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Snooping & Sneaking – Meet The Big Brother

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

How the State has been quietly becoming the Big Brother – snooping, sneaking and intruding into our lives.

More than 40 years old, this cartoon presaged the arrival of surveillance society. (Cartoonist - Ron Cobb; year of publication - 1968).

More than 40 years old, this cartoon presaged the arrival of surveillance society. (Cartoonist - Ron Cobb; year of publication - 1968).

Kumbhakarna Media

In the last few years, we have seen the Indian State increase its electronic footprint. With the advent of GSM-mobile telephony, snooping and listening to conversation has become even more easier.

Red rage or green jihad, the State will use any excuse to expand its powers and control. Mainstream media has finally awakened to this issue with a multi-part series by The Hindu.

Excerpted below

But if you have been a 2ndlooker, this issue of the Snooping and Sneaking State and all its international dimensions has been covered in the last 30 months. Anecdotes and factoids apart, for 2ndlookers, these posts from the The Hindu will be another installment.

In March 1950, the National Security Council of the United States of America issued a top-secret directive that, in ways few people fully understood then or since, transformed our world. “The special nature of Communications Intelligence activities,” it reads, “requires that they be treated in all respects as being outside the framework of other or general intelligence activities. Orders, directives, policies or recommendations of the Executive Branch relating to the collection, production, security, handling, dissemination or utilisation of intelligence and/or classified material shall not be applicable to Communications Intelligence activities.”

Less than two decades after that directive was signed, the U.S. controlled the most formidable system of surveillance the world has ever seen: satellites and listening posts strung across the planet picked up everything from radio-telephone conversations from cars in Moscow to transatlantic telephone conversations and data on India’s nuclear programme. Known as Echelon, the system provided the western powers with an unprecedented information edge over their adversaries.

From data obtained by WikiLeaks, working with an international consortium of media organisations, including The Hindu, and other partners, we have the first real public domain insights into how much more advanced — and how much more widely available — this surveillance system has become.

The South African firm Vastech, for example, offers systems that can capture data flowing across telecommunications and internet networks in multiples of ten gigabites, and scan it for pre-determined parameters — the voice of an individual; a particular language; a phone number; an e-mail address. The Indian companies, Shoghi and ClearTrail, The Hindu found, market systems that can capture giant volumes of traffic from mobile phone and satellite networks and subject it to similar analysis. France’s Amesys is among several companies to have provided equipment like this to states like Libya — enabling their parent state access to the buyer’s own communications, through electronic back-doors, but at the price of allowing them to spy on dissidents, with often horrific consequences. (via The Hindu : Opinion / Op-Ed : The art and science of communications intelligence).

In the summer of 1999, an officer at a Research and Analysis Wing communications station in western India flipped a switch, and helped change the course of the Kargil conflict. RAW’s equipment had picked up Pakistan’s army chief and later military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, speaking to his chief of staff, General Muhammad Aziz, from a hotel room in Beijing. “The entire reason for the success of this operation,” the RAW officer heard General Aziz saying on May 29, 1999, “was this total secrecy.” He probably smiled.

For the first time, India had hard evidence that Pakistan’s army, not jihadists, had planned and executed a war that had brought two nuclear-armed states to the edge of a catastrophic confrontation. RAW’s computers established that the voices were indeed those of Generals Musharraf and Aziz, pinpointed their locations – and undermined Pakistan’s diplomatic position beyond redemption.

India’s strategic community finally awoke to the possibilities of modern communications intelligence, and unleashed a massive effort to upgrade the country’s technical capabilities. A new organisation, the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), was set up; scientists in the Indian Institutes of Technology were tapped, and quiet efforts to acquire technology worldwide were initiated.

Late into the night the 26/11 attacks began in Mumbai, that investment paid off: equipment flown in from New Delhi by the Intelligence Bureau allowed investigators to intercept the assault team’s communications with the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s headquarters in Pakistan. Police forces across the country have since scrambled to purchase similar equipment, making India one of the largest markets for global vendors.

But this isn’t good news: India has no appropriate legal framework to regulate its vast, and growing, communications intelligence capabilities. There is almost no real institutional oversight by political institutions like Parliament — which means there is a clear and imminent danger that the technology could undermine the very democracy it was purchased to defend. (via The Hindu : News / National : The government’s listening to us).

Earlier this year, as Islamist-led Libyan insurgents swept into Tripoli, fascinating new insights emerged into how Muammar Qadhafi’s regime had used state-of-the-art communications intelligence equipment to shore up the murderous dystopia he had built.

The French firm Amesys, documents first reported by The Wall Street Journal showed, had supplied the regime with capabilities to intercept electronic traffic involving Libyan dissidents half-way across the world. The documents — in essence, operator training manuals — contained a list of targets, which had been redacted. But Owni, a, a French media group that partnered with The Hindu in the WikiLeaks-Spy Files investigation, succeeded in using electronic means to recover the data. (via The Hindu : News : How technology helped build a dystopia).

Mr. Assange warned that with entire populations being subjected to surveillance nobody anywhere in the world was safe anymore.

“In traditional spy stories, intelligence agencies like MI5 bug the phone of one or two people of interest. In the last 10 years systems for indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm. Intelligence companies such as VASTech secretly sell equipment to permanently record the phone calls of entire nations. Others record the location of every mobile phone in a city, down to 50 metres. Systems to infect every Facebook user, or smart-phone owner of an entire population group are on the intelligence market,” said a statement on official WikiLeaks Spy Files site. (via The Hindu : News / International : Big Brother is everywhere now).

2ndlook posts on the Encroaching State

… And They Dare To Call Russia an Oligarchy

Big Brother is watching you

U.K. cops arrest people ‘just for the DNA’

The Leader Of The Free World …

Police State Coming to India …?

Surveillance Business – For, From and Fie on the Free World

India on the way to police state

Nilekani to head Unique Database Authority, gets Cabinet rank

The wonder that is the Anglo Saxon legal system …

Surveillance Business – For, From and Fie on the Free World

September 16, 2011 Leave a comment
Expanded Surveillance. (Cartoon and Copyright 1996 - 2011, Mike Keefe; published on 10/07/2010; source and courtesy - cagle.com). Click for larger image.

Expanded Surveillance. (Cartoon and Copyright 1996 – 2011, Mike Keefe; published on 10/07/2010; source and courtesy – cagle.com). Click for larger image.

Western companies including Cisco Systems Inc. are poised to help build an ambitious new surveillance project in China—a citywide network of as many as 500,000 cameras that officials say will prevent crime but that human-rights advocates warn could target political dissent.

How surveillance systems work - Image courtesy and source - wsj.com. Click to open larger image in separate window.

How surveillance systems work – Image courtesy and source – wsj.com. Click to open larger image in separate window.

The system, being built in the city of Chongqing over the next two to three years, is among the largest and most sophisticated video-surveillance projects of its kind in China, and perhaps the world. Dubbed “Peaceful Chongqing,” it is planned to cover a half-million intersections, neighborhoods and parks over nearly 400 square miles, an area more than 25% larger than New York City.

Chongqing’s government has said it plans to invest more than $800 million of its own in building the Peaceful Chongqing system. Another $1.6 billion is coming from other sources.

China has become the fastest growing market for surveillance equipment, although it isn’t yet the biggest, according to IMS Research, a U.K. firm that studies the market. The surveillance markets in the U.S. and Europe are growing at single-digit rates while surveillance-related revenue in China is growing at 23% a year. Surveillance-equipment sales alone, not including networking gear or software, totaled $1.7 billion last year.

Chongqing’s government says on its website that its current surveillance system is outdated, allowing police to directly tap into just 15,000 of the total 300,000 cameras. It wants the new system to be among the world’s most advanced. (via Cisco Poised to Help China Build Surveillance Project – WSJ.com).

Do Govt. wants to give up power, monitoring, torture, imprisonments, executions? (Cartoon by David Horsey for Sunday, May 03, 2009; Source and courtesy - sfgate.com). Click for a larger picture.

Do Govt. wants to give up power, monitoring, torture, imprisonments, executions? (Cartoon by David Horsey for Sunday, May 03, 2009; Source and courtesy – sfgate.com). Click for a larger picture.

Any colour as long as it black

Different Governments, using local flavours of paranoia, are creating huge citizen monitoring networks. Supposedly, to track criminals, terrorists, (in India Naxalites), these are now growing beyond simple devices.

Combine facial recognition software, and you have good reason to be afraid. Obama who promised much, in terms of human rights, has gone back on every promise, he made. Instead in the USA, there are an estimated 30,000 people, who are listening to phone conversations.

China, Britain, USA lead the world.

In Britain, it has become epidemic: The United Kingdom’s 60 million subjects are tracked by 1.5 million closed-circuit television cameras.

Britain’s cameras, initially placed in high-crime areas and town centers to protect shops, have spread to residential areas, schools and parks. At first, the cameras were credited for reducing some types of crime, but then the figures began to climb again. (via DenverPost.com – Editorials).

 

Big Brother is watching you

November 27, 2009 5 comments

So, whether it is Red Rage or Green Jihad, the State just needs an excuse to extend its power – and this ‘surveillance’ raj is one part of it.

The Red Rage

There is a increasing chorus in India that a ‘surveillance’ regime is needed in India also.

There is no Pakistani hand 'here' (Image source and courtesy - www.indiatogether.org). Click for larger image.

There is no Pakistani hand 'here' (Image source and courtesy - http://www.indiatogether.org). Click for larger image.

undermanned police managed a low crime society in India till now. The excuse of terrorism is being used to advance the case for a police state in India also – like the UK, USA, China etc.

Lalgarh has proved one thing –purusharth in India is still alive and well. Moksh मोक्ष is the ultimate aim of all humans – and the meaning ofmoksh is freedom, emancipation, deliverance. Moksh is one of the four objectives (धर्म अर्थ, काम, मोक्ष) in the Indian ethical code of पुरुषार्थ.

Santhals and the British

In Lalgarh, middle aged Santhal women, armed with spears, axes and knives came out to battle a repressive state which sold out to Big Business. For nearly a 100 years, a 100 years ago, the same Santhals had fought the British Raj earlier. When so many women come out in the open, with bows and arrows, one thing is clear.

There are more where they come from.

Police States maturing across the world

There are more, where these women came from. (Image source and courtesy - indianvanguard.files.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

There are more, where these women came from. (Image source and courtesy - indianvanguard.files.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

China’s Golden Shield Project has several US corporations such as IBM, General Electric, and Honeywell working closely with the Chinese government to install millions of surveillance cameras throughout the country, along with advanced video analysis and facial recognition software, which will identify and track individuals everywhere they go. They will be connected to a centralised database and monitoring station, which will, upon completion of the project, contain a picture of the face of every person in China – over 1.3 billion people.

Law enforcement and intelligence services in the UK and the US possess technology to remotely activate the microphones in cellphones, by accessing the phone’s diagnostic/maintenance features, in order to listen to conversations that take place nearby the person who holds the phone. Mobile phones are also commonly used to collect location data.

When women come out in the open like this ... beware Chiddu Boy!

When women come out in the open like this ... beware Chiddu Boy!

In the US, for instance, under the Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act, all phone calls, VoIP and broadband internet traffic (emails, web traffic, instant messaging, etc) are required to be available for unimpeded real-time monitoring by federal law enforcement agencies. Computers are also a surveillance target because of the personal data stored on them. If someone is able to install software (either physically or remotely), such as the FBI’s “Magic Lantern” and Computer and IP verification (CIPAV), on a computer system, they can easily gain unauthorised access to this data. Another form of computer surveillance, known as TEMPEST, involves reading electromagnetic emanations from computing devices in order to extract data from them at distances of hundreds of meters.

Surveillance cameras are often connected to a recording device, IP network, and/or watched by a security guard/law enforcement officer. In the UK, for instance, there are about 4.2 million surveillance cameras — one camera for every 14 people. (via How other countries fare).

The excuse for extending power

Chiddu! I would be afraid. Very afraid

Chiddu! I would be afraid. Very afraid

So, whether it is Red Rage or Green Jihad, the State just needs an excuse to extend its power – and this ‘surveillance’ raj is one part of it.

In the US, for instance, more than three-quarters of young black men aged between 18 and 35 are on the system, the report said. Set up in 1995, the database contains the DNA profiles of five million citizens, eight percent of the population, making it the world’s biggest in proportion to population size. “Parliament has never formally debated the establishment of the National DNA Database and safeguards around it,” commission chairman Professor Jonathan Montgomery said in a statement.

“It has developed through amendments to laws designed to regulate the taking of fingerprints and physical evidence before DNA profiling was developed.

“It is not clear how far holding DNA profiles on a central database improves police investigations.” (via U.K. cops arrest people ‘just for the DNA’ – Europe- msnbc.com).

Big brother is definitely here

As post-WW2 European society was taking shape, one man warned the world – Big Brother Is Watching You! George Orwell’s 1984, a simple, dark and melancholic book warned the world of the spectre of a police state looming over the world.

The book was portrayed as warning against the ‘impending’ threat of Communism. George Orwell himself joined the British Government in its propaganda effort during WW2.

Would George Orwell have imagined that Britain, the ‘citadel of freedom’, itself would becoming the Mother Of Big Brother societies – with the largest number surveillance cameras and DNA data bank and a back-breaking prison population.

I wonder!

In the land of the free

The US prison population at more than 20 lakhs (2 million) is travesty of justice and humanity. The US competes with China and the erstwhile USSR, (the largest totalitarian regimes) in the world, with its rate of incarceration.

Most people are today feel assured about Big Brother's watchful presence

Most people are today feel assured about Big Brother's watchful presence

USA, with a population of 30 crores (300 million), has a criminal population of 70 lakhs (7 million) – behind bars, on probation or on parole. US Government estimates a figure of 20 lakhs (2 million) people serving prison sentences.

A concerned editorial in New York Timesnewspaper summed up the situation.

More than 1 in 100 American adults are behind bars. One in nine black men, ages 20 to 34, are serving time, as are 1 in 36 adult Hispanic men. Nationwide, the prison population … (of the US) surpasses all other countries for which there are reliable figures. The 50 states last year spent about $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections, up from nearly $11 billion in 1987. Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan and Oregon devote as much money or more to corrections as they do to higher education.

Persuading public officials to adopt a more rational, cost-effective approach to prison policy is a daunting prospect, however, not least because building and running jailhouses has become a major industry.

… the relationship between imprisonment and crime control is murky. States that lagged behind the national average in rising incarceration rates during the 1990’s actually experienced a steeper decline in crime rates than states above the national average …(ellipsis and bracketed text mine).

Across the pond

Some time back there was another report, on the state of prisons in UK.

Feeling assured? More than 40 old, this cartoon presaged the arrival of surveillance society. (Cartoonist - Ron Cobb; year of publication - 1968).

Feeling assured? More than 40 old, this cartoon presaged the arrival of surveillance society. (Cartoonist - Ron Cobb; year of publication - 1968).

There are almost 10,000 Muslims in Britain’s jails— with 90 of them serving time for terror offences … they fear more and more young lags are being converted and radicalised in prison. A … source said: “You are talking about rootless young men at the bottom of society. They’re in jail and someone gives them some purpose. ”

In top-security jails such as Whitemoor, Cambs, 35 per cent of inmates are Muslim—and they have converted numerous other prisoners to Islam. (viaMI5 spy chiefs are putting undercover officers into Britain’s jails | News Of The World).

Slice and dice …

Britain has an estimated 1.6 million Muslims – a 2.8% of the British population. Of this a 10,000 are in prison – which means about 0.6% of the British Muslim population is in prison. India has 16 crore Muslims – which a 100 times higher Islamic population than Britain.

What if …

If India were to follow the British policy of imprisonment, Indian Muslims inside prisons would number 10 lakhs (or 1 million). India’s total prison population ranges between 2.5 lakhs to 3.5 lakhs – of all peoples, of all religions, races, crimes etc.

Traditionally, Indian society handles crime vastly differently. Technically, India could create a legal system which would ease the ability of the police to imprison people, or better still hang them – and hide its social problems.

Freedom, imprisonment, racism, development, genocide

What is the difference between a ‘banana republic’ where people disappear – and in the Anglo-Saxon Bloc which has the world largest prison population? Maybe, my being from a backward country, stops me from understanding this great ‘progress’ that these countries seemed to have made!

The sight of the West, strutting as a protector of freedom on the global stage is a hoax. How can the West have a problem with Native American tribes (aka Red Indians) and the Aborigines – if there are none left. The West which has the highest levels of prison populations in the world – raucously reminds the world of lessons in freedom.

What is assimilation and integration

The West speaks of protecting individual freedom, whereas the calls for ‘assimilation’ integration are nothing but refurbished implementation of the ‘settled’ principle in the Desert Bloc of ‘cuius regio, eius religio’ (meaning whose land, his religion; CRER) – the ruler decided his people’s religion.

A US WW2 poster! Were those millions of lives wasted!!

A US WW2 poster! Were those millions of lives wasted!!

The West can speak from both sides of the mouth. Nicholas Sarkozy can tell Indians (i.e. Manmohan Singh) to respect foreign missionarieswho want to convert Indians to their religion – while the West can continue with this demonization of Islam.

Would Sarkozy like to mention any other country where such a large minority Muslim population, has greater freedom and opportunity, than in India? Would you, Mr.Sarkozy, like to suggest France instead?

This is freedom – from both sides. For the West.

U.K. cops arrest people ‘just for the DNA’

November 26, 2009 Leave a comment

More than three-quarters of young black men aged between 18 and 35 are on the system, the report said. Set up in 1995, the database contains the DNA profiles of five million citizens, eight percent of the population, making it the world’s biggest in proportion to population size. “Parliament has never formally debated the establishment of the National DNA Database and safeguards around it,” commission chairman Professor Jonathan Montgomery said in a statement.

“It has developed through amendments to laws designed to regulate the taking of fingerprints and physical evidence before DNA profiling was developed.

“It is not clear how far holding DNA profiles on a central database improves police investigations.” (via U.K. cops arrest people ‘just for the DNA’ – Europe- msnbc.com).

Most people are today feel assured about Big Brother's watchful presenceBig brother is definitely here

As post-WW2 European society was taking shape, one man warned the world – Big Brother Is Watching You!

George Orwell’s 1984, a simple, dark and melancholic book warned the world of the specter of a looming police state looming. The book was portrayed as warning against the ‘impending’ threat of Communism. George Orwell himself joined the British Government in its propaganda effort, against the Germans during WW2.

Would George Orwell, a confused imperialist, have imagined that Britain, the citadel of freedom, itself would becoming the Mother Of Big Brother societies – with the largest number surveillance cameras and DNA data bank and a back-breaking prison population.

I wonder!

In the land of the free

The US prison population at more than 20 lakhs (2 million) is travesty of justice and humanity. The US competes with China and the erstwhile USSR, (the largest totalitarian regimes) in the world, with its rate of incarceration.

USA, with a population of 30 crores (300 million), has a criminal population of 70 lakhs (7 million) – behind bars, on probation or on parole. US Government estimates a figure of 20 lakhs (2 million) people serving prison sentences.

A concerned editorial in New York Times newspaper summed up the situation.

More than 1 in 100 American adults are behind bars. One in nine black men, ages 20 to 34, are serving time, as are 1 in 36 adult Hispanic men. Nationwide, the prison population … (of the US) surpasses all other countries for which there are reliable figures. The 50 states last year spent about $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections, up from nearly $11 billion in 1987. Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan and Oregon devote as much money or more to corrections as they do to higher education.

Persuading public officials to adopt a more rational, cost-effective approach to prison policy is a daunting prospect, however, not least because building and running jailhouses has become a major industry.

… the relationship between imprisonment and crime control is murky. States that lagged behind the national average in rising incarceration rates during the 1990’s actually experienced a steeper decline in crime rates than states above the national average … (ellipsis and bracketed text mine).

Feeling assuredAcross the pond

Some time back there was another report, on the state of prisons in UK.

There are almost 10,000 Muslims in Britain’s jails— with 90 of them serving time for terror offences … they fear more and more young lags are being converted and radicalised in prison. A … source said: “You are talking about rootless young men at the bottom of society. They’re in jail and someone gives them some purpose. ”

In top-security jails such as Whitemoor, Cambs, 35 per cent of inmates are Muslim—and they have converted numerous other prisoners to Islam. (via MI5 spy chiefs are putting undercover officers into Britain’s jails | News Of The World).

Slice and dice …

Britain has an estimated 1.6 million Muslims – a 2.8% of the British population. Of this a 10,000 are in prison – which means about 0.6% of the British Muslim population is in prison. India has 16 crore Muslims – which a 100 times higher population.

What if …

The British policy of imprisonment, if India were to follow, Indian Muslims inside prisons would be in 10 lakhs (or 1 million). India’s total prison population ranges between 2.5 lakhs to 3.5 lakhs – of all peoples, of all religions, races, crimes etc.

Of course, Indian society handles crime vastly differently. Technically, India could create a legal system which would ease the ability of the police to imprison people, or better still hang them – and hide its social problems.

Freedom, imprisonment, racism, development, genocide

What is the difference between a ‘banana republic’ where people disappear – and in the Anglo-Saxon Bloc which has the world largest prison population? Maybe, my being from a backward country, stops me from understanding this great ‘progress’ that these countries seemed to have made!

The sight of the West, strutting as a protector of freedom on the global stage is a hoax. How can the West have a problem with Native American tribes (aka Red Indians) and the Aborigines – if there are none left. The West which has the highest levels of prison populations in the world – raucously reminds the world of lessons in freedom.

What is assimilation and integration

The West speaks of protecting individual freedom, whereas the calls for ‘assimilation’ integration are nothing but refurbished implementation of the ‘settled’ principle in the Desert Bloc of Cuius regio, eius religio’ (meaning whose land, his religion; CRER) – the ruler decided his people’s religion.

The West can speak from both sides of the mouth. Nicholas Sarkozy can tell Indians (i.e.Manmohan Singh) to respect foreign missionaries, who want to convert Indians to their religion – while the West can continue with this demonization of Islam. Would Sarkozy like to mention any other country where such a large minority Muslim population, has greater freedom and opportunity, than in India? Would you like to suggest France instead?

This is freedom – from both sides. For the West.

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