They are watching you [pdf]
/ orwell / meets / kafka /
The International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance, has a report out that should send shivers down the backs of anyone still clinging to the fantasy of western liberal democracy. It exposes in quite horrific detail the road we are all travelling towards becoming a surveillance society of the sort one associates usually with dystopic Sci-Fi. This is all done of course with our own good primarily in mind and - lest we forget - the terrorists are out to get us all, so cut it out and speak louder. The article is a good 70 pages, of which I excerpt these ten signposts (as the report calls them) on our road to a permenent state of siege:
• The first signpost was the effort of the United States to ethnically profile Muslim, or potentially Muslim, immigrants and visitors, and to register and/or detain them under immigration laws and programs called NSEERS and US-VISIT.
• The second signpost was the move on the part of the U.S. and its allies to do through international channels what most of them could not do through their own democratic systems – to expand registration to their own populations and create what is, in effect, a global identification system. This was accomplished by requesting the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to introduce a “biometric” passport that would be imposed universally.
• The third signpost was the creation, by similar means, of a global infrastructure for the surveillance of movement – using the biometric passport and airlines’ passenger name records. Under this system, information about where individuals fly, and how often, will be tracked, stored, and shared between countries, and used to control the movement of people across borders.
• The fourth signpost was the creation of an infrastructure for the global surveillance of electronic communications and financial transactions. Through this infrastructure, state agents from our own and other countries will have cost-free, direct access to individuals’ emails, phone calls, and website browsing, and financial institutions will monitor transactions and report on them to state authorities.
• The fifth signpost is a development that feeds into all of the others – the radical convergence of government and private-sector databases, nationally and internationally. This is taking place under new laws, but businesses are also voluntarily surrendering databases to government agencies, and the U.S. government is purchasing databases, domestically and abroad. The result is the creation of a global web of databases that will be used by the U.S. and other countries (in conjunction with the infrastructures for the global surveillance of movement and of electronic and financial transactions) to generate detailed information dossiers on everyone.
• The sixth signpost is the growing number of mistakes and abuses that demonstrate the dangerous flaws inherent in the “risk assessment” paradigm that is driving the collection, storage and linkage of so much information.
• The seventh signpost is the deep integration of countries’ police, security intelligence and military operations with American operations that governments around the world are acquiescing to, and their concomitant abandonment of national sovereignty and control.
• The eighth signpost is the huge profits being made by corporations in the new global mass registration and surveillance order, and the emergence of a new “corporate security complex”.
• The ninth signpost is what is happening to democratic societies – in terms of the erosion of democratic processes , centuries-old protections in criminal law, freedom of speech and association, and the rule of law itself as governments pursue the agenda for global, mass registration and surveillance.
• The tenth signpost, and perhaps the most ominous of all, is the collective loss of moral compass societies are exhibiting as they begin to accept inhumane and extraordinary practices of social control. Countries that hold themselves out as defenders of human rights are engaging directly in extra-legal rendition, torture and extra-judicial killing – as well as contracting out these services to brutal regimes which are being rewarded for their contributions.