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Thread: Censorship, Surveillance & Apathy

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    Censorship is very different to surveillance, and I wouldn't conflate the two.
    I think they can be loosely grouped as both are part of an attempt to harness the flow of digital information, exert some form of control over the populace and both look to be on the cards in the UK what with GCHQ's surveillance programs already active and filters designed to block -

    nude and pornographic
    violent and weapons
    extremist[10][11]
    terrorist[10][11]
    anorexia and eating disorders
    suicide
    drugs, alcohol and tobacco
    web forums and social networking
    fashion and beauty
    esoteric material
    file sharing
    gambling and games
    media streaming
    web-blocking circumvention tools
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interne...ing_of_content

    Surveillance can also result in self-censorship, once people believe they're being watched they often start to inhibit and alter their own behaviour so I think there are connections to be made between the two.

    Some sort of surveillance is necessary for security, I agree, but the current incarnation is a total infringement on the right to privacy and comes across as incredibly sinister rather than simply a lack of "refinement".

    If all this data is "useless" then why keep it? The storage of the public's 'useless' data is where the claims of protection fall down, imo.

    I also think the intelligence agencies handling of the fallout from the Snowden leaks has made matters worse, their constant lying and restating their position after each subsequent leak has totally undermined whatever trust the public may have had in them and has seriously called into question their motives. They don't come across as people trying to protect us, they come across as people with something to hide who are trying to cover their backs.

    I think it's true that a lot of people have relinquished their privacy somewhat with the advent of social media, smart phones and the like but there's a difference between having the data you choose to post publicly ie want people to see being watched and every single thing you do being watched (... and recorded).

    The rumoured 'behaviour pattern' programs are incredibly unsettling too, especially with the creeping threat of pre-arrests and preemptive action. A judge in Texas ruled in favour of allowing the police to 'obtain a search warrant based on “a prediction of a future crime" ' yesterday.

    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    b) why worry, unless you have something to hide?
    I will never buy this response. Everybody has something to hide depending on who's looking.

  2. #17
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    "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?
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  3. #18
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    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.
    Last edited by Mr. Tea; 19-12-2013 at 01:50 PM.
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  4. #19

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    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?
    Last edited by craner; 19-12-2013 at 02:50 PM.

  5. #20

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    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.

  6. #21

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    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?

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    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.

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    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)

  9. #24
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    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by bandshell View Post
    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!
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    so, here's the transcript 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 some of the more blatant spin.

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    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.

  14. #29
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    "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.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by bandshell View Post
    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.

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