Watch Yourself

Our world and our way of life changed the day after 9/11. And even though I have more chance of dying from a lightning strike than I am a terrorist attack, I, like you, am a victim of these changes.

We threw our arms up in outrage when John Howard’s anti-terrorism laws were passed in 2005. From that day we could all be considered potential terrorists and subjected to 14 days detention just for taking a photo, or walking down the wrong street, or mixing with the wrong people. Or for even giving a cousin your SIM card.

I admit, by and large, that I have not been hindered here at home a great deal from these laws. The worst inconvenience I suffer is always getting randomly picked for an extensive search after passing through the security screen at an airport, the reason, I always protest, is for looking like an Arab. But things are about to get worse. Much worse.

Have you heard of TrapWire?

TrapWire is a ‘counter-terrorism’ technology company that produces a homonymous predictive software system designed to find patterns indicative of terrorism attacks. The assumption is that terrorists are vulnerable due to their need to conduct pre-attack surveillance, “such as photographing, measuring and signaling”. Such suspicious activities, as detected in imagery from pan-tilt-zoom cameras or human reports, are entered into a database, using a “10-characteristic description of individuals” or vehicle information. The data is correlated across the network, claiming a “network effect” of increased security due to this correlation.

Simply put, we are all going to be under the microscope like never before and every movement analysed.

If you are recorded taking photos of a high value target (eg Parliament House) one month and are back there doing the same the following month – you will come under suspicion. If you are observed as a regular visitor to a high value target – you will come under suspicion. What’s worse, your facial expressions will also be analysed. What you might consider to be a harmless smirk may just happen to be the same expression consistent with a person who is about to commit a mass murder. A simple nod could be a discreet sign for someone to detonate a bomb. Your micro facial expressions will be entered into the database to determine what you might be up to and a profile drawn. What was simply a visit to a packed MCG could see the ridiculous situation where you are now a suspected terrorist. It matters not that the lousy umpiring decision inflamed your emotions and you could quite happily shoot the bastard; what matters is that you now look like a potential murderer.

You may well laugh at all this. I suggest you keep reading.

Papers released by WikiLeaks earlier this month revealed that the US Department of Homeland Security paid $832,000 to deploy the TrapWire system – the most sophisticated facial recognition software yet developed – in two cities. Every few seconds data picked up from surveillance points are instantaneously delivered to a fortified central database to be aggregated with other intelligence. Shortly after revealing this, WikiLeaks was relentlessly assaulted by a barrage of attacks which crippled the whistle-blower’s site. Someone didn’t want the news about TrapWire made public.

But it was too late. The New York Times had picked up the story, and in Australia the Melbourne Age (and also published in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Brisbane Times) ran with it, revealing that the Australian Government had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in acquiring the facial recognition software on behalf of our law enforcement agencies.

Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam must have read the story and filed a notice of motion, which would, if passed, require the government to acknowledge the system’s existence and whether it is in use here. The Government and the Opposition both voted against the motion (which is about the only thing they’ve ever agreed on).

Then, suddenly, all the articles on TrapWire were pulled from the websites of the Australian media. You will not find them. They no longer exist. Someone in Government doesn’t want you to know they even existed.

So watch yourself, as someone will be watching you like never before. Don’t raise your eyebrow slightly to the left or you might be flagged as someone intending to rob a bank.

TrapWire: If You SEE Something SMASH Something!

TrapWire (Photo credit: watchingfrogsboil)

15 comments on “Watch Yourself

  1. Yikes! And the British “D” notice system is alive and well here in Oz. We are more controllable than ever. The scariest part is what happens if a very determined Government gets in and declares all other political parties to be terrorist organisations because they are trying to overthrow the Government!

  2. One of the particularly scary things, and something which Migs alluded to in his topic, is that these things could be completely WRONG.

  3. Meanwhile, this flew under everyone’s radar through sheer apathy –

    http://delimiter.com.au/2012/08/23/cybercrime-bill-passes-despite-greens-protest/

    The first step towards wholesale internet and mobile phone surveillance, or OzLog, a personal dossier on every citizen that uses electronic devices. Remember Muhammed Haneef? What was done to him was done without a data retention scheme.

    Why worry about Trapwire if no one cares about such a blatant assault on privacy that is being perpetrated in broad daylight?

  4. Forget Trapwire,a homonymous predictive software system designed to find patterns., if you listen to a certain shock jock, he IS Predictive and has said he would like to throw the PM in a chaff bag and take her out to sea. As the shock jock has been seen during the last couple of years lurking around on the front lawns of Parliament House then surely a “network effect” of increased security due to this correlation could be activated.

  5. Sue
    The sooner they lock this shock jock up the better, they should try the nearest public toilet block to parliament house.

  6. Bloody hell. GhostWhoVotes tweets that the Galaxy poll conducted last week has also come good with state figures to add to the federal ones published on Saturday, and they find that Campbell Newman has suffered an astounding 50% plunge in his net approval rating since the last such poll in May: approval down 20 points to 44%, and disapproval up 30 to 49%. However, he can console himself with voting intention figures that most leaders would yearn for: 48% for the LNP on the primary vote, 30% for Labor, 9% for the Greens and 7% for Katter’s Australian Party, with a 60-40 lead to the LNP on two-party preferred. These figures nonetheless represent a shift in Labor’s favour of similar dimensions to the federal poll, with the primary vote showing Labor up 7%, the LNP down 6%, the Greens down 1% and Katter’s Australian Party steady, and two-party preferred narrowing from 67-33. Figures for Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk are presumably forthcoming – as should be a federal Nielsen poll laster this evening.

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollbludger/2012/08/26/galaxy-60-40-to-lnp-in-queensland-3/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CrikeyBlogs%2Fpollbludger+%28The+Poll+Bludger%29

  7. I’ve been smiling into all the security cameras I’ve seen today. “There’s that idiot again”, I’m sure the security watchdogs are saying.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s