LETTERS FROM LONDON
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
7 June 2014
Nowhere To Hide

They know who you are, they know where you live, they know what you say,
they know what you think; it’s beyond
Stasiland, it’s beyond ‘in the future’...
they’re here and they’re monitoring every aspect of your seemingly innocent
and often boring life.

If you are anti-fracking, anti-badger cull, anti-GM, anti-HS2, anti-GCHQ, anti-
NSA, pro-EU, pro-green, pro-taxing the corporations, pro-taxing the rich be
afraid, be very afraid. They have your number.

But no worries. No one seems worried. Clearly the inhabitants of this 1984
world are dim, disinterested, detached, drugged....

Vodafone operates its surveillance in 29 countries and has now decided to
admit governments use 'secret cables' to tap citizens' phones. They are able to
listen to your phone conversations live...yes,
live so clearly saying ‘fuck off
Vodafone, fuck off government agencies’ could result in a home visit surely.
They know whom you call, how many times, where you call to, where you call
from and how many times you tell them to ‘fuck off’.

These ‘secret cables’ are connected directly to network equipment, admits
Vodafone. Vodafone is a law unto itself as they admitted any refusal to comply
to their demand to control the people was “not an option” – the 29 countries
had/have no choice. And you aren’t a little concerned? Are you mad? Living in
a parallel universe? Brain dead?

And what obviously sinister reason could there be for the global Vodafone have
for this disclosure decades later? You’ll have to ask them and that won’t be
difficult, will it....


What?

Best not use sarcasm though. The US Secret Service is developing a Twitter
‘sarcasm detector’. I know. You have to sit down for this one.

Surely the basic challenge will be able to detect sarcasm. As it often involves wit
and cleverness and yo! like you know, like the monosyllabic US isn’t exactly
renowned for their aptitude in understanding nuance, subtlety, humour,
mockery, derision, cynicism, ad inf. A bit ironic wouldn’t you say? Or should I
have said: the world recognises their wide-ranging comprehension of the use of
satire. Ha ha ha. Oops.

The covert agency is offering a contract for analytics software with the "ability
to detect sarcasm and false positives". It also plans to collect “everything”
(huh?) from the emotions of tweeters to old Twitter messages. Will Gwennie
hide her ubiquitous bottle of water when she tweets? It might be paradoxically
irritable or possibly subversive.

Spokesman for the Secret Service, Ed Donovan, has assured us (oh look, I’ve
used sarcasm here) that detecting sarcasm is just one of the features. All
together now: brilliant!

He said: "Our objective is to automate our social media monitoring process. The
ability to detect sarcasm and false positives is just one of 16 or 18 things we
are looking at. We are looking for the ability to quantify our social media
outreach. We aren't looking solely to detect sarcasm." Oh why not just
microchip us all – oh dear – sarcasm again. It’s becoming a habit.

You’ve only got to 9 June when the agency will no longer accept proposals.
Best to hurry. Oh dear. I’ll never learn.

Stephen Fry has at least bothered to notice the way this scary surveillance is
going. In a pre-recorded video message played at the Don't Spy On Us event
he said: "The idea of having your letters read by somebody, your telegrams,
your faxes, your postcards intercepted, was always considered one of the
meanest, most beastly things a human being could do, and for a government to
do, without good cause.”

"Using the fear of terrorism that we all have, the fear of the unknown that we all
share, the fear of enemies that hate us, is a duplicitous and deeply wrong
means of excusing something as base as spying on the citizens of your own
country."

“...GCHQ and NSA cooperated together to "read and intercept everything we
send. It's enough that corporations know so much about us and our spending
habits, our eating habits, our sexual preferences, everything else.”

"But that a government, something that we elect, something that should be
looking out for our best interests, should presume without asking to take
information that we swap, we hope privately, between ourselves is frankly
disgraceful."

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti called surreptitious surveillance
"unprecedented and terrifying". Awake(ned) yet?

Google has invested billions of pounds buying up cutting-edge technologies
which will increase their access to your information. Not just where you live
then. Nothing to hide – huh? Oh there’s that sarcasm again. I must stop
tweeting.

Their recent purchase is Deep-Mind, a British artificial intelligence firm which
specialises in quickly building up your profile based on your internet activity.

Director of Privacy International, Gus Hosein, told
The Guardian it was a "brave
step" for Vodafone to reveal the truth, which he described as a "nightmare
scenario".  Surely he was being ironic....

Another ‘brave step’: the UK will have its first secret trial. A trial so secret, we
aren’t allowed to know why. A criminal trial involving terrorism, or is it? We lowly
peasants will never know. Cue: Magna Carta1215! Setting a precedent?
Clearly. The total disregard of our civil liberties? Obviously. I’m losing the will to
live – or rant.
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