Watchdog: UK spies engaged in illegal surveillance from 2001-2012

The UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled that GCHQ (the UK's domestic surveillance apparatus) illegally engaged in mass surveillance for more than a decade (starting after 9/11), during which time the foreign secretaries who were supposed to be overseeing their activities "delegated powers without oversight," allowing the spies to police their own activities. (Images: Defense Images, CC-BY-SA; Cryteria, CC-BY) Read the rest

China uses sewage surveillance to detect drugs in urine and feces

Across China, local governments have implemented mass surveillance of urine and feces in city sewers to detect drug use; in drug hotspots like Zhongshan, longitudinal assays of drug residues in human waste are used to evaluate the efficacy of anti-drug programs. Read the rest

China is sending its ethnic minorities to torture camps to be brainwashed out of Islam

During the Cultural Revolution, millions of dissidents (and those suspected of dissidence) were sent to "re-education camps" where torture and slave labor were augmented by marathon "self-criticism" sessions where prisoners would have to engage in prolonged recitations and disavowals of their heresies. Read the rest

Stephen Colbert explains Jesus' position on ripping children from their parents to Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions says that the Bible commands him to cruelly separate thousands of children from their parents, but Colbert -- a devout Catholic -- begs to differ. (Thanks, Rutherford B Hayes!) Read the rest

China mandates radio-tracking beacons in all cars

As of July 1, registering a car in China will involve registering an RFID radio-beacon that will be planted on the car in order to track its movements. Read the rest

Tanzania's independent websites, podcasts and video channels have gone dark as the country's new blogger tax goes into effect

As of this Friday, anyone operating an independent online presence in Tanzania will have to pay a licensing fee equivalent to an average year's wages, and submit to a harsh set of censorship rules, as well as an obligation to unmask anonymous posters and commenters, with stiff penalties for noncompliance. Read the rest

Thoughtful, devastating critique of Jordan Peterson's "12 Rules for Life"

Jordan Peterson is really easy to make fun of -- what with the mystical nonsense and the pseudoscientific evolutionary biology -- but there are millions of (largely white, largely young, largely male) readers who've found his "12 Rules for Life" to be a balm for their souls and a rallying cry for a movement that has legitimized the most murderous strains of toxic masculinity. Read the rest

New York high school will use CCTV and facial recognition to enforce discipline

Next year, high schools in Lockport New York will use the "Aegis" CCTV and facial recognition system to track and record the interactions of students suspected of code of conduct violations, keeping a ledger of who speaks to whom, where, and for how long. Read the rest

High school students who will not smile in the hallways are sent to mandatory counselling, while bullying is rampant

High school students in Pennsylvania's Northern Lebanon School District report that they are not allowed to walk through their schools' hallways unless they smile; if they refuse they are sent for mandatory counselling. Read the rest

Ahead of national elections, India's authoritarian ruling party loses a key regional battle

India's national elections are only a year away, and things aren't looking good for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an authoritarian war criminal who has a mutual love affair with US President Donald Trump. Read the rest

If patrolling US soldiers can avoid shooting civilians, why can't US cops stop murdering unarmed black men?

David French served as squadron judge advocate for the Second Squadron, Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, stationed at Forward Operating Base Caldwell in Diyala Province, Iraq; he walked patrol with other soldiers, during which he and his colleagues confronted routine armed aggression from insurgents out of uniform, who used IEDs as well as firearms in their fights with US soldiers. Read the rest

ICE uses Facebook's backend to hunt their prey, with help from Palantir

Public records requests have shown that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- who have continued and intensified Obama's program of mass deportations and separation of families under Trump -- uses Facebook's logs, merged with logs from cellular carriers and analyzed by software from Palantir (Peter Thiel's police-state arms-dealer) to track immigrants people they're investigating. Read the rest

A new government malware company, fronted by Hacking Team's old spokesjerk, says it can spy on Signal and Telegram

Grey Heron is a new cyber-arms dealer offering to sell hacking tools to governments; it is fronted by Eric Rabe, who previously represented the disgraced, hacked Italian malware company Hacking Team, notorious for selling spy tools to governments that used them to target dissidents who were tortured and murdered after they were outed. Read the rest

Seattle spends five years failing to come up with a privacy policy for its $3.6m surveillance network, then spends $150k ripping it out

Five years after activists forced Seattle's mayor to return the city's surveillance drones to their manufacturer, the city has announced that it is terminating its warrantless mass-surveillance program altogether. Read the rest

How to ban porn

"Let's Ban Porn," writes Ross Douthat in the Op-Ed pages of the NY Times. Good luck with that, writes Peter Suderman of Reason, who says "Douthat's core worry is effectively the same fear that drove socially conservative criticisms of video games, action movies, and Dungeons & Dragons — that teenagers will be unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality, and will reenact what they see on screen in real life."

Here's what would have to happen to ban porn, says Suderman:

Stop the porn industry from producing porn, "forcing, at minimum, every person who has ever attended the Adult Video News Awards in a professional capacity to immediately find a new line of work." Stop websites from distributing porn. Stop everyday people who videotape themselves having sex.

To be at all effective, you would also need to enforce criminal penalties against former professionals who continued to produce porn for the black market. And you'd need to penalize thrill-seeking amateurs as well, which would mean going after, and perhaps locking up, a wide array of sympathetic and otherwise law-abiding individuals from all walks of life whose only crime was to record and distribute consensual sexual activity. You'd also need to punish illicit viewers, whose numbers could easily reach into the tens of millions.

This project would be difficult, unpopular, and there would be no guarantee that it would work at all. Many of the most popular domestic hubs for porn would probably move to protected locations overseas. But it is at least plausible that if you devoted sufficient public resources and effort on the part of law-enforcement, you might—might—be able to reduce, if not eliminate, porn consumption.

Read the rest

Chinese transit cops deploy face-recognition glasses to spot indebted people, oppressed ethnic/religious minorities and criminals

Chinese transit cops are wearing glasses with heads-up displays and cameras tied into the country's facial recognition to spot criminals, people smugglers, and riders who are using high-speed trains in defiance of rules that prohibit indebted people and people from ethnic and religious minorities from traveling. Read the rest

Tennessee sheriff who ordered deputies to kill driver of slow-moving car and gloated over his corpse faces excessive force lawsuit

Robyn Dial is suing White County, Tennessee Sheriff Oddie Shoupe for excessive force in the killing of her husband Michael Dial, who was shot in the head after he drove away at low speed from a traffic stop while towing a heavy trailer behind his 40-year-old pickup truck; Sheriff Shoupe was captured on bodycam mics ordering his officers to gun down Dial rather than run him off the road and risk cosmetic damage to their cruisers; after he arrived on the scene and observed Dial's corpse, he was recorded saying "They said 'we’re ramming him.' I said, 'Don’t ram him, shoot him.' Fuck that shit. Ain't gonna tear up my cars. I love this shit. God, I tell you what, I thrive on it. If they don’t think I’ll give the damn order to kill that motherfucker they’re full of shit. Take him out. I’m here on the damn wrong end of the county." Read the rest

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