Woman arrested for videotaping speed trap while waiting for bus.
Maybe the Most Orwellian Text Message a Government’s Ever Sent
by Brian Merchant for Vice
“Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”
That’s a text message that thousands of Ukrainian protesters spontaneously received on their cell phones today, as a new law prohibiting public demonstrations went into effect. It was the regime’s police force, sending protesters the perfectly dystopian text message to accompany the newly minted, perfectly dystopian legislation. In fact, it’s downright Orwellian (and I hate that adjective, and only use it when absolutely necessary, I swear).
But that’s what this is: it’s technology employed to detect noncompliance, to hone in on dissent. The NY Times reports that the “Ukrainian government used telephone technology to pinpoint the locations of cell phones in use near clashes between riot police officers and protesters early on Tuesday.” Near. Using a cell phone near a clash lands you on the regime’s hit list.
See, Kiev is tearing itself to shreds right now, but since we’re kind of burned out on protests, riots, and revolutions at the moment, it’s being treated as below-the-fold news. Somehow, the fact that over a million people are marching, camping out, and battling with Ukraine’s increasingly authoritarian government is barely making a ripple behind such blockbuster news bits as bridge closures and polar vortexes. Yes, even though protesters are literally building catapaults and wearing medieval armor and manning flaming dump trucks.
Hopefully news of the nascent techno-security state will turn some heads—it’s right out of 1984, or, more recently, Elysium: technology deployed to “detect” dissent. Again, this tech appears to be highly arbitrary; anyone near the protest is liable to be labeled a “participant,” as if targeting protesters directly and so broadly wasn’t bad enough in the first place.
It’s further reminder that authoritarian regimes are exploiting the very technology once celebrated as a vehicle for liberation; last year, in Turkey, you’ll recall, the state rounded up dissident Twitter users. Now, Ukraine is tracing the phone signal directly. Dictators have already proved plenty adept at pulling the plug on the internet altogether.
All of this puts lie to the lately-popular mythology that technology is inherently a liberating force—with the right hack, it can oppress just as easily.
On Tuesday Nov 5th, 2013 after making her wait 8 hours, the Clark County Commission in Las Vegas decided to hear Daphne Lee speak against the NDAA. What followed was one of the most powerful public comments in history.
Maryland State Police and federal agents used a search warrant in an unrelated criminal investigation to seize the private reporting files of an award-winning former investigative journalist for The Washington Times who had exposed problems in the Homeland Security Department’s Federal Air Marshals Service. Reporter Audrey Hudson said the investigators, who included an agent for Homeland Security’s Coast Guard service, made a pre-dawn raid of her family home Aug. 6 and took her private notes and government documents that she had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.”
Awesome compilation of people refusing to answer DHS questions at non-border checkpoints
CISPA: Say Hello To Big Brother
Worse than SOPA and PIPA, deliberately vague and gives the government and corporations litigation immunity from playing loose with your data. Take a moment and contact your legislator →
What if the biggest websites in the country were to temporarily shut down their services and instead inform visitors of the dangers of SOPA?
I was there to take down the names of people who were arrested… As I’m standing there, some African-American woman goes up to a police officer and says, ‘I need to get in. My daughter’s there. I want to know if she’s OK.’ And he said, ‘Move on, lady.’ And they kept pushing with their sticks, pushing back. And she was crying. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he throws her to the ground and starts hitting her in the head,” says Smith. “I walk over, and I say, ‘Look, cuff her if she’s done something, but you don’t need to do that.’ And he said, ‘Lady, do you want to get arrested?’ And I said, ‘Do you see my hat? I’m here as a legal observer.’ He said, ‘You want to get arrested?’ And he pushed me up against the wall.”
— Retired New York Supreme Court Judge Karen Smith, working as a legal observer after the raids on Zucotti Park this Tuesday, via Paramilitary Policing of Occupy Wall Street: Excessive Use of Force amidst the New Military Urbanism (via seriouslyamerica)