Stepping back from the details of this story reveals a striking pattern that most public discussions on mass surveillance miss entirely.
Cost has protected citizens of the world's liberal democracies from sliding into totalitarianism for a long time. Now the brakes are off. Surveillance technology costs are plunging across at the board and capabilities are skyrocketing.
Regardless of size or jurisdiction, there isn't a law enforcement agency out there that doesn't want to (or actively seek to) increase its observational capability.
Tumbling prices allow these organizations to indulge these urges.
Suddenly, basic assumptions about what governments can and can't do go out the window. The equipment is bought and put into production. Better to ask forgiveness than permission and all that.
There is no limit to the appetite for greater visibility into the private lives of citizens. Today it's the war on drugs and terror. Tomorrow it's something else. The justifications change, but these are just thin veneers over the ugly truth. Every government tends toward totalitarianism unless kept in check by something pretty damn powerful.
This train has one destination, and it's not even clear if there will be any stops along the way. To understand where we're headed, try reading the Bill of Rights with the assumption that your government knows everything there is to know about you, and where those who attempt to reveal the extent of these capabilities are imprisoned or executed.
The cost is rapidly falling to the point of inevitability for government actors and possibility for private players. Amazon balloons could track your physical shopping behavior to better target you with ads. Criminals could observe people and car movements in entire neighborhoods to better target burglaries and carjackings. The genie is pretty much out of the bottle.
It can't be understated how much impact this, and drones, will have on home invasion crimes. And they will have surveillance ops on standby to help them successfully navigate out of police chases when the need arises.
Isn't deploying an airborne surveillance platform (if it has sufficient altitude to survey a useful area) an incredibly conspicuous thing to do?
Now our police force (CRS) are just military and dress like robocop for any confrontation. People get hurt, the news outlets take the government side and the problems stays the same.
Instead it’s more a case of if the military wants to walk in and shutdown the place, it’s going to be a lot easier.
Not entirely a gun rights advocate at all, but I can see some people’s motives.
The chinese are slowly removing democratic institutions away from the people. The people are rising up to protect them without guns.
Democratic norms are slowly being eroded from the US as well. Extreme gerrymandering, electoral college / popular vote, overt foreign interference, requested foreign interference, voting irregularities, voter purges, voting machine irregularities, a complicit senate, out of control corporate funding / ownership / bribery of politicians.
What are the people with guns doing? Nothing. In some cases cheering it on with claims of "if your side tries anything we are armed and ready".
Does having an armed population really protect the people from the government? Does it protect a democracy? does it protect the constituion? Or is more likely they become a paramilitary wing of a corrupt government? Just look around the world and see what happens in other countries with a heavily armed population? Then tend to form groups to have power, slowly becoming war lords, which the politicians then use a power source to keep the population in check.
Maybe an armed population made sense a few hundred years ago (maybe not though), but am going to have to see some working out to show it is still relevant today before being believed as an unquestionable truth. Some examples would be good. And before everyone shouts SWITZERLAND SWITZERLAND. If you are comparing the US population to Switzerland, I think you have more homework todo as all that shows you, there is a lot more to it than just having guns.
Good point, but you are lumping all gun owners into one mindset.
I could definitely see that happening, but it would not be all gun owners, just a percentage. And of the many gun owners I know, the percentage that would support any government and impose anything on others would be really low.
The idea is to back civil society with an implicit, but never used, question of force.
If things break down into shooting, that's civil war. And who knows what happens next, but it's not likely to be good for anyone or the country.
I'm rather neutral on the issue itself, I see pros and cons, but the fact that the insane, often completely unreasonable group has lined up on one side makes me want to take the other.
It was just more of a thought experiment. I totally understand your point and I’m fully aware that there are a lot of issues and other problems with an armed population that totally suck.
Your comment didn’t address the quote.
If Hong Kong citizens were all armed, what would be happening right now? Is there a similar historical situation we could look at?
Try taking over a Federal installation without being well-armed, and see if it goes anywhere near as well for you as it did for the Branch Dildonians.
Pro tip: cameras are almost as important as guns. Bring both.
...but the way the U.S. laws are written, it's quite illegal to take up arms against or try to depose/overthrow the United States Government - no matter how totalitarian and authoritarian it might get.
In fact, nothing in the Bill of Rights or the Consitution or the U.S. Code guarantees such right[s].
This is not to mention the reality that the arms controls would make it seem like the citizens are bringing paper swords to gunfights nor how catastrophic those casualties might be.
The Ruby Ridge incident comes to mind:
As does the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation:
Mind, I don't generally disagree with your premise, and I'm not a guns advocate. There do exist (as is typically the case) counterexamples to the general rule.
Some of those are based on informational vulnerabilities (see the #MeToo movement, and accusations against numerous power icons), some are based on data and information leaks. Some are based on backlashes -- Google's employee revolt against Dragonfly, and Edelman's against Geo come to mind.
Physical sabotage against either very-high-value or very-exposed point or linear exposures (aircraft safety post-9/11, Stuxnet attacking Iran's uranium-enrichment centrifuges, pipeline and marine chokepoint vulnerabilities) expose the weakness of very-high-technology systems often having immense fragility.
What open resistance seems to rely on most profundly, as Gandhi and King noted, was the appeal to other sources of allegiance and sympathy. In truth virtually no power struggle is a naked encounter between two groups, but rather of consortia, with a high level of awareness of just how haywire things might go if one party presses its point too far. There's some evidence that reluctance to move against, e.g., right-wing extremist movements within the US is due to perceptions of high levels of support for those groups, including infiltration of institutions including law enforcement, military, and courts. I don't know for certain that this explains reluctance to act more decisively by the previous US administration, though I have a feeling it's at least part of the reason.
At the same time, open massed armed resistance does tend to be met with overwhelming force or opposition, though even that is often tempered. And in less democratic nations, the more so, as has been the case in, say, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong over the past weeks and months.
These were extremely localized protests in terms of people involved and goals. How would it work out on a national scale involving multiple parties and different goals on different scales? The article we're commenting on is about mass surveillance, how would a protest of 1+ million armed people look like, and how would the authorities treat it? As a protest or as an attempt to overthrow the government? And what happens when some of those people are actually pro-government and they also have guns?
Any major civil unrest is all but guaranteed to not end well (in general) because simply organizing it might be treated as a crime. And the fight is unlikely to be just 2 sided, "the people" vs. the government.
If you have to hang on to your guns because that's the only sure way to effect change then something somewhere went terribly wrong. And reality is that it was much easier to very slowly erode the freedom and not one single change was severe enough to trigger unrest on more than localized issues that only affected one tiny group of people. By the time people look back and realize what they had and lost, even guns won't help.
For numerous reasons. Social resistance: the Prohibition, Civil Rights, and AntiWar (Vietnam) movements in the US, India's liberation movement, pro-democracy protests in South Korea during the 1980s, anti-globalism and 99% resistance movements in the 1990s and 2000s, Black Lives Matter and (to a point) the Alt-Right and militia protests (the latter being very prominantly armed).
The state, and power generally, gives up nothing without a fight. But a sufficiently credible threat will make it at least blink, particularly if there isn't a single central point that can be identified to remove a threat. Or if the power balance as a whole shifts.
While most of my examples don't rise to the level of direct overthrow, they do very much represent an armed resistance to central government authority. And yes, that's gone quite poorly for the opposition in many, almost certainly most cases. But not all.
The exceptions might prove illuminating.
Correct, it would be redundant. We have a separate foundational document devoted entirely to that right.
If you're referring to the Declaration of Independence, that is a legal document that doesn't enshrine rights - even if we're to posit that it did, it speaks specifically about the colonies and the United Kingdom (Great Britain), so there's nothing to extend those principles to any other government entity.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_I...
It's not like those guns do anything. Americans seldom protest their governments laws, and are conditioned to be living and having passed upon them way worse laws than French (without guns) have...
Isn't the point is that they don't need to actively do anything because they're a deterrent?
In a lot of ways, the French are unquestionably better off.
The whole line of argument is moot though anyway, because with these new technologies I don't think the French will remain better off in those ways for too much longer. Neither guns, nor protests will be effective as deterrents in the face of ubiquitous surveillance. Both will be fairly impotent against these technologies in fact.
A confounding factor is that both the US and UK militaries have been fighting extended insurrection 'policing' actions for much of the last two decades, so you have an army that is used to been an occupying force.
All that said a smart military commander would never use local troops in their own backyard anyway.
Is why the local regiments were confined to barracks, the last time the UK felt the need to put tanks on the streets of Glasgow. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_George_Square
Possibly use of firearms by the general population against police and government in HK could have led to the simple invasion of HK by the PRC army, with shootings and executions like those that happened at the time of Tiananmen, but on a larger scale. Right now, possibly the lack of firearms is a brake on falling into this doomsday scenario. When you know the other fellow doesn't have a firearm, you don't need to shoot first.
True for a head-on conflict, but the story in the article has the organised forces' equipment in a vulnerable place - 65Kft above a city.
Asymmetric activity in such a theatre would favour the armed civilian, for now at least.
Ground-based coordinated tracking with 1W laser on rudimentary automatic control could ground such devices. The gas-bag being a large, vulnerable target.
The relative ease of downing a tracking device, capturing, reverse-engineering then publicly reporting its capabilities should help keep them in check. For now.
Mind you, I served in the army (not the US one), battle tanks, so I'm hardly a pacifist. But you guys are just loudmouths who play too many video games and see too many Hollywood hero movies. No you won't win - and you will not even fight, apart from some very few not so bright people. Because you value your life way too much, liker 99.9% of everybody else faced with overwhelming odds.
The forces the US army is up against are not unorganized, they have pretty good training and equipment - and support from foreign governments. They are not desperate lone fighters.
Anyway, I realise now that you were not really responding to what I said. And clearly not to me personally, as a non-American. You just needed a place to get up on your high horse.
Yeah, it would be a civil war with orders of magnitude more dead.
I don't understand the American fascination with guns. When have they ever been useful against the government?
The one in 1861 was ultimately not effective.
Want to pass a law that cuts on workers' rights in a country that typically doesn't protest? Sure, go ahead. Want to do that in France? You'll think twice about it after the clashes of 1st May and of the gilets jaunes.
"There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury and ammo. Please use in that order."
(...) "On 10 December, Macron condemned the violence but acknowledged the protesters' anger as "deep, and in many ways legitimate". He subsequently promised a minimum wage increase of €100 per month from 2019, cancelled a planned tax increase for low-income pensioners, and made overtime payments as well as end-of-year bonuses tax free."
So much for nothing having changed.
Not to mention tons of France-wide and regional implications, the political impact on several levels, and the pause and hesitation it would bring to politicians considering to unilaterally pass unpopular laws in the future.
> “This train has one destination, and it's not even clear if there will be any stops along the way. To understand where we're headed, try reading the Bill of Rights with the assumption that your government knows everything there is to know about you, and where those who attempt to reveal the extent of these capabilities are imprisoned or executed.”
Devil’s advocate here. Who’s to say they won’t use it strictly to deter drug trafficking and terrorism? Couldn’t they take steps to be transparent about what data is collected, and where it goes?
The point is, discussions on governmental surveillance usually jump to the conclusion that society is becoming like George Orwell’s 1984.
Could someone explain why these surveillance balloons are bad news for ordinary citizens without using the slippery slope fallacy?
As things were you “only” had to watch out for people who would rat you out to Securitate or to Stasi (in East Germany), not an ideal situation but manageable from a certain point on, one could live a decent life from a “freedom” point of view, to say so, you could say political jokes or complain about the regime to the right people, i.e. not the regime’s informers, or you could directly “steal” from the State things you believe should have belonged to you, like the peasants from my grandma’s village were doing when they were taking stuff at night from the State farms that had been built on lands nationalized by the State from the same farmers immediately after the Communists came to power. All these things were highly illegal, I mean the regime trash-talking, the taking of stuff from State farms, the only thing protecting us was that the regime couldn’t follow us all in order to catch us. With today’s tools that would not have been a problem, you can see that in today’s China where every form of political jokes (even in private online conversations) is prohibited and actively acted against.
I read The Aquariums Of Pyongyang  for a take on life and imprisonment in North Korea. Recommended read.
What is your take on Huawei giving 3G/4G technology to North Korea by proxy? Is North Korea technologically advanced enough to abuse technology to suppress its citizens?
Also, to get an idea of the amount of data collected nowadays 
"Heaven is high and the emperor is far away."
I wonder how you managed to “see” that, since it’s not true at all. If you know Chinese you’ll be able to find political jokes pretty much everywhere on Chinese language websites, especially forums. Some words may be banned by forum software but people just use homophones. Also not surprisingly, no one actually gives a shit about political jokes in private conversations, unless you’re a foreign journalist or known troublemaker or something, I guess (source: done that multiple times within Chinese borders).
Them. Laws passed for one reason have already routinely been applied more broadly, data collected for national security has been passed to domestic law enforcement under parallel construction.
We don’t have to worry if government will abuse its power, we know they are doing it now.
For my own research, could you provide examples of this?
I tend to go with the former, since liberal democracies are rarer than totalitarianism and the like.
What systems would you put into place to prevent abuse?
What about bad cops who would misappropriate the intel?
What would prevent them from tracking non-terrorist/drug related individuals?
How do you prevent citizens from being followed and tracked without a warrant?
And if misuse or abuse does happen, how is that transparently shared with the victim?
This is a weak place to argue that slippery slope doesn't apply, since the government has already had a lot of incidents in the recent past where they said they weren't doing certain surveillance - and then it was leaked that they actually were...
If you could say 100% that these balloons will only ever capture data based on legal warrants - we might have something to discuss. However, I can't think of a system that would guarantee that.
Allowing a system like this to be implemented under the guise of 'full transparency' is like a political trojan horse. All it takes is a loss of priority in that objective by the same or subsequent administration and you're left with a snake that you can't get back into the bag.
I didn't mean we could implement transparency with Pentagon's balloons, I meant : eventually, vote for a president or a party that would cancel that project for the name of privacy and transparency.
Anyone paying reasonable attention to either current events or history?
Civil servants attacked for using anti-terror laws to spy on public - https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/feb/28/surveillance-gove...
Terror law used for Iceland deposits - https://www.ft.com/content/abf583de-9546-11dd-aedd-000077b07...
The Further Democratization of Stingray - https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2015/04/the_further_d...
WikiLeaks docs show NSA's 10-year economic espionage campaign against France - https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/06/29/wikileaks_docs_show...
Airbus wants answers from Germany over U.S. spying claims - https://money.cnn.com/2015/04/30/news/airbus-germany-nsa-spy...
Green Party: The police’s secret surveillance of elected politicians with no criminal record is scandalous - https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/06/16/police%E2%80%9...
Police continued spying on Labour activists after their election as MPs - https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/25/police-spied...
There is a history of the government using it disproportionately against minorities and folks that want to change the status quo. There is a history of putting some groups in jail more than others. And so on. This lack of trust and history of power abuses and such things seriously dampens any hopes of responsible use. I'll add that some of their "drug trafficking" is to check to see if folks are selling small bits of weed. Terrorism seems like an obvious farce at this point considering they are keen to ignore terrorism from right-wing folks and instead, look to condemn Muslims and to condemn folks that look like they might be "Muslim" or "Mexican".
The government - at least in the us - needs trust first.
Next reason is that their laws aren't enforced equally. This tech is more likely to be used for small time crooks (and disproportionately, minorities) than used to stop CEOs or Epstein's, or cops that strangle handcuffed suspects of nonviolent offenses
You can't prove that dictatorial powers won't be used to perfectly simulate democracy, after all absolute power means the power to hold elections. Likewise, I can't prove that after the surveillance system is completed the government won't put black paper over all their computer screens and never look at anything. But, somehow, that doesn't really change my outlook.
If a dictator is bad, the citizenship has almost no method of improving the situation. A benevolent dictator may be the best form of government, but there is no reliable way of ensuring it will be attained.
The best kind of system is one which ensures no single entity can amass a great deal of power, ending with a state of many smaller entities in continual opposition.
A benevolent dictator can still make mistakes, but so can the smaller entities you describe. The benevolent dictator would be focused on the good of everyone though, while the smaller entities in opposition would be focused on the good of their own group.
The process of setting up a longstanding benevolent dictatorship is what makes the idea ridiculous.
By distributing power into a large number of entities, there is no power consolidation and hence no single point of failure. With such a power structure, it is much harder for a sociopath to replace the benevolent dictator and take control of the whole. Furthermore, if any of the smaller entities go awry, an individual can much more easily migrate to another one.
With multiple groups, approaching the "optimum" will eventually involve hurting other groups for the benefit of your own. To me, everybody living adequately is preferred to some living optimally at the expense of others.
The rest of your post is about the nigh impossibility of setting up a benevolent dictatorship. It absolutely should not be attempted, even if it would be the ideal form of government.
The thing is when it gets cheap enough, other players start enter the game too. Companies. Criminal gangs. Or even private individuals.
A situation of "if surveillance is outlawed, only outlaws will have surveillance" should be taken into account.
This last is the worthwhile part.
The problem isn't surveillance, it's disproportional surveillance.
That is, people in power can only control the public while they retain a monopoly on power.
Since bulk surveillance is coming, the best outcome is equal surveillance and equal access.
Privacy laws tend to lock you and I away from data, not powerful people who ruin lives.
Those two organizations work together all the time and know what works, so such conflicts are rare, but in a direct confrontation I think FAA easily wins.
Instead, we got assisinated citizens.
It was just more of the same power mongering bullshit. By the time his presidency ended, I had lumped all politicians, nay, public officials into the same cauldron of corrupt blight. In my eyes, Trump, Obama and Bush are the same. When will a statesman/women/person have the metaphorical balls to put an end to this madness?
Law enforcement (and Hollywood ) can go fuck itself. I would rather fear a criminal/terrorist/crack pipe than my own putative government. I’m white. I can’t even imagine how minorities feel about these incessant overreaches.
 For some “bizarre” reason, Hollywood leans strongly toward lionizing rogue cops/gestapo agents who trample civil rights.
But ignoring these exceptions you’re totally right, of course.
Hollywood, like Legislatures, are giving the majority of the public what they want.
"How the CIA Hoodwinked Hollywood
Since its inception, the agency has wooed filmmakers, producers, and actors in order to present a rosy portrait of its operations to the American public."
Hollywood is a cred game. The actual money since the 1950s has been on television. In fact Hollywood has never been as profitable, inflation adjusted, as it was before the commodification of television sets.
Source: I study history of film. To think of Hollywood in the 20s, 30s and 40s - think of Silicon Valley. Entire cities were made in huge lots behind LA studios. Nobody does that anymore. Gone with the wind, inflation adjusted, is still one of the most expensive and profitable movies ever made.
And yes, trust me - as far as they know (and a lot of things have been tried) Hollywood makes what it makes because it sells. It’s an industry like any other. Instead of cars they sell movies.
Curiously in David Mamet’s new play, Bitter Wheat, a Weinstein type figure is described as money launderer.
Well the UK isn't much better now.
In those territories during that time, the UK army joined up with unionist para-militaries and became essentially a domestic terror force targeting a subsection of UK citizens, selected by the ethnicity indicated by their religion. Shooting unarmed citizens and torturing people became standard practice for sections of our miltary. Look up the Ballymurphy inquiry.
It is worth keeping in mind that it is also only very recently indeed, that it became legal in the UK for the head of state to be married to someone Catholic and it is still illegal for the head of state to actually be Catholic.
Just to be clear, I am not Protestant, Catholic, or Irish. I have no particular dog in this fight. It is just a section of fairly recent history that illustrates rather clearly that the UK is not above using the machinery of the state to target its own citizens based on their religion.
Also the UK has put people in prison for the nebulous crime of "hate speech". There are seven hate speech convictions per day, though I suspect most of these are fines and a criminal record.
So the UK is going down the same road as China.
Almost all these examples usually given involve campaigns of harassment.
And there's nothing nebulous about it: the boundaries are clear and simple.
So no it isn't clear at all.
Count Dankula: broadcast the phrase "gas the jews", then did not use a freedom of speech argument in court, instead saying "it was just a joke". His "I am using this to annoy my girlfriend" defence failed because there's no evidence she even saw the video, and if he was just doing it to annoy her there was no need to broadcast it to his youtube channel.
> I believe there is also a case where some Grime rappers were charged with hate speech for their songs
It's pretty hard to have this conversation with someone who admits they don't know what they're talking about.
Yes she was. It was only overturned later because she has (I believe) autism.
The whole point I was making is that it should not happen in the first place.
Do you think we should be dragging autistic teenage girls through court because of rap lyric posted on facebook? I think it is ridiculous.
> Count Dankula: broadcast the phrase "gas the jews", then did not use a freedom of speech argument in court, instead saying "it was just a joke". His "I am using this to annoy my girlfriend" defence failed because there's no evidence she even saw the video, and if he was just doing it to annoy her there was no need to broadcast it to his youtube channel.
The video was obviously a joke and if you just repeat the phrases said on their own without context they don't sound funny. The whole joke is that he is getting his dog which has no idea what those phrases mean to react to them. It is a really old gag that you do something stupid in front of an animal because they are the ultimate dead-pan actor.
As to why his girlfriend didn't see it, it went viral (via reddit) before he had the chance to show her. The reason why it was on Youtube is because they have a night where they just watch Youtube video together and he wanted it to be like a surprise prank. At the time (I know because I followed the case since he got arrested) he had 8 subscribers on his account. His story has been consistent from day one before he lawyered up.
Again he should have never been arrested over what was clearly intended as a joke.
MPs in the House of Commons admitted that the law should be under review because of his case.
The way you tell the situation doesn't give full picture. Almost every-time someone just cherry picks phrases from the video like you did I know they are being disingenuous.
> It's pretty hard to have this conversation with someone who admits they don't know what they're talking about.
The point is that you shouldn't have any legal proceeding against you because of a song. London Grime much like heavy metal (70s) and gangsta rap (80s and 90s) before them is being demonised by the moral puritans. I suspect they will take another run at violent video games once Doom Eternal comes out or GTA6.
This again is disingenuous of you. This makes it pretty obvious you aren't speaking in good faith. Bye.
You realise that winning on appeal means the original conviction didn't happen right?
> The video was obviously a joke
First of all you claimed he was imprisoned for this, and he wasn't. This is yet another case that you don't understand that you think supports your point when it really doesn't.
He had a trial. He could have used a free speech defence. He chose not to. Importantly he was invited by the judge to make a freedom of speech (article 10) defence, and he chose not to.
>  Prior to being addressed by the petitioner at the conclusion of the trial, the sheriff had noticed that a written argument had been lodged by the petitioner,but not yet touched upon. In it, there was an oblique reference to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Freedom of Expression). This had asserted that the petitioner’s actions were “entirely compliant” with that article and that the exceptions in Article 10(2) were not applicable. There had been no other analysis. There was no reference to any compatibility issue. At the stage of submissions, the sheriff had specifically asked parties whether they intended to address him on freedom of expression at common law or in terms of the European Convention.
>  Despite the sheriff’s express invitation, which included mention of M’bala M’balav France, unreported,10November 2015, App No. 25239/13,there was no reference in the defence address to Article10. All that had been said by the petitioner about freedom of expression was that the court should be jealous to guard it. There was no compatibility minute, which, if such an issue were to be raised, ought to have been lodged in advance of the trial (Act of Adjournal (Criminal Procedure Rules) 1996, rules40.3 and 40.6).
He chose to use the "it was just a joke bro" defence, and failed because he couldn't show that she had even seen the video, and if he was pranking her there was no need to broadcast "gas the Jews" to his YouTube followers. He then tried this defence again for his appeal, and that failed too.
> he had 8 subscribers on his account.
He uploaded it to Youtube with the intent that it would be seen by other people, thus completing the crime. He could have made it a private video, he could have not uploaded it to YouTube. He communicated the video to other people and he had the intent that it would be seen by other people.
> “20... the primary purpose of the [petitioner] making the video was not to annoy [his girlfriend]: it was to make a highly offensive video for sharing on his You Tube channel for consumption by him and his subscribers; the [petitioner] willing (sic)for the video to be shared and viewed by anyone in the world”.
This is what was found at his original trial. He has not appealed against this finding.
> The way you tell the situation doesn't give full picture
You claimed he'd been imprisoned for it and he hasn't. But he uploaded a video containing Nazi imagery while he said, more than 20 times, "Gas The Jews". He knew this would cause offence. Causing offence was his intention. What have I missed out?
For you to claim that these 2 cases equate to widespread human rights abuse in China is laughable.
> The point is that you shouldn't have any legal proceeding against you because of a song
You still haven't named the cases. You're getting the genre wrong btw, it's drill not grime, and they were imprisoned for breaking an injunction that was aimed at tackling gang violence: they made credible death threats to other members of gangs.
You keep on saying this because it sounds shocking to people who haven't watched the video, without the proper context it sounds bad i.e. It was clearly a joke intended to annoy his girlfriend.
I could describe the 2013 Wolfenstein games as "gruesome killing simulator that is full of nazi imagery" and without the proper context it would sound bad i.e. you are playing a guy fighting against a Nazi occupied Europe.
This is again incredibly disingenuous way to describe the video and you know it. That is why you continuously ignore the other parts of the video that explain the context. I find it pretty disgusting that you obviously know lots about the case and ignore the facts that don't fit your narrative.
This is exactly what the court did at the trial. This is why the trial was done with a magistrate and not a jury as if a jury saw it they would have probably laughed at it.
As previously explained I don't think the whole series of events should have happened.
The conviction was only overturned because she was diagnosed with autism. If she hadn't have been diagnosed with the condition the conviction would have stayed.
> First of all you claimed he was imprisoned for this, and he wasn't.
I never claimed he was. However he could have been and probably didn't see jail time because of the amount of publicity and support he had outside of the court.
> He chose to use the "it was just a joke bro" defence, and failed because he couldn't show that she had even seen the video.
As I said he was arrest before she could have seen it. It was clearly intended as a joke against his girlfriend. He clearly states this twice in the video, you conveniently ignore this fact. It is also convenient you don't acknowledge this or the part where he crudely photoshops a hitler tash onto his dog and plays an old horror sound effect from the 1960s television.
> He uploaded it to Youtube with the intent that it would be seen by other people, thus completing the crime.
It should not be a crime.
The other people were his mates, conveniently you ignored this when I stated it. It was obviously not intended to be seen by a large number of people. They misused a law meant for television broadcasts and applied it to youtube.
This is disingenuous interpretation of events. Again you are being disingenuous because you want to be right.
> This is what was found at his original trial. He has not appealed against this finding.
He did file appeals, they were rejected and if you read the rejections their reasoning was ridiculous. Also the courts reading of the situation is obvious bullshit. He had 8 subscribers when he posted the video (I know because I saw the reddit thread that made the video go viral) and I remember seeing his subscriber count at the time. Those people were most likely his mates.
Again this is disingenuous interpretation of events.
> You claimed he'd been imprisoned for it and he hasn't.
I never claimed this.
> You still haven't named the cases. You're getting the genre wrong btw, it's drill not grime.
It like saying modern R'n'B and Garage are different. They are basically the same beats played at a different speed with a slightly different style.
They Drill, Grime etc are all basically people rapping over a beat and is pretty much just Hip Hop really. This is a silly point to make.
> and they were imprisoned for breaking an injunction that was aimed at tackling gang violence: they made credible death threats to other members of gangs.
The injunction should not exist, it will be another thing that will be abused by the police. As for credible threats of violence Rappers used to make threats against each other all the time back in the 1980s.
In the album Hijack "The Horns of Jericho", the rapper is instructing a man with a sword to abduct, torture and kill Andrew Lloyd Webber. No such chain of events occurred because of the song lyrics.
The knife crime epidemic in London has nothing to do with the type of music being played. As previously stated politicians will demonise the music to distract from the real problem.
People should not be locked up for song lyrics. This is ridiculous. There is no credible threats of violence through song lyrics.
> For you to claim that these 2 cases equate to widespread human rights abuse in China is laughable.
I never said they equatable. I never claimed that. Another misrepresentation of what I said.
I think the UK is going down a very dangerous path because of these laws and I think we will eventually lead up in a similar state as what is happening in China.
Its probably best to view everything in life as being used for good and bad, ying and yan, light and dark etc etc, plus if any of you ever had to sit a Brick test which is a measure of creativity, you will know so many things can be used for different applications.
Take Wifi, who knew this existed? https://news.mit.edu/2013/new-system-uses-low-power-wi-fi-si...
Another way wifi can be used is by taking a laptop, seeing what wifi signals it picks up and then getting various wifi enabled devices to report tiny signal strength anomalies to work out who is walking in front of one signal, absorbing some of it, like someone walking in front of a light transmitting morse code. Most people will also be familiar with military contracts and secrecy that the likes of Lockheed Martin, Boeing and others will have with the US Govt, you don't get to find out the secret contracts the tech companies have with the military, except perhaps the Intel Management Engine switch. These tech company's wont be in a position to comment on said contracts and so you just wont get to find out what the true capabilities are, although to maintain a charade of a being in a "free" country, you do get to find out about the court orders that obtain data from the tech company's cloud services and other device metrics which can be used as public knowledge.
Bottom line is, don't trust no one, because just like you cant predict when you will next lose your temper, you cant predict when someone you trust will do something to warrant losing that trust, so its safer to not trust anyone.
That is false. The collective political will and desire to maintain Democratic institutions, not some prohibitive cost of surveillance capabilities, is what has saved us from totalitarianism.
You are putting the cart before the horse. Totalitarian states establish or use surveillance capabilities to maintain their own power, but many liberal democracies today have more expansive and effective surveillance than the Nazis or the Soviets could have come up with in even their wildest fever dreams.
The people had no power, but the actual people with power had an interest in maintaining order. Things mostly sucked, but at least the 'trains ran on time', i.e. people could learn to understand and operate within the system.
Rule of law and liberal democracy ultimately means that the bad actors in society have bottom-up supervision to go along with the top-down. Bad actors aren't just watched by the police anymore, and it's not just the police that has the capacity to watch or decide who a bad actor is. And the federalism of power means that power bases spring up that are ultimately more powerful than the government when they pool their weight.
It was never about rights or privacy. It was always about who gets to decide what rules a society lives by. If the police are acquiring more power, then the people can acquire surveillance tools themselves so they can watch the watchers.
Bad cops think that body cameras are harshing their mellow? Just think what happens when some froggy judge decides to rule that it's nigh time police departments need to make their every official act available and searchable.
I bet they'll be jumping at the bit to start wanting to properly define universal privacy rights then.
I think it is good for people to be interested in and discussing the nature of oppression and its consequences. As I see it, oppression is incremental, with people as a group generally responding fairly predictably as it increases. I think this is biologically rooted, stemming from fundamental drives toward autonomy. Any time autonomy is violated, regardless of intent, it is a small bit of harm. Sometimes, that harm is justified. If you pull someone out of the way of a speeding car, you have saved their life by violating their autonomy, but the tiny harm still exists and has consequences. These harms accumulate (though I am sure it is a complicated process where the harms are alleviated by other acts of autonomy, so not purely inevitably accumulative).
Just looking at history and at various situations in which oppression occurs (workplaces, prisons, schools, etc, not just nations) it seems to me there are broad patterns. When peoples autonomy is heavily infringed, they concentrate more on the forms of autonomy which are more difficult or impossible for whatever authority is in play to prevent. They express themselves through their dress, through body modification (piercings, tattoos, branding, scarification, etc), through their language with development of new slang or codes, and can even engage in self-harm (cutting, anorexic starvation, bulimia, binge drinking or eating, harmful drug abuse, etc) to exemplify that they still control something.
If the untouchable authority continues to increase the control it exerts, the people begin seeking to establish an alternative sense of a power hierarchy they can influence. They engage in interpersonal conflict, seeking to establish that they are stronger, better, more well-liked, more pious, more loyal, etc, than those around them.
As the oppression increases, those power hierarchies become more formalized and gangs (or cliques, brotherhoods, clubs, etc) form, with members adopting the gangs norms and moral codes as the authority they respect and are loyal to. They cling to their tribal identity, and see the actions of the group as expressions of their own desires, increasing their sense of autonomy.
As it gets more oppressive, the gangs begin to vie for turf or control or influence. Gang wars emerge. These aren't always literal guns-in-the-street or shivs-in-the-exercise-yard wars and can be done through proxy competitions of all sorts. Anything which the participants mutually agree to can be an analog, but in situations with such a high degree of oppression, violence is often the only thing left. A couple warring prison gangs can't really organize peaceful means of establishing dominance as no one has enough autonomy to do so and the overarching authority has a vested interest in not acknowledging the gangs as legitimate organizations.
In the final stage, the gangs dissolve/join and emerge as an army. They rise and destroy the oppressive authority through the only means the authority has made possible - brute violence. Democracy was revolutionary in its provision of a peaceful means of destroying the controlling authority through electing those who can change things. Every oppressive state that I am aware of has gone through these different phases. There has never been a happy, prosperous police state and I don't think that is a matter of just not getting it right. I think the basic human drive to autonomy would make such a state unlivable even if run by infinitely beneficent people and with every restriction being made in the honest best interests of those being controlled.
The 'inefficiencies' in law enforcement where not everyone is surveilled at all times, which enables some laws to be broken, is not a flaw. It's a feature of the system. And a valuable one. Every ratchet click towards catching every single infraction squeezes people tighter. We've seen in schools what happens when you load the place with cameras, have cops roaming the halls arresting kids for insubordination, requiring ID badges be carried at all times, restricting dress, speech, affectionate contact, etc. Some people will snap and be made to feel so desperate that they are willing to die just to do some damage. What happens when that sort of infrastructure comes to every workplace and every public place including the sidewalk?
- If a future administration ever has the political power to implement totalitarianism, we're stuffed. The lack of an existing mass surveillance system will not stop them as they will build one.
- Most people's political leanings are already very easy to detect due to social media, social networks, financial donations, etc. So balloons don't seem to make it much worse.
- We can expect severe security threats in the future as WMDs become cheaper, more accessible and more powerful.. The police are not magicians - they need effective tools..
If you don't yet know what these balloons are from articles on Afghanistan, they provide very cheap ubiquitous physical surveillance on very large areas. If one of these things have LOS on you or your home, you no longer have any physical privacy.
If this doesn't piss you off you need to look up what a panopticon is.
But I see that there's an exception for surveillance.
They understand the importance of operating ethically. They didn't say that they do.
The government should not have this much information asymmetry relative to the citizenry.
Law enforcement and intelligence flights are not required to have ADS-B turned on anyway.
(f) Each person operating an aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out must operate this equipment in the transmit mode at all times unless—
(1) Otherwise authorized by the FAA when the aircraft is performing a sensitive government mission for national defense, homeland security, intelligence or law enforcement purposes and transmitting would compromise the operations security of the mission or pose a safety risk to the aircraft, crew, or people and property in the air or on the ground; or
We're reaching a point where we're going to have to start realizing we cannot systematically apply our own laws due to the ramifications of total awareness.
The availability of information will quickly outstrip the capacity of the system to crank through it.
Just today I was discussing with colleagues that it's positively mortifying the way people have trivialized their own children's privacy through things like smartphones with tracking software, and hidden camera's everywhere.
I don't understand how much our societal fabric has decayed that anyone could be even remotely comfortable with the magnitude of advancement in and propagation of surveillance technology, and the relative lack of progress in other verticals, or other facets of civil life.
To what end? Why do this? Why enable such avenues capable of completely undermining society's capability to evolve? Once you have the capacity to track minority faction movements perfectly, the stage is set for violent suppression of politically disruptive movements.
It is one thing to not have the capability to do so; it is completely another to have the capability to do so and to not use it. One can survive the overly ambitious being in a position of power. The other can't.
I don't know as the path our society is going down will be even remotely feasible to course correct. One can only hope.
This blurring of the lines between a multi-billion dollar _business_ (probably around 1% of the world's GDP) that in fact relies on the success of the state, and purported threats to the state itself strikes me as extremely dangerous.
I'm contrasting this to American intelligence involvement in central America in the 1980s. During that time, the same organizations involved in cocaine trafficking and production were also extremely political, and crucial to the CIA carrying out their (in my opinion neoimperialist) "responsibilities" in the region.
My point is: I am aware of absolutely no evidence that modern drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) operating within the borders of the US are political whatsoever, so can we really view them as a threat to homeland security? Is there evidence that there is some risk of groups which pose a threat to our security have infiltrated these DTOs, or are piggybacking off their operations somehow?
I knew the Hubble was cool, but on that page it mentioned that this telescope was one of ten that the military had pointed at the Earth that are now deprecated.
Imagine what they have now that is even better than ten Hubbles.
> If one were to entrust the organisation of public life to the devil, he could not invent a more clever device.
Also, it would see scattered light long before you hit it directly. And even if it had an autonomous targeting system, there'd be a record of its movements. So it would be very hard so stay anonymous.
People find satellites by doing long exposures (ideally in the infrared) and then looking for movement that doesn't match the rotation of the earth - indeed, I think it's quasi-automated by now. It's rather astonishing what you can pick up with modern glass - there's videos on YouTube of the space station shot from the ground, and while it just looks like a little squiggly letter H, it's the freaking space station, in space, being imaged on relatively affordable prosumer technology.
I know nothing about the power side of lasers and imagine you'd need a decent size truck to hold one capable of setting something on fire at distance and its power supply, but it doesn't seem beyond the bounds of feasibility.
Of course, it would be 'easier' to hijack the balloon's guidance system but I assume that about 5 minutes after you started broadcasting on restricted radio frequencies people would be looking for you.
I wasn't thinking of massive physical damage. Just nuking the FPAs.
Or perhaps small rockets. But guidance systems are hugely illegal to develop. Chaff might work to mask movements temporarily. Or wildfires, I suppose. Not that anyone sane would do that.
Also, that'd provide cover for the occasional targeted high-energy laser pulse.
> Raven Aerostar, the company that is supplying the balloons for Southcom’s tests and launching them from its facility in South Dakota, told the Guardian that it has had balloons remain aloft for nearly a month. Raven also makes balloons for the Alphabet subsidiary Loon, which uses them to help deliver internet and cellphone service from the stratosphere.
Loon needed a balloon which was probably not available off the shelf. They paid a certain amount of money to get someone to build balloons to their specification which probably involved a great deal of R&D,
manufacturing tooling, real world testing, etc.
Because Google didn’t develop the technology in-house, and perhaps as a consequence of how the contract was written, we cannot say how much of the technology developed for Loon could have ended up here, and if or whether Loon should have paid more for exclusivity or restrictions on how that R&D could be used, or if in fact Loon paid a lot less specifically because the supplier was able to defray development costs through expected future military applications.
Or maybe the tech really was off the shelf and destined for military use and Loon just happened to use the same thing for their own Good Samaritan project.
However, several of Google’s balloons crashed to Earth so it’s a pretty good bet that they were paying for prototypes and significant R&D was going into the balloons.
They're purposefully non-destructive and I've even made the effort to select a sticker type where the adhesive doesn't leave a residue when peeled off.
Most cameras are too high up to reach anyway. A can of spray paint on a stick might be more effective, but that will almost certainly lead to vandalism charges.
How about hacking them?
Low-tech hack, but a hack nonetheless.
They parked a visible radar blimp over I95 outside of Baltimore and operated it for a couple of years. What’s the difference between “test” and “really using it” when the tests last that long?
There are many loopholes for domestic stuff too. A National Guard member controlling the thing for example.
And we did use these blimps in Afghanistan. Very apt and chilling definition.
I sometimes feel I'm talking to a ghost. It is truly terrifying that my fellow Americans are selling themselves out. Ring will let the government, Amazon, and your neighbors spy on you. Grammarly will keylog and text-capture each webpage. The FBI will fly planes overhead. Balloons will be launched, always watching everyone.
There is no way to opt-out of this. I can't believe how stupid the "Hacker" "News" community is--commenting on things that don't matter, then shutting up for matters of grave importance.
You all deserve the tyranny that is coming.
Insulting people, however, tends to derail any useful discussion.
Also, let's cut out the criminality when it comes to drugs. The rationality this rests on can be chopped out from under it if we just regulate the drug industry better. Give drug users the drugs with limitations, which is better than having them served via some barbarous criminal enterprise.
Just locally where I live I've watched the total state moving forward. Police are moving in unmarked/low marked vehicles a la Gestapo, intersections all suddenly have cameras, I've read articles about how LE have tracked people via their cell phones--there is a "digital fence" that the police automatically get notified if someone prohibited enters with their phone. Is that not total surveillance state? When you can't even move around without someone tracking you? Granted, they can turn off the phone or put it in a Faraday bag, but the point is, we should not have to!
Slippery slope may be a fallacy, but damn, it sure doesn't seem like it when all the dots start getting connected.
I'm not on board with any of it. I am not some kind of serf, peon, or resource to be exploited. If some shit has to burn down to make that point, well, that's what will have to happen.
> a la Gestapo
In 2013 Tom Scott made an incredibly prescient sketch of our grim surveillance-state future. It absolutely terrifying.
It's terrifying because it's the power of Stasi-style informants modernized into a simple Uber-like app. No more scary clandestine meetings, now you can inform on your friends, family, and neighbors with one click from the comfort of your own home.
Similar to the "social credit" system, Tom's "Oversight" could work, because they both efficiently incentivize close peers against each other. "You should stop spending time with your friend John. I heard him talking like a dissident recently... that could damage your Social Credit rating!"
> enters with their phone
Which is exactly why I follow Dan Geer's advice and don't carry around a tracking device. He's been trying to warn us for years, and we still aren't listening.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nT-TGvYOBpI (transcript: http://geer.tinho.net/geer.blackhat.6viii14.txt )
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbDEbfijxNY (transcript: http://www.bsidesdc.org/history/geer.html )
We don't ban people for that. HN hosts prolific discussion of topics like this one. The current submission is on the front page because moderators put it in the second-chance pool (described at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11662380).
YC is not invested in Palantir, but I suppose if you're going to make something like that up it makes sense to throw in "heavily" as well.
We moderate HN less, not more, when YC's interests are involved. That's the first principle of HN moderation: https://hn.algolia.com/?sort=byDate&dateRange=all&type=comme....
Edit: there's a good example on the front page now. NYT published a profile of Brex with a baity title that—no surprise—is dominating discussion in the thread (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20598025). Normally we'd change the title to indicate that the article is really a profile of a particular startup. But I've not done so because this is a YC-funded startup.
That's the bit that feels insulting. I don't want this mass surveillance, but I also don't really have anything at the top level to comment about it that hasn't been hashed and rehashed.
> so it's reasonable that the mods try not to let content exist that might agitate investors.
Having read the discussions, I feel like there are often many commentators — and articles — that point out and criticize the surveillance state, to the extent that if there is censoring being attempted, it's not really very good.
I'm not sure everyone who reads here is convinced, so maybe, IDK, it is still worthwhile to try to change some minds. I do feel like I see back and forth to bad arguments like "But I have nothing to hide!", so I don't think everyone here is on the same page, though HN is orders of magnitude more aware of it than the public. If we are ever to effect real change, either we need to convince the public that this matters and that they should care or maybe the ACLU/EFF can pull something off for us. (So, you know, donate to them if you believe they would help do good.)
Tech stuff often gets lost though behind other issues like gay rights, abortion, climate change, guns&terrorism. (Which, honestly, might be more important, so can we please get those settled and move on to the tech stuff maybe?)
If you think otherwise, I'd like to see an example of an large, open internet forum having intelligent no-holds-barred political debate. In my opinion you're underestimating how dumb that gets, and how quickly. For the sort of conversation you're talking about to be high-quality, you need a community that is closed and vastly smaller. This has been the case with that sort of debate in the past—for example, exchanges in journals or between writers in opposing journals.
The one over Baltimore is JLENS by Raytheon: that didn't get struck down because it was never put to a vote; it was privately funded.
Worth a listen IMHO: https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/eye-sky
This is one of those "We should discuss the upside/downside before doing it" subjects.
I mean if you want to radically increase safety, just shove everyone into an 8'x12' padded box.
There are a lot of people here who take these concerns extremely seriously, and are working to fix things.
But they may not post much about it on Hacker news, because not every site needs to be political, even if it's far, far more important right now than most of the content here.
The things that transcend politics are your values - the things that you will fight for and the tender feelings you ascribe to the state of the world. However, when you want to make them reality, you must find alliances and ways to pressure opposing groups to make them materialize in the real world.
How could it not be
That aside, what are you doing to oppose this? People may not be commenting because they dont know how to go about stopping it or simply don't think it can be stopped; leading by example is more powerful than an appeal to pathos.
So I think it's possible your complaint is really not with the community but with the guidelines. If people don't care for an article, they don't have to vote for it. If people don't like heated debates, they don't have to participate in them. But the guidelines make that decision for the community.
She promised to investigate and follow up on a policy front. Good use of two minutes of my time.
I’m not sure why you think an unaccountable political regime relates to children and work— there are plenty of obvious and unrelated answers as to why people do those things.
Rather than whining online about surveillance, it is more effective to build your personal defences and do your research on OPSEC. It is perpetual cat and mouse game.
Guess it's our turn.
It's been tested, look up gorgon stare.
Topics like mass surveillance are considered by HN moderators to be "political" and any commentary about them is considered the equivalent of graffiti that defaces the site for everyone else.
As hackers we have a social responsibility to participate in important political issues that we have insight about.
People's political beliefs are typically quite different when the issue is something they actually know about. Most HN content is technology focused and so there is (in my opinion) a desirable kind of political discussion that is backed up by experience and knowledge.
Surely one of the mods will chime in that my comment is a flame, which is their special word for comments that discuss content they wish to censor. My comments are always polite and respectful, so obviously the issue is content and not tone.
> ... this currently has a 36:1 vote-to-comment ratio.
HN is becoming the sort of benign, bland environment the mods want it to be.
The next highest post in this comments section, written by Apo about the dynamics of the falling costs of surveillance and the tendency for states to slide towards authoritarianism, is an example of the kind of insightful and thought provoking comment that I come to hacker news for. This thread that we’re all commenting on is a red blooded, knee jerk reaction fest by comparison.
Of course it’s important that we get angry about surveillance and inspire others to be activists about it, I just don’t think that it makes for an interesting or unique discussion. We can get that on any news site and social network. By contrast, hacker news’ moderated discussion can shift your worldview and provide useful points of debate, and a wide perspective that you can bring back to the world.
With that in hand we can get a lot further by fighting smarter and more strategically. I’ll take hacker news’ gentle discussion guidelines over red blooded calls to action any day, because honestly the internet is already full of those, and there aren’t enough discussion spaces like hacker news.