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Auckland Transport about to launch Mass Surveillance and other frog boiling stories

Ian Apperley
Sat, 18 Oct 2014


Terrorists. They are everywhere these days. That fact demands that we give up basic rights of privacy in order to be protected from them. If we have nothing to hide then we have nothing to worry about right? Wrong. The constant slow boiling of the right to privacy using terrorism as a cover to justify it is something that we will regret long term.

“1984 wasn’t an instruction manual” – Unknown author

Auckland Transport announcing this week a deal with Hewlett Packard to roll out facial recognition technology, along with what looks like car plate recognition and sifting of social media networks. Now, they aren’t turning the facial recognition on right away, but you can be sure they want to, as they are in discussion with the Privacy Commissioner. Worse, all that data will be pushed to the U.S. into a Cloud environment, which gives the Five Eyes network instant access to everything, given it traverses into the U.S. Of course local police will have access to it as well.

This is quite simply, Mass Surveillance.

Here’s a tip Auckland people, face recognition is very easily defeated. Sunglasses will do the trick. In fact, facial recognition is not the be and end all, it is frequently unreliable and completely fallible. Wear a hat. So why the Auckland Transport agency has bought this, and what they have paid, should be very open for scrutiny.

The privacy frog is being slowly boiled across all the Five Eyes members at the moment. The nation states involved have, or are in the process of, altering laws to allow for greater surveillance of citizens while reducing their rights in a number of areas, such as whistle blowing.

As we know Australia a fortnight ago put new laws in place that allow them to monitor the entire Internet under a single warrant and effectively gag reporters and whistle blowers. This was after terrorists were found to be in Australia, shock horror, and the excuse was used to roll through some of the most potent global surveillance measures outside of the NSA.

New Zealand is making noises about the same, cynically raising our threat level (who knew we had one until now?), from very low, to low. Watch for the evidence to leak out and mount over the next few weeks of terrorists in New Zealand. Sunday Star specials, New Zealand Herald exclusives, Whaleoil breaking news, all about terrorists and extremists in our country that will require new laws to bring us into line with the other Five Eyes.

Canada in the past few weeks has been reviewing their anti-terror laws as well. As has the U.K. So, when we take the Five Eyes collectively, every single government is playing the “terrorism” card and ALL of them are in the process of changing their laws on that basis. That is, for clarification, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. All playing the same tired mantra, terrorism is an increasing threat, we must introduce new, draconian, laws to protect you. By the way, all those laws look amazingly similar, and a smart person would see this as a cynical move by the Five Eyes to get the public ready for increased mass surveillance and reduction in privacy rights.

Couple this in New Zealand, with what is surely a test case against whistle blowing, that being the invasion of Nicky Hager’s privacy, and you can see that there is a turning point happening. Argue all you like about Nicky Hager’s sources of the data, the bottom line is that it can from a whistle blower. It always does. This is very important, because the “free press” rely on these sources and it is a natural part of ensuring that government is held to account, shows transparency, and a tried and true method of ensuring their are pressure release valves in place to ensure that government does not get away with sneaky stuff. The difference this time is that the government are going after Hager.

I have it on excellent authority that the Wellington City Council looked at facial recognition as well. However, my understanding is that this has been parked due to privacy concerns. One would hope that this stance continues, there are plenty of ways to collect data, that is not personal, that also produce the same results. Having eight hundred cameras in Auckland, with facial recognition technology, accessible by a surveillance state, is absolutely appalling. Last time I looked we didn’t live in a country that was run by a dictatorship. Couple that with the police’s move this week to include mandatory finger printing for booze bus customers, and you really have to wonder exactly WTF is going on.

So what to do. Well, the next blog will look at easy ways to protect your privacy from online spooks and spies, from the Auckland transport authority, and other threats such as hackers and thieves. Why? Because, as I have said for the last two years, this is my data and my life. Government has absolutely zero right to poke into that by passively collecting information. I work with government agencies and with every one I sign off on details that allow them to vet my credentials. I have no problem with this, at all. It is collection of data, that I choose to give, in order to fulfill a specific purpose. 

Giving away my data via Mass Surveillance, which is absolutely what Auckland Transport are planning, worse, sending all our data offshore to the U.S. is absolutely a 1984 scenario that has zero benefit. None. I challenge them to come up with responses to this blog that prove otherwise.

That, and the government being rolled into more legal crackdown of our freedoms as a result of the U.S. and the Five Eyes, is a slow boiling of our privacy. Watch Australia, Canada, and New Zealand in the next few weeks. I will guarantee you that National will produce a clear and present example of terrorism in New Zealand in order to justify new law.

Nothing like poking a hornet nest.

Prove me wrong. I dare you.

1984 saw the installation of an electronic policeman in every home. This mass surveillance state is the same. Installing a policeman’s eyes, in every home, on every phone, on every email, watching everything you do from bank transactions, to tax, to purchases and so on. In a benevolent state, that is disturbing.

Ian Apperley is the director at Isis Group and blogs at Whatisitwellington

Ian Apperley
Sat, 18 Oct 2014
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Auckland Transport about to launch Mass Surveillance and other frog boiling stories