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  Participant: Dr. Steve Wright (UK)

Technologies of Universal Surveillance & Control

This presentation will examine the rise of the global surveillance state and its associated technologies and nervous systems. It will examine the new ideology of surveillance and place it in the context of the emergent new doctrines of information warfare with state intelligence agencies looking for new enemies within.

It will define the role, range and functions of new technologies used for surveillance including intelligent CCTV, algorithmic human identity recognition and biometric tracking systems and global telephone, fax, satellite phone and web surveillance networks, their military genesis and their military future in civilian society.

The philosophy behind such communication, command, control and intelligence systems increasingly reflects military concepts of trawling massive numbers of targets rather than the usual civilian notion highly selected targets using due legal processes. Some of this is due to the fact that the same manufactures make both military and civilian systems but rarely have the social and political impacts of this convergence been questioned.

The US Pentagon 2020 plan examines the need for information warfare to be coupled with new types of sub-lethal weapons to protect the status quo and to intervene in future conflicts in a media acceptable way. Future technologies of political control are designed to be ubiquitous but invisible and their targets already include environmental activists, NGO's and WTO opponents. Legislation is already being emplaced to ensure that such groups are prevented from assembling hundreds of miles before reaching any action venue.

Opposition to economic trade systems such as the WTO is already being described in terms of terrorism rather than expression of democratic dissent and the presentation will include examples of the surveillance paraphenalia being deployed to ensure the maintainance of structures of global inequality.

Critical to such global policing measure are the global surveillance systems such as 'Echelon', Carnivore and the proposed EU-FBI telecommunications surveillance networks. The presentation will explain how the working of such systems were uncovered and how their massive computing power is being used to undermine democratic freedoms and constitutional civil rights.

These networks are already being coupled with primitive neural networks and machines which think like humans to provide algorithmic surveillance - intelligent monitoring of particular humans and organisations. Recent political agreements mean that such networks can be used to ensure pinpoint specific indiviudals by their mobile phones or email signatures. Similar variants of street CCTV systems facilitate car numberplate and face recognition which enable selective human tracking in places as disparate as London and Jerusalem (These cameras were one of the first targets of ongoing Palestinian protest).

Over last summer, further EU agreements were made to enable intelligent biometric computer networks to check all immigrants and refugees at borders which will systematize the technopolitics of exclusion for fortress Europe. Elsewhere work is afoot to make surveillance mobile using robot perimeter and area denial policing systems. The thinking here is to combine surveillance and punishment measures and this trend is structurally incorporated at many borders, prisons and sensitive points. This trend will develop further and future war plans proposed by the Rand Corporation include the use of Robots to police civilians in low intemnsity conflicts such as Kosovo. Other examples will be given of surveillance devices which also punish malfactors including emergent virtual minefield technologies which target people by satellite if they cross a mine field which exists only inside a GIS system.

The presentation will end with a summary of what has been achieved by recent attempts to challenge the rise of the global surveillance state: including the work of the European parliament's STOA committee work which led directly to this year's decision to set up the 'Temporary Committee on the Echelon Interception System' ACLU's EchelonWatch; legal challenges to the NSA by France; and significant press and public comment. It will also mention some of the other challenges to excessive state surveillance which vary from the light hearted 'big brother award' ceremonies to citizens intiatives questioning the actual utility of surveillance from CCTV to DNA testing. Commercial interests have caught up with citizens protection and the final remarks will cover examples of encryption technologies and software produced by companies such as Staarium and Zero Knowleedhge which can ensure that your business remains inaccessibly yours...

An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control ctl.html

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