Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The police are spying on you

Use Twitter, Facebook, or other social media? The police are spying on you:

New Zealand Police engaged Intergen to develop a powerful and yet easy-to-use social media monitoring tool that would cast a net across a whole new world of user-generated public information online. The result: Signal. “Signal is a solution that facilitates monitoring not only for crisis management and crime fighting, but also crime prevention, assisting in the smooth running of large scale public events, gauging the mood of our communities and giving us the ability to complement our day to day policing priorities in a very targeted way while ensuring we maintain adherence to the Policing Act,” says Neil.

We've known about this for a while, but thanks to Intergen commercialising it (no doubt for the lucrative third-world dictator market) it has hit the net again and is causing concern. And rightly so. While all the information the police are monitoring is public, the idea that they're spying on everything we say and do in the new global commons (to "gauge the mood of our communities") is simply Orwellian.

There is a name for countries that spy on everything people say: they're called tyrannies. And thanks to the police and Intergen, our country has taken a significant step towards becoming one. Oh, they say they're not using it like that, but we have only their word for it, and its not something we should have to take on trust. The only way we can be safe is to shut this thing down, and bar the police and any other government agency (or subcontractor) from doing anything like it in future. Our conversations are ours, not the governments, and they should keep their nose out of our business without particularised suspicion and probably cause.

(Meanwhile, the solution to this sort of monitoring is to flood it with noise. A few bots with a network of false accounts tweeting random riot / protest / crime reports from random places ought to do it)