Surveillance, Control and Repression
The UK based surveillance technology manufacturing company, Gamma Group, was uncovered in July 2012 to have created spyware called FinSpy Moblie that monitors and retains all mobile phone data of a particular target. (They also produced FinSpy for other e-devices.) Gamma Group sells the surveillance spyware to governments, including repressive regimes from Turkmenistan to Bahrain, which in turn monitor activists. The spyware is a Trojan, which thus requires the target to unknowingly download the program, disguised as some innocuous file, onto a phone. The spyware has many capabilities including documenting an address book, intercepting, recording and storing all voice calls, phone call logs, SMS and GPS locations. There are many stories of anti-government activists in Bahrain, UAE, and elsewhere having been violently attacked and detained after the governments uncovered information about the individuals through FinSpy, Remote Control System developed by Milan Based HackingTeam, and other spyware programs.
Security and privacy researcher Christopher Soghoian and others have gathered more information demonstrating that Skype misleads its customers by not countering the general erroneous public perception that the platform is impenetrable to government, police, and judicial spying and monitoring. Skype is proven to have given upon request by government agencies online chats, user information (billing, IP address, email address, account info), private encryption keys, and phone call numbers of individuals. Skype’s management of passwords and encryption keys demonstrates that Skype or government agencies have the ability to impersonate customers or individuals through man in the middle attacks (also with assistance from telecom companies), thus demonstrating that the service is an unsafe and insecure method of communication. [Read more →]
Surveillance, Control and Repression
Steve Goodman is author of “Sonic Warfare, sound, affect and the ecology of fear”, a book just published by MIT Press. Tracing the politics of sound in ways that develop some of the arguments made in certain branches of Industrial Music and in the darker waves of Techno and Jungle, Sonic Warfare proposes a vivid and demanding cosmology of sound in the present day, written in a style that mixes reflections on music, philosophy, technology, dance, media, politics in a way that is both speculative and in the thick of it.
Aside from writing Steve produces and DJs under the name Kode9 and runs the Hyperdub label [Read more →]
From Conspiracy Theories to Attempted Assassinations: The American Radical Right and the Rise of the Tea Party Movement
Contemporary American politics initially appears to have achieved unprecedented diversity in its representation of the present demographics of society: Barack Obama is the first African American U.S. president, while in the 111th Congress (Jan. 3, 2009-Jan. 3, 2011) Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Barney Frank (D-MA) was the first openly gay chair of the House Financial Services Committee. However, Obama’s ascension to the presidency in January 2009 was a moment of extreme contradictions. On the one hand, liberals and the progressives, the so-called “left”, embraced the mainstream, centrist agenda of the Obama administration. Conversely, this was also period when far right hate groups and the armed “patriot” movement dramatically increased. With the rise of the Tea Party “Movement” (TPM) to national prominence, Obama and Pelosi have been made into caricatures representative of a variety of “evil” and conspiratorial elements in society by the right’s mainstream and radical media. However, the radical right’s fear of the loss of the white demographic majority in America that is fueling the TPM is not an actual reality in the 111th Congress, which is made up of 100 Senators and 435 House representatives. There were only 17 women, 1 African American, zero Hispanic Americans, and 3 Asian Americans in the Senate, while the House was made up of 73 women, 42 African Americans, 27 Hispanic Americans and 6 Asian Americans, despite the fact that US population is (approximately) more than 50% female, 15.8% Hispanic American, 12.4% African American, and 4.4% Asian American. The issue of representation is further called into question when addressing the economic disparities between Congress and the average US population. 261 members or half of Congress are millionaires, and 55 members are worth more than $10 million. In 2009, the median wealth of a House member was $765,010, while the median wealth for a senator was nearly $2.38 million.i [Read more →]
Social Media Surveillance and Repression
Previously undisclosed government documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through Freedom of Information Act (FIOA) lawsuits give hard evidence to previous reports that various spy agencies including the FBI, CIA, and others under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are using social media sites like facebook, myspace, twitter, youtube, etc. to gather “evidence” of criminality against suspects. One FIOA obtained internal document from the Justice Department trains FBI agents how to snoop for pictures, postings, videos, etc on social media sites. Investigators sometimes create false identity accounts on the social media sites in order to “friend” the suspect, or “friend” any number of individuals who the suspect is “friends” with in order to gain information that can be used for evidence and conviction. For example, Maxi Sopo, wanted by the feds for bank fraud, was discovered to be in Mexico and then later extradited to the US, after agents read such evidence on the public and private facebook pages of his friends. Information gathered from social media sites are shared with other law enforcement agencies in local, state or federal areas and databases. [Read more →]
The police and the media did everything they could to make us believe that last year’s Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho bombs were the work of one lonely madman. Their efforts were more than just an improvised attempt to contain local fury after the Brixton attack (although that’s certainly one thing they were): the ‘deranged loner’ fantasy is still being promoted long after the second and third explosions eliminated any doubt about the bomber’s motive.
The treatment of ‘right wing’ violence as a psychological symptom rather than a political problem is no accident, it’s a new ‘multi-agency’ policy. Five or ten years ago racism was Britain’s dirty secret, only mentioned publicly at all when forced onto the agenda by a riot or a sensationally brutal murder. Now everything seems to have changed: the prime minister delivers homilies on the subject at every opportunity, and the word is all over all the front pages. But this sudden eagerness to ‘talk about it’ has an important condition attached: acceptance that ‘it’ is something wrong with individuals, a personal failing shared by millions of people. The portrayal of ‘racism’ as sin or sickness (Tony Blair likes to call it a ‘disease’) leaves those encountering it in their everyday lives helpless and isolated. The threat appears to be eternal and inescapable: instead of planning retaliation, ‘victims’ are made to feel reliant on the state for protection, or to look for symptoms of the ‘evil’ deep inside themselves.
[Read more →]