To survey and protect

To survey and protect

Big Brother speaks different languages
It’s funny how the “free market” works. We here in the Land of the Free love to criticize “Communist China” and its draconian ways, yet it is our corporations who are helping it keep an iron fist on its citizens.

China Public Security, a company incorporated in Florida with the help of IBM, Cisco, HP and Dell, is selling high-tech identification cards to China. The cards will be issued to most of the 12.4 million people in the Southern China city of Shenzhen. These residency cards hold powerful computer chips that contain a citizen’s name, address, work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status, personal reproductive history (for enforcement of China’s “one child” policy) and landlord’s phone number.

People’s credit history, subway travel payments and small-purchase histories may also be included. All of this in a city with more than 200,000 police, government and business surveillance cameras and where it is believed that individuals’ whereabouts can be tracked through their cell phones.

The closed-circuit cameras don’t stop in the central kingdom of China, though. The New York City Police Department is to follow in China’s and London’s surveillance footsteps by installing more than 100 “traffic” cameras in lower Manhattan while also attempting to connect more than 3,000 existing public and private cameras to police systems. Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington are following New York City’s lead.

Computer Cops
What happens if all of this surveillance can’t keep the Chinese population in line? Why not just post two police officers in every computer? A virtual male and female police officer will be patrolling the Chinese Internet on foot, bicycle, motorcycle or car. Their avatar will appear across the bottom of computer users’ screens every 30 minutes.

The blue-uniformed officers will be patrolling in search of porn as well as sites that “incite secession, promote superstition, gambling and fraud,” according to the China Daily newspaper. How these two virtual officers will actually “police” Web users’ actions was not explained in the article.

Hacker’s Summer Project
The Associated Press knows what 17-year-old George Hotz did over his summer break. He hacked the Apple iPhone so it can be used with cell phone carriers other than the exclusive AT&T.

His process takes about two hours and requires some soldering and software tweaks. Technology blog Engadget claims to have hacked the phone using only software methods, and it is believed that Apple may just change the configuration so that users can switch carriers themselves without needing to hack the device. Hotz spent about 500 hours of his summer break in collaboration with four others online, including two people from Russia, to develop the process.

Wacky Web site of the Week
This is actually a wacky, ultra-creative music video from UK electronica artist Clark for his single “Herr Bar.” If you are offended by unclothed human bodies, you may want to give this a pass (click the “open video” button on the lower left of the screen).