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View Full Version : Censorship, Surveillance & Apathy



bandshell
12-12-2013, 09:13 PM
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Mr. Tea
12-12-2013, 10:02 PM
I read something the other day about how people in America tend to get very upset and angry about government infringements on their privacy, whereas apart from a minority who take these things seriously, most people in Britain just sort of shrug and accept it. Unfortunately (ha! what did you say about apathy?) I can't remember where I read it. Will post it here if I come across it or anything else pertinent.

Oddly enough my girlfriend's sister's boyfriend works at GCHQ. He's a decent enough chap. Not sure what he really feels about the way information is gathered and used in this country.

Good thread.

Leo
13-12-2013, 02:15 AM
I read something the other day about how people in America tend to get very upset and angry about government infringements on their privacy...

i think this is true of the hardcore left (who fear big brother) and hardcore right (who hate government in general), but the average american is probably pretty similar to the brits you mention. some of them might make a token stink about it but most don't pay attention, or consider it the cost of living in a "free" society.

glasshand
13-12-2013, 02:36 PM
i was verging on posting something similar to this thread after i saw all the quiet ISP blocks that have been happening to websites like filestube, vodly, etc etc

http://torrentfreak.com/uk-piracy-blocklist-expands-with-yify-primewire-vodly-and-others-131122/
(http://torrentfreak.com/uk-piracy-blocklist-expands-with-yify-primewire-vodly-and-others-131122/)

was shocked by how i hadn't heard about it from anywhere until i tried to visit one of the websites. not on news sites, not even on angry facebook statuses on my feed.

also current government stepping up internet policing in line with action against porn

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-internet-and-pornography-prime-minister-calls-for-action

bit worried that'll be the precursor to more censorship

IdleRich
13-12-2013, 10:28 PM
I'd love to think it was fear but really it's apathy. People don't think something is bad unless it directly affects them immediately. And on a daily basis it doesn't actually make any difference to someone if their inane chatter is being recorded.

Local Authority
15-12-2013, 10:51 AM
When I have to ask my grandparents to watch porn I'll kick up a fuss.

Mr. Tea
18-12-2013, 05:11 PM
The focus in this thread so far has been on surveillance by the state, but governments and their various organs are hardly the only spy-happy entities that should be worrying us...Revelations That Ikea Spied on Its Employees Stir Outrage in France (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/business/international/ikea-employee-spying-case-casts-spotlight-on-privacy-issues-in-france.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1387386590-d+5HGZN4ElLOAZTHiCf2jw)

Edit:


at some point they'll probably decide that everyone has to have filters for "the good of the children".


This fucking does my nut in. Illiberal legislation brought in on a wave of popular support from lazy, weak-willed parents who can't be arsed/don't know how to parent properly. Don't want your kids exposed to unsuitable online material? Then don't let them have unsupervised internet access, it's not fucking rocket science. The way some people carry on you'd think kids had Bluetooth receivers installed in their visual cortices.

baboon2004
18-12-2013, 05:41 PM
The way some people carry on you'd think kids had Bluetooth receivers installed in their visual cortices.

Only a matter of time.

Mr. Tea
18-12-2013, 10:42 PM
From what I understand they used focus groups and whatnot then disregarded the results when they didn't go the way they wanted. I think 60% or more of parents asked didn't approve of the filtering idea.

yeahbutyeahbutyeahbut do you WANT your precious innocent darlings watching triple-penetration goatse twerking scenes when they should be doing their Bible Studies homework? Well do you? DO YOU??????

craner
19-12-2013, 10:35 AM
Censorship is very different to surveillance, and I wouldn't conflate the two.

It's a useful step to understand that people who work for GCHQ or any security services are not, in general, evil eavesdroppers or sinister conspirators.

Surveillance techniques and surveillance in general have spread in this way because of the unstoppable flood of things we use -- social media and the internet, mobile phones etc. This gives much more scope and better tools for crime and terrorism -- for example, the subterranean internet used by child abusers and organised criminals that most of us can't access, but which clearly needs some form of surveillance.

Two large parts of the problem are:

1) These technologies have massively encroached on and eroded personal privacy anyway, and there is a large element of choice in this. People wilfully abandon their private lives in one way (Facebook, say) but cannot accept the implications and consequences of this in another.

2) Most security agencies, like the NSA, are not that refined (yet) and so, as someone said, their surveillance techniques seem to involve hoovering up a lot of worthless information. An aspect of this is that there is so much worthless information around now (my own email traffic, for example) -- it has exploded as an effect of the technology that conveys it. This comes back to two responses -- a) privacy is sacrosanct whatever you say, but maybe you have forfeited that by entering into an inherently unsecure contract, or b) why worry, unless you have something to hide?

Personally, I miss the privacy and quiet spaces and the moments when nobody could get hold of you or you didn't have to worry that they couldn't get hold of you, dimly recalled from the small amount of time I got to experience this lost world, in the 1980s and early 1990s. On the other hand, all of this tecnology exists and it has made the world more dangerous than before, and citizens and societies are naturally going to make some compromise between security and surveillance (or will have to). Maybe the "apathy" is to do with the fact that people, to a large extent, understand some of these things, rightly or wrongly.

craner
19-12-2013, 10:40 AM
Maybe the only thing that has changed since the days of James Jesus Angleton steaming open people's letters is the scale of everything.

droid
19-12-2013, 11:52 AM
a) privacy is sacrosanct whatever you say, but maybe you have forfeited that by entering into an inherently unsecure contract, or b) why worry, unless you have something to hide?

These are both logically and morally unsound arguments, and I suspect you know it.

Youre also missing the fact that this is not just about surveillance. This information is being acted on, and militarisation and politicisation of law enforcement means that the actions taken are generally unlawful and immoral. From the preemptive jailing of peaceful protesters to drone attacks and imprisonment and torture of innocent people.

The US and UK lead the world in this. I am very unlikely to be threatened or arrested by the Gardai if I plan on taking part in a political protest. However, as any activist based in the UK will tell you, there are serious and genuine threats to the very notion of legitimate protest there. Greenham common could not happen today. The women's peace camp would have been infiltrated, surveilled, threatened, arrested and picked apart piece by piece.

Britain and the US have all the mechanisms of a police state in place, it remains to be seen how far down the road they can go before it's impossible to turn back.

craner
19-12-2013, 12:27 PM
I do know it, and I accept your points. In fact, I agree with all of them.

The tools in posession of the UK and US police and security services are potentially, in specific and different circumstances, dangerous and erode personal liberty altogether. The sudden viral spread of CCTV in the early '90s in the UK was, I think, an important marker and was, notably, pre-mass internet and mobile telecomms. The cameras provoked wide-spread revulsion which quickly dissipated as they faded into the fabric of life. They also combined the banal with the sinster, in the way the NSA and GCHQ "snooping" does.

What I have to ask, though, is whether you object to the surveillance by security services in any capacity to any extent, or just to the way domestic intelligence is being used and acted upon in the UK and US at the present time? I suspect you think that they cannot be seperated and one is an effect of the other (both ways). In that case, how do you monitor and enforce basic state secrurity in a globalised world of webs and networks?

I'm not making any big points, by the way. I am conflicted about the pay-off between security and liberty.

droid
19-12-2013, 01:54 PM
There clearly needs to be some serious regulation put in place to curtail and control domestic surveillance used for political ends.

As you're aware, I take a dim view of US/UK military adventures, but in general terms I would object to the idea of ANY state having the almost omniscient power to surveil, control and attack its enemies and its own populations currently enjoyed by the security services and military.

CCTV is a perfect example. Terrorist threat followed by a mass surveillance response which soon becomes the norm leading to Londoners being the most filmed people on Earth about 10 years later. Exactly the same thing is happening now but on a much more invasive level.

These are serious threats to the most fundamental principles of democracy, free speech and human rights. Anyone interested in conserving these freedoms should be deeply concerned. And even the most liberal, well meaning of politicians will be unable to resist the temptation to use these tools if they are available and there are more than enough examples in recent history of where this process will lead.

droid
19-12-2013, 01:55 PM
And we've agreed on something AGAIN! Astonishing! :D

Mr. Tea
19-12-2013, 02:33 PM
"If you're innocent you have nothing to fear" has been used as justification by basically every authoritarian/totalitarian/fascist regime ever, hasn't it?

Mr. Tea
19-12-2013, 02:47 PM
And I agree with bandshell that surveillance and censorship are related. On a very basic level they are both attempts by the state to control information. They're both very commonly used by authoritarian and totalitarian states (in fact, tight control of the flow of information is a sine qua non of totalitarianism, isn't it?) and on a practical level, you can't censor information (I mean e.g. information exchanged online in a members-only forum, not posters in the street) without the necessary surveillance apparatus to know it's there in the first place.

craner
19-12-2013, 03:43 PM
It seems to me that, to some extent, the emergence of mass data has not simply been an opportunity for better and wider surveillance, but also a threat to effective surveillance. It's a flood, a galaxy, it's unmanageable, and they think they need it all. So they collect it, store it, and the more they collect and store, the harder it becomes to filter, locate and analyse the stuff they need for their purposes, even if you assume the worst about those purposes.

There was some controversy about the existence (and need) for the Security Service from its very beginnings and it had to justify itself by selling its successes, in the way that the CIA has to sell its intelligence in the US. It's a choice to accept and use these services and it was only 20 years ago that they were desperately trying to peddle their continued post-Cold War existence. Maybe this is how they have done that.

You could make a cogent argument for abandoning intelligence agencies altogether, and subsuming their tasks to a department of the military with a very limited remit. On the other hand, who got the heat for 9/11? Why, the CIA.

It's not just sinister quasi-govermental agencies who store this data and attempt to use it, supermarkets do too. It's the fact of surveillance and data storage, linked to its potential exploitation for political ends, which is the rub. So it seems to me that this has spilled over the limited role of security and intelligence to an unacceptable degree, but this does not necessarily mean there is no acceptable role for security and intelligence. Unless it does. Does it?

craner
19-12-2013, 03:49 PM
Data analysis is not the same as surveillance. Don't M15 and the FBI have to get warrants for surveillance based on data analysis? In that sense, "we" are not even under surveillance. But large agencies and corporations have huge amounts of data about us for who knows what reason.

craner
19-12-2013, 04:03 PM
From what I understand (albeit very little) the GCHQ surveillance was more intrusive than the NSA's, because they kept contents of emails and telephone calls, whereas the NSA only used wiretaps recording origin and time of phone calls. Is that correct?

padraig (u.s.)
19-12-2013, 05:10 PM
Don't M15 and the FBI have to get warrants for surveillance based on data analysis?

point is they don't need warrants to get the data in the first place

I agree that the arrival of mass data has probably made analysis more confusing and difficult, not less, which makes the need for skilled analysts greater, which will only further technocratization of the field and process, which is a probably a bad thing. I'm no expert but I can't imagine the last decade hasn't massively ramped up the already considerable intelligence/private security firm/etc complex. as you say, people with jobs to keep have to sell their successes. then they multiply like cancer cells as more people flock to where the $$$ is. also, like the military they always have the upper hand in dealing w/civilians - they're the ones arguing for security, they're the experts, they know the technology. it takes a strong, concerted effort by the civilian govt to keep this stuff in line and I think we've seen that post-911 Western governments mostly aren't interested in even making the attempt. it was inevitable fighting a war based on surveillance would bleed into how surveillance is carried out at home. technologies, methods, ways of thinking.

padraig (u.s.)
19-12-2013, 05:10 PM
security and law enforcement needn't to be sinister conspirators to do great harm. and as everyone said your "only the guilty have something to hide" argument is fucking terrible, reprehensible nonsense.

(and I'm skeptical of that great hidden Internet of terrorists and child abusers. or, it exists but: 1) I have a hard time believing law enforcement types aren't already fully aware of much of it (i.e., the recent Silk Road bust) and 2) it gets used to justify every repressive measure against anything)

Patrick Swayze
20-12-2013, 02:35 PM
not sure how I feel about it, so I'm apathetic I suppose. the 'deep web' or 'dark web' or whatever they call it isn't hard to access at all though. basic encryption of communication/browsing activity is definitely within the capabilities of most people, if they can be bothered to learn.

David Simon and Adam Curtis both have some interesting things to say about it all, as a counterpoint to the generally held belief (in liberal circles at least) that this is all very bad.

http://davidsimon.com/we-are-shocked-shocked/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/posts/BUGGER

NATO
24-12-2013, 07:51 AM
Came across this today:

http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/20/21975158-nsa-program-stopped-no-terror-attacks-says-white-house-panel-member?lite

Mr. Tea
25-12-2013, 10:51 AM
There seems to be a significant shift towards greater restrictions on personal freedoms in general these days. The surveillance, the filtering, Spain's move to tighten their abortion laws, Croatia voting to ban gay marriage, the large protests in France against gay marriage and so on.

Has anyone else noticed this or am I just on overexcited "leftie"?

Well there are social and political tides operating in all directions at all times, in various parts of the world, aren't there - all the things you've mentioned have to be contrasted against gay marriage in this country, legalization/decriminalization of cannabis in many parts of the US, the widespread pro-female-driving movement in Saudi Arabia, FEMEN and Pussy Riot - I don't know if these things 'cancel out' the things you've mentioned but it's not all doom and gloom.

Anyway, Happy Christmas, droneslaves!

padraig (u.s.)
19-01-2014, 03:49 AM
so, here's the transcript (http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2014/01/17/263480199/transcript-of-president-obamas-speech-on-nsa-reforms) of Obama's big NSA reform speech for anyone who missed it. it's also on YT I believe.

my take: not very good. he basically just repeated the NSA's recent PR talking points* (no mistakes were made but if mistakes were made they certainly weren't malicious, everyone at the NSA loves liberty, Snowden's a jerk, etc) and some vague oversight/reform proposals, including a weird one to have someone - tho he has no idea who - besides the govt store the metadata the govt collects, and another very vague one about extending "certain protections" American citizens have to non-American citizens. he also expressed some, imo, valid frustration w/the way many foreign leaders used le affair Snowden to score political points by pretending to be just shocked (shocked!) by the idea the U.S. was spying on them.

*if you wanna hear these in greater depth 60 Minutes aired basically an NSA infomercial a few weeks ago. here's Spencer Ackerman breaking down (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/16/nsa-surveillance-60-minutes-cbs-facts) some of the more blatant spin.

padraig (u.s.)
19-01-2014, 03:58 AM
sidenote: it's embarrassing how far 60 Minutes has fallen. between the Lara Logan/Benghazi debacle, this NSA whitewashing and the less important but equally terrible one-sided infomercial it recently aired for Bud Selig and Major League Baseball in re: steroids and Alex Rodriguez...I mean it was always a house organ of the centrist status quo but still, 60 Minutes was at least a serious, hard news project in an era when that is evermore lacking and yeah, it's fallen right the fuck off a cliff.

IdleRich
19-01-2014, 10:16 AM
"he also expressed some, imo, valid frustration w/the way many foreign leaders used le affair Snowden to score political points by pretending to be just shocked (shocked!) by the idea the U.S. was spying on them"
But don't get caught doing it so blatantly innit? If Germany find out that a so-called ally is bugging their leader's phone they pretty much have to say something - in fact quite a lot - otherwise it looks as though they're just bending over and taking it.

Patrick Swayze
22-01-2014, 07:51 PM
More good news for the UK.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/22/police-home-secretary-approve-use-water-cannon-austerity-protest

They must know how dystopian that bit about austerity sounds though. I wonder if they aren't deliberately using that rhetoric to bolster the movement against cuts seeing as they are at least opposed to them when it concerns their own organisation.

jimitheexploder
23-01-2014, 09:49 PM
'“Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”

That's a text message that thousands of Ukrainian protesters spontaneously received on their cell phones today, as a new law prohibiting public demonstrations went into effect.'

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/maybe-the-most-orwellian-text-message-ever-sent

Jeez

Mr. Tea
24-01-2014, 09:47 AM
'“Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”

That's a text message that thousands of Ukrainian protesters spontaneously received on their cell phones today, as a new law prohibiting public demonstrations went into effect.'

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/maybe-the-most-orwellian-text-message-ever-sent

Jeez

You can just imagine Theresa May thinking "What a BRILLIANT idea!".

Give it a few years...

Mr. Tea
27-02-2014, 02:24 PM
Ah Reddit, home of the fearless internet libertariWAIT A SECOND...

Leo
27-02-2014, 02:25 PM
Was Apple security ‘flaw’ actually a NSA backdoor?

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/02/24/speculation-emerges-apple-security-flaw-may-be-tied-to-nsa-spying/

sufi
15-07-2014, 12:18 PM
A few legal cases breaking thru the apathy
https://www.privacyinternational.org/what-to-know-gchq-on-trial

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BshpvKFIMAAHsxq.jpg

continuum
17-07-2014, 09:27 AM
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-28331598


"This decision creates a new crime of 'being too highly ranked [on a search engine]', or of having too great an influence'," Ms Doudet told the BBC.

"What is perverse, is that we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people," she added.

The judge told Ms Doudet to amend the title of the blog and to pay €1,500 ($2,000; £1,200).

sufi
04-08-2014, 02:04 PM
is idealism dead then? http://zenarchery.com/2014/08/everyone-i-know-is-brokenhearted/


The joke, of course, is that every generation kills the thing they love. The hippies became yuppies; Gen X talked a lot about the revolution, and then went and got themselves some venture capital and started laying into place the oversaturated, paranoid world we live in now. A lot of them tried to tell themselves they were still punk as fuck, but it’s hard to morally reconcile the thing where you listen to Fugazi on the way to your job where you help find new ways to trick people into giving up their data to advertisers. Most people don’t even bother. They just compartmentalize. - See more at: http://zenarchery.com/2014/08/everyone-i-know-is-brokenhearted/#sthash.aSW0J3TY.dpuf

Sectionfive
10-08-2014, 04:13 AM
http://zenarchery.com/2014/08/everyone-i-know-is-brokenhearted/


Half the songs on the radio aren’t anything more than a looped 808 beat and some dude grunting

there is hope yet!

some awful politics in that piece though

Ness Rowlah
13-08-2014, 08:23 PM
Prepare yourself to be recognised at the next gig you go to
http://noisey.vice.com/blog/beantowns-big-brother

"Using software provided by IBM that utilized existing security cameras throughout the area, the city tracked the thousands of attendees at the concert and in the vicinity, and filtered their appearance into data points which could then be cross-checked against certain identifying characteristics"

sufi
29-08-2014, 11:47 PM
http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/07/31/ai-weiwei-cctv-camera-do-it/

How to Block a Surveillance Camera: A DIY Art Tutorial from Ai Weiwei

http://www.brainpickings.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/aiweiweicctv4.jpg

sufi
08-09-2014, 11:01 AM
wtwtf?
http://www.popsci.com/article/technology/mysterious-phony-cell-towers-could-be-intercepting-your-calls
http://www.popsci.com/sites/popsci.com/files/styles/article_image_large/public/unenc.PNG?itok=GOLmPZXY

Mr. Tea
08-09-2014, 12:40 PM
Prepare yourself to be recognised at the next gig you go to
http://noisey.vice.com/blog/beantowns-big-brother

"Using software provided by IBM that utilized existing security cameras throughout the area, the city tracked the thousands of attendees at the concert and in the vicinity, and filtered their appearance into data points which could then be cross-checked against certain identifying characteristics"


Slides provided to me by the Dig's Chris Faraone show how the system was meant to work, with the software capable of distinguishing people by such characteristics as baldness, eyeglasses, skin tone, torso texture, and beards which, considering this was an indie rock concert may have overloaded their servers.

heh

slowtrain
16-09-2014, 10:56 AM
Shit going hard here in NZ - can't find any 'consolidated' articles, this is kind of the best one I got:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10503457/The-Snowden-files-What-did-we-learn

It's been pretty shocking stuff really, the PM called Greenwald a "loser" - wtf

sufi
06-06-2017, 10:26 PM
Ethiopia is going offline
https://addisfortune.net/articles/ethiopia-goes-offline/
coming to yr neighbourhood soon?