The Surveillance State – Peace and Security at What Price?
Hitherto most of our freedoms and rights in Australia and were actually anchored in the British Common Law evolved over centuries and the culturally grounded respect of those in our institutions and agencies for fairness and the intrinsic rights of people. However statutory law overrides Common Law and lately has seriously eroded those rights. Nightmarish scenarios like arbitrary and secret arrest and continual judicially unsupervised widespread surveillance of the everyday contacts and the location of every person on a minute-to-minute basis are now fact.
Just turning off Location Services and the GPS on your devices does not stop the tracking. Because cellular services automatically compare signal strength at all nearby cell towers to determine the best connection, the recording & remembering of those attributes every few moments for every mobile means position can be deduced with surprising accuracy. The source & destination of every communication together with participants’ exact location and that routine powerful data mining and matching can work out everyone’s network and aims.
Of course this only matters to those who are up to no good – right?
Well no – the universal implementation means the bad guys are now totally alerted and they either leave their devices off or on and somewhere misleading. The encrypting of messages embedded in the noise of photos or media files means that only the sophisticated bad guys are not intercepted so personal privacy is compromised to no useful end.
Similar Statutory Law in the United Kingdom to Australia’s was recently overturned by their High Court as inconsistent with the right to privacy enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Australia has no constitutionally guaranteed set of basic rights like that charter or the US Bill of Rights or the German Basic Law. It is about time that we did. If we are to change our constitution to remove race as a criteria in legislation, why not simply incorporate that Charter in our constitution exactly as is? It would implicitly achieve that aim and numerous others with negligible unintended consequences.
Police States have always cited preserving national security to justify widespread surveillance… “Just trust us!” – the trouble is who is watching the watchers when it happens on a vast scale? Who determines just what constitutes a threat to National Security? Pol Pot thought having an education was a threat. Bring back Judicial Oversight and institute a constitutionally entrenched Charter of Rights or you loose my vote. I am uneasy too about agencies trawling though our social media posts – it is a small step from there to having mandatory internment of anybody with ideas that might predict the possibility of a crime.
The propensity of our Government to take our country to war without a Declaration of War and a vote of the Legislature to ratify that is also dangerous – it means the Executive can essentially deem opposition to a political position as Treason.
Watch List Resources?
Given the failure of potential terrorist watch list protocols to prevent the recent Martin’s Place incident, what more might be done?
Quite apart from metadata collection and collation, some form of automated video monitoring technology gives the best chance of interdiction at potential focal points of attack – prominent public places, transport hubs, places of National or religious significance… One problem is the grainy low resolution CCTV images we are used to after events. Clearly this ought be upgraded to higher resolution, automatically focused (or using rapidly sequenced multiple focus planes), and use of multiple camera views for 3D rendition all for much higher probabilities of automated recognition. Facial recognition databases, including the camera systems at immigration gates and driver licence bureaux, would need to be upgraded too to best leverage such camera and processing initiatives.
The limited number of people on watch lists should make it logistically possible to automatically raise an alert to responders when a person or persons of interest approach a natural target location, particularly with a high probability score given the technology underpinning a particular source.
So, security agency policy makers, broaden your focus beyond Metadata. That will be incredibly expensive and require exorbitant investment in human resources to leverage the results. More cost effective might be deploying technology at the places we need to interdict actors should they seek to do harm.
There was a time when most essential services were supplied by Government monopolies… Nowadays it seems these are mostly sold off to the private sector that has marked everything up to supply dividends to shareholders – not just cover the cost of services. Private health insurance is next even though they have made it essential given taxation penalties!
Middle class people are now increasingly suffering and the retired are in a bad way already. In South Australia the emergency services levy has gone up hundreds of percent, electricity distribution markups likewise no matter what you use, and gas is expected to go through the roof given its export potential and imminent free trade agreements. No thought for the domestic community in these new Government initiatives!
We need new regulatory frameworks and affordable storage technologies to let households get off the grid before they have to retire! Currently you are prevented from doing so if utilities run past your property!
Posted in Carbon Footprint, City Planning, Civil Rights & Government Power, Clean Energy & Carbon Tax, Technology, Water & Power Provision
Tagged export gas, free trade agreements, health insurance, power storage, privatisation, renewable energy
iOS 8 for iPhone & iPad is a step back.
If the developers want to enrich API functions, then they ought to leave existing arguments alone in both position/name & value, putting new and changed arguments after those. Changing the old arguments in a later iOS version means either they no longer work on the older platform or, if Apps are not upgraded to suit, they break in the new iOS. Inexcusable when it so easy to do things in a backward compatible way instead!
Australian Military have No Portable Isolation Capsules so could not Evacuate Australian Helpers sent to Ebola Crisis – Cases Doubling Each Four Weeks. With worldwide back orders, surely emergency manufacturing programs should be set up for more capsules and protective garb. With so many of our manufacturing plants like Holden and Ford closing down, could not they be utilised?
Cat Containment – a Political Correctness a Step Too Far!
Ask any experienced pest controller and you will find that nearly every home in older suburbs have some rats in their ceiling or underfloor spaces. Cats keep their numbers down (but rarely out) without the use of cancer causing poisons and the collateral deaths of many benign species. I would wager too that cat and dog owners have less anxiety, loneliness and depression – major cost drivers for our medical services. Not everyone can afford to mount rotating sets of rollers on their perimeter fences – especially the elderly and those trying to support a family on a modest wage. Those seeking to introduce and support this draconian imitative may well find the political and social backlash surprising in its intensity…
Ebola Readiness or Not?
Julie Bishop has said that the Australian Government can not contribute medical teams to try to contain the outbreaks at source in Africa because we have no way of evacuating and treating any who might fall ill with the disease. If so, then they had better gear up because chances are it is coming before it is contained. Do we need supplies of negative-pressure containment capsules, positive-pressure protective “space suits”, autoclave able dialysis and intubation equipment, decontamination kits and large supplies of better isolation garb? Have the logistic implications been modelled and procurement action initiated! Have contingency notification and reaction protocols been adequately disseminated to all GP, hospital, airline and immigration personnel country wide?