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Life in the Panopticon
Big Brother (and Everyone Else) is Watching
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  • johngbarker

    I think I will start writing on paper and dropping it off at the post office.

  • Fat_Man

    When are going to find out that the most import project that the Government has is crushing the people who oppose the Government.

    In the immortal words of Frank Zappa: “It can’t happen here.”

  • Dan Greene

    Why is the Defense Department (DARPA) developing search tools for law enforcement? So basically, DoD is involving itself in domestic policing and criminal law now. That’s comforting.

    >>”This means, for example, that a foreign dictator who doesn’t like what a U.S.-based reporter writes about him can find out where her kids go to school, her financial details and just about anything else he might want to know.”

    Notice how TAI immediately shifts the “threat” from DARPA to scary foreign dictators? Yeah, that’s right, all the “naive” Snowden supporters were all worried about the US, but really we should be worried about some tinpot third-world dictator and his data capture techniques. What nonsense.

    The most interesting thing about this slice of “life in the panopticon” is how copacetic TAI is with all of this. There are two messages in this article:

    1. The US government is watching you, so you better behave.

    2. Don’t worry about number 1, because the information warfare programs of penurious dictators are much scarier–but still, you better behave.

    Is there anything about the American surveillance state that TAI doesn’t love?

  • JMHanes

    “DARPA has developed a new data mining tool called Memex that scrapes the web in ways Google does not even try.”

    It is surely naive to think that Google isn’t even trying. Per the WSJ, “[T]he tool can be used in any Web-based investigation,” and “it is free of charge for those who want to download, distribute and modify.” Everybody is going to be trying it! It’s a safe bet that pretty much anyone with sufficient resources and interests is already working on adapting it.

    I’d note that a foreign dictator hardly needs Memex to suss out a reporter, his kids, and his finances, but even if “the U.S. government might end up being one of the more benign presences out there,” would it end up being the most effective presence in an era of asymmetric “warfare” of every ilk? Would it be likely to end up operating as the discrete (or containable) agency we presume it to be?

    A cavalier dismissal of civil libertarian concerns also seems misplaced. The tension between security and independence is is as old as it is important to address. It was Snowden’s high profile revelations that finally put that issue squarely back into the public domain, where it ought to be.

    Federal predation is not the only worry. Commercial ‘privacy’ policies are rife with liberating fine print. So, there is what the government will do with info they scrape and/or extract from a putatively resistant Google, Facebook, or Verizon, and then there’s what Google, Facebook, and Verizon, themselves, will do such data. And then, of increasing import, we’ve got the interweaving of corporate & government data — and interests. The larger the cache of information, of course, the more dangerous — and lucrative — the consequences of successful hacking become, as does the scale of potential abuse by those with legal access. Call it too big not to fail.

    Technology is certainly racing ahead, but I don’t think there’s much that’s beyond the social imagination of the upcoming generation, who will be far more adept at negotiating and leveraging distributed networks as well as databanks. When contemplating the future, it’s worth paying more attention to the way their brains work, because they really do “think different” in fascinating, significant ways.

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