People hate being surveilled, but they can't quite make the connection that there are humans behind passive surveillance due to the abstraction. Surveillance camera man reveals people's true feelings.
Unfortunately youtube has repeatedly deleted his videos over the years and we are currently in such a period: https://www.youtube.com/c/SurveillanceCameraMan/videos . Luckily vimeo has at least one of the 1 through 8 videos: https://vimeo.com/98862974
It's worth noting that surveillance interests are aware of this. In the aftermath of the Snowden revelations, Sir David Omand (former head of GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA) went about promoting the idea that because there were no people literally listening to recordings of phone calls, as in the days of the Stasi, this meant that ubiquitous surveillance is harmless.
That seems like an evolutionary trait where survival considers if you're being closely watched, the thing watching you is a predator and the predator is closely connected to the observation: they're right there using their eyes watching you waiting on an opportunity to attack you in some way.
With technology, specifically cameras, the predators are removed from the observation by distance and perhaps even significant time. A camera by itself isn't going to hurt you, it's largely an inanimate object as far as an immediate danger is concerned.
People may be watching and they may even be doing so predatorily but they're not registered as a threat to us even if they are a threat because we don't see them. Those instincts lack assessment for long reactionary time horizons. Your consciousness needs to perform a risk assessment because lower functions just don't see an immediate danger there, there's no evolutionary precedent. Cameraman mentioned illustrated the difference because he reconnected the surveillance to the potential predator.
We don't have a consciously educated population about the dangerous of surveillance so this is what we see.
> A key product of ubiquitous surveillance is people who are comfortable with it
I think comfortable is the wrong word here. Perhaps "people who have no choice but accept it" is more accurate.
If you do the math, it's basically;
1. is this issue important enough to your daily life to want to make sacrifices to fight it
2. how would I effectively fight it and not just waste effort?
And a significant minority DO care - I've commented before here like the impact on sales of a secure messaging app when WhatsApp was bought by Facebook - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18840587
> JC Denton: "Some people just don't understand the dangers of indiscriminate surveillance."
> Morpheus: "The need to be observed and understood was once satisfied by God. Now we can implement the same functionality with data-mining algorithms."
> JC Denton: "Electronic surveillance hardly inspires reverence. Perhaps fear and obedience, but not reverence."
> Morpheus: "God and the gods were apparitions of observation, judgment and punishment. Other sentiments towards them were secondary."
> JC Denton: "No one will ever worship a software entity peering at them through a camera."
> Morpheus: "The human organism always worships. First, it was the gods, then it was fame (the observation and judgment of others), next it will be self-aware systems you have built to realize truly omnipresent observation and judgment."
One can watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b-bijO3uEw, but it's stronger when experienced as part of the game.
I think it’s safe to assume that the “actors” that created the “surveillance state” weren’t acting from some profound philosophy of mass control but rather some more immediate KPIs be it “increased user engagement” or “reduction of terror threats” that seemed important at the time.
In other words we stumbled into this mess and now we need to figure out how to stumble out again.
> Surveillance camera man reveals people's true feelings.
No, surveillance camera man reveals peoples feelings at having a person standing next to them with a camera, not their feelings on having their data and movements tracked with precision.
The scenarios _are_ very different, and by equating the two, the real issue is getting lost.
> The scenarios _are_ very different, and by equating the two, the real issue is getting lost.
Stop saying that. If anything, mass surveillance is much, much worse.
It's not. Having a drone flying beside you 24/7 would be the same. It's much closer to having a video camera sitting in the corner of a room with a red blinking light.
> Stop saying that. If anything, mass surveillance is much, much worse.
I won't stop saying it, because they're not the same. Mass surveillance _is_ worse.
But it seems that if your personal experience is not impacted, then it's all fine. I dunno, maybe it isn't all fine compared to you, but your comments downplay and deflect.
> Mass surveillance _is_ worse.
Well then I am confused about your point, because it seems like you want to agree but argue, needlessly attacking someone trying to raise awareness.
I would like to see this stunt again but done in a way that gets a clearer message out and doesn't make it seem like they're about to pull a weapon.
Would probably only move us closer to having having private surveillance banned, while the real problems continue.
Some states have protection laws on cameras setup for these purposes that the data cannot be used as evidence for criminal acts IIRC. For example, many traffic lights have cameras to adjust patterns as needed. It's not a huge step to then turn all of them into red light cameras the record running violations. It's a bit more complex for other violations but you get the idea.
I'm surprised private entities haven't already tried using this public data to associate license plates with cars, perhaps attempt to detect dangerous driving behaviors, and sell that to insurance companies to adjust the rates. There's so much surveillance data that could be mined in largely harmful ways to the general population at large and I think it's only a matter of time before businesses start doing more of this type of work as soon as they see value and a population complacent enough to take yet another attack on them. Car insurance companies seem like they'd be interested in traffic video they can associate with license plates and improve risk assessment on their customers. Not sure what, if any, consumer protections exist to prevent this right now. It's probably just cost prohibitive currently.
I'm incredibly familiar with the rights of photographers in public places and the extent of surveillance in public places, but I would also not be comfortable with the way he acts.
He also walks into private property, like the back of restaurants, to record in multiple cases... behavior that serves no purpose and proves no point.
To paraphrase someone else on this thread, the existence of EC2 means that we all have the equivalent of having a camera inches away from us or following us, and most of us don't even realize it.
Nobody would be comfortable with the way he acts, and nobody should be comfortable with ubiquitous mass surveillance.
There's also a significant difference between employer-installed cameras and trespassing (which unlike photographing public space, is actually a crime).
If someone stood stationary in a public place while recording, the reactions would be much more mundane. There are all sorts of street photographers who photograph people in public, and while people do get upset, it's nowhere near the frequency in his videos. There's a reason for that.
There's a point to be made about surveillance, but
surveillance camera man is also defying social norms to get these reactions... which severely clouds his alleged purpose.
In business, when we negotiate an agreement with a business partner, if it is sufficently-sized, we (our lawyers) may include all manner of protections against potential liabilities or losses resulting from the conduct of either party. This does not mean that each party expects the other not to perform as agreed. Rather, it gives us assurance that if something does go wrong, each party has its interests protected, as negotiated and immortalised in the agreement.
Having privacy laws is just the "right thing to do". It is a matter of mutual respect. Even if no one is doing anything "wrong". We still need those protections.
"Gentlemen do not read each others' mail."
This idea had to come from somwhere. Perhaps the ethics are part of the human psyche. However, history shows the only way to see the idea realised is to have laws that enshrine it. Without rules, some people will, in fact, read each others mail. And no one will complain about it because there is nothing they can do.
Privacy laws are good for society. They represent our best interests and our sense of what is "right".
Just an opinion.
Lovely thought, but there are no gentlemen in positions to stop it. Stimson's quote is notable because he may be the only person in history who was.
> Privacy laws are good for society
They are good for the internal wellbeing of healthy, open societies. I fear those qualifications are dooming.
"Gentlemen do not read each others' mail" is essentially about respect to your in-group peers. That notion did not and does not apply to mass surveillance - gentlemen of the time would not consider the "common rabble" as gentlemen. Your point about mutual respect is quite touching; perhaps it should be phrased as "some people will, in fact, read others mail" (without each others') because the key point is a lack of mutuality, an asymmetric expectation of unequal involvement in decisions - it's less about people reading each others' mail but more about one tribe choosing to read the other tribe's mail for Proper Reasons, decided and approved by the tribe who's doing the reading.
If a black box AI learns that you got a raise and uses that to suggest to every landlord that they raise your rent, you don't know why that's happening. Neither do the landlords. All they know is that the black box told them to and when they listen to the black box they make more money at your expense.
The only way it works is for the information to be unavailable to the perpetrators of the surveillance. It has to be end to end encrypted and not stored unencrypted on any third party servers. Encryption works. And then you have a guarantee from the math instead of a promise from a liar that you have no way to verify.
Which isn't to say that laws are irrelevant. But the laws we need are the ones that promote rather than impair the technological measures that protect against surveillance.
I don't want somebody to read my mail without my permission, but I do want the ability to give my mail to a service that reads it and digitizes it for me. If the USPS did this for me automatically, that would be cool too. If I am doing something very sensitive, I'll use encryption.
If one does not want persons other than the recipient(s) to read their mail without permission, is it a good idea to let a third party hold your mail for you such that it can be obtained through legal process by a fourth party without your knowledge. "Tech" companies providing "email storage" would never tell you not to use their "service" as it is against their interest.
I'd like to be able to give my mail to people in exchange for free services. What I'd like are more standard data usage agreements that control what kinds of metadata can be sold or given to third parties. If such agreements were common, standard, and enforceable, I'd happily enter into them all the time.
We have no control over what "tech" companies do with the data they collect. As you point out, this is not part of any enforceable agreement. "Tech" companies make statements in marketing and "privacy policies", which they are free to violate unbeknownst to their users, but they generally do not enter into agreements that limit what they can do. It should not matter that the price is "free" because in the agreements they provide ("ToS") you are almost always promising to do (or not do) something.
The whole arrangement, the foundation on which the "tech industry" rests, is incredibly one-sided and I am not sure how much longer we can continue down this path with a straight face. IMO, we are living in a "reality distortion field" as Jobs would call it. However there are still some intelligent people around who (let's hope) are not on the take. Check out Lina Khan and Tim Wu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Wu
I had a terrible neighbor once, and long story short, I had to put up some security cameras on my property to ensure they were no longer doing damage to it. The first week they were up, they called the police on us several times absolutely freaking out that there were all seeing eyes watching them. The next few weeks after that their behavior changed to that of people who knew they were being watched. Within a couple of months, having gotten so used to the cameras being there, they had started resuming their previous behavior problems.
Not long after that I had collected enough evidence to have them removed from the property under criminal and civil threat based almost entirely on things they did on cameras they knew I had setup watching them. It was honestly quite amazing.
The ease of surveillance of all kinds is going up so fast I expect we have just begun to scratch the surface of how this will impact all of us.
Why not? Because it is developers who build, aid and abet digital surveillance in the first place.
It's developers who are more likely to defend big tech (Google, Facebook, Microsoft etc) rather than question the practices of these companies (or this industry as a whole).
An example: imagine a future cloud-based operating system (OS) that requires mandatory email sign-in to use the OS to full capability. Once signed-in, everything you do in the OS is tracked, recorded and stored in the 'cloud'.
Sounds horrible? Well, we have had this for years. It's called ChromeOS. It's used by millions of students in thousands of schools across the globe. Google promises to never build profiles using the data they record and save. That's all it takes to placate many developers. No concerns from developers about capturing such enormous volumes of data in the first place. Or the implications of aggregating such huge volumes of data.
If developers care so it little about online tracking, and prefer to rush to the defence of their favourite big tech company, who else is left to challenge ubiquitous online surveillance?
 Aside: Terms like telemetry, analytics, web beacons, are words designed to deliberately obfuscate their purpose and to sound benign. No developer would dare to use their more honest counterpart terms: surveillance or user tracking.
Edit to add: you also don't need to be a developer to understand the issue and advocate for either side.
Me? I accept that everything we do online leaves a huge metadata trail. Same as in meatspace. So much metadata as to be sufficient for all legitimate state interests and then some. But only the metadata should be available w/o warrants -- same as in meatspace.
When you're making north of 150k/yr helping to build digital prisons It's called biting the hand that feeds you. I have friends in the industry who have no qualm working on such tech because the money is good or not everything they do is evil etc.
Source so I'm not accused of making this up.
Those children already exist. They're the people who constantly argue in favor of (or at least defending) more surveillance on the basis of the tired old "If you ain't got nothin' to hide, then you've got nothin' to worry about" argument so often parroted by the "Facebook generation" who were raised on the thinking that it's a good idea to be posting every little minutiae of your life on a public forum every five minutes.
Also already true today. :(
I get the feeling more people would be concerned if the threat models associated with their passively collected data were more clearly illustrated in a relatable way in movies or tv.
But we are far from a society with transparency like that.
The surveillers are not being surveilled.
But we’ve decided that we can do universal surveillance without universal enforcement. Well, fuck. That’s just a way to Robespierre people. No thanks.
Also, there are lots of people who want to enforce a monastic level of anti-deviancy. It is the adherence itself which brings them pleasure.
An example is the “wear your mask while hiking on a wide trail” people back in October 2020.
And so, there are two distinct solutions: (a) make privacy cheaper and more accessible (b) apply radical openness to everybody, both haves and have-nots. Second solution has been overlooked somewhat and it might have some useful side-effects like reducing amount of resources spent on pointless competition and zero-sum games
These anti-vaccine people even make a lot of the EXACT same points in the article, for example "the pervasive presence of surveillance helps produce people who are more at ease with it". Specifically that the widespread distribution of this vaccine may not be harmful, but that it gets people used to the idea of the government injecting them with chemicals. Phrases like "webs of control"....
I see data privacy as essentially the same. If it's done right, with reasonable oversight and regulation, everyone would be much better off with what this article calls "ubiquitous surveillance". I welcome it and love the improvements in my life that it has brought, and I'm hoping that the USA doesn't end up holding itself back out of a misplaced fear of the unknown.
Why not? It's worked pretty well for the richest of the rich 1% of humanity thus far. Holding back societal and technological progress to enrich the smallest percentage because they fear any change that might make the world better for everyone is what humans do (and have done for too many decades now).
Just in the home computer industry alone, we're at least a couple decades worth of advancement behind where we really could and should be, all because of a couple few massive corporate interests holding the entire industry back from progress out of fear of various "unknowns" in the industry. Unknowns that in some cases have eventually played out to be of huge benefit to everyone (including themselves).
The prevailing attitude seems to be that "because it's always been done that way" is a valid excuse to hold back any form of real progress, and doubly so if holding back progress leads to extended financial gains for a few specific individuals or corporate entities.
(No longer care. Downvote me all you like. I've come to realize humanity's genuinely fucked anyhow, so nothing I or anyone else says or does at this point matters one little bit. Honestly not even sure why I'm bothering to read or comment on anything anymore, because it's all truly pointless bullshit.)
The stasi might have been good, if they had reasonable oversight and regulation. But they didn't, and they weren't. When the wall fell, they didn't put the stasi under different supervision. They dismantled the stasi, because that level of surveillance was incompatible with a free society.
Powerful tools can be misused. This is also true of encryption, but I'm still in favor of easy access to strong encryption. In both cases (data collection and encryption), I think there are good arguments on both sides, but in both cases I think the benefits of the new technology outweigh the potential harm.
In general I'm just not opposed to new technologies until I see specific reasons why we should be afraid of them, and weigh those reasons against the potential harm and cost.
Imagine your "reasonable oversight" board. Now imagine a Trump appointee running it. Or appointees by Xi or Putin or Orban or Erdogan.
If I lived in an autocracy, I'd be less likely to support government surveillance.
Depends on how you interpret January 6th. And a Trump-appointed surveillance board could have been used to make January 6th more successful...
To be clear we're not talking about a board that performs surveillance. We're talking about government responsibility to set rules, and to investigate and prosecute violations of those rules.
I agree that bad things can be done by bad people. The more interesting question to me is whether or not the potential badness is outweighed by the benefits. In this specific case, I think better surveillance would have done more to prevent January 6 than to exacerbate it. Clearly in retrospect, social media data was instrumental in prosecuting those who physically entered the capitol. So in this case I think more surveillance would have improved the situation.
I don't many people under 40 support or approve or feel comfortable knowing big brother is watching literally everything and never forgets...
Dafuq? Did you seriously just say that? More importantly, you can't possibly believe it can you?
I'm pretty close to bein' classified as a "boomer" myself (ignorant, insulting, and dismissive term, BTW, but surely you were well aware of that already), and as such I associate with folks from well above and below the age of 40, and I know a lot of folks both sides of that line that have massive problems with mass surveillance (corporate or government), and others (again, at both sides of that age line) who will defend mass surveillance to the death as some sort of magical "solution" to societal violence and crime. Pretty sure this issue isn't at all accurately defined by age groups.
The problem is that most "normal average" folks simply aren't even aware there is an issue to be worried about, and those few that are aware are at one extreme of it or the other, with no possible discussion or agreement allowed in today's "Us vs Them" political world. All the while, the evil fukkerz creating the problem just go ahead as planned with nobody doin' anything substantial to stop them.