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2019-09-17 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Corruption , 144 references Ignore this thread
Don't Believe It
[Comments enabled]

No, folks, it is not just corporate black-balling that is involved here.

Americans needn’t fear Big Brother but their fellow “well-intentioned” citizens who serve as the thought police in the cyberpunk dystopia of 2019.

Oh really?

Don't get me wrong -- this is bad enough:

The fault doesn’t just lie with social justice warriors, however. The majority of our citizens sit quietly and let this breach of liberty take place—like “good Germans,” as it were.

It isn’t merely ideological censorship. With the rise of the cashless society, we are almost wholly dependent on the central banking system, like it or not. Transactional companies like PayPal, Venmo, and Patreon are just as integral to our system of commerce as the nation’s largest banks (Chase, Bank of America, etc.). They have the power to take away your ability to participate in the marketplace at a moment’s notice.

No, it's much worse.

Many years ago I was employed by a firm that was trying to do some of the first "data stealing and selling."  I managed to block it with the very clean argument that if it was put into place the risk of consumer revulsion was very high, it could tag every firm involved in it, and in addition it was technologically expensive enough and difficult enough at that time that the risk:reward was just not there.

Of course now the cost has come down by a factor of a thousand or more, damn near everyone is doing it (so the risk of revulsion has basically vanished) and we all walk around "sharing" every single thing we do -- from a beer in the bar to our trip the doctor because we're sick, fat or otherwise.  Thus the corporate version of a "social credit score" already exists, as the cited article shows -- and it's very, very dangerous to your financial health even today.

But as I have repeatedly pointed out yet nobody cares the various "law enforcement" folks are also already using their own version of "social credit" systems.  Many years ago I knew that all the various cop shops were interconnecting their systems so as to be able to run anyone's plate, from anywhere, on an automated basis in fractions of a second.  I know people who were in fact tasked with doing it.

In the last few years those systems have been empowered with automated license-plate readers and various government entities have been putting cameras up everywhere, from automated and semi-automated "weigh stations" near the entrance to states down to the corner traffic light.  In addition cop cars have been outfitted with these systems as well.

There is now a decent probability that your vehicle's near-exact travel history is able to be reconstructed in seconds by any government agency any time it wishes.

This is not speculation.  It is known that people have been "asked" during a routine traffic stop where they were going and/or coming from and based on that answer and what the cop already knows from those automated tracking systems before he pulled you over he then grossly extends said stop and has a dog show up.

I'm sure more than a few people have been busted this way, but even more are harassed on a daily basis.

Further, and far more importantly, that data never, ever goes away.

And worse, it's not just your car.  It's you, too.

I recently used my credit card to buy a banana. Then I tried to figure out how my credit card let companies buy me.

You might think my 29-cent swipe at Target would be just between me and my bank. Heavens, no. My banana generated data that’s probably worth more than the banana itself. It ended up with marketers, Target, Amazon, Google and hedge funds, to name a few.

Oh, the places a banana will go in the sprawling card-data economy. Despite a federal privacy law covering cards, I found that six types of businesses could mine and share elements of my purchase, multiplied untold times by other companies they might have passed it to. Credit cards are a spy in your wallet — and it’s time that we add privacy, alongside rewards and rates, to how we evaluate them.

{Hattip RW for this link}

Do you trust the government to never misuse any of that?  Because, you do know, I presume, that the government has its fingers in every single card network as well.

Not just right now -- forevermore.  Tomorrow, next week, next year or ten years from now?

We're not just talking about the Federal government either.  No, this extends to every level -- including the corrupt, racist Sheriff in some small county somewhere.  Or... Alberta.

Police in Edmonton, Alberta, admitted to using a confidential police database in 2004 to get the plate number of a local columnist who was sharply critical of police conduct and ordering officers to look out for his car, hoping to catch him at a bar and then arrest him for drunk driving.

Now granted -- if he was drunk....... but this was targeted harassment -- they had no specific reason to believe this particular columnist was a boozer; they just didn't like his newspaper columns.

And again, it's not just someone targeting a "hotlist."  The problem with these systems lies in the fact that it is now trivially inexpensive to store and index utterly enormous amounts of data.  Where before these devices were expensive -- $10 large each or more -- now nearly-free software will run on $100 cameras and do the same thing, making blanketing an entire state or nation trivially easy.  Now take time-stamped data on these and stitch it together and anyone who has $5.99 can buy a history report of your vehicle and where it has been during any given stretch of time on a minute-by-minute basis.

The same technology is now being applied to faces, including those inside cars.  Drive around town and you'll see all those cameras at traffic lights and on light poles.  Surprise!

Now you don't even to be driving, or in your own vehicle, to be tracked 24x7 -- you merely have to leave your house.

It is nearly impossible to put these sorts of Genies back in the bottle.  But one thing we could do is ban, under felony criminal penalty, any law enforcement use of such without a warrant and, to go further, assess criminal felony penalties against officers and agencies who use what is called parallel reconstruction.  That's the tactic, which has been used repeatedly by local, state and federal cops, who illegally (on 4th Amendment grounds) came up with some piece of evidence and then, with full hindsight, were able to construct some legitimate means, had they been aware of it at the time, to obtain that information.  Of course they weren't aware of it and this practice is a per-se act of perjury before the court which in most jurisdictions is a felony, yet it is never, ever prosecuted.

Occasionally cops have been bitch-slapped for doing it.  A couple of years ago I reported on a case here, a couple of counties over, where the cops illegally put a GPS tracking device on a vehicle.  They had no warrant as they had no probable cause to obtain one, so they just did it anyway.

Well, as it turns out their suspicion was correct and the person in question was dealing marijuana in size.  They used the tracking information to find his cache in a storage locker and arrested him.  Then, to avoid the 4th Amendment problem which would have led to the exclusion of the storage locker full of weed as evidence they lied to the Judge about how they discovered that he was selling weed.

Unfortunately for the cops this guy had a decent attorney and they were able to discover exactly how the cops had figured out where the weed was, and exposed the lie.  The case was tossed.

But this is a rare outcome, and note that the cops didn't go to prison for their wanton and obscene abuse of the Constitution.  Yes, the person in question was breaking the law by selling the marijuana.  But that doesn't excuse violating the Constitution; I can stop virtually every gang shooting if you let me kick down every suspected gang member's door every single day and search everyone there for guns, confiscating same, without any sort of probable cause to believe that said person has a gun or even that the people there have committed a crime.

As technology and the law stands right now this sort of retrospective search without cause and then lying about it are what the government can and does do -- and private firms are more than happy to help.  After all, it's just those damned deplorables that are being harmed by this....... right?

Be careful what you sit for.

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