“Once untrustworthy, always restricted”… When your phone is always bugged… The LAPD’s bet on “predictive policing”… In the mailbag: “There is no such thing as hate speech”…
Our mission is to bring you the truth about money, markets, and personal freedom in an age of growing censorship.
To understand the big picture… you need to look at what’s going on in China.
Following the guidelines it set out in its recent five-year plan, the ruling Chinese Communist Party is building a digital police state – what it calls “Sky Net.” (Yes, China named its creepy surveillance project after the world-destroying artificial intelligence from the Terminator movie franchise.)
China’s Sky Net is made up of over 170 million CCTV cameras (slated to increase to 570 million over the next three years) armed with facial recognition and powered by artificial intelligence.
And as we’ve been telling you, it’s all starting to connect to a “social credit” score.
Step out of line – say by jaywalking, smoking in public, or reading the wrong kind of books – and the feds dock your score. Get too low of a score, and they put you on their “restricted” list.
Once your name goes on that list, you can no longer take flights… or get on trains. You’re also blocked from staying at certain hotels… getting jobs at state companies… and sending your kids to certain schools.
This is in line with the program’s slogan: “Once untrustworthy, always restricted.”
Take the West Bank – the landlocked territory bordering the Dead Sea disputed by Israelis and Palestinians.
Most of the area has been under Israeli occupation since 1967. Over that time, it’s become a fertile testing ground for new surveillance tech. As The Atlantic magazine reported…
[W]henever Palestinians make a phone call, post something on Facebook, or travel from one city to another, they are likely to be monitored by Israeli microphones, cameras, drones, or spy software. Algorithms analyze the gathered data, helping the Israeli security forces pinpoint and neutralize what they consider to be potential threats.
It’s about trying to predict the future.
You see, in the digital age, surveillance is a three-step act. First, capture as much data as possible. Second, store it. Third – and most important – process it.
Raw data is useless unless you “mine” it. That is, let a machine-learning program loose on your data pile to search for connections… trigger words… repeated patterns.
Take the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). It’s using technology made by Silicon Valley data-mining firm Palantir to catch “potential offenders.”
It’s known as predictive policing, which targets and surveils U.S. citizens based on their recent history with the criminal justice system.
It works a lot like China’s social credit score system. If you’ve ever been in a gang, that’s five points. If you’re on parole, that’s another five points. If the police stop you, that’s more points. And so on…
That means you’re a person of interest for the LAPD.
The department sends a letter to your home to inform you that you’re being monitored. You could also get a knock at your door from the police to drive home the point that you’re under watch.
Officers are also instructed to review field interview cards, arrest reports, and even figure out if the chronic offender has a gun. (You can find the full LAPD checklist here.)
Amazon started out selling books online. These days, it’s the largest e-commerce retailer in the world. It makes billions of dollars hosting data “in the cloud.” It even makes TV shows.
What’s less well-known is that Amazon operates a facial recognition service called Rekognition. And American cops are already using it to watch and track U.S. citizens.
The Orlando Police Department and police in Oregon’s Washington County are each leading pilot programs. They’re using Rekognition to run real-time facial recognition across millions of images captured by municipal surveillance systems and cops’ body cameras.
Information is scarce on these projects – partially as a result of non-disclosure agreements the police have entered into with Amazon. But from what we know, Rekognition allows the cops to scan captured images against a database of mugshots.
Speaking of the Orlando pilot project, here’s what Rekognition director Ranju Das told attendees at a conference in Seoul, Korea, earlier this year…
This is an immediate response use case. There are cameras all over the city [of Orlando]. Authorized cameras are streaming the data […]. We analyze that data in real time and search against the collection of faces that they have.
As digital surveillance becomes the norm, you want as little of your personal data out there as possible. As we’ve been telling you, the first step to protect your privacy is to “go dark.” If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out your step-by-step guide here.
Tomorrow, how Google is getting on board with China’s censors… and why it’s just the beginning of a new age of digital censorship.
Is there a line between free speech and hate speech? Mixed responses after last Thursday’s mailbag…
There is no such thing as “hate speech.” Government is force; nothing more, nothing less. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States prohibits government (ALL levels of government subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Constitution) from abridging the “freedom of speech.” Thus, “hate speech” cannot be (made) a crime.
Christopher B., who described himself as a “conservative Libertarian,” seemingly refutes his own self-description when he advocates that “certain classes of individuals [that] are chronically discriminated against [need] special protections against hate speech,” lest we “have the issues of Jim Crow laws creeping back into our society.”
I must ask, how do laws that proscribe certain speech differ substantially from “Jim Crow laws”? David C. seems to agree that legislating against certain “speech” is an unwise approach but avers that “… there will always be the desire (need) to restrict the expression of certain beliefs that are in direct opposition to societal values.” Who decides which “certain beliefs” are in “direct opposition to societal values”? How does one determine which “certain beliefs” are inappropriate if one never hears of them? “Sticks and stones”…
David C. concludes with the presumably rhetorical question, “Why not allow ISIS to openly recruit in the U.S.?” I suggest that any proscriptions against ISIS “openly recruit[ing] in the U.S.” must be based instead on U.S. Constitution Article III, Section 3, which defines TREASON.
– John C.
Yes, allow ISIS to try to recruit – as long as they don’t also try acts of actual terrorism. Disallowing an open enemy to speak seems like a good idea at first. But it is not. In a healthy, open society – with free speech – extremes may be listened to and evaluated by everyone – with very limited negative outcomes.
Yes, there are some negative outcomes – we have criminals and extremists and so on – but we have always had such. Populations large enough always contain diverse elements, both positive and negative.
– Paul C.
Should ISIS be allowed to recruit in the U.S.? Alarmingly stupid question, as they are engaged in battle with and widely recognized as an enemy of U.S. Armed Forces. To accommodate them would be to support an enemy, in this case foreign. There are also domestic enemies, which would be a criminal matter.
Beyond that, free speech must have some limitations, but generally my right to free speech and expressing my opinions doesn’t end at someone else being offended.
– John O.
Hate speech is not a fallacy. It is speech that inspires and extols acts of aggression against the persons hated and, as such, harms the foundations of our society and is illegal under many statutes and laws at the local and national level. The people who defend it are haters themselves.
– Barbara S.
The issue of ISIS is not their speech but their actions. Someone who has their agenda to destroy this country should not be here nor free. I believe that a murderer still has the freedom to say things I don’t like, but he should be doing it in prison or on the way to the chair. As one of your writers noted, it’s an education issue. An informed patriot would not listen to ISIS recruitment anyway. But someone who has been raised to hate the U.S. or is just ignorant will.
– Trent H.
Have you seen evidence of the new surveillance systems in LA, Orlando, and other places around the world? Share your stories with us at [email protected].
September 18, 2018
P.S. I (Chris) will be in Bermuda for the first annual Legacy Investment Summit, October 17-19. The rest of the Legacy team – including Bill Bonner, Doug Casey, Teeka Tiwari, and Jeff Clark – will also join me, as well as a half-dozen special guest speakers.
You’ll get to hear Bill and Doug’s insights for how to withstand the growing attacks on your freedom. Plus, it’s the perfect time to ask your questions and share your thoughts with us in person. We hope to see you there.