HUGE HACK AFFECTS THOUSANDS OF SECURITY CAMERAS. The latest digital hack of a prominent surveillance firm reveals just how extensive online stores of sensitive personal video and audio are becoming.
Intruders were able to breach Verkada, a California-based company that provides monitoring equipment and cloud storage services to schools, hospitals, prisons, and thousands of other organizations. According to Bloomberg, hackers were able to obtain images and video from live source feeds of over 149,000 cameras.
The breach occurred after high-level log-in credentials were obtained and one hacker shared some of the plundered data with The Washington Post. One video showed a scene from a hospital intensive care unit. Another spied a family at home celebrating the completion of a puzzle.
Verkada, like other companies in its field, has developed software and services that allow consumers, companies, and even government agencies to watch live video from camera installations anywhere across the internet.
But that surveillance ability comes with a price. The privacy of more than 24,000 organizations representing a vast cross-section of American life was suddenly exposed by a single point of failure in the system.
The implications for privacy and security are as huge as the amount of data in play. And it doesn’t only apply to the video accessed by the hack of a single company. Thousands of firms are currently in a “data race” to amass profitable stores of digital information about every aspect of human activity. This treasure trove hasn’t escaped the notice of attackers looking to profit by their own means, by hacking into that data.
YOU WILL LOVE THE POLICE STATE: CHINA AI MONITORING EMOTIONS. While Americans surrender more and more of their Constitutional rights without much fuss, China points the way to an even bleaker future. Their latest innovation? Surveillance that will use artificial intelligence to tally even emotional states into a person’s so-called “social credit score.”
“Social Credit” is the euphemistic term the regime has used to mask its comprehensive control system where individuals are rewarded for adhering to desired activities, and even thoughts, and punished for any deviations.
The technology of AI surveillance is rapidly advancing in the communist power, which is bad enough for their citizens. But privacy and human rights advocates say that tech won’t remain contained in China any more than the virus that originated in Wuhan did.
“China is developing an Orwellian-style state,” noted Dahlia Peterson, an analyst at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology. “Domestically, the most frightening part is that many people inside China remain unaware of the true scope of surveillance, and still welcome it as a source of ‘security.’”
Dahlia says the global pandemic has allowed the Chinese to peddle their surveillance wares to other governments, in a “Sharp Eyes” tech package. “In programs such as Sharp Eyes, local governments nationwide have even successfully convinced citizens to take part in surveilling each other.”
Vidushi Marda of ARTICLE 19, a human rights organization, agreed that China is fueling a global mania for highly invasive surveillance technology. She told The Sun Online:
“We think it is crucial to focus on China—not because it is a wildly different style of surveillance—but because Chinese tech companies have fueled an international boom in governments’ acquisition of surveillance technology.”
It’s Not Just Government – People Are Tracking Each Other
In China, citizens can track each other via “lowlife” scanners that out people for things like whether they’re in debt or spend their free time playing video games.
Meanwhile, low “credit scores” have been used to ban millions of its citizens from traveling on planes and being considered for higher-level jobs, etc.
Five-year plans are still a thing in communist regimes, and China’s current one, which covers 2021 to 2025, includes even more aggressive plans to watch and control its citizenry and expand its global influence to other nations.
While cell phone data and facial recognition were being utilized in the U.S. to round up close to 400 participants in 6 January election fraud protests in Washington, D.C., China has been articulating its goals of political suppression. “We will also closely guard against, and crackdown on, the infiltration, sabotage, subversion, and separatist activities of hostile forces.”
Some of the technological means to do so involve gathering biometric data via facial recognition. The region of Xinjiang, home to the Uyghurs, an ethnic and religious minority that is being systematically persecuted and purged, has reportedly been a testing ground for the technology.
China’s abuses have been termed genocide by many human rights activists. But, U.S. President Biden recently excused China’s actions. In a CNN town hall forum, Biden dismissed the internment of dissident Uygurs as a “different norm.”
“If you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been, the time when China has been victimized by the outer world is when they haven’t been unified at home… So the central—well, vastly overstated — the central principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that.”
Among the tests in Xinjiang are the use of scanning cameras in public places and on transport systems, which “read” people’s emotions to identify whether they might be a threat to the state. Surveillance systems can already detect who people are with a near 100 percent success rate.
The “Great Firewall of China,” the system that keeps citizens from accessing information freely via the internet, is also a high priority. AI is aiding initiatives like “Predictive policing,” i.e., fingering or apprehending citizens before they’ve committed a “crime.”
And a “Sharp Eyes” program outlined in China’s five-year plan seeks to cover virtually every public space with a surveillance camera. The program was named after a quote from China’s notorious dictator Mao Zedong, who once cast a dark side of human nature as a virtue in noting that “the people have sharp eyes” when looking out for neighbors not living up to Communist values.