Liberty Blitzkrieg: You’re Being Conditioned to Live in a “Smart City” – Resist It

Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg writes this article to warn of the dangers of so-called “smart cities” which are really high tech surveillance states, tracking your every movement and tracing every human contact you make- You’re Being Conditioned to Live in a “Smart City” – Resist It.

And at the dead center of it all is Eric Schmidt. Well before Americans understood the threat of Covid-19, Schmidt had been on an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign pushing precisely the “Black Mirror” vision of society that Cuomo has just empowered him to build. At the heart of this vision is seamless integration of government with a handful of Silicon Valley giants — with public schools, hospitals, doctor’s offices, police, and military all outsourcing (at a high cost) many of their core functions to private tech companies.

The Intercept: Screen New Deal

Each crisis in the 21st century has been aggressively and ruthlessly wielded into a massive wealth and power grab by the American oligarchy and national security state. The big power grab following 9/11 centered around whittling away constitutional rights via mass surveillance in the name of “keeping us safe”, while the money grab after last decade’s financial crisis concentrated wealth and assets into fewer hands while entrenching financial feudalism and making the Federal Reserve and mega banks even more powerful.

Despite the success of this diabolical and intentional concentration of money and power, there’s still too much privacy, freedom and independent wealth around for the imperial oligarchy to feel comfortable. As such, the current pandemic is being used to put the finishing touches on whatever little political and economic freedom remains in these United States.

The lessons learned from prior crises are being rolled out simultaneously this time around while people remain incapacitated at home due to Covid-19. The 2008/09 financial collapse taught those in power they can get away with unprecedented, unaccountable theft during an economic and stock market crash. Similarly, 9/11 demonstrated people will relinquish civil liberties without much protest when immersed in a state of fear.

As such, a new round of society-wide economic pillaging has occurred and is ongoing, while at the same time an equally nefarious agenda to sell you on a completely new way of living — conveniently brought to you by technocratic big tech oligarchs — is in the works.

During moments of heightened confusion and fear, the public is sold and conditioned in subtle ways to accept some new reality they never asked for or wanted. The “smart city” appears to be a key oligarch bucket list item this time around, and I’ve started focusing more attention on it after watching the following exceptionally creepy clip from Reuters.

There’s a desperate and deliberate attempt to emphasize how “smart cities” will benefit humanity and solve a plethora of problems, but the video’s creep factor simply cannot be ignored. Significantly, the plan here seems to be to just go ahead and create smart cities without asking permission from the residents who live there. Thanks to governor Andrew Cuomo, it appears New Yorkers will be big tech oligarchs’ first guinea pigs.

Health care and education represent very big areas of human civilization. Who voted for Eric Schmidt to mold and micromanage New York as if it’s his own personal startup?

As reported by The Intercept:

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who joined the governor’s briefing to announce that he will be heading up a blue-ribbon commission to reimagine New York state’s post-Covid reality, with an emphasis on permanently integrating technology into every aspect of civic life.

“The first priorities of what we’re trying to do,” Schmidt said, “are focused on telehealth, remote learning, and broadband. … We need to look for solutions that can be presented now, and accelerated, and use technology to make things better.” Lest there be any doubt that the former Google chair’s goals were purely benevolent, his video background featured a framed pair of golden angel wings.

Just one day earlier, Cuomo had announced a similar partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop “a smarter education system.” Calling Gates a “visionary,” Cuomo said the pandemic has created “a moment in history when we can actually incorporate and advance [Gates’s] ideas … all these buildings, all these physical classrooms — why with all the technology you have?” he asked, apparently rhetorically.

It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the “Screen New Deal.” Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.

So we get a pandemic and suddenly the governor of New York is like yeah let’s just let a couple billionaires and their organizations decide what society needs to look like. It’s as brazen as it is dangerous.

In my last piece, I warned that the imperial oligarchy would try to sell the public on the ludicrous idea we need to become China to defeat China. Meanwhile, Eric Schmidt hasn’t been particularly shy about his apparent desire to recreate China’s surveillance state in the U.S…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

 

EFF: COVID-19 and Digital Rights

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Here are their thoughts on threats and opportunities arising from COVID-19 response, COVID-19 and Digital Rights.

Surveillance. Governments around the world are demanding extraordinary new surveillance powers that many hope will contain the virus’ spread. But many of these powers would invade our privacy, inhibit our free speech, and disparately burden vulnerable groups of people. Mindful of the stakes, we ask three questions when analyzing proposals that would provide greater surveillance powers to the government: Would the proposal work? Would it excessively intrude on our freedoms? Are there sufficient safeguards? Different proposals raise different issues. For example:

  • Government has not shown that some intrusive technologies would work, such as phone location surveillance, which is insufficiently granular to identify when two people were close enough together to transmit the virus.
  • Some surveillance proposals are too dangerous to a democratic society, such as dragnet surveillance cameras in public places that use face recognition or thermal imaging, mounting such technologies on drones, or giving police officers access to public health data about where people who have tested positive live.
  • Some technologies, such as aggregate location data used to inform public health decisions, need strict safeguards.
  • No COVID tracking app will work absent widespread testing and interview-based contact tracing. Bluetooth proximity is the most promising approach so far, but needs rigorous security testing and data minimization. No one should be forced to use it.

Many new government surveillance programs are being built in partnership with corporations that hold vast stores of consumers’ personal data. We need new laws to protect our data privacy.

Free speech. The free flow of ideas about COVID-19 is vital. This includes anonymous whistle-blowing about containment efforts, online criticisms of government responses to the crisis, and prisoner access to social media to tell the world about outbreaks behind bars. Governments will inevitably abuse any new powers to censor what they deems false information about the virus. When online platforms increase their reliance on automated content moderation, in part because human moderators cannot safely come to work, those moderation “decisions” must be temporary, transparent, and easily appealable

Government transparency. Government decision-making about the virus must be transparent. When governments temporarily close the physical spaces where they make decisions, for purposes of social distancing, they must adopt new transparency accommodations, such as broadcasting their proceedings. While government responses to public records requests may be slower during this public health crisis, the outbreak is no excuse to shut them down altogether…(continues)

How “Nothing to Hide” Leads to “Nowhere to Hide”

From The Daily BellHow “Nothing to Hide” Leads to “Nowhere to Hide” – Why Privacy Matters in an Age of Tech Totalitarianism

Would you allow a government official into your bedroom on your honeymoon? Or let your mother-in-law hear and record every conversation that takes place in your home or car – especially disagreements with your husband or wife? Would you let a stranger sit in on your children’s playdates so that he could better understand how to entice them with candy or a doll?

Guess what? If you bring your phone with you everywhere, or engage with a whole-house robo helper such as Alexa or Echo or Siri or Google, you’re opening up every aspect of your life to government officials, snooping (possibly criminal) hackers, and advertisers targeting you, your spouse and your children…

When you ask Siri or Echo or Alexa or Google (and others of their ilk) something, it’s great to get an immediate answer… but the corollary is that Siri and Echo and Alexa and Google are listening to every conversation you’re having with your spouse, every fight you’re having with your kids, and every bit of heavy breathing that might be taking place in the dark.

That response inherently grants legitimacy to the search in the first place. The implication is that if you have nothing to “hide,” then the tech companies, the advertisers, the government, etc. should indeed have full access to every aspect of your life…

Technology can lead to convenience, but it can also lead to abuses of power. In its extreme, that is called totalitarianism.

In the end, we must take precautions if we’re to have anything close to liberty. Some of you have, no doubt, read Jonah Goldberg’s excellent book from 2007, Liberal Fascism, the hardcover of which features a smiley face graphic with a Hitler mustache. In the introduction, Mr. Goldberg quotes a segment from a Bill Maher show in which George Carlin says, in essence, (and I’m paraphrasing) that “when fascism comes to America it will be wearing a smiley face.”

I’d go a step further — it will be cloaked in an emoji seemingly innocuous, friendly, and ubiquitous.

We must stop giving away our privacy. We must start thinking about personal “data” as the commodity that it already is, and even as a weapon that can be used against us.

If we don’t stop and reconsider what we’re giving away, not only will there be nothing to hide, but nowhere to hide.

Read the entire article here