Monday, April 26, 2010

Data-Rape


As I wrote about in two different posts, Your Papers Comrade! and Branding the Sheeple, the Government has been continually working to implement a national ID scheme...which I think is what Obamacare is really about - a trojan horse to get a nationalized database of everyone's medical records.

A few commenters have noted that such efforts have been going on for quite some time, and that it's basically useless to resist, since "THEY" have already got plenty of information on us all as it is.

They probably have a good point.

Big Brother is already here.

One man in the UK, a filmmaker by the name of David Bond, tried to put it to the test as detailed in the Times Online article: Can You Disappear in Surveillance Britain? In it, he details his efforts to try and evade capture by detectives he challenged to try and track him.


Bond might never have thought of running away if he’d not received a letter, some months earlier, informing him that his daughter was among 25 million Britons whose records had been lost by the Child Benefit Office, along with bank details and other private information.He “became obsessed”, Katie remembers, about the amount of information on him and his family that was already out there. As he looked into it, he found that the UK, once a bastion of freedom and civil liberties, is now one of the most advanced surveillance societies in the world, ranked third after Russia and China. The average UK adult is now registered on more than 700 databases and is caught many times each day by nearly five million CCTV cameras. Increasingly monitored, citizens are being turned into suspects. Within 100 yards of Bond’s home, he discovered, there were no fewer than 200 cameras.

Before going on the run, he made 80 formal requests to government and commercial organisations for the information they held on him. He piled the replies on his floor, appalled by the level of detail. The owners of the databases knew who his friends were, which websites he’d been looking at, and where he had driven his car. One commercial organisation was even able to inform him that, on a particular day in November 2006, he had “sounded angry”. It was more than he knew himself.


Remember the last time you called customer support and got some incomprehensible person in India who frustrated you because you couldn't understand their speech? Perhaps they made a note in their system that you sounded angry...

Think of all your accounts for your services and utilities. Computerized, cataloged, and pulled up in a moments notice.

So anyhow, Bond contacted some private detectives and challenged them to try and track him as he tried to "go ghost" in the UK.

“I told them I was making a film about privacy and surveillance, and wanted to be hunted,” he tells me a year later, over cups of tea in his East London home, amid the clutter of a young family – toy bricks on the floor, mashed banana on the table. He wondered if it was possible, in surveillance Britain, to keep himself to himself for a month. “I promised I wouldn’t sue them, whatever they did, as long as they didn’t cause my family any distress. ‘We’ll have you in four days,’ they laughed.”

Bond spent a long time finding the right detectives for his project, talking to countless retired coppers before he found Duncan Mee and Cameron Gowlett of Cerberus. Ordinarily, they work as investigators for major companies and law firms, scrupulously following the letter of the law as they trail organised gangs, often in unstable parts of the world. (If they broke the law, courts would throw out their findings.) The work requires them to penetrate layer upon layer of shell companies and false identities. How hard could it be to find Bond? After all, they’re often asked to find people who might be beneficiaries of a will, and that rarely takes more than a few hours.

After Bond phoned them, the arrangements were finalised by his friend and business partner, Ashley Jones – producer of the film. All the detectives were given was a photo, and the name, David Bond.


So this was not even government officials, but detectives who must follow the letter of the law in pursuing as much publicly available info as possible...

...imagine how much more info a Government agent might have access to?

To begin, they gathered data about him on the internet. He’d deleted his Facebook page, but they retrieved it and much more. This helped them piece together yet more information from public records that require elementary details such as addresses and dates of birth.


I've been thinking of deleting my Facebook page for some time now. While I thought it was cool to see my friends and family that live all over the world, and their pictures and such...I still feel a little uneasy with it - even if it is set to private. I guess it doesn't matter now - even if you delete, I guess a person with the right know-how can find a cache.

Pretending to be Bond, they set up a new Facebook page, using the alias Phileas Fogg, and sent messages to his friends, suggesting that this was a way to keep in touch now that he was on the run. Two thirds of them got in contact. As a result, the investigators were able to crash parties and find out more about Bond in conversation. Mee explains: “At the party, we’d say, ‘How do we know you are who you say you are? How do you know David?’ One guy said he’d been in a band with him, but we pretended to be sceptical and said, ‘Oh yeah? What instrument does he play?’”

They also went through his bins, and later his father’s. From this they were able to piece together huge amounts of detail about Bond. For instance, they guessed that he was vaguely “green” because he printed on the back of documents Katie brought home from her office.

Everything they learnt went up on a wall in their office, forming what they call Bond’s “data wake”. Then they used techniques that would not have been unfamiliar to Sherlock Holmes.

“We looked at what kind of person he was,” says Gowlett, “so we could second-guess what he might do. His family, his education, the films he’s made. He’s a literate guy so we thought of George Orwell and Jura, the island where Orwell wrote 1984. That might be somewhere David would go. We put a pin in the map.”


How fitting that this UK newspaper worked in a reference to Orwell here - the UK has largely become the dystopia that Orwell wrote about. All they need is the two-way vid screens that you cannot shut off, and the surveillance state Orwell predicted will be complete.

Back to the story...

Bond went on a road trip through Europe, trying to find ways of avoiding leaving an electronic trail to be tracked...but eventually his pregnant wife got in contact with him and told him she was having complications and she needed him to go to the hospital with her. The detectives had already found a way to get his wife's hospital appointment schedules, find out who her doctor was, etc. by making ruse phone calls. It was only a matter of time until they caught him.

Tipped off by their colleagues, Mee and Gowlett were waiting for Bond outside the hospital. He’d been on the run for 18 days.


Hmmm...think having a centralized medical record database couldn't be used by the Government to track you?

Immediately afterwards, Bond had what he calls a “weird psychic wobble”. He accused his great friend Jones of conniving with the detectives. “I became potty, behaved in a way I’ve never behaved before.” The next day, at the debrief, Bond had difficulty hugging the detectives. “I was still in a role that felt angry towards them. They seemed smug, happy to have got their man, and I was the idiot who had lost.”

He was appalled to see how much they knew about him, amassed on that wall. “There were huge bulldog clips holding together separate parts of my life – mother, father, schooling and so on. All obvious stuff, but it was more than the sum of its parts. The weirdest thing was the pictures of my mother they’d found in a church. It gave me the heebie-jeebies. I wanted to leave the room.”

On the run, Bond had been maddened by the thought that the best way to elude the detectives was to do the last thing they would expect him to do – which also meant the last thing he would expect himself. He went round and round in circles thinking that if ideas occurred to him – no matter how outlandish – he had to reject them, because the person who had thought of them was him. He hated to admit it, but he had indeed planned a trip to Jura.

Leaving the detectives’ office, Bond used a term to describe his feelings that he’s since concluded is inappropriate, but it gives an idea how strongly he felt at the time. He called it data-rape.


Data-Rape...good term.

I wonder how any of us would feel if we were able to see all of the information that exists for each and every one of us, all right there in front of us, up on a wall or stacked in a pile of documents?

What is this thing called "Privacy?"

Is it long gone...or is it something that never really existed for those of us born within the last couple of generations?

The article finishes with some excellent commentary by the detectives:

“A lot of people are giving information away voluntarily,” says Gowlett. “Look how many young children are giving up their whole lives on Facebook and Twitter – everything, their date of birth, the names of relatives and friends, where they live, when they’re going on holiday and what their political views are.

“People should think carefully how data is going to be used. Some are careful enough to opt out of the electoral roll, but when they have a baby and a nappy company comes round they give every piece of information they’re asked for. And that will be used to tie up with other databases.” Databases such as Tesco’s, which holds information on virtually every adult in the country, regardless of where they shop.

The National Health Service is unrolling a multibillion-pound IT project that will upload millions of patients’ medical records on to a database, freely accessed by 250,000 NHS staff and, to a lesser degree, by private health companies, council workers, commercial researchers and ambulance staff. Letters are going out now, strongly urging us all to allow this and making it as hard as possible to opt out.

The detectives are appalled. “That will have all your medical history on it, your date of birth and everything that has happened to you,” says Gowlett. “It’s vulnerable, and people will be able to get all that information on you in one go.”

In the film, Gowlett demonstrated how easy it already was to pretend to be Bond and get information about Katie’s antenatal arrangements. For Katie, this totally overturned her previous complacency. “I was a bit freaked out that the NHS gave away our appointments,” she says. “I know what David meant about being data-raped.”


Can't wait to have the same data system for our medical records, here in the USA! It will be UNIVERSAL

12 comments:

Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Tech said...

A lot of people are giving information away voluntarily,” says Gowlett. “Look how many young children are giving up their whole lives on Facebook and Twitter – everything, their date of birth, the names of relatives and friends, where they live, when they’re going on holiday and what their political views are.

Yes they are. Facebook should change their name to be "please rob me". Regardless if you shout your personal information on a loudspeaker you really can't complain if someone else or the government hears it.

While I have managed to keep my personal information out of the public internet, I know the government has massive amounts of data on me. I agreed to it for my job. I'm sure they track my internet activities which means they have massive amounts of data on you too. (I'm being serious.) My MRA activities have not seemed to flag them, and I can't figure out why. Maybe the men monitoring the systems learned about the pervasive misandry around them.

Hestia said...

The gubmint also has massive info on me, thanks to my husband's security clearance investigation. I was very paranoid before his last investigation that some of my "radical" activities, especially of the MRA variety, might come back to haunt me. The Army tracks all email sent through AKO, monitors snail mail and packages sent to APOs, can click into overseas phone calls, and of course they have all my medical info thanks to Tricare. *shudders*

Facebook is a great tool for keeping in touch with far away family and friend but has left me uneasy for quite some time. MovingTarget recently deleted his and I keep mine Facebooks private and am cautious about who I add, but the amount of info that can be learned about you just from inane status posts is rather unsettling. I have some people on my friends list who might as well change their name to "Steal My Identity" with how free they are sharing everything and anything.

I also wonder about the morality of sharing about my daughter online, including Facebook. When you figure what you say online is available forever, how can you be careful not to have something come back to haunt your children one day? Where is the line? KWIM?

Anonymous said...

A guy who was really on the run would not, of course, come back to meet his dumb bitch of a wife.

Amateur Strategist said...

^I was wondering about that.

How long could have he gone if not for that ONE incident? 18 days isn't bad if such a... *ahem* unthoughtful anti-goal oriented incident hadn't happened. For both of them, a. if he was going to do this, he should've waited until after the pregnancy, or b. if he was "opting out" of the pregnancy audience, should've made it clear he wasn't coming back yet.

Nilk said...

While I use pseudonyms on my blog, particularly for my daughter, I don't post photos without permission.

In the case of my girl, I have 2 photos of her on facebook, and don't use it for anything political or religious. It's purely for touching base with family and friends and maybe some makeup networking.

Hestia you are right to keep your child's information off facebook - you are safeguarding her privacy, even if she's too young for the concept.

We used to have a young lass* living with us who was all over the social sites, and she had her full name, age, date of birth, what school she went to and even her shoe size on myspace. Add to that the gratuitous cleavage shots (at 16!) and it was open to share with 300 of her closest friends and the rest of the world.

I had to point out to her that Uncle Pervy who likes a bit of jail bait could easily follow her home from school one day and who knows what could happen.

And that's not what I want in my house.

*She's no longer living with us. I had to turf her out. She's now 19 and shacked up with a fellow 20 years older than her who has a daughter 3 years younger than her, and had her first abortion at just before 18.She met him on myspace, I suspect.

njartist said...

A few commenters have noted that such efforts have been going on for quite some time, and that it's basically useless to resist, since "THEY" have already got plenty of information on us all as it is.

They probably have a good point.

Big Brother is already here.


This is why I consider Glenn Beck and his informative television show to be two or more decades to late. I think the same for many of the conspiracy sites: too late to act; the chess move has been made and the game has moved on to the penultimate move to checkmate.

John Smith said...

man. that is amazing. it makes all those movies you see where Bourne eludes the governments and the CIA seem soooo implausible.

i've often wondered what life was like before passports and soc. security cards.....and all the documentation

samsonsjawbone said...

The other day I found myself wondering how long it will be before cash is no longer widely accepted.

@PMAFT:

I know the government has massive amounts of data on me. I agreed to it for my job. I'm sure they track my internet activities which means they have massive amounts of data on you too. (I'm being serious.) My MRA activities have not seemed to flag them, and I can't figure out why.

Do you really think they would care too much about your MRA activities? If so, why? I'm not being provocative; I'm trying - among other things - to figure out how important I think all this really is.

Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Tech said...

Do you really think they would care too much about your MRA activities? If so, why? I'm not being provocative; I'm trying - among other things - to figure out how important I think all this really is.

No I don't think they would care about my MRA activities too much. As long as I don't call for the overthrow of the US government or start revealing classified or proprietary data, they probably won't care. If anything they won't care about me, but go after some of you guys with your subversive views :). Just kidding. I was kidding about the tracking too. There was a few people I was trying to give a heart attack to.

I have been through plenty of security clearance stuff (interviews and beyond) and MRA never came up. While I do a good job of hiding my identity online, I am not going to be able to hide from the NSA. Because of that I operate under the assumption that at any time anything I do online or the phone might be tapped. I doubt they would keep an active tap on me. It's not worth the trouble. On the other hand my security clearance is really high.

If they are watching me I'm not worried. Unlike most other portions of the government this part has a much higher proportion of men. It's what you would expect since it's military and homeland security related. These are not apex men. They're men like you and me dealing with problems like the sexual harassment industry, the divorce industry, etc. Since I'm not doing anything truly subversive the only thing that might happen is that these men discover MRA and we may have more MRAs who just happen to be embedded in the defense and security apparatus of the US. That's much more likely than me ending up in jail (or you guys) for my MRA activities.

You can relax.

Hestia said...

PM/AFT- Just curious, would you worry more if you didn't work with mainly men? My husband no longer serves with women, but before this change, I was always a bit concerned that something he or I said might come back to haunt him if one of the females in his command heard of it or figured out our views. (Ex: MovingTarget doesn't believe women should serve in the armed forces. Obviously that one would not go over too well. ;) There are many ways even a female soldier under him could harm his career if she so chose.

I'm also cautious about associating with anybody who seems to be venturing into "overthrow the government" type territory, online and off. One of my husband's old commanders advised me to be careful as it's better to be safe than sorry. I personally know a woman who got involved with a somebody she met at a playgroup. This new friend seemed normal at first, even if she was quite leftist in her political beliefs. It was only later she learned the new friend's husband was involved with a fairly radical anti-government group that was being watched by the FBI.

Needless to say, the "normal middle" seems quite appealing after knowing that crazy tale!

Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Tech said...

PM/AFT- Just curious, would you worry more if you didn't work with mainly men?

Sure, but that would be true even if security clearances aren't involved.

My guess is that if some woman tried to pull something on me eventually I would be exonerated, but it would be a PITA in the mean time. When I was getting interviewed for my clearance, the investigator interviewed several of my coworkers. After those interviews he was telling me how easy my coworker interviews were because a lot of the time coworkers will try and sabotage each other during the clearance interviews to get ahead. They know they have to deal with this sort of thing so they aren't going to automatically take a woman's word as gospel since they wouldn't in the first place.

If a woman was going to try something on me, the clearance isn't going to be what she would go after. She would go to the standard stuff such as sexual harassment.

At my office there really is only one woman who could be a potential trouble maker, and that's because she's HR. Despite that she's pretty isolated.

Deansdale said...

The movie's website is
http://erasingdavid.com/
Watch the trailer.