Showing posts with label safety fetishism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label safety fetishism. Show all posts

Blowing Up The Burners: New Bill To Make Anonymous Cell Phones Illegal?

Chances are, as a modern human being, you own at least one cell phone that you guard with a vigilance that many bodyguards would envy.  It's as important as your wallet or keys, and maybe more so due to its irreplaceability.  But what about the cell phones that are used specifically for their disposable nature?  Should they be illegal just because sometimes you have business to handle that you don't want interacting with the rest of your real life?

Burner phones:  will they be burned at the legal stake for their perceived sins?
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If You Suspects Something, Text Something: New Anti-Terror App For New Yorkers

Are you remaining vigilant in these trying times, citizen?  Well just in case you were thinking of keeping to yourself and minding your own damn business, the government doesn't want you to, and there's a new app to abet that.

Your activism needs no more than the swipe of a finger.
That should probably be worrisome, right?
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Who The {Redacted} Thinks This Is A Good Idea? New App Censors "Inappropriate" Literature

It may have fallen somewhat by the wayside as the smut-and-gore smorgasbord of the internet has risen to prominence for entertainment, but those who read enough literature know the truth:  books get fucking dirty.  We're not talking the suburban-submission swill of the "Fifty Shades..." fuddy-duddies, oh no.  There is stuff out there - published from antiquity to this afternoon - that is straight-up scorch-smut, enough to make you drop your jaws, books, and pants all at the same time.

So of course, some special snowflake wants to take that away from you.

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Federal Appeals Court Rules NSA Wiretapping Illegal; NSA Turns Up The Volume, Puts Hands Over Ears, Says "La La La"

Of course, all privacy-prone American citizens have known this for some time:  the NSA's phone-call compendium is unnecessary, unaffiliated with capturing ANY terrorists EVER, and is overall downright creepy.  Thankfully, today, a federal appeals court ruled it illegal.

They listen to everything, but this is the only thing they need to hear.
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ACLU: None Of NSA's Phone Surveillance Stopped "A Single Terrorist Attack"

While the NSA has been monitoring all of our phone calls, it seems they've been phoning it in regarding any hint of actually stopping terrorism.  According to a report released by the ACLU this week, none of the NSA's "intelligence gathering" via phone records have helped to thwart a single terrorist attack...

We See What You Did There: Edward Snowden Given Human Rights Award By Sweden

While the United States remains steadfast in putting Edward Snowden in the "whistleblower spy" archive of history, other nations consider his efforts a laudable fight against the subtle tyranny of the surveillance state.  This week in Sweden, Snowden was awarded the Right Livelihood award, a humanitarian recognition of his work to free Americans (and others) from the zoo of Big Brother's surveillance amusement.

And we, in good conscience, shouldn't let them.
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According to the Guardian UK, Snowden was not physically able to attend the ceremony, as he considered it a threat to his safety (he is wanted on charges under the Espionage Act in the United States, whose notorious record of "renditions" would have rightly worried Snowden.)  However, he spoke with the committee via teleconference from Moscow, where he is currently living in exile.  In a show of solidarity for Mr. Snowden's deplorably alienated circumstances, none of his family members would accept the award in his absence, noting only that someday Snowden himself should be able to do so.

Informed and angry.  He's not wrong.
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The award jury noted that Snowden was being commended “for his courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating basic democratic processes and constitutional rights."

No one cares you have nothing to hide.  Something can be used against you.
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President Barack Obama, who did not comment on Snowden's award, had previously campaigned with a strong intent to protect American whistleblowers.

They spelled Obama's name wrong, but everything else about this is sadly correct.
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New "Smart Lock" Lets You Phone Into Your Home

Sometimes it's the little developments that make all the difference.  In the course of your daily routine, how many times have your keys factored into making things difficult or, if you forgot them, downright unaccessible?  Now, a new type of lock enables you (and others that you choose) to have easier access without worrying about your keyring.

According to, the August is a new "smart lock" that uses computer code as its key.  The code can be changed as often as you like for security, or shared for sociability.  If you're away on business and still need to let the dog walker in, you can text them the unlock-code, and then have it auto-destruct after a desired time.

All prospective thieves see is a shiny silver stop sign.
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August co-founder and CEO Jason Johnson feels he is filling an important niche.  He explained, "The past two years I've been working on this, if there is a phrase I've heard more than anything, it's 'I hate keys.'"

Despite the lack of launch date, the August Smart Lock will retail for $199, and the compatible software will be free for consumers (although the company does plan to charge for business use of its program.)  It is compatible with iOS (and soon Android) devices via Bluetooth, and the development team has claimed it will eventually also be operable via your other Bluetooth-enabled devices.

It may take some time for the concept of a hackable (rather than pickable) lock to catch on, but as homes go further into everyday technological territory, it could become an attractive option.  Just remember to keep your phone charged, or you're sleeping on the porch.

Seriously, charge your phone.  Bowser doesn't like to snuggle.
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Steal Your Face: The FBI Is Storing Your Dimensions, Fearing Criminal Intentions

If you value your privacy, you may want to stock up on extra Halloween masks this season. The FBI has recently announced its state-of-the-art new facial recognition system, and it is creepier than any macabre mask a citizen can don.

According to, six years of development and a billion dollars of taxpayer money have led to this biometric facial recognition software system. If you're getting a visa, going to prison, or otherwise being photographed by any grabby arm of the government, your identifying facial dimensions are sure going in there. It's called the Next Generation Identification program, and you are getting forced into this future.

But why stop at the shape of your skull and surrounding tissues? They did spend a BILLION of your dollars, after all! Scars, tattoos, fingerprints and other major identifying characteristics will also be included in your (totally safe and secure, we're sure) recognition profile. This shared database, known as the Interstate Photo System, is only going to get more insidious as ubiquitous surveillance camera resolutions improve.

The FBI, of course, loves their new toy. They were proud to report, "Since phase one was deployed in February 2011, the NGI system has introduced enhanced automated fingerprint and latent search capabilities, mobile fingerprint identification, and electronic image storage, all while adding enhanced processing speed and automation for electronic exchange of fingerprints to more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies and other authorized criminal justice partners 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

It wouldn't be surprising if ninja-style outfits of obscurity became fashionable in the next few years...

So by FBI logic, the best masks are now the ones with no facial characteristics whatsoever.

Mass Surveillance In Massachusetts: Boston Police Spy And Lie

In yet another installation of a police force overprotecting and serving themselves, it has recently come to light that every single attendee of the Boston Calling music festival in 2013 was under surveillance, the records of which were accessible through the darknet.  According to, the Boston Police Department then lied about their involvement in the entire operation.

While the event was clearly being documented by the media, various videographers, and amateur snapshooters alike, no one was availed of the information that they were being categorized and profiled during the festival.  Reporter Tim Cushing described it as such:

"What Boston Calling attendees (and promoters, for that matter) didn't know, however, was that they were all unwitting test subjects for a sophisticated new event monitoring platform. Namely, the city's software and equipment gave authorities a live and detailed birdseye view of concertgoers, pedestrians, and vehicles in the vicinity of City Hall on May 25 and 26 of 2013 (as well as during the two days of a subsequent Boston Calling in September). We're not talking about old school black and white surveillance cameras. More like technology that analyzes every passerby for height, clothing, and skin color."

Boston's Dig website found some even more unsettling information:

"Shockingly, these sensitive documents have been left exposed online for more than a year. Among them are memos written by employees of IBM, the outside contractor involved, presenting plans to use "Face Capture" on "every person" at the 2013 concert. Another defines a party of interest "as anyone who walks through the door."

Over 50 hours of footage was available for easy access. When confronted, the Boston police department denied any involvement, until they were called out by journalist Kenneth Lipp (who found the files.) Boston police were clearly seen in monitoring stations, being trained by IBM employees.

Fortunately, this forced out the truth, with mayoral press secretary Kate Walsh explaining to Dig in an email that a "pilot program" had indeed been tested, and of course, it was for our own good. The city was merely "looking at challenges such as permitting, basic services, crowd and traffic management, public safety, and citizen engagement through social media and other channels. These were technology demonstrations utilizing pre-existing hardware (cameras) and data storage systems."

Yes, that's right. They've had the ability to do this for a while. And nobody in the crowd - or even the promoters - knew.

Lipp continued to probe, uncovering a host of other sensitive information that the BPD had left out in nearly plain sight. Driver's license information, addresses, and other valuable informative material was easily accessed, which could have led to a bigger problem than anything the cops were looking out for with their spy system.

Despite events like the Boston Marathon bombings prompting authorities to seek more intel on members of large crowds, the fact that this system went live without any public knowledge or oversight, and was then lied about, doesn't make the average civilian feel any safer.  When civilians are treated like suspects for no reason, cops are acting like villains for no reason.  And what kind of society is served by villains?

Soon they'll start judging and profiling you by your music tastes, too.

"Shut Up, Devil!" App To Help Save Your Soul

In this crazy and cruel modern world, it doesn't seem like one can get very far without hearing the voice of the devil (or however you may perceive the forces of evil) taunting and tempting you.  Now, a new app promises to offer a means of fighting back by using the force of the Lord (the Christian one.  Other lords' advice may vary.)

As reported by, the free "Shut Up, Devil!" app is there for you when the powers of darkness threaten their worst.  Users can choose from a variety of troubling topics, or indicate their exact feelings by typing them in.  Shut Up, Devil! then provides a Bible verse appropriate to remedying the situation, as well as a retort to set loose on Lucifer.

"The lies the devil launches at you will no longer influence you," app creator Kyle Winkler states.  To drive the message home, Shut Up, Devil! also includes reminder alarms that can be programmed to send you to your "favorited" in-app scripture cards whenever you feel you may need support during the it when you're waking up feeling a little evil or slamming down drinks at last call.

Tell the Prince of Darkness to get behind thee and show him who's really boss, all with just the power of your smartphone!

Hell no, I'm not making out on the Ferris Wheel with you!  

Tennessee: Safety Hysterics Implement University Movement Tracking System

From Tennessee State University:
Tennessee State University (TSU) is implementing a new policy to keep students and staff safe. The changes come after a rash of vandalism and a shooting this school year on campus.
It's already difficult for students to get around campus without identification.
"I use it going to the cafeteria, going in and out of my dorm and driving on campus," freshman Xavier Johnson explained about the importance of his identification.

A new policy has students and staff lining the halls at the campus police department. Each one is required to get a new photo identification. Starting on March 1st  it must be prominently displayed while on campus.
The current policy requires everyone to be able to present identification only when asked.

Children Easily Bypass UK's Internet Censorship Filters, Parents Still Incompetent

Why won't these children think of the children?! From the BBC:
Filters put in place by parents to stop children viewing inappropriate content are easily bypassed by the youngsters themselves, according to a nreport from regulator Ofcom.
It found that 18% of 12-15-year-olds know how to disable internet filters.
Almost half of children aged 12-15 know how to delete their browsing history and 29% can amend settings to mask their browser activity.   Some 83% of eight to 11 year-olds said they knew how to stay safe online. . . . 
According to the report, many parents feel their computing skills are far inferior to their children's.  Almost half (44%) of parents with children aged between eight and 11 say their child knows more about the internet than they do. That rises to 63% for parents of 12-15-year-olds.
In other words, hysterical helicopter parents and safety fetishists have succeeded only in preventing themselves and their technophobic peers from accessing "objectionable" content online.