Re: Surveillance Technology

den Otter (
Fri, 4 Dec 1998 18:22:20 +0100

> From:

> Michael Lorrey [] wrote, with quotes from den Otter:
> >I think that it would be possible for there to be programs which filter video
> >in a similar manner to the way the NSA computers filter phone traffic.
>Obviously, it
> >would be easy to set cameras to not record data they are viewing when nobody
> >is in viewing range.
> But this totally invalidates his argument; if you're not recording
> everything, then who knows what's going on?

Obviously a truly "transparent society" is not (yet) technically feasible, but that doesn't matter as that was never the intention. The system is basically a more automated, pumped up version of street surveillance as is now common in many of the world's (big) cities. The primary objective is to create "safe havens" with heavy monitoring of all public spaces, and equally wellmonitored corridors between these sites. In other words, in the first phase mainly cities and the (main) roads between them would be monitored. This way, one could for example live in a "safe" suburb, and go via a "safe" road to a "safe" shopping district or workplace, if so desired. If you absolutely hate cameras, and are willing to take your chances with criminals, you can move to the only sporadically surveilled countryside.

A system like this won't give any government absolute power, even if abused, yet it *does* help to create a virtually crime-free state within a state, so to speak. If one country applies it, its (bigger) criminals are more likely to take the easy way out and leave for greener pastures (any place with less surveillance).

> >> Most criminals are stupid. That more aren't caught is more due to the
> >> incompetence of the police than to the crook's intellect.
> You do, of course, have some evidence for that and it's not just an
> unsupported assertion? No, didn't think so.

Of course you do have evidence to support *your* claim, eh? Where did you get the idea that criminals are so smart anyway? Proof that the average criminal isn't too bright is given every time that crime decreases due to tougher sentencing and more affirmitive police actions. Haven't you ever noticed how incredibly stupid the mistakes are when reading about/watching "true crime"? Most murders, robberies etc, are sloppy and amateuristic beyond comprehension. Even if someone gets cought after a decade or more, it only too often turns out that the police were on to him at some point, but screwed up big time.

> Uh, there is no question that the US government has been "taken over"; the
> evidence is shown on TV shows every day. Knowing it's happened is not the
> problem. Getting rid of the crooks after they take it over is a problem,
> especially if they have a ubiquitous surveillance system to spy on their
> opponents.

Well, if the system really is that leaky it shouldn't be too difficult to fool the crook's surveillance and stage a counter-coup, right? Or does it magically become infallible in the hands of criminals?

> >Hardly. Video can easily be spliced and doctored by anyone with a few
> >thousand dollars
> >of computer equipment.
> Exactly. To someone who works in the film/video industry, this whole idea
> of trusting video is laughable. IMAX film will be trustworthy for a few
> more years because of the massively greater resolution; video 'evidence'
> is a joke.

It is no joke now, and as better techniques become available to fake the evidence, there will also be better techniques to check for authenticity. Technology works both ways. As few criminals can outspend the state, it should be able to keep ahead of anyone but a handful of supercrooks (a net gain of more than 90%), and those would enjoy the full attention of all crimefighting agencies.

> Whoopee-do; I take my VCR, plug it into the surveillance camera so that
> the feed is coming from the VCR rather than live video, and the camera
> will digitally sign the fake video from the VCR. Or I take the camera
> apart, steal the key, and use that to create fake video from scratch. This
> is not a big deal.

Until you try it, no doubt. Fact is, the majority of people (and criminals) can hardly program a VCR, let alone use it to fool the biggest and most advanced surveillance system on the planet. Slip up once, and you're finished.

> Without universal surveillance you can't stop people doing this. With
> universal surveillance you can't trust the data because anyone can get the
> encryption keys and stick fake data into the system. Either way it's
> useless.

I think you're really underestimating the task at hand here. If the system is fitted with state of the art security systems (some of which would no doubt be unknown to you), there would be *very* little room for error. As the saying goes: "you can fool some of the systems some of the time, but not all of the systems all of the time". Besides, the fact that an elite group of hackers could (perhaps) bring down the system, doesn't automatically mean they *will*. They could have wiped out any number of (big) companies, brought down governments etc. by now, but hardly anything significant has happened. Either there is some strong mental barrier, or it's not as easy as you make it out to be. It is said that various "secret" government files are hacked dozens of times every day. It is also said that these are just the bait...