I had just begun to think that Apple had usurped the title of Evil Empire from Microsoft when I heard about Microsoft’s patent application for a system designed “to regulate the presentation of content.” Just another digital rights management system you might think. Well, not quite.
Filed a year ago but only just now coming to media attention, this is spyware of a new magnitude. While you watch the screen, the screen watches you. And in some detail. It counts how many viewers are present. If there are more viewers than are licensed to view, it takes ‘remedial action’. What this is remains to be seen. It could simply prevent any further showing of the content – although it could equally report the matter to the content police. It could pop up a message on the screen. “Will two of you please leave the room. Close the door behind you – and don’t slam it!”
It also estimates the age of the viewers. Youngsters can be prevented from viewing adult material. Presumably, Muslims could be prevented from watching the Innocence of Muslims (or anything similar); and the Amish from watching anything (although the beards could lead to confusion between the two).
Should we worry? Yes, that any company could even dream that such a thing is acceptable is a deep concern. Expect it in a few years time, because Hollywood will love it, and governments love Hollywood’s cash-strewn lobbying.
Life is a game of cricket – sometimes you face bouncers, and sometimes beamers; but usually it’s spin and swing. The internet is full of spin and swing, with business, government, law enforcement and hackers all trying to spin the news to their own advantage in order to swing public opinion behind their own position. It’s called disinformation, and everyone’s at it. But like cricket, you only need one ball to spin or swing, and you cannot trust anything ever again.
So with that introductory warning that I really haven’t got a clue, we can ask, what’s going on with WikiLeaks? This is one possibility. It’s all down to TrapWire and the information about TrapWire coming out of the latest WikiLeaks Stratfor emails.
TrapWire seems to be an international surveillance system centred in and run by the US. It makes Cameron’s Communications Bill look pedestrian. That’s not strictly accurate, since the Communications Bill watches people’s cyber movements, while TrapWire watches real world movements; that is, pedestrians (and cars and anything else that moves). It connects the nation’s CCTV surveillance cameras. As an aside, we can be pretty confident that when (not if) the US gets its Cybersecurity Act, that data will be connected to the TrapWire data. What’s more worrying for Brits is that when (not if) Cameron gets his Communications Bill into an Act, that data will also be connected to TrapWire.
This latter is just conjecture, but look at the parallels in UKUSA and do the math. Also consider this from one of the WikiLeaks emails (dated 22 September 2010):
This week, 500 surveillance cameras were activated on the NYC subway system to focus on pre-operational terrorist surveillance. The surveillance technology is also operational on high value targets (HVTs) in DC, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and London and is called TrapWire (www.abraxasapps.com).
So TrapWire was already operational in the UK almost a year ago.
Well, of course I checked on the Abraxas site (a company apparently populated by a high density of ex-CIA staff), but got nowhere.
It’s not just me.
There’s no buzz on the internet (yet at least) that Abraxas has been tangoed down by Anonymous (in retaliation for Antileaks taking out WikiLeaks). So – pure conjecture – they’ve taken it down themselves.
Thank goodness for Google cache (if you’re quick, it might still be there…)
It wouldn’t be surprising if Abraxas has disconnected itself. This TrapWire thing is big, and the Stratfor emails show it’s being used much wider than published. It’s bad enough that the UK government wants to spy on its own citizens (using our taxes to pay for it, of course), but that it has already opened the door to facilitate US government spying on the British people is quite simply obscene. Or, to be British, unacceptable. I can’t begin to think what the American people will make of it.
So, to go back to the original question, what’s going on with WikiLeaks? The obvious conclusion is that it has been taken down (well, effectively blocked) by a continuing DDoS that has been claimed by Antileaks specifically to suppress the emerging information about TrapWire (WikiLeaks is still down as I write this). This is just conjecture on my part; but, well, the dots connect. Under the guise of anti-terrorism western governments will stop at nothing in their determination to have absolute control over us.
The very idea that the government should use £billions of our money to spy on us, when millions of Brits are without work, our roads are crumbling, our schools leaking and our schoolkids without adequate books, is simply obscene.
The idea that a democratic government is even contemplating a blanket and secretive monitoring system that requires no judicial oversight is abhorrent.
So, what is the solution?
There is a scary place. It’s called the Dark Net. It’s the hidden part of the internet. I don’t go there, because its full of unpleasant things. But there’s an even scarier place. It’s called the United Kingdom.
But, “because everyone (all Internet traffic) connected to the TOR Network is anonymous, there is not currently a way to trace the origin of the website. As such no other investigative leads exist,” said the FBI about the Dark Net in response to an FoI request.
There are, of course, other forces patrolling the Dark Net. Anonymous is on a hunt to find and expose pedophile sites; but I’m happy to accept that. The FBI finds it hard to patrol the Dark Net; Anonymous does not. But since I’m beginning to trust Anonymous more than I trust our government, I suspect the solution will be for us all to move to the Dark Net under the protection of Anonymous rather than stay in the open under the eyes of Theresa May.