Technical details…

surveillance/spectacle

Remember the “debate” last spring / summer about digital tracking techniques? When mobile phones would (supposedly) communicate with each other “informing” their users that they were “at a distance of infection” from someone “positive”? And that all this would be done “anonymously” and with “respect for privacy”?

A few days ago, a u.s military (specifically its air force) research center signed a test contract for software developed by a technology company called SignalFrame, based in Washington. What does this software do? It works (if we can make the parallel) as a highly contagious virus! Once it “conquers” a smartphone, it gains access to any other similar device with which the “conquered” mobile phone has a connection either wirelessly or via bluetooth. According to yesterday’s systemic wall street journal, the “infected” (our terminology) mobile phone becomes… a window onto usage of hundreds of millions of computers, routers, fitness trackers, modern automobiles and other networked devices, known collectively as the “Internet of Things”. This means that it is enough to tap a single device per few hundred or thousands to tap them all. The interest of the american army is therefore reasonable. Either to use the software, or to find a way to block it.

Despite its luck to sign such a good contract with the u.s state, SignalFrame built the software, betting primarily on its commercial use. To allow its customers (companies of various kinds) to monitor the manners and customs of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of customers or potential customers (those that are increasingly recorded in these handheld devices that we call “remote controls of everyday life”…) with ease and speed, through the “wiretapping” of relatively few mobile phones.

Did western states know SignalFrame (or any other company with similar ideas and applications) when they advertised the digital tracking of their citizens? Although so far we have no evidence of a definite “yes”, the logical conclusion is that even if their bureaucrats did not know, it would be easy to learn quickly: could be approached by SignalFrame vendors or the like. Equally important is that any private company could practice piracy through this software; and why not?

Is there a moral of the story? Yes. Anyone from ignorant to completely ignorant of the existing (systemic) technological capabilities, of the technical background of capitalism 4.0, whether it be communications, biotechnologies or neurosciences (indexical reference to techno-scientific domain) can easily talk out of one’s ass. There is plenty of “cafe type” space for any smartass.

But the reality is elsewhere…