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Hackers Rebel Against Spy Cams

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the damn-the-man dept.

Privacy 390

Wired is running an article looking at the little ways in which Austrian technology users are striking back against surveillance. From the article: "Members of the organization worked out a way to intercept the camera images with an inexpensive, 1-GHz satellite receiver. The signal could then be descrambled using hardware designed to enhance copy-protected video as it's transferred from DVD to VHS tape. The Quintessenz activists then began figuring out how to blind the cameras with balloons, lasers and infrared devices. And, just for fun, the group created an anonymous surveillance system that uses face-recognition software to place a black stripe over the eyes of people whose images are recorded."

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Good going. (3, Interesting)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377225)

Cracked by macrovision descramblers. Color me impressed.

Black stripe (4, Interesting)

megrims (839585) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377226)

What's the purpose of a black stripe over the eyes?
How effective is it in preventing recognition?
Or is the reason less obvious than that?

Re:Black stripe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377245)

I think that part is a "because we can" hack. I am impressed.

Re:Black stripe (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377261)

It's a joke, more that anything. Most CCTV systems are intended to track people, and allow them to be identified, which is often seen as an invasion of privacy.

They basically used the signal they recieved from the cameras, rigged up some face recognition software, and used it to draw black bars over the faces on the recording itself. Hence "anonymous survailance system".

Re:Black stripe (5, Informative)

raoul666 (870362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377314)

Size of eyes, how deep they go into the skull, and the distance between them is a big part of what makes a face unique. Also, depending on the size of the black stripe, it could cover eyebrows and a good chunk of the nose. It's the most effective area to black out if you don't want to be recognized.

Re:Black stripe (5, Funny)

chengmi (725888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377353)

Now if you REALLY don't want to be recognized, then you could/should fill in the whole head with a bright yellow smiley face!

Re:Black stripe (5, Funny)

hhghghghh (871641) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377398)

Now if you REALLY don't want to be recognized, then you could/should fill in the whole head with a bright yellow smiley face!

Surely you mean a blue, cap-wearing smiley with text rotating around it? [randomdialogue.net]

Re:Black stripe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377407)

Life is becoming much more like The Ghost in the Shell manga (and movies and TV series). How about a blue smiley face [releaseplan.dk] ?

Re:Black stripe (4, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377392)

But they aren't physically covering features. It's basically a joke or an artistic statement, depending on how you look at it. They are taking footage from their cameras with the face revealed, and digitally covering the faces with the black stripe. It's a philosophical comment, not a technological one.

Veils (4, Funny)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377228)

Maybe we should all just adopt a more modest dress code. We could obscure our faces with veils that only reveal our eyes.

Then only those who wear veils will be criminals.

Re:Veils (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377299)

..or not

Re:Veils (1)

Ullric (931927) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377337)

If veils are outlawed,then only outlaws shall have veils! :P

Then only those who wear veils will be criminals. (4, Funny)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377357)

If you don't think that's already the case, try walking into a bank wearing a ski mask.

Re:Veils (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377363)

Ironically, eyes are usually a person's most distinguishing feature, hence why putting black bars over eyes is considered good enough to hide who they are.

Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (-1, Troll)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377233)

They'd find themselves on the business end of a 'rendition' to syria tootsweet! Good thing for them they're in someplace like britian which doesn't take the rule of law as seriously as we do here in the USA!

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377244)

ummm, last time I checked Berlin was in Germany...

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (-1, Flamebait)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377246)

It's in berlin, not britian; that's what I get for skimming. Mind you, berlin probably takes terrorism even less seriously than britain does!

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (2, Informative)

Swift Kick (240510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377270)

Of course, in your rush to make a post with a inane little political statement against the administration, you failed to read the article.

If you had read it, you'd learn that the cameras are not in Britain. Even the article submitter failed to use basic reading comprehension, since the article is about a conference hosted by the Chaos Computing Club in Berlin, where they describe the actions taken by a Austrian civil liberties group against recent legislation that enable police to install cameras in public places.

In Austria. Not in Berlin, Germany. Also not Britain.

Reading comprehension seems to be sorely lacking here.

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (2, Insightful)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377279)

Christ, even the comments are dupes [slashdot.org] these days.

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (2, Funny)

netsharc (195805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377285)

I was about to make the same comment to yours along the lines of "If it's in Austria, then it's not Berliners!".

Yeah, it's either reading comprehension, or lack of geography knowledge. ;-)

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (2, Insightful)

Swift Kick (240510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377303)

As I said:

"... the article is about a conference hosted by the Chaos Computing Club in Berlin, where they describe the actions taken by a Austrian civil liberties group against recent legislation that enable police to install cameras in public places."

i.e. Austrian civil liberties group members are in a conference in Berlin, Germany, describing what actions they have taken to fight legislation that they see as infringing their rights in their homeland, Austria.

Lemme guess, you didn't read the article either, did you?

Let me spell it out to you, just in case:

1) Austrian government passes some law allowing police to put cameras in public places(IN AUSTRIA);

2) Austrian civil liberties group comes up with imaginative ways to screw with these cameras (IN AUSTRIA);

3) Chaos Computer Club from Germany hosts a conference in Berlin (IN GERMANY);

4) Said Austrian hackers are invited to come to Berlin (IN GERMANY), and talk about the methods they used to defeat these cameras' effectiveness (BACK IN AUSTRIA).

Now, is that better?

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (1)

netsharc (195805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377338)

Please read my comment again. For someone who just complained about reading comprehension you just made yourself look silly with those detailed points.

I agreed with you, and said, either the submitter lacked reading comprehension skills or he lacked knowledge in geography, and thought Berlin was part of Austria.

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (1)

jonfelder (669529) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377415)

Wow...how's that foot tasting? Quite a nice lecture you gave on reading comprehension before, too bad you blew it with that post.

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377247)

Newsflash, dumbass: Berlin is in Germany, not the U.K.

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (1)

netsharc (195805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377329)

And the hackers are from/did this in Austria. Just the news article was written in Berlin, because the that's where the conference was taking place.

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377264)

Of course, in your rush to make a post with a inane little political statement against the administration, you failed to read the article.

If you had read it, you'd learn that the cameras are not in Britain. Even the article submitter failed to use basic reading comprehension, since the article is about a conference hosted by the Chaos Computing Club in Berlin, where they describe the actions taken by a Austrian civil liberties group against recent legislation that enable police to install cameras in public places.

In Austria. Not in Berlin, Germany. Also not Britain.

Reading comprehension seems to be sorely lacking here.
 

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (1)

Unknown_monkey (938642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377283)

Well, you already noted that it's in Berlin, but then mentioned that Germany might be soft on terrorists. But since the 1972 olympics security failure, and neo-nazi activities, Germany is not very soft on terror. Oh hell, I mentioned nazis, I've killed the thread.

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (0, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377301)

They weren't neo-nazis you freak. They were Arabs who kidnapped Israelis.

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (2, Funny)

willpall (632050) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377354)

They weren't neo-nazis you freak. They were Arabs who kidnapped Israelis.

and to quote the grandparent: But since the 1972 olympics security failure, and neo-nazi activities,

Notice that "and"? Your parent poster did not say, "which were," he said "and". He was making a (short) list of things that would tend to make Germany a not-so-friendly-to-terrorists type of place. It wasn't a statement about those that did the kidnapping... you freak :-)

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377312)

They'd find themselves on the business end of a 'rendition' to syria tootsweet!

Only in America do they have sweet toots! [randomhouse.com]
 

Re:Ha! I'd dare them to pull that crap here! (1)

glowworm (880177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377362)

tootsweet

You really should have written the Anglicised Tout suite or to be fully accurate the French Tout de suite unless you were deliberately trying to make a usa redneck joke.

And if you had of read the article it was in Austria not Britain (with a capital B)!

Excellent! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377243)

This is civil disobedience and hacking at its best. Good for them.

They have too much time on their hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377252)

Seems to me like the Berlin techies have too much time on their hands..

Big Deal (1, Interesting)

VonSkippy (892467) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377254)

Yes, it sure would be terrible if someone knew I was walking down a certain street at a certain time. What is the BFD? It's a public road in a public place that anyone with a pair of eyes (or in case of spotting fat people, a single eye) can spot you. Should they start banning tourists with video cam's? Privacy is becoming the next big "lets all overreact" issue.

Re:Big Deal (1)

DigitalReality (903767) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377269)

I'm offended. You made fun of fat people such as myself.

Now I'm hungry. Thanks...

Re:Big Deal (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377276)

Your short-sightedness is incredible. http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/ [online-literature.com]

Re:Big Deal (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377280)

Mr. Skippy,

EYES are one thing. Cameras that record, and software that analyzes are quite another! This combination allows authorities to do all sorts of things that EYES alone cannot, allowing for a much greater potential that this information can be abused.

I suggest you dial your paranoia up a notch. You seem to have entirely too much faith in the system.

Big Deal-What is public? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377311)

"Cameras that record, and software that analyzes are quite another!"

Not really. All this stuff "attempts" to do is what nature gave us naturally.* The only thing that we have difficulty with is memory, and some people do a much better job, than others.

Besides as already pointed out, it's a "public" space, in which the "public" do "public" things. Private is at home, behind closed doors. A distinction some of you seem unable to make.

*Think of it as an analogy to the "analog" hole. If I can see you, then I can identify you. Putting DRM on your identity isn't going to work.

Re:Big Deal-What is public? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377411)

Not really. All this stuff "attempts" to do is what nature gave us naturally.* The only thing that we have difficulty with is memory, and some people do a much better job, than others.

That doesn't mean it's either legal or ethical. It's illegal to stalk people, for example. Yes, much of this stuff could be done without digital technology. But it was never considered a good thing back then, either.

Exactly why should humans go around spying on each other?

Re:Big Deal (5, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377308)

Yes, it sure would be terrible if someone knew I was walking down a certain street at a certain time. What is the BFD?

Yes, it is a 'big deal'. Just as with all these vehicle tracking plans...it logs everywhere you go, everything you do, everyone you talk to. And by inference or assumption, what you are doing.

Logged on someones server, forever.

5 years from now, J. Random Asshat, whom you just pissed off by beating him out of a promotion, can, for the price of a case or two of beer, ask his idiot cop buddy for your log. Have fun explaining to your (future) wife that, "No dear, I did NOT have sex with that hooker. I was only asking her for directions."

Everywhere you go, everything you do, everyone you talk to. Forever .

Big Deal-Absentee Citizens. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377345)

Well now. Is this a slashdot turn of events. Before we all loved technology, and smacked anyone who besmurched our technologies good name (I.e. P2P). But now it is bad, bad technology, go sit in the corner bad. Now maybe if you all had spent your lives addressing the human side of society, instead of the techno-side. You wouldn't have quite so much to fear. J. Random Asshat, and Idiot Cop Buddy would still exists because no society can ever eliminate them, but there would be a balance to society. So if our society ever did decide that cameras in public places are a good thing (like outside Wal-mart catching abductions...and murders)? We could do so knowing that our freedoms are still going to be there. BTW Youngsters, thank your parents, and grandparents for being so attentive at the switch. Good thing this mess started on our watch.

Re:Big Deal-Absentee Citizens. (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377405)

But now it is bad, bad technology, go sit in the corner bad.

The technology is not good or bad. It can be used for good or bad things. Does anyone on Slashdot think that technology is a universally good thing? Not sure where you get that idea, because bad technology gets regularly dissed on Slashdot.

Re:Big Deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377327)

Privacy is becoming the next big "lets all overreact" issue.

Following behind terrorism as the current big "lets all overreact"? Maybe Austria (where this camera thing is actually taking place) has their heads screwed on straight, but here in the US, just having a name similar to a pseudonym that a terrorist might think of using is grounds for you to never fly again. Imagine, what if you're a naturally friendly person and you say hello to a passing stranger on the street, while the cameras are recording the path of a terrorist suspect? Getting the body cavity search at the airport will be the least of your worries!

Re:Big Deal (5, Insightful)

hazem (472289) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377339)

Consider these scenarios:

VonSkippy, I'm afraid we have to decline your application for health insurance. We've monitored your travel habits via public cameras and determined that you spend too much time at your local pub. Furthermore, the records from your grocery-rewards cards indicate you purchase foods that are too high in fats and cholestorol.

VonSkippy, I'm afraid we can't offer you a job. From your the records of the license plate tracking system, we see that you spend a significant amount of time at the republican headquarters. Clearly your political activities are not in alignment with those of this corporation.

VonSkippy, I'm afraid we must deny your application for a home mortgage. From tracking your cellphone travel, we see that you are often speed to work because you are late and are likely to lose your job or die in a traffic accident. We cannot assume that risk.

Get the idea? All public information - all things that the casual observer could see. Do you really want it aggregated so it can be used against you?

Re:Big Deal (3, Insightful)

VonSkippy (892467) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377419)

Hazen: That's a nice scary story to keep your kids frightened, but it won't play out in the real world. What you describe is self regulating in the long run. NO ONE is a perfect person, if the government, or big business, or your neighbor wants to set the "standards bar" that high, they will soon realize people like that don't exist. People need to stop worrying about their own little peccadillo's and focus on the real problems. I keep a tin foil hat handy (just in case), but I really don't think the sky is falling on this one.

Dumbass Moderators (-1, Flamebait)

VonSkippy (892467) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377347)

How the FUCK does my comment end up labeled as FLAMEBAIT? What part of my opinion (which is what I thought slashdot comments were there for) is a fucking flame? I read the article, and then made legitimate comments on how I thought that people were making a bigger deal about the concept of public cameras then necessary. Feel free to disagree, but get your head out of your ass and stop mod'ing regular comments as flamebait. Obligatory Happy Gilmore - JACKASS!

Re:Dumbass Moderators (0, Troll)

plaxion (98397) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377395)

I dunno... could it have been your derogitory comment regarding 'spotting fat people'? I agree with the moderation, but now that I've seen your response to it, I think the moderator should be commended and you'll be lucky if someone doesn't mark you -1 TROLL.

Re:Dumbass Moderators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377418)

I think it's a good thing that comments that are playing down increasing surveillance are modded Flamebait these days.

It's like me walking into a jewish pub and saying Hitler wasn't that bad. It might be my opinion (which it isn't but anyway) but I should expect to be flamed for it.

Same thing.

The thread ends here btw.

Re:Big Deal (5, Insightful)

Aranth Brainfire (905606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377367)

It's less an issue of someone, somewhere, knowing where you are at some time. It's more of an issue of the fact of where you are is in a single stream of data all the time.

If it's okay to take pictures of people who run red lights with automatic cameras, then it's okay to keep those cameras on at all time, then it's okay to install new cameras all over, then it's okay to track people and flag them for investigation if they deviate from normal patterns, then it's okay to preemptively arrest them if they display patterns normal to people about to commit a crime... are you ready for the knock on the door at two in the morning, announcing the men who say you need to be detained based on information only they can have access to? You might think this is overly paranoid, nothing like this could actually happen. You might also be a fool.

Something else: this information is obviously insecure. If you're okay with the government knowing all this, are you okay with the local criminal organization(s) knowing all of this? Do you think it's actually possible to perfectly secure any data?

(by the way, whoever modded parent flamebait is a jerk)

Um...where, exactly? (5, Insightful)

Sensible Clod (771142) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377255)

Looks like someone can't tell where this is happening. FTA:

BERLIN -- When the Austrian government passed a law this year allowing police to install closed-circuit surveillance cameras in public spaces without a court order, the Austrian civil liberties group Quintessenz vowed to watch the watchers.

Okay, so how is this about "Berlin technology users"? Or am I missing something?

Re:Um...where, exactly? (1)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377277)

Yep, you are missing something. The editor who poasted the story is Zonk. Enough said.

F.Y.I.

You can block editors from showing up on your homepage by de-selecting them in your preferences.

Re:Um...where, exactly? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377302)

Wired is running an article looking at the little ways in which eurotrash technology users are striking back against surveillance.

Better?

Re:Um...where, exactly? (1)

carpe_noctem (457178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377402)

Austria was re-annexed into Germany way back in the early 1940's. Didn't read your high school history textbooks?!

RTFA? (5, Informative)

avidday (671814) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377259)

The group in question is an Austrian civil liberties group, not German hackers and not based in Berlin. How do I know this? I read the first sentence of the article............

Re:RTFA? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377313)

If you had read the rest of the article, you would have realized that they met in Alexanderplatz, in Germany (formerly East Germany).

Re:RTFA? (0, Offtopic)

Myopic (18616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377386)

i share your indignation. i've heard complaints about the editor "Zonk" who approved this story -- do you think he deserves the blame?

Turn the tables (5, Funny)

Alcimedes (398213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377265)

I think the only thing that MIGHT actually get the laws changed would be as one person suggested in the article. Turn the tables on those passing the laws. Find key political figures and start saving all the video footage of where they go. I'm sure with tens of hours of video footable between dozens of people you're bound to come across a wide variety of embarassing moments.

Put those up on the web and away you go. Might actually get something changed then.

Re:Turn the tables (3, Interesting)

bezuwork's friend (589226) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377332)

While I'm with you I would guess that this would only result in the politicians exempting themselves by making it illegal to do this to them. You know, like how it's illegal to threaten the president of the U.S. but generally not to do so to an ordinary citizen, at least if you can claim it's in jest.

Semi related story - after 911, I had to go to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (patent appeals court) to get a brochure of pictures of the judges for a partner at a big law firm. They made me get a signed letter of request on firm letterhead before giving it to me - for security reasons. Silly - they're public servants after all, we have a right to know who we're paying.

Living in a surveillance society (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377266)

This reminds me of an old MIT article, The Iron Fist and the Velvet Glove [mit.edu] . It describes what is involved in living in a surveillance society. It also defines the attributes of a surveillance society:

  1. Transcends distance, darkness, and physical barriers.
  2. Transcends time and its records can easily be stored, retrieved, combined, analyzed, and communicated.
  3. Is capital-rather than labor intensive.
  4. Triggers a shift from targeting a specific to categorical suspicion.
  5. Has as a major concern the prevention of violations.
  6. Is decentralized-and triggers self-policing.
  7. Is either invisible or has low visibility.
  8. Is more intensive-probing beneath surface, discovering previously inaccessible information.
  9. Grows ever more extensive-covering not only deeper, but larger areas.

I think surveillance, even when used with the best of intentions, will interfere with people's lives. The authorities will investigate anyone that does anything different. Yet doing things different is what life is all about. When used with less noble intentions, surveillance could lead to a much more troubling society as the East Berlin residents. described in the article may well remember.

Re:Living in a surveillance society (1)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377334)

Eventually, the system will collapse in a morass of useless data. There is a big difference between data and information. Google converts data into information.

Re:Living in a surveillance society (2, Interesting)

HD Webdev (247266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377336)

Interestingly enough, I used to use a saved google query to look for interesting Axis webcams.

I hadn't used it in a while and had forgotten about it until now but now google responds to the query [google.com] with this:

We're sorry...

... but we can't process your request right now. A computer virus or spyware application is sending us automated requests, and it appears that your computer or network has been infected.

We'll restore your access as quickly as possible, so try again soon. In the meantime, you might want to run a virus checker or spyware remover to make sure that your computer is free of viruses and other spurious software.

We apologize for the inconvenience, and hope we'll see you again on Google.


I'd like to see their excuse for limiting this query. All I am doing is looking to see what the watchers are watching.

Re:Living in a surveillance society (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377370)

More interestingly, the title of the error page is "403 forbidden." If this is really due to an overload of requests and they're trying to "restore your access as quickly as possible," then the error ought to be a "503 service unavailable."

Somehow I wonder if there's a different reason why this particular query is "forbidden..."

Reference: RFC 2616 Section 10 [w3.org]

Re:Living in a surveillance society (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377403)

The reason is pretty obvious. Take a look at the search query and notice how it requests a list of sites that host a specific CGI program. Then read the text and let your gray matter work for the first time this year. Google is telling you that some current worm/virus/whatever is doing automated queries on Google to find new victims for a specific exploit in Axis webcams.

This is a Good Thing (tm)...

Re:Living in a surveillance society (3, Interesting)

peterfa (941523) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377406)

Here's the deal. On one hand, you have your civil liberties. On the other, you have your personal risk.
You'll enjoy being able to be who you are in a society where there isn't widespread survalence, but if you were attacked you might say to yourself, "Where were the cops when I needed them?"
The survalence will give you the confidence to go into places you would ordinarily be too scared of going. Now, you may be as tough as old boots, a ninja, Batman, or whatever, but not everybody is. Remember to be compassionate to those who aren't gifted with super-human attributes. A friend of mine was raped brutally. Three men attacked her. There was nothing she could do. She was beat, and luckily, she lived.
The point is this, you might now think it's better to have your liberties, but you might regret not having the protection later. You won't always be a robust and healthy man. You'll become weak and vulnerable someday. I'm not saying that society should be under constant survalence. I'm just saying think about this more carefully.

Who decides? (5, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377268)

This is a scary as the survaliance system is to me. If we do live in a democroacy then the people who put the survalence systems in were elected officials who we have decided are compenant to make improtant decisions. So a vigilante group has decided that they don't like this decision and have taken action themselves instead of organising a grass roots political oposition to the decsion. That is scary. We have as much to fear from vigilante groups of hackers as we do from overzelous goverments. I know I'll get the typical responses pertianing to the failure of democroacy and the lack of properly educated voters in the system, but on sheer principle its still scary. I also suppose that I could throw in a terrible potential if acts of this nature continue, but I think thats obvious and my example would be either too far fetched or too plausible, giving other people with a lower moral standard another idea.

Re:Who decides? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377291)

On one hand, you have the elected officials that make the decision to put these monitoring systems in place, to 'insure the public safety'.
On the other hand, you have the 'civil liberties' activists trying to find ways to defeat the purpose of the monitoring systems. Their reasoning is that, as a free person, you should not be subject to this kind of monitoring or scrutiny. Your personal freedom is more important than the 'relative safety' of the masses.

Of course, one could say that their activism efforts could be exploited by an interested 'party' with catastrophic results, but you will never hear about that possibility.

However, I can guarantee you that if their government sat still and did nothing, only to later on have a massive terrorist attack on their hands, there'd be some serious inquiry as to why there had been no systems in place to gather intelligence to prevent such a thing, or some sort of monitoring to catch the culprits.

It's a no-win situation either way. Now watch the usual suspects quote the Bill of Rights or some choice quotes by Franklin/Choamsky/Capote.

Re:Who decides? (4, Insightful)

bezuwork's friend (589226) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377358)

However, I can guarantee you that if their government sat still and did nothing, only to later on have a massive terrorist attack on their hands, there'd be some serious inquiry as to why there had been no systems in place to gather intelligence to prevent such a thing, or some sort of monitoring to catch the culprits.

And that's as it should be. That's still not a valid reason to rob us of our civil rights, be them rights enshrined in the Constitution or rights that were not articulated in the Constitution because at the time of the founding of the U.S. there was no concievable threat to them (i.e. the right to not be tracked without a warrant, etc.).

The world's a dangerous place. I am sure if nothing had been done post-911 and there had been a few more attacks, the chance of falling prey to a terrorist act would still be far lower than that of being in a car accident.

I'm not saying we should do nothing, but I think that alot of what we are doing has more detriments for us than benefits - their saying it is being done in our benefit doesn't placate me.

But I also know that the government does this every time there is a crisis of some kind - goes way back to the Sedition Act of 1798 - so I hold out some hope for us.

Re:Who decides? (2, Insightful)

Sensible Clod (771142) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377298)

Did you know you'd get the typical responses pertaining to the failure to spell-check and the lack of properly educated posters in the system? Yeah, it's scary, all right.

(You've got some interesting points, but if you want to be taken seriously, take your words seriously, okay?)

Re:Who decides? (2, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377305)

Yeah, actually I did. I thought about it for 2 seconds but spell chekcing for slashdot is like um I doun't know... Getting a hair cut before visiting your parents..? Spitting int he ocean? Seperating your trash before dumping it in the occean? You may or might not get the idea based on these. I'm just drawing blanks here. If I want to be taken serously.. I'm not going to stop at posting on slashdot.

Vigilantes aren't dangerous in this case (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377322)

Think about it for a second: a surveilance system like this requires vast capital and labor to implement. Generally speaking, vigilantes (or rather anti-vigilantes, since they're preventing vigilance!) are small groups with relatively few resources. At best, they'll only be able to destroy infrastructure, rather than create it, or they'll only be able to manage small things. In fact, if the activist group gets big enough, they'd be able to just elect themselves into office or overthrow the government entirely, and get rid of the problem that way.

Re:Who decides? (2, Insightful)

Upsilon Andromedea (835075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377340)

That is scary. We have as much to fear from vigilante groups of hackers as we do from overzelous goverments. I know I'll get the typical responses pertianing to the failure of democroacy and the lack of properly educated voters in the system, but on sheer principle its still scary. I also suppose that I could throw in a terrible potential if acts of this nature continue, but I think thats obvious and my example would be either too far fetched or too plausible, giving other people with a lower moral standard another idea.

Of course, the early American Tories made very similar arguments about safety and vigilantes. The Patriots, or rebels, started as a radical minority. Neither were 100% wrong or right.

The question remains, is privacy an unalienable Right? Otherwise this issue is very academic, and the hackers, vandals.

The U.S. Declaration of Independence does not pretend to list all unalienable Rights:

" . . . that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

However, The Declaration does clearly deem the right of the people to extensive action against a government denying unalienable Rights:

" . . . --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it . . ."

It also claims these unalienable Rights for all people, not just Americans.

I believe that sets the precedent for a pretty active debate. Clean and orderly would be nice but when has it ever been?

Re:Who decides? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377349)

"Right to alter or abolish"

That means change. Because the authors did nto have any way under the current government to make any changes ( they were denied representation in parliment) they felt their actions were acceptable.

Now, after they created a form of governemnt that allows us to make those changes in a peaceful way, there should be no need to perform such actions.

Re:Who decides? (1)

Upsilon Andromedea (835075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377360)

So long as you are right about the current government. And maybe we in the U.S. will resolve the issue by political debate! :) I don't know much about the Austrian government though.

P.S. Sorry you got spell-flamed. What a small nothing, heh?

Re:Who decides? (2, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377409)

Now, after they created a form of governemnt that allows us to make those changes in a peaceful way, there should be no need to perform such actions.
That's true, if the government doesn't change in such a way as to preclude that. For example, using gerrymandering, huge campaign funds, and excessive election rules to effectively give most incumbents lifetime positions of office, and forming powerful political parties (with powerful corporate allies) to create a ruling class that's capable of ignoring and distracting the citizenry to furthur its own ends, could mean that violent revolution is justified even with a system that -- on the surface -- seems democratic and fair.

Besides, the Founding Fathers did include a mechanism for such violence within the Constitution -- that's what the 2nd Amendment is for! You can also discover their stance on this issue by their writings, e.g. Thomas Jefferson:
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Interestingly enough, the more you read the words of the Founding Fathers, the more you realize that they would all be called Libertarians if they were still around. I'm sure they'd be spinning in their graves if they knew how both the Republicans and Democrats are wrecking the ideals they fought for today...

Re:Who decides? (2, Interesting)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377420)

If we do live in a democroacy then the people who put the survalence systems in were elected officials who we have decided are compenant to make improtant decisions.

What if we don't?

How to block face rec (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377292)

Make a hat that has eyes painted on the top, the damn thing can't handle two sets of eyes. Two dots that look like eyes may work too and not get you busted so easy.

Want to know why intersection cameras are everywhere?

If you are going to track someone you need to aquire them first, probably near where they live, then it's easy to follow them from there because they can only go a few ways from there.

Now you know why the cameras are in places where there's hardly any traffic, like near homes way out in the boonies.

The way to get these taken out is to track or let the politicians know that they can be tracked this way, they hate it when we the people can track their bad habits even though they love being able to track ours.

Re:How to block face rec (1)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377366)

Real anarchists might as well start wearing fursuits [wikipedia.org] . Then they'll never see it coming when Snuffleupagus waddles up during a parade and detonates in the middle of Sesame Street.

God, I'm getting misanthropic and cynical. SOmebody kill me...

Re:How to block face rec (2, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377426)

Want to know why intersection cameras are everywhere?

Maybe because that's where people run red lights?

Use the Aliens method. (5, Interesting)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377295)

In the UK on one of the CCTV cop TV shows they have there was a good instance of dealing with cameras. Basically the owner of a house had complained that every night the camera was pointed at his house. One instance he had even seen a mugging take place outside (in London) and the camera was busy looking at the mugging but no cops showed up for some time. So one night he dressed up like what can only be described as a cross between a demon/predator (really cool looking). And he wandered around where the camera was pointing. Within 5 minutes the whole road was cordened off by numerous cops.

Re:Use the Aliens method. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377417)

You should make that Demon/Alien suit bulletproof with extra protection around the crotch area. I'm just saying...

Man.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377300)

...somebody give these guys the 10 000 dollars...

Austrians, not Germans (1)

gullevek (174152) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377321)

They are from Vienna, Austria, they just presented this on the 22C3. It's correctly written in the wired article though.

War on terror anyone (2, Informative)

manavendra (688020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377323)

The general perception about politicians lately is CCTV will eliminate all problems. After the London bombing on 7/7/05, the Met spent hundreds of man hours sifting through CCTV "evidence" to find more information about the hackers, while for all practical purposes is shutting the barn door after...

Even the Dutch, once known as hacker-friendly, politically progressive Europeans, are now fearful and demanding more cameras on their streets.

Whilst recording and monitoring activities in parts deemed dangerous, not easy to patrol, prone to mugging/thefts/incidents may be worthwhile, recording public spaces is similar to littering the motorway with speed cameras...

Huge difference with speed cameras (1, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377342)

Surveillance cameras are on 24/7 speed cameras only when you speed.

You can easily avoid being recorded by a speed camera. Don't speed. I know, it is a difficult trick to figure out.

Whenever you try a serious conversation about surveillance cameras an idiot like you bring up speed cameras and instantly show that only criminals are afraid of cameras. Nice way to cloud the issue.

Re:Huge difference with speed cameras (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377428)

Whenever you try a serious conversation about surveillance cameras an idiot like you bring up speed cameras and instantly show that only criminals are afraid of cameras. Nice way to cloud the issue.

Actually I'd say it's a pretty good example. There are few things more arbitrarily illegal than "speeding" and ineffective as speed cameras.

Re:War on terror anyone (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377348)

After the London bombing on 7/7/05, the Met spent hundreds of man hours sifting through CCTV "evidence" to find more information about the hackers

Hackers? Don't you mean "Bombers"?

shutting the barn door

How about following the evidence and identifying suspects?

Re:War on terror anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377382)

No, this is not correct.
As a Dutchman living in Dutchland (the Netherlands, also known as Holland) I can attest to the fact that most of us do NOT want and do NOT demand more cameras on our streets.

It is the government and businesses who have something to gain by then that are demanding more cameras. One of the excuses they are using is that the camera's will be used to track cars to impose a taxation per driven kilometer which will then magically decrease traffic congestion.

Coming soon to your country: (2)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377326)

"It is a period of civil war. Rebel starships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire." Yes, even the United States. And it will be bloody. Songs will be sung about this day...

Talk about paranoid... (1)

themysteryman73 (771100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377330)

I feel like I'm being watched... >_>

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377343)

And, just for fun, the group created an anonymous surveillance system that uses face-recognition software to place a black stripe over the eyes of people whose images are recorded.
Cool, just like the cover of AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap [wikimedia.org]

Re:Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (2, Funny)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377400)

I think "Dirty deeds, done with sheep" was better...

Surveillance Sucks (1)

hfhf6 (942659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377352)

Its interesting that this was posted on Wired almost 4 days ago. But still very interesting article. Surveillance is only going to get worse, I guess we should learn how to cope while we can.

article exposes the zero-sum game (0)

recharged95 (782975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377374)

I dabbed in CCTV on both ends of the spectrum. And IMO, as digital systems increase performance and get more accessible, it'll be a worthwhile technology--just wait until CCTV's are hooked into Google (it fits their mission statement!). The heart-ache with most people here I'm sure is that we just need to sort out the policies, which is not happening since as with every early phase technology, it gets exploited--not for the common good usually. Anyone that refers to 1984 is looking at people being cattle and allowing the story to play out in real life. I don't see democracies allowing it unless we're all FDH (fat, dumb, and happy). In the end: privacy != no cameras. If it did, that's privacy by anonymity/obscurity and we know in the F/OSS field that it doesn't work in the long haul. Basically make CCTV networks accessible by everyone like OSS--now that would be an interesting experiment and could work out pretty good [if policies are in place].

Destroying existing systems does nothing, as well as those systems mentioned provide zero value except deterrent people who don't understand how CCTV systems work. So the groups mentioned in the article really didn't do much to hurt the system or even explain their cause--both sides are spreading FUD for their cause. They did get some exposure, which is likely their main objective (and reminds me of the an important point made in the movie Munich).

People....this can be a good thing..... (2, Insightful)

jjh37997 (456473) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377376)

The rich, powerful or corrupt have always had the power to invade our privacy because it's just an illusion and will alway be so. Privacy laws just protect the powerful from being watched by the masses.

Instead of fighting a lossing battle to stop this technology we need to ensure that it will be available to everyone and that the information will be open to the public. Put cameras on the streets, in the police stations and in government buildings. I don't mind being watched as long as I can watch everyone else. Living in a fishbowl can be a wonderful thing. Imagine a world where everyone is equipped with their own personal cameras and recording devices... with so many eyes spreading their light everywhere the world might become a more peaceful and civilized place.

Obligitory Anime Reference (2, Funny)

Admiral Justin (628358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377378)

And, just for fun, the group created an anonymous surveillance system that uses face-recognition software to place a black stripe over the eyes of people whose images are recorded.

I want my blue and white laughing man logo with "I thought what I'd do was pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes" spinning around.

Re:Obligitory Anime Reference (1)

drkfdr (785982) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377416)

First thing I thought of too. It is indeed obligatory (^_^)

Re:Obligitory Anime Reference (1)

Cigarette (942665) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377424)

yup, beat me to it.

Slashdoting of google? (1)

NIK282000 (737852) | more than 8 years ago | (#14377408)

After going through 2 or 3 pages of those web cams google gave me this.

We're sorry...

... but we can't process your request right now. A computer virus or spyware application is sending us automated requests, and it appears that your computer or network has been infected.

We'll restore your access as quickly as possible, so try again soon. In the meantime, you might want to run a virus checker or spyware remover to make sure that your computer is free of viruses and other spurious software.

We apologize for the inconvenience, and hope we'll see you again on Google.


Given that I can still search anything else and not get that message I am inclined to think that we may have tricked google into thinking that we are attacking it by every one making the same request all at one.

Since they are tax payers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14377414)

and the cameras are paid for with tax-payer's money (if it's government spending going on the cameras), what's to stop them taking the cameras and re-selling them? After all, a 'democracy' is for the people, so why should 'the people' put up with crap? With the Chinese dynastys, at least their forms of government were sanctioned by the people and booted out if they were becoming corrupt, etc. The main problem with this style of thinking is that not enough people in any given society right now are fed up enough. There aren't a huge number of P2Pers, privacy activists, etc. etc.

*This reply shouldn't be taken too seriously...*
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