“Anonymous” Takes Aim At The Wrong Target

I’ve only just stumbled across it but a few months back, Anonymous issued some bizarre guidance on avoiding face recognition technology:

For a bunch of skilled hackers, they’re being oddly naive. Every single countermeasure they suggest will be defeated by the authoritarians within a few months or, at most, a few years. Tilting your head more than fifteen degrees is one of the more ludicrous examples. First off, although the software might currently have a little difficulty spotting a face at that angle, to a human observer, such behaviour would stick out like a sore thumb and prompt much more detailed attention. But, in any case, it’s not going to take them a huge amount of time to improve the software to the point where it’ll easily recognise a face even if it’s carried under your arm and upside down!

And “so what?” if they have difficulty spotting your face? They’re already working on things like gait recognition (even from satellites ferchissake!) and earlobe recognition not to mention the FBI’s well advanced research into the use of voice recognition for both surveillance and forensic purposes, which, given their already illegal but ongoing (and ignored by congress) practice of warrantless wiretapping, and the medieval law they’ve passed which allows them to detain citizens indefinitely without trial (habeas corpus? habeas bollocks!). Or the recent acknowledgement of the growing use of Drones to watch their own citizens. Or the (previously) secret Trapwire program itself – which raised the face recognition issue in the first place but goes much deeper and wider than that – and so on and so on…

Are we smelling the coffee yet? Do you really think that pulling a few ridiculous stunts to make face recognition a little more awkward is any part of the solution? If so, I fear you don’t yet understand the true scale of the problem.

What we’re up against here is the most powerfully equipped authoritarian menace in human history. These people make the STASI look like well-meaning amateurs. They are enthusiastically creating the infrastructure required to police a Totalitarian State in which your every movement, contact and, ultimately every belief and even thought can be logged, analysed and risk assessed with a view to “mitigation”.

One of the few things we’ve still got going for us is that they haven’t yet figured out a way to hide the consequences of (some of) their actions or their involvement. As a result they still feel a trifle constrained to operate within some kind of limitations which would pass, at least, the rigorous investigative probing of the “Journalists” at Fox News. That gives them a fair amount of leeway but god help us if they ever turn nasty.

The solution to this problem is not to confront the enemy in the battlefield of their own choosing. This war requires the classic strategy of the martial artist. We need to use the enemy’s energy against them. For example, at least 1% of those in sensitive posts will be as horrified as we are about the increasing tyrannical nature and potential of the activities they are engaged in. We need to ensure they have secure channels through which to leak the crucial evidence. And if and when we ever win this war, we need to reward and honour those who had the courage to blow the whistles when it most mattered.

I’ve been blathering on for some years now about the (increasing) need for a Trusted Surveillance program which will wrest control from the Authoritarians by making them genuinely and unavoidably accountable. Here, for example, is part 1 (all 8 parts are on youtube) of my 2007 attempt to explain how it might work in the context of the prescient movie “Enemy Of The State” (the movie was made back in 1998 – so this isn’t just a post 9-11 problem)

Implementing Trusted Surveillance will be partly technical and partly political. It requires the abolition of many existing laws and the implementation of new ones. Some of the new laws are genuinely revolutionary and we can expect major resistance from all parts of all establishments as they fight to maintain their hold on power. But, as I hint in various places, the battle we are now engaged in is the final battle for the human soul. It will determine whether, in the coming centuries, our species consists of largely free individuals or regimented hordes required to conform to and service the demands of their rulers.

A battle on this scale requires much more than brute force (which, in any case, the enemy has a near monopoly on, despite the relaxed gun laws in the USA). It requires creative intelligence, in which weapons such as subversion, satire and sedition will play a much greater role than bombs and bullets. We need to make the enemy a laughing-stock. We need to get to the point where even the most ignorant sheep-like citizens are too embarrassed to support their patronizing shepherds. In this regard, the likes of Jon Stuart and Stephen Colbert are every bit as important as, say, Wikileaks and whistleblowing.

I may, of course, be wrong in every detail of my proposals but I am utterly certain that I am at least focussed on the right target and that the problem is every bit as far-reaching as I describe in my various rantings. So if you don’t agree with my solution, fine, but you’d better start coming up with an alternative while we’ve still got the freedom and scope to implement it. Meanwhile remember:

Citizen – Innocent Until Proved Guilty
Authority – Guilty Until Proved Innocent


About Harry Stottle
Refugee from the Stumbleupon Blogicide of October 2011 Here you will find my "kneejerk" responses to the world and what I happen to bump into. For my more detailed considerations and proposals, please visit my website or my previous main blogging site.

One Response to “Anonymous” Takes Aim At The Wrong Target

  1. Pingback: Drug Possession Charge In Houston - TX: What You Will Need To Know

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