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September 9, 2016 12:48 AM   Subscribe

The Intercept have just published an expose on the 2014 catalog of British spy tech maker Cobham, who sell their gear to “clients and partners in over 100 countries” including US police forces. Among the equipment is an array of cellphone-intercepting IMSI catchers, better known as Stingrays (previously); handheld or car-mounted direction finding devices to pinpoint a cellphone's location; and surveillance cameras hidden inside everything from street lights to bug zappers and trashcans along with receivers, recorders and viewing devices. A full copy of the 120 page catalog itself is available as well.
posted by scalefree (14 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Some days its just like playing Cyberpunk Dystopia themed BINGO.

Except the only prize is being on a list somewhere.
posted by deadaluspark at 1:17 AM on September 9, 2016 [8 favorites]

I think the time has come to shift the conversation away from look at this insertion or that invasion of privacy, and start talking about this new immersive reality and the challenges of liviing on the stage even inside your own head for fear of being misread. Coupled with the biases inherently designed into algorithms and big data crunching, is there a sane future possible for people of colour in the world?

And, what, really, is the ultimate aim of all of this? Control? Fear? Keeping the 1% juiced up?
posted by infini at 1:17 AM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Anyone with a voice and an opinion (your average Mefite) will be considered a person of interest given the fact that millions are trying to keep watch on billions and probably have monthly or weekly quotas to fulfill in terms of identifying new folks to deep dive into.

The fact that crap related to security is still ongoing across teh world seems to imply that little of this security theatre has anything to do with security per se - digging into the rationale might be helpful.
posted by infini at 1:20 AM on September 9, 2016

We're entering the Age of Transparency & this is part of learning how to deal with all information about everybody being available to everybody else. One solution is there gets to be a group (spooks & some cops) who get to control it all so they have an unlimited two way mirror on the rest of us & we get nothing on them & get punished for trying. That's obviously not sustainable because it corrupts them & makes us paranoid but a better model & a path to it have yet to be devised.
posted by scalefree at 2:03 AM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

We're entering the Age of Transparency

We live in hope (sarcasm level of the preceding statement fluctuates wildly).

(Anyone want to help me roll out an open source ANPR network, strapped together out of junk mobile phones?)
posted by Leon at 2:27 AM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Blank Reg nods thoughtfully.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 2:31 AM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

An age of transparency? I suspect some people’s lives will be more transparent than others. Some measure of opacity may yet be available if the price is right: do Cobham sell equipment for anti-surveillance countermeasures too? Or do they leave that to other organisations? Thinking about infini’s millions are trying to keep watch on billions: perhaps a new kind of class system is arising, with a majority who are the surveilled, always on the wrong side of the one-way mirror; a minority involved in surveillance, while still also subject to it; and a few directing the surveillance, and prospering from it, while also protected from it to some extent.
posted by misteraitch at 3:35 AM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

In that new class system there will also be those (as we have today) who positively revel in being watched, are hungry for the fame (and then later either repent, retreat or sue), as well as peeping toms & tinas, surveilling the anonymous anonymously just for shits & giggles.
posted by chavenet at 3:45 AM on September 9, 2016

Just want we need, trolls IRL
posted by infini at 4:41 AM on September 9, 2016

It's the age of the perceptual diode, of one-way transparency.

I love spy tech - which geek doesn't? - and I love the incredible complexities and revelations that are coming out of our huge cultural experiment, of shoving analogue humanity into the chrysalis and seeing what sort of beautiful monster fights its way out.

But my real interest is quis custodiet. Those who demand transparency of but deny transparency to. We cannot deny them, but it's unclear whether they can deny us. In the asymmetric warfare between the fat controller and the Snowden, tugging at one loose thread in the woven Kevlar exoskeleton can make the plates fall to the ground.

It has always been thus - the one flaw in Enigma that catalysed everything, the jiggered microwave oven that triggers the ECM in an eight-digit-price-tag stealth aircraft. You have to hope that the results are more entertaining than they are destructive, and that good people can continue to do good things regardless.
posted by Devonian at 6:21 AM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

We are being divided into the knows and the know-nots.
posted by BentFranklin at 6:48 AM on September 9, 2016

posted by glaucon at 6:51 AM on September 9, 2016

Intercept is an interesting site. It blends expose stuff (as this post shows) with editorial views on this and that subject. I would much prefer it did the one or the other for ease of picking out what to read rather than having to search to find fresh expose material. That such spy stuff is now made and available and used worldwide is well known, thanks in large measure to Intercept. I turn to today's posts and there is an article of security advisors for Hillary Clinton and we learn that they all represent the warfare state. Now think of any security advisors that you would want that were not somehow experienced in security and war. We are a warfare state, yes. We do have enemies and they are real and dislike us. I would hope that we had a sensible Congress to decide what we should do about our enemies rather than a president alone, with advisors to decide. That alas may be asking too much.
posted by Postroad at 7:46 AM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

As a followup act the Intercept releases manuals for several IMSI catchers sold by Harris, maker of the original Stingray device, along with a video tutorial.
posted by scalefree at 4:30 PM on September 12, 2016

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