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The Westboro Baptist Church and us.

The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) are a hate group that gained notoriety due to their extreme messages and  inappropriate picketing. For example, when a bridge collapsed in Minnesota they announced they were going to protest the funerals of the victims, claiming:

The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., plans to stage protests at funerals of victims of the 35W bridge collapse to state that God made the bridge fall because he hates America, and especially Minnesota, because of its tolerance of homosexuality.  – ThinkProgess

Similarly, when the London Bombings occured in 2007 they said:

Thank God for the bombing of London’s subway today – July 7, 2005 – wherein dozens were killed and hundreds seriously injured. Wish it was many more. – ThinkProgess

Although the WBC are obviously completely insane, we have Freedom of Speech in the U.S. and they are completely entitled to it. In January of 2011 they took it too far. In Tucson, six people were killed in a grocery store shooting. The WBC decided to direct their hate toward one of the deceased, a 9 year old girl (phoenixnewtimes).

Thats when an independent group decided to step in: The Phoenix Motorcycle Rider Group. They said they were going to create a barrier between the WBC and the 9 year old’s funeral. Very shortly after this, in direct respond to WBC’s announcement, the Governor of Arizona passed a bill requiring protestors to stay 300 ft from funerals (Azleg.gov).

In these situations the Biker Gangs and the State Governments work together to form a Governance Network against the WBC. State and non-state actors working together can overcome limitations of government (Mueller, 7). The Government can make the WBC stand 300 ft away and the Phoenix Motorcycle Rider Group can shut them up/surround them. Governor Jan Brewer posted a Facebook status update telling of the new law:

Tonight I signed SB1101 into law, which creates a 300-foot barrier between picketers and any location where a funeral or burial service is held. Such despicable acts of emotional terrorism will not be tolerated in the State of Arizona. This legislation will assure that the victims of Saturday’s tragic shooting in Tus will be laid to rest in peace with the full dignity and respect that they deserve. – Facebook

Someone replied to this status with: “Sorry I feel that we have stepped over a line into controlling free speech. Who is to say what is dignified and what is not. Common courtesy and a love the other human beings should be the answer not more laws.”  Government officials are always faced with dissenting opinions in relation to their actions and decisions. Local Biker Gangs are not. They make a decision and act, they don’t have to worry about outside disagreements.

In the end the WBC said they would not picket the 9 year olds funeral if a local radio station gave them air time (newser). The WBC still picket funerals across the country, and biker gangs often show up to surround them and drown them out (youtube). Many states have passed a law that make protesters stand a certain distance from funerals, directly in response to this group of extremists. Congress even passed a bill in response to the WBC’s actions, the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act. The bill “bars protests within 500 feet of a military cemetery from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral if those protests involve disruptive noises or other disturbances.” (firstamendmentcenter.org).

What is their motivation? They want people to react so they can sue them. The WBC are a family of sue happy lawyers. They have won thousands of dollars from communities for their rights being violated ($16,500, $17,000). When WBC went to protest at Harvard the Stanford Review warned:

Please DO NOT engage the members of the Westboro Baptist Church IN ANY WAY — not verbally, or physically. They make money suing people who “violate” their rights; they’re very good at provoking people into doing just that. – StandfordReview.org

The WBC are fueled by negative attention. On February 16, 2011 ‘Open Letter to Westboro Baptist Church’ showed up on anonnews.com, a website that displays Anonymous’s latest actions and announcements. AnonNews uses an open-posting concept; anyone can post to the site and moderators approve posts. This particular Anon release looked visually similar to certain previous releases, and was worded in an similar manor. It also involved destructive language: “We will target your public Websites, and the propaganda & detestable doctrine that you promote will be eradicated; the damage incurred will be irreversible, and neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover.” (Anonnews.org).

Two days later another anon press release stated “We know that YOU in fact posted the Open Letter supposedly from Anonymous. We know that you thrive on attention. We know that you are short of money. We know that this is a trap. We know how you work.” (Anonnews.org).

Two days after that, Anon released a lengthier release:

Click for full ‘Official’ Press Release

This release ends with the statements: “To the Media: Just because it was posted on AnonNews doesn’t mean every single Anon is in
agreement, in fact in this case it doesn’t even mean a single Anon is in agreement.” … “To Anonymous: It’s a trap. They’ve got their ports wide open to harvest IPs to sue. Don’t DDoS.”

Although anyone can post to anonnews.org there are some Anonymous releases that always have the same design type of rhetoric. A certain Anon group releases their ‘operations’ in a certain rhetoric and design style. They often claim some degree of degree of authority in titling it an ‘official press release’ and they spearhead the  attacks that tend to gain media notoriety (most famously, HBgary, taking down Visa/Mastercard/Paypal with DDoS attacks, Operation Egypt).

Compare the above release and releases on the website today.

There is no similarity in style. Different sects or groups have completely different styles.

The WBC release mirrored the style and rhetoric of the more ‘official’ releases, spurring the next release from this group to open with “So we’ve been hearing a lot about some letter that we supposedly sent you this morning. Problem is, we’re a bit groggy and don’t remember sending it. Our best guess is that you heard about us on that newfangled TV of yours and thought we might be some good money for your little church.”

Why did they have to warn ‘It’s a trap!’? Because the nature of anonymous is two tear: There is a network organization that puts together and releases documents, and an associative cluster that flocks into action when called upon (Mueller, 41).  Anyone can become a ‘network organizational offshoot’. All you need is an IRC channel (and probably some VPN’s running through several countries). The associative clusters of anonymous often use a program called Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) to DDoS attack and take down websites. If enough people are running LOIC at the same time, websites go offline. For example, Anonymous used LOIC to take down Visa Mastercard and Paypal after they blocked donations for Wikileaks (NYObserverMueller, 24).

Westboro wouldn’t stop talking about Anonymous and how “they couldn’t do anything to Westboro”, so Anonymous did eventually take down their website www.godhatesfags.com during a live radio chat between an Anon member and a WBC member (it is still down as of this writing). Their website contained a lot of hateful messages, new announcements from them, and all of the statements they put out in the past thanking god for disasters. It was replaced with the usual ‘Anonymous has seized this domain’ message for a while, but it is now completely offline:

Anonymous is like the motocyle gang of the internet. If they see something they don’t like, central organizers meet in IRC channels and decide on a plan of action. Motocycle gangs block the WBC’s signs and voices (youtube), and Anonymous have done the same thing to their online presence. Under the header Authority and Institutionalization in Networks Muller says:

When considering Internet governance we need to pay attention to the movements from informal, de facto association to formal organization; from loose consensual or cooperative action to the adoption of binding, agreed procedures. – (46)

Anonymous has evolved procedures around an entirely open posting process. If a cause people want to rally behind gets posted, associative clusters form and act. Right after the Internet got shut down in Egypt ‘Operation Egypt’ posted a simple 3 step guide, explaining how to fax Wikileaks documents about the Egyptian Government for free (tumblr). Fax machine in Egypt were suddenly flooded with Wikileaks documents pointing out incidents of torture and violence used by the Egyption Government against its people. Anonymous have an efficient transition from cooperative action to agreed procedures. The Network Organizers create formal organizations with aesthetically different press releases to differentiate their actions.

The organization and actions of Anonymous as a rebel Internet Governance group are worth analysis. They are a decentralized hive acting without reference to individual identity. They act as one to get goals achieved. Sometimes a few hackers that know their stuff take lead like in the HBGary and WBC cases, but there are always associative clusters up for collective action.

 

 

 

Alturism in droves.

My family back home is experiencing aftershocks, rolling blackouts, and possible food shortage. Yet I’m supposed to be more concerned with final exams…reddit, this is how I feel right now.

The above post made it to the front page of Reddit.com during the recent earthquake crisis in Japan. One commenter, californiasquirrel, was in a similar situation. His bedridden Grandmother was stuck in Yokohama and they could not get in contact with her. “I’m dead worried about my friends, but even more worried about my grandma in Yokohama. She can’t move from her bed without help, she can’t go grocery shopping at all” … “We’re freaking out, but there’s nothing we can do.” – californiasquirrel . A random Redditor, OtisDElevator, responded later that day with “I live in Kawasaki Bro’. PM me with grannies address (in Yokohama). I’m 10 mins by train.” … “I can’t guarantee that the local trains will be running tomorrow, but if they are, I’ll make every effort to get to granny with at least some supplies. Why would I do this? – Today you. Tomorrow me.” – OtisDElevator.

Food delivered from OtisDElevator to californiasquirrel's Grandmother

I have been a part of the Reddit community for four years and have witnessed an absurd amount of random kindness. It should be noted that Reddit is not a social networking site. You can ‘friend’ people but all you know is their username – no avatar/picture/age/sex/bio/wall. Reddit provides a bare-bones form of online conversation. Reddit admins are heavily interested in fostering communities, but the users are granted a high degree of anonymity. People often create ‘throw away accounts’ to post intimate personal details. This mindset towards online community is in stark contrast with Facebook. Reddits structure echo’s the founder of 4chan’s sentiments, saying it allows people to interact in a “completely unvarnished, unfiltered, raw way.” – Poole

With this in mind the number of random kind acts on Reddit make less sense. People are kind toward their friends because there is a chance of reciprocation. In Connected Christakis and Fowler note “we would rather give a gift to a friend who will never repay us than to give a gift to a stranger who will” (299). Christakis and Fowler devised an experiment to test how altruism spreads through strangers. They found that altruism spreads through people if someone is initially altruistic. “When a person has been treated well by someone, she goes on to treat other well in the future” (298). Once someone commits an altruistic act it spreads like a lazy wildfire through the members of the community.

A few good things Redditors have done:

  • Sent a man turning 90 five UPS trucks worth of letters and gifts.
  • Bought a disabled man a new wheelchair.
  • Raised $500,000 to donorschoose.org.
  • Helped pay for a Reddit members mothers funeral costs.
  • Bought an expensive hearing aid that gave someone back the ability to hear.

(voltier.com)

These are examples of people coming together as a group. There are also examples of person-to-person acts. Redditor Wharthog3 posted a picture of the toys he had sitting on-top of his computer screen at work. emorrow64 asked “Is that a CRT monitor?”. emorrow64 responded “Why yes, yes it is. My boss is a tight ass.” Wharthog3 then bought emorrow64 a shiny new 22″ flatscreen monitor, to which emorrow64 replied “Oh wow. You are seriously the most awesome stranger I know.” (here).

 

In another example, a Redditor complained about receiving no tip after delivering 30 pizzas at 1a.m. Someone sent him $30 (here). Another user just received $1000 from a lurker who saw he was in a bad way (here). One Redditor posted asking for advice on how to eat for two weeks on $25, and someone bought him 3 pizzas (here). The examples are numerous and the list goes on. Altruism has been established as a part of the Reddit community and it continues to spread throughout it.

Reddit also has sub-communities centered around helping people. People can post to /r/Suicide Watch expressing their feelings and others help talk them down. Lives have been saved because of this community. There is also /r/Relationship_Advice where people help each other fix problems and get over broken hearts. Smokers who want to quit head to /r/Stop Smoking/, a community of like-minded individuals helping each other quit. As Christakis and Fowler say: “The ability to connect to others online could therefore be helpful socially, providing a degree of support and human contact in regular, daily life that might not otherwise be possible.” (283). Another active community of 10,000 are losing weight together at /r/LoseIt. These weakly connected people are acting as support mechanisms for each other.

I list all of these acts because it shows that kindness is a part of Reddit culture. If the first few do-gooders never existed perhaps Reddit would not have become littered with kindness. Each good dead helps sustain a culture of alturism (305). The sub-communities mentioned above were created by people who want to help others and themselves. If support systems do not exist in an individuals real-life they can now connect to supportive people online. Talking to people who are going through, or have gone through the same plight helps. Reddit admins unwittingly created a space for kind people to be help each other.

Gaming your opinion.

People are normalized into groups based on the cultural and economic atmosphere of their environment. Before the Internet, that meant an individuals local environment. Now, with the Internet, people are able to normalize themselves in relation to a distant group. Online cultures form around common beliefs and practices.Since people online do not participate in face to face communication, the validity of the individuals existence can be questioned.

Social news-aggregation sites use algorithms to determine the validity of individuals. The votes of brand new users on Reddit are not counted as the validity of the account is not yet believed. A user could open 100 accounts and up vote their own article. If a user only links to articles from one website, that also throws up a red flag. The members of the Reddit community sometimes participate in witch hunts in an attempt to figure out if someone is using their account for advertising purposes. This fake-activity pollutes the integrity of the community.

When viewing a community online the validity of its existence is not typically questioned. A large number of avatars are seen interacting and it is presumed there is an individual behind each avatar, arguing their perspective. The validity of an individual avatar might be questioned, but questioning the validity of an entire community is not a natural thought.

If someone stumbled upon the forums of The Flat Earth Society, they may be convinced there are a large amount of people that dismiss the idea of the world being round. The forums are busy with discussion, people asking questions like “What is the purpose of this Conspiracy?” (of a round earth), and people answering. Its silly and tongue-in-cheek, but some people are fooled by it. This poster made a fairly long post outlining why “much on this site wrong”, and other posters argue with him (for fun), pointing out why he is wrong. People are fooled, even by something this ridiculous, because there is such an active community surrounding it.

The hacktivist group Anonymous recently hacked into and released all the emails from HBGary. HBGary is a defense contractor with ties to the federal government, the NSA, and the CSI. One email exchange revealed that HBGary are working on a “persona management” software that would allow one person to seamlessly manage a multitude of online persona’s. These persona’s are designed to emulate real people to an incredible degree.

“Persona management entails not just the deconfliction of persona artifacts such as names, email addresses, landing pages, and associated content.” […] “This allowed the human actor to open a virtual machine or thumb drive with an associated persona and have all the appropriate email accounts, associations, web pages, social media accounts, etc. pre-established and configured with visual cues to remind the actor which persona he/she is using so as not to accidentally cross-contaminate personas during use.” (From a leaked email, via Daily Kos)

This attention to detail complicates the effort of witch-hunters. Even if  one account is labeled as a polluter there are still many other accounts being controlled and active. This program would make it easy to create a culture of propaganda. If someone reads one dissenting opinion the reader may not be swayed but if 20, 30, or 40 people post in alignment with the dissenters ideals the reader stands to be influenced.

“Using the assigned social media accounts we can automate the posting of content that is relevant to the persona.  In this case there are specific social media strategy website RSS feeds we can subscribe to and then re-post content on twitter with the appropriate hashtags.  In fact using hashtags and gaming some location based check-in services we can make it appear as if a persona was actually at a conference and introduce himself/herself to key individuals as part of the exercise, as one example.  There are a variety of social media tricks we can use to add a level of realness to all fictitious persona’s.” (From a leaked email, via Daily Kos)

If we can look at the Internet as a support on which public spheres can be built, the ability to jump into the conversation in this manor is a toxic pollutant (Hall, p173). The ability to interject in coffee-shop talk with propaganda, in mass, is being developed by defense contractors. Can the Internet be seen as a support for a public sphere if such trickery becomes possible? Does the US want its citizens to have a public sphere where they can discuss, debate and influence each other? It doesn’t seem like it.

Who is in Control on the Internet?

The power of the panopticon is exerted upon everyone contained through its architecture. It’s imprisoning power relies on the visibility of the imprisoned. All forms of institutional control rely on someone being in their place, doing what is expected of them. If you cannot see them, you cannot check up on them and make sure they are being diligent.

“Power has its principle not so much in a person as in a certain concerted distribution of bodies, surfaces, lights, gazes; in an arrangement whose internal mechanisms produce the relation in which individuals are caught up.” (Michel Foucault. Discipline & Punish (1975), Panopticism).

These surfaces, lights and gazes rely upon the material nature of our relations to each other. The Internet allows people to interact without relation to any material, physical location or structure, and it was not invented with surveillance in mind.

So far the methods of control put in place in reaction to illegal online activity are those of confinement and threat. Bradley Manning released classified military documents anonymously to WikiLeaks. He got caught because he told people about it, and he is now detained. Manning is now in a state of extreme observation: solitary confinement.

The Internet group Anonymous are also under threat of being policed. The FBI have put out 40 warrants to arrest people associated with the recent DoS attacks on PayPal, Visa, and MasterCards websites (info). Anonymous members use a program called LOIC to over-run the website with requests, which takes it down. If enough people are running LOIC, big websites can be pulled offline. Anonymous have likened this to peaceful protesting. Enough people have to be running the program to have any effect on the website.

“As traditional means of protest (peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins, the blocking of a crossroads or the picketing of a factory fence) have slowly turned into nothing but an empty, ritualised gesture of discontent over the course of the last century, people have been anxiously searching for new ways to pressure politicians and give voice to public demands in a manner that might actually be able to change things for the better. Anonymous has, for now, found this new way of voicing civil protest in the form of the DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service, attack. Just as is the case with traditional forms of protest, we block access to our opponents’ infrastructure to get our message across.” (link).

The people being caught are caught because they did not obfuscate themselves. The FBI warrants and the arrests may cause fear in enough people to stop the LOIC attacks, but people who know how to hide their web-traffic cannot be caught. The FBI cannot exercise their power upon these people. The FBI recently hired a security firm, HBGary, to ‘hack into’ anonymous and figure out who are organizing and carrying out these attacks. Anonymous responded by hacking HBGary’s website and replacing it with this message:

click for full size:

Anonymous then leaked all of the companies emails. Anonymous works because it is a completely de-centralized network of people. People rise up and make IRC chat rooms to plot certain events. People take over where needed, leaders rise-up and go back into Anonymous obscurity once the job is done. “Anonymous does not have leaders. We are not a group, we are not an organization.” The nature of these actions do not fit within a panopticonic schema. Individuals do not have a place or a location, they cannot be seen or disciplined. The FBI are trying to police this realm but have, so far, been unsuccessful.

Anonymous wants it to be clear that the Internet is their domain, their realm; the officials do not have power over their actions. The people – anonymous – are the police. They know the architecture, and they exercise power through it.

Habermas – What happened to the Public and Private Spheres?

The public sphere was at one point in time a place to discuss politics and books. The bougeoir class where well educated and took debate seriously. They talked politics. The bougeoir did not sit and listen to other people espouse their views, they talked to each other and all weighed in.

This debate has been replaced in current times with leisure activities, like TV viewing. Certain news networks have gotten completely out-of-hand, injecting their bias into the review of events. Fox News edit footage to create a perception of reality, without reference to reality.

On January 25th, 2011, Obama gave his State of the Union address. In it he told two jokes. They were both received very well. They can both be seen in the original speech here and here.  The first one was received with laugher and applause, the second was receieved with laugher.

One of the primary strengths of Obama is his oratory skills and like-ability. Karl Rove, George Bush’s Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff, came up with a political attack style that was different to any prior. He went after the strengths of political candidates instead of their weaknesses, throwing their strengths into doubt.

“[Rove] understands that while other people look for the weakness in an opponent and exploit that, Rove has long looked at the strength of an opponent.” … “In 2004, the number one thing that John Kerry offered was his heroic service in Vietnam, and so what Rove did was attack the strength of Kerry, not his weakness. What you had to do was confront Kerry’s strength in Vietnam by raising doubts about whether or not he was a hero and whether or not his service was really all that noble.”

(-PBS)

Fox News has taken this philosophy to heart. They took the jokes Obama said during the State of the Union, silenced the laugher, and added audio track with crickets-chirping. They then commented on how his jokes fell flat. This is an attack on a strength of Obama’s: being jovial and well-received by his audience.

This outlandish distortion of reality is abhorrent. This is the problem with politics today: journalistic organizations were born because the Public Sphere needed them to stay informed and debate. These journalistic entities were not owned by a corporate conglomerate. Rupert Murdock, the owner of News Corp (the umbrella under which Fox News and many other News agencies function) is the 38th richest person in the America, and News Corps is the worlds 3rd largest media conglomerate behind Walt Disney and Time Warner. This is a company, and using psychological tactics to influence the perception of the public is troubling. They tell people what they should think, and they turn a profit doing it.

Q: Our world views are being constructed by television personalities. Where can we go to find out whats actually going on?

A: (Not salons or Coffee shops, but) The Internet!

The internet is an egalitarian space similar to the Coffee Shops of the 18th Centuary. You can only access someone’s identity through a username/avatar, and that generally doesn’t tell you too much about a person. There are places online that actually try and perceive the world with the most objectivity possible, like factCheck.org, and websites that try to keep faux-journalists in line, like mediaMatter.org.

Then there are forums where people can come together and discuss political matters at hand: http://www.reddit.com/r/politics or SA Forums Debate & Discussion (to name a few). People who are interested in these matters and want to debate have a space where they can come, without reference to their class, and argue.

The internet seems to be re-creating this coffee-shop mentality towards Politics and discussion that was lost in the advent of broadcast media. If a News Company can doctor footage so blatantly and get away with it, influencing their viewers with proper-gander, then what is the point of these News Companies? Why do they exist? As more people start to take part in online community activity, the less relevant and influential this prior form of broadcast journalism becomes.

Blown to Bits.

If you know how a system works you can game it. People hire lawyers because they know the complex rules of law.

In this age of bits we are at the whims of digital-lawyers, or hackers. People who know how intricate systems function have a huge advantage. The legal system has one layer and everyone who interacts with this layer must know the protocols. The networked computer system we are all a part of has another layer – the Graphic User Interface (GUI). Lawyers have to learn the rules of law, they cannot be mediated by a GUI. This is akin to a computer being used via command line – interacting with the ‘rules’ of the system.

This is a dangerous degree of removal. Users don’t fully understand what is going on behind the GUI. The typical tech-users today are like citizens in court-rooms; they hire a professional to do all the hard work. People pay Best Buy’s Geek-Squad to fix things when something goes wrong with their computer, but should a bunch of young geeks be trusted? According to The Consumerist, no they shouldn’t.

The Consumerist installed screen capturing software on a computer they took in to Geek Squad to get iTunes installed. They played back what happened and watched as employee’s copied personal files to thumb drives. An anonymous Geek-Squad member wites: “Let me make it clear again: if you have any interesting pictures of yourself or others on your computer, then they–will–be–found. Some geeks are like bloodhounds when it comes to pornography.”

This Geek-Squad example is a very low-level. Geeks that know how to find files on computers VS people who don’t know how to install iTunes. The ineptness of the end user in this example is a part of the equation. A lot of hi-level examples are explained every year at Def-Con, a conference for hackers. People get together and share the latest exploits they have found. One presentation I found interesting was given by @samykamkar. He explains how to locate where an internet user is, within a 3 feet degree of accuracy, using a whole host of new exploits (video).

This is where it gets scary.

This is the difference between the legal system and the computer system: even computer professionals are a bit clueless. In the court room there is a book of rules, and although deliberated, they are written in human language and can be read back and interpreted. Computers are much more complicated. Even the greatest of programmers write code that can be broken down and misused by other great programmers.

Greek Squad folk and Def Con hackers are actively doing wrong. They seek out your personal information. On websites like Facebook we actively share information about ourselves without reference to where these bits of data are going. You don’t know if Geek Squad have stolen files. You don’t know if some hacker has located you (unless they feel like stopping by). You don’t know what companies are doing with all these bits of data that are hidden behind their shiny GUI.

Facebook is the most obvious example when it comes to shady-dealings with personal information. Although they have tried to make their privacy rules easier to understand, they are still longwinded and ever-changing. Everyone should be worried about how available Facebook makes your information, as the potential for abuse is huge. There is a licence agreement between Facebook and app creators that cannot be enforced. Apps are not allowed to sell user information to marketing agencies, among other things, and Facebook say they have disabled thousands of apps for breaching the licence agreement. Although Facebook are working hard to enforce their policies, a lot of app creators don’t adhere to them. This is why sharing information is so dangerous: you don’t know who will get their hands on it.

What if insurance companies mined your Facebook status updates, as well of those as your friends, for key words that indicate how much of a risk you are to them.

“If your friend gets a DUI, your health and auto insurance risk goes up because you’re likely to be in the car with this person.” … “searching for drug use keywords (“drunk” or “hungover” or “420” or “bong”) within someone’s Facebook update stream gives you a much more accurate portrayal of their drug use than a questionnaire, and you can accurately weight the impact of hazardous behavior keywords on friends’ insurance premiums based on their level of interaction.” … “They payoffs are potentially huge for insurance companies and banks for whom assessment of risk is their entire business, so much so that they would be stupid not to propose data-sharing arrangements with social networking sites.” (Source).

 

Everyone is being encoded into this digital realm and those bits of information are flying around invisibly.  I was shocked to learn about EDR boxes in cars. I had no idea such a device existed. I would not be so shocked to learn that a Facebook app had taken my information and sold it to a marketing agency, but many Facebook users would likely react to that in the same way I reacted to the existence of EDR boxes. I never thought “better not speed, if I crash the EDR box has that information.” Similarly, most Facebook users never think “I better not install this app, it might mine my profile for information.” This divide between the GUI-interaction with the system and the command-line interaction with a database is a newer, subtler digital divide that is troubling.

I highly also recommend this read. It illuminates where tech is going, and how it can be abused. Crazy stuff:

My Second Implant by Estragon

Experts:

“My first implant was really not a big deal.  Getting it was about as complicated as getting an ear pierced. It is a small inductive microphone implanted in my throat. It’s basically just a throat mic, but permanent. ” …

“For my second implant, I wanted to pair my microphone with some speakers. … The obvious next step is to have a permanent speaker installed in or near the ears, that can communicate wirelessly with phones, computers, or other devices.”…

“Anyway, what happened was that my receiver implant was a little more capable than I expected. It has a microphone, not just a speaker. In addition to pairing by Bluetooth, it connected to any open wireless access point and opened up a TCP/IP connection back to a system somewhere behind the Great Firewall of China. We found it was able to use WEP- and WPA-enabled access points at school and in my apartment, too. In a nutshell, everything I heard and said, for months, was streamed live to someplace in China.” …

“I might have never known, except that one day in the lab my advisor got a phone call from his DARPA sponsor. It seemed that the algorithm I’d worked on for spread-spectrum communication with ground- or space-based devices was detected on the new Chinese telecom satellite that went up earlier that year.” …

“I was physically infected by this implant, and turned into a human network zombie.” …

“I don’t know whether there’s a clear message or moral in my story, but I wanted to share it with you. Partially as a warning to readers about the potential dangers of new technology, partially to brag that I was the first kid on the block with implants that, someday, will be as common as wrist watches…”