BIG BROTHER, who's watching YOU?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Monolith, Dec 28, 2001.

  1. Monolith Registered Member

    Surveillance cameras, monitoring phonelines, satellite tracking... Does this make you feel safe or violated? Do you trust the people behind the cameras? Technology is getting smaller and more intrusive than ever... Is it being used for the forces of good or evil?

    Is our government protecting us or controlling us?

    Should we allow individuals to spy on us as well?

    Will monitoring our activities protect us from ourselves?

    Is this an "invasion of privacy" or a delaration of trust?

    Who should oversee the "overseers"?
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  3. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

    Monolith ...

    Ah, the voice of a paranoidal city dweller who most likely doesn't know the
    name of his/her next door apartment dweller of a decade or so.

    Oh for the joys of small town life where everyone knows when you fart and
    who your last post-card came from without modern high tech gadgets.

    Reminds me of when we moved from the old 'Prison' to a new, high tech
    'Correctional Facility' ... and the staff was more upset by the 24/7 surveillance
    than the population. And after a few months didn't even notice it.

    Take care.

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  5. razz Registered Senior Member

    A sign of the times.


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    I have to agree with Chagur in part.
    You wouldnt even notice the camera's after a while anyway.

    Besides if your doing nothing wrong you have nothing to hide.

    Thats not to say im overly comfortable with the idea of being filmed but I can understand the need Joe Public may feel to install this kind of security with the nature of crime these days.
    I like the idea of catching criminals in the act on tape, also the idea of feeling at least a little bit more secure at 2am thanks to big brother, while standing at a railway station.

    But im sure others will point out the down falls of this particular high tech vs privacy issue, so ill leave it at that.

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  7. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    I wouldn't be worried about a camera watching over a high street, or subway.

    The real problems occur in the thoughts of what could be and when someone finds that mention of a hypothetical philosophy and decides to utilise it towards their own gains.

    For instance, you wonder around with cameras, credit companies that are constantly flowing detailed information of your purchasing information to tally your credit limit, insurance companies gaining access to your doctors records again to evalue if you can or shouldn't be accepted for insurance.

    At the end of the day, it's the third party companies that gain your telephone number for marketing that get annoying.

    For instance the great increase in the adverts for CREDIT CARDS, most of the time filling out one of those forms will result in them returning a "Sorry you can't have one, your income isn't high enough, your credit references are bad".

    It's no skin off their back, especially if you didn't read the small print and tick (or not tick) the box that says, "You accept to allowing us to pass your details on to third parties or market research." This is where you end up on a SPAM list, where they SELL your ADDRESS and even your CREDIT reference to those companies... who then in turn start to supply you in junk mail.

    If you buy CD's and HIFI's and other musical equipment on such a card, those Third party companies hear about it and then you are inendated with offers for CD's and adverts for music equipment.

    This is all fine, until a person suffers some "Manic buy syndrome" where they have to buy stuff because of falling for some materialistic illness.

    I don't care if my credit is bad, but I want NO SPAM, Not LESS SPAM.
  8. kmguru Staff Member

    A large number of population are in grey areas that are just below any heavy criminal activity such as speeding beyond normal speed limits or making a rolling turn without stopping etc. If we use vehicles to give out tickets and camera to watch like "Demolition Man", then the result will be like the Demolition man....

    To some, it may not be boring at all, but human nature is to push the limits. Stop the progress, the specis die....I think....
  9. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    What degree of self-importance does it take to seriously believe that you in particular are being watched?
    We have achieved now, predominantly through ideology and technology,such a level of homogenization of identity that it is now easier to be anonymous, to 'blend in', than ever before. If you're being watched, more attention is being paid to which category, group, demographic, et al, you belong to than anything particular to who you really are.....
  10. Monolith Registered Member

    New Bill & E-surveillance

    I've always subscribed to the theory that if you really want to know what a new piece of legislation is all about, you need only look at what is known as the short title. Every piece of legislation has one. The National Energy Security Act of 2001? That's a bill backed by the oil and gas industries to open the Alaskan wilderness and parts of our national forests to new drilling and exploration. The Youth Smoking Reduction Act? That would be a piece of legislation backed by the tobacco industry. Notice a trend here? Just take the most cynical meaning of the short title, and you'll be a long way toward knowing what the new legislation is about and who is behind it.

    So on October 26, 2001, when President Bush signed into law the USA PATRIOT Act in response to the terrible events of September 11, I was immediately suspicious. If my theory held, the USA PATRIOT Act would be some heavy-handed Soviet-style law, with nothing very patriotic about it. And that's just applying my theory to the acronym. The entire short title is the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. Gulp.

    The act amends several existing laws in an effort to increase law enforcement surveillance powers, tighten Visa and immigration procedures, and stem the flow of money to terrorist organizations. The initial press on the USA PATRIOT Act suggested my theory had held. Variously described as a wholesale relinquishment of our civil rights or a necessary (albeit intrusive) measure to ensure personal safety, what wasn't in question was that the new legislation pushed the outer boundary of the government's authority to monitor our personal communications. What's more, it pushed against the line of constitutionality, and may have crossed it.

    In the past, whenever this kind of intrusive, possibly unconstitutional legislation was passed into law, a group like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) or Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) had a lawsuit ready to file the moment it took effect. Not so with the USA PATRIOT Act. Despite serious questions about the constitutionality of the law, the usual suspects have sat on their legal challenges.
  11. in vivo Registered Member

    watch the film entitled Brazil

    The drones are too busy watching satelite tv and sucking down Starbucks cappucinos and $2.75 bottled water (refined from heavy water run-off) to see it coming.
  12. mrk Wheel Rider Registered Senior Member

    In Vivo:

    These same drones are also too busy paying the debt service on their Visa Cards to care IF it is coming, let alone do anything, like vote to stop it. You can bet your bippy that they will be the first in line at the NEXT Harry Potter book burning (and prayer meeting). After all, we wouldn't want junior to learn about "witchcraft" the same way we learned of "spys" from James Bond, or "detectives" from Sam Spade, Nancy Drew, or Agatha Christy, now would we?

    And Stryder:

    Here, Here! NO SPAM; snail mail or otherwise, not less. I may be the ONLY person who does it, but I send a script to the senders' box provider and request termination of the box for TOS violations on EVERY ONE. I find it works... Yeah so it takes a couple of seconds--I wish I could do the same for the junk snail mail I get. NO, I don't want to PAY to be removed. The USPS/phone company and other businesses had NO business selling the address/number in the FIRST place.


    You might not have seen them, but there were a series of 1930's Popeye cartoons with a little black suited bureaucrat on a bicycle that was always handing Popeye a 5 cent tax bill for NOT spiting on the sidewalk (or some such). The author was more prophetic than he knew.

    You're right it doesn't matter WHAT they are watching, they are watching without lawful cause against the precepts of the fourth amendment.

    Speed limits in many states are SUGGESTIONS not laws. Technically, if there is NO other traffic it is legal in such a state to run a stop sign, red light, or other trafic "information" device or exceed the speed limit (Explain that to the computer controlled camera that snaps a photo of your tags and very kindly mails you the TAX bill).

    So, when you average out the COST of attending court in lieu of going to WORK (to tell them where to put their camera and their tax bill), it's cheaper to pay the bail. THAT's how they win... by default. Technically, after winning your dismissal you can sue for false arrest and loss of income; good luck finding a lawyer to file the cases...

    Pity we let them GIVE us permission to drive OUR cars on OUR roads to begin with, instead of demanding it as a right. But the car was just a rich man's toy... Never amount to much... Lemmings! They are OUR employes--I for one think its time they began to ACT like it.


    Define: 'wrong'.

    I could smoke in a restaurant a few years back. It's 'wrong', now, in some states and cities. It doesn't matter that there has not YET been ONE single scientific test done to CAUSATIVELY link smoking to ANY medical ailment; we all know it's "bad" because THEY told it was. Yes, RAZZ, they LIED to you in D.A.R.E. classes. It doesn't matter that the same tests they TRIED to use (and lied about) to ban smoking actually proved that smoking is benificial to Altzheimers and Parkinson's victims. It doesn't matter that the EPA LIED, and DELIBERATELY misrepresented it's documentation (and left a paper trail proving it). It's 'wrong' and must be irradicated because it smells bad, makes a few eyes water, and a few (out of joint) noses sting.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) spent a couple of MILLION bucks of UN money to PROVE that non-smoking spouses of smokers were at greater medical risk than the non-smoking spouses of non-smokers. They followed several thousand couples in Europe for 8 years and found that the spouses of smokers were AT NO GREATER RISK than their non-smoke 'abused' counterparts. They shoved that in the file drawer pretty fast--if it weren't for the internet, they wouldn't have been caught red-handed, LYING.

    The state of CA refuses to accept the US District Court ruling (which has NOT been overturned) that the EPA documents were a pack of lies "with NO scienfic merit" (they'd lose their $1.50 per pack INCREASE tax on smokes, most of which goes to spew out more propaganda about evils of smoking, to protect the children from NOTHING) and have to admit they'd made a mistake. They just continue banning smoking--which as now progressed to the city PARKS of LA. The issue here hasn't been about smoking at all, but how the gov't lies to justify anything it WANTS to do. Smoking just happens to be an excellent documentable example. You've been fedd the BS that smoking is a health hazard so long and so hard that you belive the sound bytes. ALL of their "information" comes not from ANY real scientific testing, but from skewed stats--period.

    Without the camera there is NO control... Without "Magic Lantern" or CARNIVORE as it was called before 11 SEP, the FBI would have to screw up their cases the old fashioned way with illegal wire taps, illegal surveilence, and lying snitches. The APA, IMHO was passed primarially to allow the FBI to use the phone and 'net info they ALREADY have gathered, WITHOUT requiring a warrant. NOW they can take words and phrases out of context and spin them in their worst light, just to fill in the blocks to keep getting their bloated budgets.

    Read the funding sources of your friendly neighborhood cop shop. You'll find that the FEDS are giving them MORE money than YOUR city does--Guess who the cops are going to listen to, and it ain't your town, nor anyone IN it. Take another wild guess at what happens if a cop doesn't write a "non" numerically specified quota of tickets in a specific patrol area or make a specific number of arrests. You think they ain't traking cop performce with a PC?? Only for about 20 years have been doing it...

    It's about tax dollars, and without the toys, they't don't maximize them (not that they really need a third of the GDP to run this country in the first place).

    I'll tell you what "wrong" is: It is the gov't telling me what I can a cannot do in my own house. It is using electronic devices against the precepts of the Fourth Amendment to PROVE I broke one of their hypocritical little horse manure
    laws. It is when cops walk into my house without knocking like it was a doughnut shop, and they lie about WHY they are there (this actually happened to me). It is the people I PAY for with MY taxes deliberately breaking the law anytime they can to justify larger budgets and continuing pay raises. It is LEOs who arrest someone who has NOT broken any law, incarcerate him, and hold him for 8 months without ANY bail, because somebody else didn't like something perfectly LEGAL that he'd done and then trash all the personal property they had collected as "eveidence" which had NOTHING to do with the accused crime, which WASN'T committed, nor could have been. THAT is "wrong"!

    Re-read 1984, and Animal Farm and PM me about what's similar to the USA in it. When your reading them remember Orwell wrote them in the '40s. No, don't watch the politically corrected movies, READ the books preferably the oldest publication date you can find (they are scarier, NOW, then when he wrote them...).
  13. Monolith Registered Member

    The terrorist attacks changed everything.

    One thing missing in the press descriptions of the USA PATRIOT Act that I had mentioned in my previous posting, is that it isn't a single new law. It was passed as one omnibus piece of legislation, but it amends dozens of existing laws.

    Forgive me, but I'm going to go off on this new "law" a bit...

    Copies of the Act are downloadable from the Web ( , but you won't find the actual text of the legislation very useful. Most of it looks like this:

    "Section 1402(b) of the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (42 U.S.C. 10601(b)) is amended—(1) in paragraph (3), by striking 'and' at the end; (2) in paragraph (4), by striking the period at the end and inserting '; and'; and (3) by adding at the end the following: '(5) any gifts, bequests, or donations to the Fund from private entities or individuals.'"

    In other words, the text of the USA PATRIOT Act makes no sense whatsoever when read by itself. No matter how closely you read the 131 single-spaced pages of the Act, you'll have very few hints at what the changes were about. Because the USA PATRIOT Act rewrites existing laws, in just the "delete this, add that" manner quoted above, you need to read it alongside your personal copy of the United States Code, all 50 titles, to have any real clue about what's going on.

    I'm really hoping that all of our elected representatives took the time and care to understand the countless changes they were making to our existing body of federal legislation. Because they pushed this wholesale rewrite through Congress in less than a month, though, I'm not optimistic. In fact, I think it's going to take many months, if not years, before the ramifications of these changes are fully understood by anyone. Including the people who passed it.

    Because I do happen to be the lucky owner of a complete set of the United States Code, however, and have been through the text of the Act, here's a high-level overview of what it all means, especially as applied to the Internet.

    For the time being, and possibly for a long time to come, the USA PATRIOT Act will apply to all of us in the United States. Its effects may even be extraterritorial. In some ways, everyone is called to duty.

    The burdens of the new legislation fall into a few basic categories. The first are the affirmative obligations to do, or refrain from doing, certain things. These are especially important to know about because you don't want to fail to do something that you're now required to do, or do something that is now prohibited. Many of the new laws carry fines, or worse, for failing to comply. Even if you aren't sure what the new laws require, they still apply to you. And the government is watching.

    A second area of responsibility is especially important for network operators. The government has new powers to subpoena electronic records and monitor Internet communications, and your assistance may be required. In fact, if you're working for a major ISP or backbone operator, this is old news. You've already been visited and made a decision about whether and how to cooperate with government investigators. But as investigations move from high traffic areas to more specific places on the network, even small ISPs, bulletin board operators, list administrators, and IT managers may start receiving calls from government officials. You'll want to think about what you'll do and know what the law requires before you get a call.

    The last area in which these activities have some effect is on individuals and Internet users. Okay, so you're not a terrorist. It's not that you have to worry (much) about being hauled off to jail, but you should be aware that your Internet communications might be monitored, or your ISP or host might feel it has affirmative obligations to report your activities to the government. The new USA PATRIOT Act gives all of us a diminished expectation of privacy.

    If you're looking for a quick index of what's required under the new law, you won't find it here. The EFF recently released a summary, but one of the real burdens of the new law is that you, and your lawyer, have to make sense of it on your own. And quickly.

    In early September 2001, no one was even thinking about the need for new legislation. By the end of that month, nearly every federal law on the books had been examined by the U.S. Department of Justice to see how it could be revised to assist in law enforcement's war on terrorism. Just a few weeks later, those changes had been approved by Congress and signed into law by President Bush. So while I don't have room to provide a laundry list of the many changes you need to know, here are a few general guidelines to think about.

    A chief aim of the new law is to cut off the supply of money to terrorist organizations. So if you're responsible for receiving payments from customers or processing other kinds of financial transactions, there are several provisions that you'll need to examine more closely. Title III of the Act focuses on stopping money laundering and prohibits the financing of terrorists.

    Identification is a theme that runs through many of the new changes relating to financial transactions. When someone signed up for an online bank account last year, you only needed to know that he or she actually had money. Now, the Treasury Department is advancing new regulations that will specify what information about someone's identity you'll need to verify.

    Cheerfully accepting a new customer named John Doe isn't acceptable anymore. You'll need to take reasonable steps to verify the identity of your customers, and you'll have to file the verification documents. In addition, you have to check the names of your customers, both individuals and organizational names, against a list of known and suspected terrorist organizations. If there's a match, you have a duty to report the person or organization to law enforcement.

    The new laws also focus on cash and wire transfers. For example, whenever you handle cash in excess of $10,000 in any single transaction, you have to report the transaction to government officials. Not a big deal for most businesses, but if you run a casino, you've just been saddled with an administrative nightmare. For most Internet-related businesses, which don't handle cash at all, requirements to maintain records of wire transfers and other electronic transactions pose similar burdens. One provision of the new law even requires companies to report "suspicious transactions" to law enforcement.

    Right now, no precedent exists for how these laws will be applied in the real world, and who knows what counts as "suspicious," but the easiest rule of thumb is to (a) know who you're doing business with, and (b) maintain records of all your business dealings. Probably not bad business advice, even if you aren't trying to identify terrorist organizations.

    In addition to placing new obligations on financial reporting, the Act also endows law enforcement with new surveillance powers. Many of the revisions were designed to bring the Internet, voicemail recordings, wireless voice and messaging services, and other new forms of electronic communications within the scope of existing search and seizure laws. Every kind of informational medium other than your brain is now subject to government search and seizure. For information companies, this means your live systems, your back-ups, and your archives. It means that information traveling through your routers and servers is subject to monitoring without your knowledge.

    One thing that's really new and different is the delayed notice provision for certain kinds of search warrants. Under the Act, the government is allowed to collect information first, then give notice of what it has done later. Typically, when a search warrant is issued, the person whose property is about to be searched is given notice. Not so under the new act. In circumstances when the government is afraid that a search warrant will tip a suspect off to the surveillance and give him or her a chance to flee, the government can search first, and inform later.

    One other burden on Internet companies is likely to come as a result of revised immigration and visa procedures.

    Throughout the dot-com boom, Internet companies lobbied Congress fiercely for increased access to foreign technical workers, including an increase in the number of work visas that would be permitted. While the demand for talent has decreased over the last year, the process of getting foreign workers into the United States on visas will probably become more complicated and more time-consuming.

    Even routine business trips into this country by business partners and customers are likely to be more difficult. Anecdotal evidence abounds that visitors to our country are often greeted by long lines, invasive searches, and, with increasing frequency, lengthy investigative detentions. Some companies have decided to make visits overseas, rather than have important business contacts subjected to the heightened security and immigration practices that will greet them here.

    What is Patriotism?
    Many of the government's broad new powers are most certainly unconstitutional invasions of our personal privacy and rights, and to due process under the law. And while everyone seems to know that's the case, no one is doing anything about it...for the time being. That's rather amazing.

    As someone who considers himself a civil libertarian, I never thought I'd regard the failure to exercise constitutional rights and limit government's control over our lives as an act of patriotism. I've often viewed those who championed constitutional rights, even in defense of unpopular causes, as the biggest patriots of all. Nevertheless, I find something noble in the fact that everyone (even civil liberties organizations) is willing to make immediate sacrifices for the sake of protecting others and ensuring that those who committed terrorists acts against our country are brought to justice.

    This will not always be true—and there will come a time when a legal fight to restore our civil liberties will again be a patriotic act—but for the present, compliance with these new laws is not only required, it's downright patriotic. :bugeye:
  14. Monolith Registered Member

    Conceptual surveillance from the 70's

    I was watching an old movie the other day and I found myself comparing the concepts Hollywood was portraying regarding surveillance vs. what is portrayed today.

    In the 1974 film The Conversation, surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) worked out of a van jammed with a shotgun mike, telephoto lenses and a satchel full of tools. He spent long hours trying to intercept a conversation taking place a block away.

    How quaint. :bugeye:

    Today, Harry Caul could sit on the other side of the planet and study images from an adroitly concealed wireless webcam. And the van full of surveillance equipment? Replaced by a CD-ROM loaded with a virus program: Once implanted in a targeted computer, that virus can scan the hard-drive and record every keystroke made by the unsuspecting subject, then transmit that information via email.

    Whether you're talking about a major company or one hacker, a government agency or your jealous neighbor, any and all of them can turn the Internet into a powerful tool for surveillance.
  15. Gravity Deus Ex Machina Registered Senior Member

    While folks like the NSA certainly would love to probably watch everybody, they lack the resources. Computing power is simply not enough. To really effectively monitor every person, you would need one person assigned to every person.

    Now, mediums such as this (the internet) are very easily scanned by AI/Pattern Recognition software - so the ethical and legal boundaries of surveillance are probably being pushed further and further down the drain in this case.

    Paranoia . . . is often at its root another expression of egotism ("They are watching ME . . . I'm so important and dangrous that they are watching ME")

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