiction be what’s happening outside my very doorstep! People get so worked up, angry at some imaginary oppressive tyrant when the very dystopias we fear and loathe are being built around us. I’m only just beginning to see them myself—brick and mortar meant to keep worlds apart, shields of hatred and arrows of intolerance, warlords arming for battle while the unwitting peasants continue to live from day to day.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Disney World’s MagicBand: ‘Welcome to Dataland, Princess’

Cinderella Castle.jpg

“Cinderella Castle” by Katie Rommel-Esham. Licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0-us via Wikimedia Commons.

Ian Bogost’s essay at Medium analyzes the unabashed tracking of customers at Disney World, where “Dataland suggests that once data surveillance becomes transactional, it rapidly becomes exhibitionist.” He and his family have just arrived in the Magic Kingdom and been issued with their MagicBand bracelets:

…Later, after deploying my MagicBand to allow entry into our hotel room, I read the My Disney Experience FAQ, which explains the operation of the MagicBand. It’s an uncharacteristic offering for a company so devoted to “magic” as a black-boxed secret sauce. I learn that in addition to the expected RFID allowing short-range communication at touch-points—room entry, park admission, and points of purchase—the MagicBand also includes a long-range radio transceiver, which communicates with receivers located throughout the Disney properties. The FAQ clarifies, in the vaguest possible way, that these long-range readers are used “to deliver personalized experiences…as well as provide information that helps us improve the overall experience in our parks.”

Disney assures guests that the MagicBands do not store any personal information, just a code used to reference your account in Disney databases.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Hidden Systems That Have Frozen Time and Stop Us Changing The World

Adam curtis.jpg

A tremendous essay from filmmaker (The Power of Nightmares, The Century of the Self) Adam Curtis for the BBC is a must read for all disinfonauts:

If you are an American politician today, as well as an entourage you also have a new, modern addition. You have what’s called a “digital tracker”. They follow you everywhere with a high-definition video camera, and they are employed by the people who want to destroy your political career.

It’s called “opposition research” and the aim is to constantly record everything you say and do. The files are sent back every night to large anonymous offices in Washington where dozens of researchers systematically compare everything you said today with what you said in the past.

They are looking for contradictions. And if they find one – they feed it, and the video evidence, to the media.

On one hand it’s old politics – digging up the dirt on your opponent.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Does Uncle Sam Have a God Complex?

Uncle Sam (pointing finger)As a matter of faith, some people believe that God can see and hear everything. But as a matter of fact, the U.S. government now has the kind of surveillance powers formerly attributed only to a supreme being.

Top “national security” officials in Washington now have the determination and tech prowess to keep tabs on billions of people. No one elected Uncle Sam to play God. But a dire shortage of democratic constraints has enabled the U.S. surveillance state to keep expanding with steely resolve.

By the time Edward Snowden used NSA documents to expose — beyond any doubt — a global surveillance dragnet, the situation had deteriorated so badly because the Bush and Obama administrations were able to dismiss earlier warnings to the public as little more than heresy.

Eight years ago, in the book “State of War,” New York Times reporter James Risen devoted a chapter to the huge expansion of surveillance.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

High Tech Lamp Posts To Collect Massive Amounts Of Data In Chicago

2014_6_25_sensorsChicago, one of America’s already most surveilled city, may be getting a new set of potentially privacy invading equipment installed in the downtown area this summer. Called “The Array of Things,” sensors attached to lamp posts and streetlights will measure everything from the weather to foot traffic in the area, using data collected from cell phones. While its creators say they won’t keep any personal information, privacy advocates are still skeptical.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Researchers hope to gain deeper insight into how Chicago lives and breathes via an ambitious sounding system of sensors placed on lamp posts throughout the city. The “Array of Things,” a project coordinated by the Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology and the Urban Center for Computation and Data as part of “Initiative 3” in the City’s technology plan. The project is funded by a $200,000 grant from Argonne National Laboratories.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Noam Chomsky: A Surveillance State Beyond Imagination Is Being Created in One of the World’s Freest Countries

Photo courtesy of Duncan Rawlinson

Photo courtesy of Duncan Rawlinson

No prize for guessing which country leftie professor Noam Chomsky is referring to in his article for Alternet:

In the past several months, we have been provided with instructive lessons on the nature of state power and the forces that drive state policy. And on a closely related matter: the subtle, differentiated concept of transparency.

The source of the instruction, of course, is the trove of documents about the National Security Agency surveillance system released by the courageous fighter for freedom Edward J. Snowden, expertly summarized and analyzed by his collaborator Glenn Greenwald in his new book, ” No Place to Hide.”

The documents unveil a remarkable project to expose to state scrutiny vital information about every person who falls within the grasp of the colossus – in principle, every person linked to the modern electronic society.

Nothing so ambitious was imagined by the dystopian prophets of grim totalitarian worlds ahead.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Reset The Net

It’s Reset The Net day:

The problem
The NSA is exploiting weak links in Internet security to spy on the entire world, twisting the Internet we love into something it was never meant to be: a panopticon.

The solution
We can’t stop targeted attacks, but we *can* stop mass surveillance, by building proven security into the everyday Internet.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Forget Privacy: By 2025 There Will Only Be The Watchers And The Watched

PIC: Fuma Ren (CC)

PIC: Fuma Ren (CC)

The good news: In the era of the Internet of Things your appliances may actually listen to you when you curse at them. The bad: So will an elite class of professional “watchers” intent on monitoring your every move and possibly subjecting you to experiments in data mining and surveillance.

A new report from the Pew Research Center Internet Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center looks further ahead to 2025, and asks how things will have moved on by then. Its conclusions–summarized below–are based on responses from 2,551 people, both Internet “experts” and members of the public.

1: THE INTERNET OF THINGS WILL BE FULL OF THINGS

By 2025, people will have sensors implanted in their bodies. Dams and bridges will send maintenance data to engineers. Paper towel dispensers will bleep attendants when they need refilling. Fridges will automatically buy milk when the carton runs empty.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

8th June 2014 – Time For Big Brother to Retire!

On 8th June George Orwell’s surveillance crazed czar of surveillance Big Brother will be 65 years old (in literary years). To mark the date we urge all lovers of freedom to take part in the annual 1984 Action Day and to call for Big Brother to hang up his high visibility surveillance jacket and retire.

Orwell’s novel ’1984′ was first published on 8th June 1949. Now, sixty-five years later and thirty years after the book’s title year, few if any of Orwell’s warnings have been heeded. The slogans of the book’s ruling party: “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” are encoded in the marketing style propaganda of modern political parties. A surveillance state has been built all around us whilst we are encouraged to “share” our concerns in a modern reworking of the 2 minute hate – the 140 character tweet fest – hash tag “what about that funny dog!”

We are living in the dystopian world of ’1984′ now.… Read the rest

Continue Reading