Saturday, 1 March 2014

telescreens have no off switch or the ballad of max headroom

In more underwhelming news, whose aggressions were probably always buried in some consent boilerplate, comes the revelation (read, natural consequence) that Her Majesty's spy agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) ran a program under the codename Optic Nerve that captured billions of snapshots from video chat sessions, indiscriminate and warrantless to be sure.

The article focuses on one particular messaging service but I am certain that others were also sampled. Material harvested was not intended to be a record of users' conversations and contacts—though I don't believe that that cache of intelligence was simply atomized, but was rather a platform to test the limits and filters of facial recognition software and sift out villains already posted in the police mugbook. The exercise is proving of dubious value, and in fact they've sequestered a sizable amount of lewd displays (described as undesirable amounts of flesh). The surveyors plead to be at a loss as to what the disposition ought to be for these false-positives, whether they're to be classified as other distinguishing features or put on deposit in a registry somewhere of posing indecents for future use.