Friday, February 21, 2014

Smart Roads: Nice name for Big Brother is watching you.

DHS tendered and then revoked for tender a license plate reading system for the roads of the USA. Looked bad doing it too.

Question: WHY do they want this? Why be able to identify and track all the cars on a roadway? Other than pure urge to spy, of course.

Answer: Its a necessary piece of infrastructure if you want to have self-driving cars. More and more it seems to me that the Powers That Be in the USA have been massively sold on the goodness of the idea that cars drive themselves. Its so Buck Rogers, they just love it!

Clue as to who sold them on it, it seems that Cisco the router company is in this neck deep. Also IBM, be it noted.

Tech giant Cisco thinks there's something to all this talk of ”smart cities”--and that connecting roads or license plate readers to the Internet is going to be big business.

In the latest installment of their ongoing expansion into the Internet of Things, Cisco recently announced an agreement with Swiss security firm AGT International to develop smart traffic systems for cities around the world.

In early February, Cisco and AGT unveiled the details of an upcoming Internet of Things-enabled traffic management system that incorporates sensors embedded in pavements, license plate-reading systems, social media feeds, and video cameras to “identify, respond to, and resolve” traffic incidents in real time. According to a press release, the system is designed to provide long-term analytics on traffic accidents and to allow different agencies to share video feeds.

Because why? Because Cisco will make a shitload of money selling hardware to the government for this thing, is why. The government will buy it because the government has lately become increasingly uncomfortable with the idea that citizens might be doing things they don't know about and don't control. Cell phone tracking is not enough, they want to be able to physically watch you every minute of your day. Just to be sure everyone is ok, y'know.

By the way. The techie buzz phrases "Internet of Things" and "Smart Roads" are circumlocutions. They both mean full time surveillance by all the devices in your life, from your phone and your car to your TV and your toaster and your refrigerator, stove, washer, dryer, furnace, light switches, water faucets, air conditioner, thermostat, electric Smart Meter, internet useage, computer, printer, and every other freakin' thing you own.

Network-attached-appliances is the new awesome. Its not that awesome for the user/owner, because being attached to the internet does not enhance the function of a TV, a toaster or a light switch very much, if at all. But it IS awesome for the manufacturers, because the machines phone home back to Head Office with all kinds of valuable data on what the customers are doing all day. Your nettwork attached fridge for example is designed to record the RFID tags on everything inside it. This is supposed to be so it can tell you when you have run out of milk or when the bacon has gone bad. But really that information is MUCH more valuable to all sorts of food companiues and retailers, and you can be super duper sure that your fridge will be phoning home all that juicy data to the manufacturer, who will then sell it to WalMart et al for a handsome profit.

Example, Samsung Smart TVs phone home back to Samsung and report every single button press you make on the remote, everything you watch, etc. And the Smart TV has a CAMERA in it, so it can watch you back. And if you don't think that thing has a switch in it so it can watch you when somebody from Head Office tells it to, you are dreaming in Technicolor.

If you have one, I suggest you find that camera and stick a post-it over top. Same for the hidden microphone. That way at least you can be sure they aren't taping you making out with the missus in front of the Pr0nz channel.

Eventually they'll be sending Robocop around to your house to pull off the post-it, but in the meantime forewarned is forearmed.

The Phantom

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