Turn the Tables on Poindexter!
December 3, 2002 6:10 AM   Subscribe

Turn the Tables on Poindexter! There has been a call for an early demonstration of how bad convicted felon Poindexter's Total Information Awareness campaign will be. This demonstration will consist of the compiling of as much personal, lawfully obtained info as we can about John M. and Linda Poindexter of 10 Barrington Fare, Rockville, MD, 20850. from Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing
posted by crunchland (27 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason:

"It would be good to have an early public demonstration of just how bad life could become for such targeted citizens. While ratfink's system is probably not working yet, and a large part of it is classified, much of it can be manually simulated for demonstration purposes. Public records can be manually searched and then posted to the net by people who happen to be looking there for something else. Many Internet public records search sites also exist; try searching for "People finder". (Matt Smith at [b][EMAIL]matt.smith@sfweekly.com[/EMAIL][/b] has offered to "publish anything that readers can convincingly claim to have obtained legally".) Photographs and videos of the target, their house, car, family, and associates, can be made and circulated to demonstrate facial recognition techniques.

Employees at various businesses and organizations such as airlines, credit card authorizers, rental-car agencies, shops, gyms, schools, tollbooths, garbage services, banks, taxis, honest civil servants and police officers, and restaurants could demonstrate denial of service to such targeted people. A simple "We won't serve YOUR KIND OF PEOPLE" would do, as was practiced on black people for many decades. More subtle forms of denial of service are possible, such as "You've been 'randomly' selected as a security risk, I'll have to insist that [some degrading thing happen to you]". Or merely, "I can't seem to get this credit card to work, sir, and those twenties certainly look counterfeit to me."

"Those with access to DMV and criminal records databases, credit card records, telephone bills, tax records, birth and death and marriage records, medical records, and similar personally identifiable databases could combine their information publicly to assist in the demonstration. This is how TIA is intended to work -- the government would get privileged access to all these databases, access that the rest of us do not normally have. But some of us have access to various of these databases today, and can demonstrate how the TIA system might work."
posted by crunchland at 6:11 AM on December 3, 2002

Don't you think this is a bit juvenile?
posted by oissubke at 8:09 AM on December 3, 2002

no, but you would.
posted by quonsar at 8:13 AM on December 3, 2002

Dude, we can read the link. No need to copy and paste half of it to your thread.

On a related note, I love this idea. I hope it gets the wide publicity it will need to work well (i.e., participation by video store owners, librarians, DMV employees etc.) What would be REALLY great for all of us who don't have such connections, would be if we could contribute by sending micropayments to a paypal address in order to finance hiring a thorough (and thoroughly legal) private detective.
posted by luser at 8:13 AM on December 3, 2002

Let me get this straight.......

You actually want me to phone his neighbors and their 6 year old daughter at home?

Please go away. Total Information Awareness is wrong, but his 6 year old neighbor is way over the line.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:15 AM on December 3, 2002

she'll be in the database too.
posted by quonsar at 8:17 AM on December 3, 2002

Altough I like the idea in theory, publishing the phone numbers of his neighbours in the article seems to go way beyond the point.

What's the idea behind that? Harassing innocent people who just live next to him goes against the whole idea.

On preview: totally agree with y6.
posted by sebas at 8:17 AM on December 3, 2002

Oops. My bad. That's his neighbor in unit 6. Not the daughter. Need more coffee.

But calling his neighbors is still wrong. How is that justified? next we should go kick their door down?
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:22 AM on December 3, 2002

Yep, this is a bit juvenile. So is Poindexter's dream of having an Orwell-scale view of other people's personal information.

Seriously, though, harrassing Poindexter basically allows him to take the high road, to claim that those of us who simply didn't get the joke when we were told America was a free country are a bunch of idiots who couldn't possibly understand the complexities of twenty-first century Fatherland, err Homeland, Security. It's the same sort of shrug the WTO/IMF/WB protesters get when they burn down a Starbucks and wonder why they're not invited to testify before a congressional committee on the horrors of multinational capitalist exploitation.

And I seriously doubt you're going to change his mind. It's John Poindexter for chrissake. If he were the least bit ethically functional he wouldn't be back at the Pentagon. He'd recuse himself and go out on the lecture circuit, as he'd realize he cannot be trusted with matters of national security.

More useful would be a slightly less deep, wider personal information database on those fence-sitters who have some degree of oversight (at least until the HSA does all the damage it can to the limits on executive power): the legislative branch. Where does Rick Santorum shop? What do C. Saxby Chambliss' mutual funds look like? Who's Nancy Polosi's insurance carrier?
posted by Vetinari at 8:23 AM on December 3, 2002

politech earlier today managed to have, in close succession posts, an article covering this and one complaining that "congresscritters" were hiding their contact details...

would "preemptive stupidity" be a good phrase to use in this context?
also see here.
posted by andrew cooke at 8:29 AM on December 3, 2002

Yeah, I'll be the first to say that Poindexter deserves a nice comfortable jail cell first and foremost, but this is far from proper. A la the Monty Python "Blackmail" sketch, this would have been funny only if it stopped at what the name and address. The quantity and detail of what's on this page is borderline-psychotic.

I've labelled these tactics when performed by anti-abortion protestors as virtual acts of terrorism. The fact that the neighbors and children of someone are this time the neighbors and children of a first-class shit doesn't change the fact that this is still the act of terrorizing someone. Explain to me how this wouldn't be sickening if it was being done to someone entering a woman's clinic?

We've got a link here that does nothing but vioilate the "no posting unsolicited personal information" rule, followed by oissubke and quonsar displaying the finest in bandwidth-wasting whining. There is, officially, absolutely nothing good about this thread.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:31 AM on December 3, 2002

bleagh. s/ posts,/,/
posted by andrew cooke at 8:31 AM on December 3, 2002

thank you, official thread analyst! and now i'll point out that whatever discomfort you feel over the detail and the neighbors IS EXACTLY THE POINT.
posted by quonsar at 8:35 AM on December 3, 2002

This is brilliant. I wish I had thought of this!

The idea isn't to change Poindexter's mind; it's to illustrate to everyone else what a bad idea TIA is, and raise awareness and opposition.

If I lived in Rockville, I'd be handing out leaflets with his picture to local businesses.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:35 AM on December 3, 2002

This is brilliant.
posted by websavvy at 8:40 AM on December 3, 2002

quonsar, the scary part is that if you don't object to this, i can't see why you'll object when poindexter starts doing the same thing... or is it only wrong when it's the government?
posted by andrew cooke at 8:42 AM on December 3, 2002

"And I seriously doubt you're going to change his mind."

The goal isn't to change his mind. The goal is to be a bigger jerk. Somehow this will change things for the better. I'm a bit mystified as to how.

And the article totally misses the point. Total Information Awareness has nothing to do with harassment and it doesn't give the government any new rights or avenues for harassment. It also doesn't give the government any new abilities to collect information. Really. Total Information Awareness uses information it assumes the government will *already have*. It uses what already exists in a new and potentially dangerous way.

It has nothing to do with calling random strangers.

The evil of Total Information Awareness is that it will create a profile of you based on data without context. So if I buy lots of books on hacking, have access to secret information, and visit sites related to Islam (all of which are true), I will be flagged as a suspect. The computer doesn't care that there are legitimate reasons for these things. I'm a suspect and who knows what the flag will do for my employment, credit report, etc.

Total Information Awareness has nothing to do with harassment. The government will already do that thanks to the Homeland Security Bill. Total Information Awareness is about using computers to control people and chip away at what makes us individuals. It puts a chilling effect on freedom. Total Information Awareness = Big Brother. Harassing random strangers won't help anyone understand that.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:43 AM on December 3, 2002

andrew, you make a good point. i'd equate this to the conditions necessary for sexual harassment in the workplace to occur - one must have power over another. it is a crime for the boss to link advancement to sexual favors, because the boss has the power to grant or withold advancement. it is not a crime for the female secretary to say to the male executive, "sleep with me or i'll lose your phone messages."
posted by quonsar at 8:48 AM on December 3, 2002

Yeah, I don't think calling his neighbors will help. I do think that collecting information, like his grocery store purchasing records, his health insurance records, his dmv and library borrowing records -- and all the other stuff that the TIA project proposes to do, and publishing it somewhere is the good thing here...
posted by crunchland at 8:50 AM on December 3, 2002

Nah, it's only wrong when it's people quonsar doesn't like.

Note: remember not to elect quonsar to any position of trust or authority.
posted by dhartung at 8:56 AM on December 3, 2002

It's a proof-of-concept thing. I'm all for it. Maybe an old girlfriend can contribute his penis size and pillow talk.
posted by rushmc at 9:05 AM on December 3, 2002

quonsar, that's an excellent analogy. But for the same reason, this is kind of a pathetic exercise - the amount of info we as ordinary joes will be able to gather and network, as compared to that accessible by slimeballs in the administration who have already demonstrated, shall we say, a lack of restraint in ethical matters, is minimal. If we work completely above board, using only publicly available material, then Poindexter can say, "see? It's not so bad," whereas if we were to use the kind of underhanded tactics this will certainly foment, we will be the bad guys - the "terrorists," as some of the more hyperbolic posters have suggested - thus legitimizing the whole TIA concept. So all in all, it's more valuable as a thought experiment than anything else.
posted by soyjoy at 9:06 AM on December 3, 2002

"It would be good to have an early public demonstration of just how bad life could become for such targeted citizens."

How does calling Poindexter at home do this? How does having us know his address do this? This is a school boy prank. Not protest.

TIA didn't give us this information, and this information has nothing to do with TIA. It's harassment and it has zero chance of changing anything.

"All in all I think such a demonstration would be highly educational, as well as newsworthy and entertaining."

Exactly. The author is bored and looking for trouble. Trying to get the word out would be noble, but giving the cause a black eye by acting like a drunken frat party is pointless and counter productive. By all means hand out fliers, but not these.

Look here for better information: 1, 2, 3

Grade school pranks are not the way to effect change in Washington.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:08 AM on December 3, 2002

and now i'll point out that whatever discomfort you feel over the detail and the neighbors IS EXACTLY THE POINT.

So.... in other words, we should counter the stupid and oppressive actions of a disagreeable entity by stooping to their level? Or to be honest, lower than their level- at least Poindexter and the government has a fabricated "War on Evil" rationale for collecting massive amounts of unneccesary information on people- this site just advocates doing it to be mean.

This isn't an opposition of Poindexter's appointment or the Information Awareness Act- it's a campaign to publicly intimidate a single, specific person by asking people to stalk him. That's what they do on abortion-cams.com, and when I hear about it there it makes me sick.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:11 AM on December 3, 2002

Step 1. Collect underpants.
Step 2. ???
Step 3. Profit.
posted by docjohn at 9:15 AM on December 3, 2002

remember not to elect quonsar to any position of trust or authority.
curses! my evil secret agenda is foiled!
posted by quonsar at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2002

at least Poindexter and the government has a fabricated "War on Evil" rationale

What about our not-so-fabricated right to protest rationale?

This isn't "stooping", it's holding up a mirror.
posted by a_green_man at 10:05 AM on December 3, 2002

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