Category Archives: Surveillance state

Tom Englehardt Interviews Laura Poitras on Snowden and the Total Information Capture Approach to Surveillance

Yves here. This interview with Laura Poitras is a reminder of how the world has, and more important, hasn’t changed since the explosive revelations made by Edward Snowden less than a year and a half ago. Even though his disclosures produced a great uproar, with demands in the US, UK, and Europe for explanations and […]

Read more...

Evil Feedly and Digg: “Social Logins” as Symptoms of Creeping Surveillance State

Your humble blogger is a beached whale as a result of the steady march of police state practices on the Internet. And to calibrate how heinous the underlying situation is, Lambert, who has 20 years of experience as a computer professional, calls my current mess the technology equivalent of being shoved into a minefield without any signs. And as you’ll see below, I’ve already stepped on one mine.

Read more...

Getting Sucked into ObamaCare is a Lot Like Being on Probation

Yves here. Lambert, in his relentless Obamacare skullduggery, has unearthed yet another ugly feature of this Rube Goldberg contraption for enriching health insurers: unprecedented levels of required reporting to the Federal government. Your humble blogger had already flagged one, that Obamacare is designed with the bizarre assumption that everyone in America has a steady paycheck. You are supposed to be able to estimate your income. How can people who are part-time workers, with employers who ratchet up and down how much time they need, supposed to comply? Or even worse, how about self-employed people, who have variable and unpredictable income and expenses, as well as the occasional collection issue.

But Obamacare policyholders are ALSO required to report on a raft of “lifestyle changes” including when you become pregnant (which means you also need to report if you have a change in that “status” via miscarriage or abortion), or a change in “household size”. One assumes that means “household” from an IRS standpoint, but could it mean from a Census perspective? Do renters have to report if they take on a roommate?

And even better, as Lambert discusses in detail, HHS also makes it hard to prove that you’ve made the required updates. Charming.

Read more...

Militarized Policing: One Nation Under SWAT

Yves here. If we had a bona fide democracy left in America, as opposed to a simulacrum of one, the night-after-night spectacle of constabulary overkill in Ferguson would spark outrage and a concerted effort to restrict militarized policing, particularly against peaceful protestors. Officials knew precisely what was at stake when they kept journalists as far away as possible from the 17 city, coordinated paramilitary crackdown against Occupy Wall Street.

But now that many comparatively small cities have war toys like tanks in their possession, and are also hiring former soldiers, it appears that we’ve passed an event horizon. Unless some of these municipalities are prepared to get rid of this militarized policing gear (and not by giving it to another city, but by destroying it or letting it deteriorate into uselessness), it’s inconceivable that the police won’t continue to abuse their greatly expanded powers.

Read more...

Wolf Richter: Goal of Booming ‘Internet of Things’: Monitoring, Sensing, Remote Control – Factory Workers First, You Next

I first heard about what would later be called the Internet of Things in 1991 from Michael Hawley, who happened to be providing support for my NeXT computer. Hawley was then a graduate student at MIT and favorite of Nick Negroponte. (Hawley, who had also worked at NeXT, pointed out that having him do my tech support was tantamount to having Steve Jobs on deck). He later became a professor in the MIT Media Lab

In addition to showing me the coolness of networks (like accessing files on remote computers, which was bleeding edge back then), he was also keen about discussing digital libraries and how his belt buckle would be able to talk to his refrigerator and why that would be useful. I kept quiet about my reservations about my objects having private conversations about me.

The problem with the idea of having even more devices than your smartphone and tablet gathering information for your convenience, of course, is the many ways all that data can be used against you.

Read more...

Exclusive: High-Level NSA Whistleblower Says Blackmail Is a Huge – Unreported – Part of Mass Surveillance

It is well-documented that governments use information to blackmail and control people.

The Express reported last month:

British security services infiltrated and funded the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange in a covert operation to identify and possibly blackmail establishment figures, a Home Office whistleblower alleges.

Read more...

Facebook Users Regularly Treated Like Guinea Pigs

A new Wall Street Journal story probes the frequency and casualness with which Facebook ran experiments with the explicit aim of manipulating users’ emotions. Some commentators pooh poohed the concern about the study, saying that companies try influencing customers all the time. But the difference here is that manipulation usually takes place in a selling context, where the aims of the vendor, to persuade you to buy their product, are clear. Here, the study exposed initially, that of skewing the mix of articles in nearly 700,000 Facebook subscribers’ news feeds, was done in a context where participants would have no reason to question the information they were being given.

While the controversial emotions study may have been Facebook’s most questionable study, it is the tip of an experimentation iceberg.

Read more...