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Posts Tagged ‘social credit system’

Will Google’s Social Credit System Determine Your Future?

Posted by M. C. on February 13, 2020

For example, life insurance companies can now use content shared in social media posts to determine your premium. “That Instagram pic showing you teasing a grizzly bear at Yellowstone with a martini in one hand, a bucket of cheese fries in the other, and a cigarette in your mouth, could cost you,” Fast Company notes.8

More recently, it’s also become apparent Google is going after everyone’s health data. Fitbit, which was recently purchased by Google, will provide them with all your physiological information and activity levels, in addition to everything else that Google already has on you.

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/02/12/google-social-credit-system.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Story at-a-glance

  • China started rolling out a social credit system in 2018, which awards and subtracts points for certain types of behavior
  • Google is the largest monopoly the world has ever seen, and its data-siphoning tentacles reach deep into our everyday lives, collecting data on every move you make and conversation you have, whether online or in the real world
  • By the end of 2021, approximately 1 billion cameras will be watching public movements across the globe. Cities are also inviting residents and businesses to plug their private surveillance cameras into their police network, which expands the surveillance system even further
  • To make sense of all this footage, video analytic software and artificial intelligence are used. Video analytic capabilities include fight and fall detection, loitering and motion recognition, dog walking, jaywalking, toll fare evasion and lie detection
  • There are now proposals suggesting all of this data, in combination with AI-enabled analytics systems, could be used for “predictive policing” as illustrated in the 2002 movie “Minority Report,” where suspected perpetrators are arrested before actually committing the crime

You may have heard about China’s social credit system — a dystopian monitoring scheme focused on the moral dimension of human life and behavior — which was conceived in 2014 and rolled out in in earnest in 2018. As reported by Business Insider in October that year:1

“Like private credit scores, a person’s social score can move up and down depending on their behavior. The exact methodology is a secret — but examples of infractions include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and posting fake news online.

China has already started punishing people by restricting their travel. Nine million people with low scores have been blocked from buying tickets for domestic flights …

They can also clamp down on luxury options — three million people are barred from getting business-class train tickets. The eventual system will punish bad passengers specifically. Potential misdeeds include trying to ride with no ticket, loitering in front of boarding gates, or smoking in no-smoking areas.”

Aside from impeding your ability to travel, an individual’s punishment for “bad behavior” per the social credit system can also result in slower internet speed, being banned from attending certain schools or getting a higher education, being barred from certain types of employment, confiscation of pets and, of course, public shaming.2

Google Makes Orwellian Surveillance Easy

In the bitchute video above, Truthstream Media details how this kind of public “trustworthiness” scoring can alter the way people behave — indeed their view of reality itself, and the vast data mining required for the system to work. As noted in the video:

“Social credit scores award or remove points based on behavior. It’s Big Data meets Big Brother. This will be a world with no more personal experiences, only transactions for the social credit system.

This [the system] knows every person, every bike, every car, every bus. That’s because it essentially turns every public interaction into a transaction where points can be earned or lost.”

Google, of course, is a perfect fit for this kind of Orwellian surveillance scheme. It is, by far, the largest monopoly the world has ever seen, and its data-siphoning tentacles reach deep into our everyday lives, collecting data on every move you make and conversation you have, whether online or in the real world.

Google actually tracks your movements online, even when you don’t think you are using their products. Most websites you visit use the ‘free’ Google Analytics program to track everything you do on a website.   Google purchased Urchin Software back in 2005, and by giving it away were able to integrate this important surveillance tool into most of the internet.

Google Analytics integrates with Google’s ad network monopoly, as well as the largest email service Gmail.  These systems are not free, they are a tightly integrated package of surveillance tools – selling your data, selling ads served to you, and manipulating content to direct your behavior.

These tools collect data along with other Google products like the Android ‘smart’ phones, the Nest home security system, and even Google’s Home Assistant.  You can expect these surveillance products to become free over time as the absolute goal is to exploit every bit of data they can collect from you.

A 2015 Wired article3 revealed some of the details of how Google’s online empire is built, noting “One of the company’s cluster switches provides about 40 terabits per second of bandwidth — the equivalent of 40 million home internet connections,” and “Google now sends more information between its data centers than it trades with the internet as a whole.”

As highlighted in a January 27, 2020, article4 by The Intercept, smart camera networks equipped with facial recognition and video analytic software will advance global surveillance even further, and should be banned to prevent an inevitable slide into invisible yet all-encompassing authoritarianism.

“The rise of all-seeing smart camera networks is an alarming development that threatens civil rights and liberties throughout the world.

Law enforcement agencies have a long history of using surveillance against marginalized communities, and studies show surveillance chills freedom of expression — ill effects that could spread as camera networks grow larger and more sophisticated,” The Intercept notes.5

Silicon Valley Is Building America’s Social Credit System

According to Fast Company,6 China’s social credit system is not entirely unique. “A parallel system is developing in the United States, in part as the result of Silicon Valley and technology-industry user policies, and in part by surveillance of social media activity by private companies,” Fast Company writes.7

For example, life insurance companies can now use content shared in social media posts to determine your premium. “That Instagram pic showing you teasing a grizzly bear at Yellowstone with a martini in one hand, a bucket of cheese fries in the other, and a cigarette in your mouth, could cost you,” Fast Company notes.8

PatronScan is another example. These devices are used by restaurants to identify fake IDs and undesirable customers — people previously removed from an establishment for causing a fight, committing sexual assault, stealing or doing drugs.

The list is shared among PatronScan customers, so getting banned in one bar or restaurant effectively bans you from all bars and restaurants in the U.S., Canada and U.K. for up to one year. For additional examples, see the original Fast Company article.9

The Expansion of Public Video Surveillance

Many TV’s now have a camera and can be used to record your emotions while watching presidential debates or the evening news.  The Intercept article10 cited earlier goes on to detail the rise and expansion of video surveillance, starting with Axis Communications’ internet-enabled surveillance camera, launched in the late ’90s, to more modern video management systems that organize all this visual data into databases.

By the end of 2021, the marketing firm IHS Markit predicts 1 billion cameras will be watching public movements across the globe. As if that’s not enough, cities are also inviting residents and businesses to plug their private surveillance cameras into their police network, which expands the system even further.

According to The Intercept, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, New York City and Atlanta have all deployed these types of “plug-in surveillance networks,” and many others are considering it as well. To actually make sense of all this footage, video analytic software and artificial intelligence (AI) are used.

Video analytic capabilities include “fight detection, motion recognition, fall detection, loitering, dog walking, jaywalking, toll fare evasion and even lie detection,” The Intercept reports.11

Object recognition and “anomalous or unusual behavior detection” are also used to flag particular incidents that are then reviewed by human eyes. The Intercept recounts how this information can be used by law enforcement to identify potential crime situations:

“In Connecticut, police have used video analytics to identify or monitor known or suspected drug dealers.

Sergeant Johnmichael O’Hare, former Director of the Hartford Real-Time Crime Center, recently demonstrated how BriefCam helped Hartford police reveal ‘where people go the most’ in the space of 24 hours by viewing footage condensed and summarized in just nine minutes.

Using a feature called ‘pathways,’ he discovered hundreds of people visiting just two houses on the street and secured a search warrant to verify that they were drug houses.”

Is a ‘Pre-Crime’ Department Next?

Companies are also working on searchable databases that can access and make sense of visual data from a range of different platforms, which will “supercharge the ability to search and surveil public spaces,” The Intercept says.12

What’s more, there are now proposals suggesting all of this data, in combination with AI-enabled analytics systems, could be used for “predictive policing” as illustrated in the 2002 movie “Minority Report,” where suspected perpetrators are arrested before actually committing the crime.

Sound too crazy to be true? The Intercept cites a 2018 document13 by the data storage firm Western Digital and the consulting company Accenture, “Value of Data: Seeing What Matters — A New Paradigm for Public Safety Powered by Responsible AI,” which predicts smart surveillance networks may be deployed “across three tiers of maturity.”

The first tier is where we’re at now, where law enforcement use CCTV networks to investigate crimes after they’ve already occurred.

At the second tier level, predicted to be in place by 2025, municipalities will be transformed into fully connected “smart cities,” where the cameras of businesses and public institutions are all plugged into a government-run AI-enabled analytics system. The third tier, predicted by 2035, will have predictive capabilities. As reported by The Intercept:14

“A ‘public safety ecosystem’ will centralize data ‘pulled from disparate databases such as social media, driver’s licenses, police databases, and dark data.’ An AI-enabled analytics unit will let police assess ‘anomalies in real time and interrupt a crime before it is committed.’ That is to say, to catch pre-crime.”

Google’s Ad Network Monopoly

Google’s monopoly goes well beyond web search. It also has a potentially dangerous monopoly on online advertising. In 2007, Google bought DoubleClick, which already dominated the digital advertising market. As reported by InfoWorld:15

“Here’s the danger: Google already knows a tremendous amount about the traffic it sends to individual Web sites — where it comes from, what people are looking for, even some basic demographics.

With DoubleClick in the fold, they will also know what ads are being served on any given page. That gives Google unprecedented insight into publishers’ business. And remember, those publishers may be partners, but they are also competitors, often trying to woo the same advertisers as Google. 

Web sites live and die based upon ad revenue and on charging advertisers a certain rate based upon the number of pages served and the quality of their readership/user base. I could imagine a not-entirely-paranoid fantasy in which Google can run the numbers, turn around, and offer better rates to advertisers for a similar audience.”

To learn more of Google’s surveillance of you and those you love, please view my comprehensive interview with Robert Epstein below. Epstein, former editor-in-chief at Psychology Today, is now a senior research psychologist for the American Institute of Behavioral Research and Technology, where for the last decade he has helped expose Google’s manipulative and deceptive practices.

Google Goes After Your Health Data

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Uh-oh: Silicon Valley is building a Chinese-style social credit system

Posted by M. C. on September 1, 2019

In China, scoring citizens’ behavior is official government policy. U.S. companies are increasingly doing something similar, outside the law.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90394048/uh-oh-silicon-valley-is-building-a-chinese-style-social-credit-system

By Mike Elgan

Have you heard about China’s social credit system? It’s a technology-enabled, surveillance-based nationwide program designed to nudge citizens toward better behavior. The ultimate goal is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step,” according to the Chinese government.

In place since 2014, the social credit system is a work in progress that could evolve by next year into a single, nationwide point system for all Chinese citizens, akin to a financial credit score. It aims to punish for transgressions that can include membership in or support for the Falun Gong or Tibetan Buddhism, failure to pay debts, excessive video gaming, criticizing the government, late payments, failing to sweep the sidewalk in front of your store or house, smoking or playing loud music on trains, jaywalking, and other actions deemed illegal or unacceptable by the Chinese government.

It can also award points for charitable donations or even taking one’s own parents to the doctor.

Punishments can be harsh, including bans on leaving the country, using public transportation, checking into hotels, hiring for high-visibility jobs, or acceptance of children to private schools. It can also result in slower internet connections and social stigmatization in the form of registration on a public blacklist.

China’s social credit system has been characterized in one pithy tweet as “authoritarianism, gamified.”

At present, some parts of the social credit system are in force nationwide and others are local and limited (there are 40 or so pilot projects operated by local governments and at least six run by tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent).

Beijing maintains two nationwide lists, called the blacklist and the red list—the former consisting of people who have transgressed, and the latter people who have stayed out of trouble (a “red list” is the Communist version of a white list.) These lists are publicly searchable on a government website called China Credit.

The Chinese government also shares lists with technology platforms. So, for example, if someone criticizes the government on Weibo, their kids might be ineligible for acceptance to an elite school.

Public shaming is also part of China’s social credit system. Pictures of blacklisted people in one city were shown between videos on TikTok in a trial, and the addresses of blacklisted citizens were shown on a map on WeChat.

Some Western press reports imply that the Chinese populace is suffocating in a nationwide Skinner box of oppressive behavioral modification. But some Chinese are unaware that it even exists. And many others actually like the idea. One survey found that 80% of Chinese citizens surveyed either somewhat or strongly approve of social credit system.

It can happen here

Many Westerners are disturbed by what they read about China’s social credit system. But such systems, it turns out, are not unique to China. A parallel system is developing in the United States, in part as the result of Silicon Valley and technology-industry user policies, and in part by surveillance of social media activity by private companies.

Here are some of the elements of America’s growing social credit system.

Insurance companies

The New York State Department of Financial Services announced earlier this year that life insurance companies can base premiums on what they find in your social media posts. That Instagram pic showing you teasing a grizzly bear at Yellowstone with a martini in one hand, a bucket of cheese fries in the other, and a cigarette in your mouth, could cost you. On the other hand, a Facebook post showing you doing yoga might save you money. (Insurance companies have to demonstrate that social media evidence points to risk, and not be based on discrimination of any kind—they can’t use social posts to alter premiums based on race or disability, for example.)

The use of social media is an extension of the lifestyle questions typically asked when applying for life insurance, such as questions about whether you engage in rock climbing or other adventure sports. Saying “no,” but then posting pictures of yourself free-soloing El Capitan, could count as a “yes.”

PatronScan

A company called PatronScan sells three products—kiosk, desktop, and handheld systems—designed to help bar and restaurant owners manage customers. PatronScan is a subsidiary of the Canadian software company Servall Biometrics, and its products are now on sale in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

PatronScan helps spot fake IDs—and troublemakers. When customers arrive at a PatronScan-using bar, their ID is scanned. The company maintains a list of objectionable customers designed to protect venues from people previously removed for “fighting, sexual assault, drugs, theft, and other bad behavior,” according to its website. A “public” list is shared among all PatronScan customers. So someone who’s banned by one bar in the U.S. is potentially banned by all the bars in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada that use the PatronScan system for up to a year. (PatronScan Australia keeps a separate system.)

Judgment about what kind of behavior qualifies for inclusion on a PatronScan list is up to the bar owners and managers. Individual bar owners can ignore the ban, if they like. Data on non-offending customers is deleted in 90 days or less. Also: PatronScan enables bars to keep a “private” list that is not shared with other bars, but on which bad customers can be kept for up to five years.

PatronScan does have an “appeals” process, but it’s up to the company to grant or deny those appeals.

Uber and Airbnb

Thanks to the sharing economy, the options for travel have been extended far beyond taxis and hotels. Uber and Airbnb are leaders in providing transportation and accommodation for travelers. But there are many similar ride-sharing and peer-to-peer accommodations companies providing similar services.

Airbnb—a major provider of travel accommodation and tourist activities—bragged in March that it now has more than 6 million listings in its system. That’s why a ban from Airbnb can limit travel options.

Airbnb can disable your account for life for any reason it chooses, and it reserves the right to not tell you the reason. The company’s canned message includes the assertion that “This decision is irreversible and will affect any duplicated or future accounts. Please understand that we are not obligated to provide an explanation for the action taken against your account.” The ban can be based on something the host privately tells Airbnb about something they believe you did while staying at their property. Airbnb’s competitors have similar policies.

It’s now easy to get banned by Uber, too. Whenever you get out of the car after an Uber ride, the app invites you to rate the driver. What many passengers don’t know is that the driver now also gets an invitation to rate you. Under a new policy announced in May: If your average rating is “significantly below average,” Uber will ban you from the service.

WhatsApp

You can be banned from communications apps, too. For example, you can be banned on WhatsApp if too many other users block you. You can also get banned for sending spam, threatening messages, trying to hack or reverse-engineer the WhatsApp app, or using the service with an unauthorized app.

WhatsApp is small potatoes in the United States. But in much of the world, it’s the main form of electronic communication. Not being allowed to use WhatsApp in some countries is as punishing as not being allowed to use the telephone system in America.

What’s wrong with social credit, anyway?

Nobody likes antisocial, violent, rude, unhealthy, reckless, selfish, or deadbeat behavior. What’s wrong with using new technology to encourage everyone to behave?

The most disturbing attribute of a social credit system is not that it’s invasive, but that it’s extralegal. Crimes are punished outside the legal system, which means no presumption of innocence, no legal representation, no judge, no jury, and often no appeal. In other words, it’s an alternative legal system where the accused have fewer rights.

Social credit systems are an end-run around the pesky complications of the legal system. Unlike China’s government policy, the social credit system emerging in the U.S. is enforced by private companies. If the public objects to how these laws are enforced, it can’t elect new rule-makers.

An increasing number of societal “privileges” related to transportation, accommodations, communications, and the rates we pay for services (like insurance) are either controlled by technology companies or affected by how we use technology services. And Silicon Valley’s rules for being allowed to use their services are getting stricter.

If current trends hold, it’s possible that in the future a majority of misdemeanors and even some felonies will be punished not by Washington, D.C., but by Silicon Valley. It’s a slippery slope away from democracy and toward corporatocracy.

In other words, in the future, law enforcement may be determined less by the Constitution and legal code, and more by end-user license agreements.

Be seeing you

China's Terrifying "Social Credit" System Has Already ...

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Fast Company: Silicon Valley Is Building a Communist-style ‘Social Credit’ System

Posted by M. C. on August 27, 2019

…if you engage in behavior that the regime doesn’t like, they’ll assign you a score, and when it drops below a certain point, they’ll exclude you from certain basic services…

https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2019/08/26/fast-company-silicon-valley-is-building-a-communist-style-social-credit-system/#

by Allum Bokhari

Fast Company has caught on to what Breitbart News has been highlighting for some time: that the Big Tech Masters of the Universe are developing systems to monitor and regulate personal behavior that closely resemble China’s totalitarian “social credit” system.

The “social credit” system assigns all Chinese citizens a “social credit score.” A citizen’s score drops if he engages in a range of disfavored activities, ranging from littering to supporting political dissidents.

Citizens whose score drops low enough can find themselves subject to strict punishment, including bans from the use of public transport, exclusion from top jobs, and prohibitions on their children attending top-rated schools.

This may sound alien and Orwellian, but as Fast Company notes, Silicon Valley is bringing a version of this grim reality to America.

Via Fast Company:

Many Westerners are disturbed by what they read about China’s social credit system. But such systems, it turns out, are not unique to China. A parallel system is developing in the United States, in part as the result of Silicon Valley and technology-industry user policies, and in part by surveillance of social media activity by private companies.

The articles goes on to note a range of ways in which western citizens are being systematically rated, and in some cases excluded, by corporate America. These include insurance companies scanning the social media feeds of applicants, an app called “PatronScan,” that logs the face and name of troublesome bar and restaurant clientele, and the growing tendency of services like Airbnb, Uber, and WhatsApp to ban users for arbitrary reasons.

The comparison to China’s social credit system is similar to the one this reporter made on Breitbart News Daily in June:

In China, they have what’s called a “social credit system” — in which, if you engage in behavior that the regime doesn’t like, they’ll assign you a score, and when it drops below a certain point, they’ll exclude you from certain basic services, like transportation, they might not let your kids go to good schools — all sorts of basic services, they’ll cut you off from.

We have a corporate version of this already evolving. So if you don’t do the things that Facebook approves of, they’re going to cut you off from their platform, which is now essential for maintaining a social network, building a business, running for office. We rely on Facebook and other social media platforms for so many things. Uber and Lyft will also ban you now — they’ve started to ban people for political viewpoints, so you think China is the only one that’s going to cut you off from transportation for having the wrong opinions — well, Western corporations are now doing that, too. Airbnb, Amazon, they’re all doing it.

One other comparison from the Fast Company article deserves note — the Chinese communist government’s partnership with tech platforms like Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. Far from aiding dissidents, Chinese social media companies like Weibo and WeChat aid and abet the government in the persecution of its citizens.

That too, has eerie parallels with the West, where social media platforms have become a means of extra-judicial censorship for politicians. Because America has the First Amendment, politicians can’t pass laws suppressing speech or punishing dissidents against the established order — but they can, and frequently do, bully tech companies into doing their dirty work for them.

Be seeing you

 

 

 

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Everyone’s Got A “Surveillance Score” And It Can Cost You Big Money | Zero Hedge

Posted by M. C. on July 13, 2019

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-06-29/everyones-got-surveillance-score-and-it-can-cost-you-big-money

Authored by Dagny Taggart via Our Organic Prepper blog,

In these Orwellian times, when it is revealed that yet another government agency is spying on us in yet another way, most of us aren’t one bit surprised. Being surveilled nearly everywhere we go (and even in our own homes) has become the norm, unfortunately.

 

Yesterday, it was revealed that the NSA improperly collected Americans’ call and text logs in November 2017 and in February and October 2018 – just months after the agency claimed it was going to delete the 620 million-plus call detail records it already had stockpiled.

But this article isn’t about that.

It is about something far more insidious.

When it comes to spying on people, the government has competition.

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