Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Spy different.

This is an astonishing story. (Also see here and here.) The hacker group AntiSec reveals that the FBI has been tracking millions and millions and millions of users of Apple products. And I'll wager that the feds have done so with Apple's permission.

Right-wingers (except for a few truly honest Libertarians) will no doubt denounce the antics of the hackers who revealed what the feds have been up to. I say we should thank AntiSec. I say that all citizens who value privacy should scream at the FBI for gathering data they had no right to acquire:
The hacker group AntiSec claims the FBI has compiled a database of 12 million Apple UDIDs—the unique numbers that identify every Apple device, including iPhones and iPads—many of them complete with the device owner's personal information. To prove it, the Anonymous-affiliated group on Monday published one million of the IDs, along with the type (e.g. iPhone) and name (e.g. Jane Doe's iPhone) of each device. In a post accompanying the data dump, the group says it withheld other personally identifying information, including names, mobile phone numbers, and addresses.
The group suspects the FBI was using, or planned to use, the information to track Apple users. The FBI has yet to comment on the apparent breach, and it's unclear how it obtained the Apple IDs.
The kicker:
Meanwhile, some security researchers are pouncing on Apple for hard-coding unique identifiers onto every device in the first place.
I strongly suspect that Apple designed its products in this fashion at the request of Uncle.

If you want to see what AntiSec found, start here. Here, in all its barely-literate glory, is a message from the group:
We never liked the concept of UDIDs since the beginning indeed.
Really bad decision from Apple.
fishy thingie.
well we have learnt it seems quite clear nobody pays attention if you just come and say 'hey, FBI is using your device details and info and who the fuck knows what the hell are they experimenting with that', well sorry, but nobody will care. FBI will, as usual, deny or ignore this uncomfortable thingie and everybody will forget the whole thing at amazing speed. so next option, we could have released mail and a very small extract of the data. some people would eventually pick up the issue but well, lets be honest, that will be ephemeral too.

So without even being sure if the current choice will guarantee that people will pay attention to this fucking shouted 'FUCKING FBI IS USING YOUR DEVICE INFO FOR A TRACKING PEOPLE PROJECT OR SOME SHIT' well at least it seems our best bet, and even in this case we will probably see their damage control teams going hard lobbying media with bullshits to discredit this, but well, whatever, at least we tried and eventually, looking at the massive number of devices concerned, someone should care about it.
Why is the FBI using your iPhone or iPad as a tracking device "or some such shit"? The answer should have been clear to you all along. Let's pull back and take in the big picture.

The Powers-That-Be (or at least one section thereof) want to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, and they want to start a sure-to-be-disastrous war with Iran. These outrages could eventually lead to a 1789 reaction. In order to forestall or undermine any rebellion, the intelligence community wants to use data mining technology to scope who is saying what at all times. The effective voices of protest will be eliminated or smeared, while the snakes-in-the-grass will be promoted.

That's the future. That's the upheaval for which the FBI is making preparations.

Right now, Microsoft Surface looks like the better investment, if you feel that you need such a device. I've used the iPad extensively; it's fun but overrated. The device is great for playing Angry Birds and reading books, but the web browser barely functions and word processing is a joke. I'm supremely annoyed by the lack of a true UBS port and by the fact that you can't directly access your files.

The iPad not really a computer -- it's a toy. A toy that snitches. 

(And I've replaced enough iPhone screens -- for friends -- to know the other great drawback of Apple's most popular toy-that-snitches.)
" the intelligence community wants to use data mining technology to scope who is saying what at all times. The effective voices of protest will be eliminated or smeared, while the snakes-in-the-grass will be promoted."

It's the Ghost in the Machine. I still say there is rank incompetence throughout any bureaucracy. It's as though people can't control the Beast, exacerbated with each increase in size. They are data-mining; fishing with a gill net to capture anything that moves. That's not just a massive undertaking, but virtually impossible to make efficient. Yes, there are sociopaths, and conscience-hardened individuals, in the bureaucracy, and they have influence. J. Edgar Hoover was ahead of his time, had sole propriety and the means to carry out his Imperial directive, but those were less complicated times, and the hierarchy was well defined. Now, there are just too many cooks spoiling the broth.

I just find it hard to believe the mass of chaos and redundancy signals any organized drive toward a desired malevolent goal. They could be called opportunists when it comes to absolute control, but they have contingency plans, not Final Solutions.

All of the tablets and smart phones are toys for the vast majority of us. However, I'll admit that my n900's FM radio transmitter has likely saved me from falling asleep at the wheel on long road trips.

Ben, I think you grossly underestimate the how far data mining research has advanced.
I detest Alex Jones and consider him to be an agent provacateur, priming the pump for a future domestic insurgency.

However, this ultra-dystopic prediction, extrapolating a coming societal, "1789" upheaval/crackdown from the recently exposed APPLE-FBI tracking scheme, is the most Alex Jones-ish post Joe Cannon has ever authored!!!

(And I'm afraid you're right, too.)

The whys are a matter of speculation. But the practical implications are very clear. The balance of power between governed and government is shifting decisively in favour of government. I dont think thats a good thing for democracy, or my individual rights, or even freedom of speech.

They have already criminalised some forms of speech in the UK and the same is effectively true in the US. How does that not chill your blood? What kind of canary is that?


Don't get me wrong. I am as prepared, physically and mentally, for the worst, but I hope for the best. The Authoritarian's best efforts are being mitigated by the buffoons/stooges who plan such things. I'm more afraid of their stupidity, than their overarching power.


"you grossly underestimate the how far data mining research has advanced."

Is there evidence showing they're getting better at this?

Apple is Evil. Remember. Heed.
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