[Plura-list] Phone surveillance, made in Canada; Chile restores democratic rule; Someone Comes to Town, Part 20

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Mon Oct 26 12:32:28 EDT 2020


I'm giving a talk at Privacyweek Austria tomorrow!



Today's links

* Phone surveillance, made in Canada: Octasic takes over Harris's
Stingray division.

* Chile restores democratic rule: Neoliberal's first gunshot has stopped

* Someone Comes to Town, Part 20: "A glorious book unlike any book
you’ve ever read." -Gene Wolfe

* This day in history: 2005, 2010, 2015, 2019

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing
projects, current reading


🕴🏼 Phone surveillance, made in Canada

In 2013, Daniel Rigmaiden - facing life in prison for 35 counts each of
wire fraud and aggravated identity theft - was offered a surprise deal
by federal prosecutors.

They knew that he had uncovered an obsessively kept secret: that he had
been caught with a surveillance device called a "Stingray" - a fake
cellular tower that tricked phones into leaking their owners' identities
to its operators.


Stingrays were made by the Harris Corporation, a notorious arms dealer.
They came with onerous secrecy requirements that the feds enforced with
criminal ruthlessness, like ordering cops to lie on the stand about how
they caught their suspects.


Then it escalated to a French farce with a soupcon of police-state
commando raids, when federal cops started raiding local police
departments to steal their records so they couldn't be entered into
evidence in trials.


Stingrays are a brutal reminder of the idiocy of "NOBUS" ("No one but
us"), the US surveillance agencies' practice of deliberately creating
and/or preserving defects in widely used systems so they can target
their adversaries with them.


By preserving and exploiting - rather than reporting and repairing - the
defects in cellular networks, the US government paved the way for
criminal enterprises that fielded their *own* Stingrays, to track and
infect their victims' phones.


By 2018, our cities were blanketed with mysterious Stingray devices - 40
were found in DC alone, presumed to be operated by foreign spies,
criminal gangs, private espionage outfits, and US law enforcement agencies.


The US officials who deliberately weakened the US's mobile security
insists it's a small price to pay for foiling major crimes. A closer
look reveals that the major uses for Stingrays were penny-ante stuff,
like tracking down an undocumented waiter.


And of course, this summer's BLM uprising saw Stingrays get a major
workout as local law enforcement engaged in mass, warrantless
surveillance of democratic protesters.


Now, Gizmodo reports that Harris has gotten out of the Stingray
business, discontinuing sales and support for the existing units in the
field. The likely cause is 5G, which requires a major retooling for this
kind of surveillance.


But (according to Dell Cameron and Dhruv Mehrotra) US cops have a new
arms-dealer, the Montreal-based Octasic, whose Nyxcell V800/F800 TAU
cellular surveillance devices are marketed in the USA by Tactical
Support Equipment of North Carolina.

Octasic's engineers seem to be headquartered in India, a country that,
this year, saw the longest-ever internet shutdown of any country in the
world, combined with mass-scale mobile surveillance.


US police departments are funneling millions to this Canadian firm.
Canada's own law enforcement has a terrible track record with Stingrays,
having secretly (and illegally) used them for years:


If you want to understand more about Stingrays, EFF's Threat Lab
published an indispensible guide to the technology in 2019 that I highly



🕴🏼 Chile restores democratic rule

Neoliberalism's starting gun went off on 1973, when a US- and UK-backed
fascist military deposed Salvador Allende, the incredibly popular,
democratically elected president of Chile.

The coup embodied Peter Thiel's summation of the libertarian principle
that "Democracy is incompatible with liberty," where "liberty" means the
freedom of the 1% to amass unlimited wealth at the expense of the
starving, brutalized 99%.

The new dictator, Augusto Pinochet, was feted by Anglo-American right
wing figures, including the elite of the Chicago School of Economics and
their cult leader, Friedrich Hayek, who traveled to Chile to oversee a
program of torture and murder as Pinochet consolidated power.

Pinochet's program was designed to cow the Chilean people into
subservience, with thousands of disappearances and human remains left in
trash-bags on the side of the highway. Government thugs kidnapped
opposition figures and pushed them out of helicopters.

Folk singer Victor Jara was dragged to a stadium filled with his
comrades. Soldiers smashed his guitar and fingers and then ordered him
to play. As he began a defiant chorus of "Venceremos," he was shot in
the head. Then, more than 40 rounds were unloaded into his corpse.

Pinochet's most lasting legacy was the Chilean constitution, a
masterwork in antimajoritarianism that takes the worst aspects of the US
Senate and Electoral College and supercharges them, creating a framework
for an eternal domination of the many by the few.

In the years since, Chile - the richest country in the region  - became
the most *unequal* country in the region. That constitution was a
looter's charter, a blanket permission for the wildly profitable
immiseration of working people by parasitic rentiers.

The Chilean coup and reconstruction were the prototype for the
neoliberal project. In the decades since, leaders like Thatcher and
Reagan - and the vast fortunes that supported them - used it as a
template for policy and legislation at home.

What's more, the Chilean model was exported to the rest of the global
south through the IMF and other neoliberal institutions that used the
pretense of indebtedness to create the conditions for eternal peonage
for the world's majority.

Bans on labor organizing, imposed austerity, selloffs of state
industries to foreign corporations that could gouge on life's essentials
- water, transport, power, even seeds - to ensure that colonial debt
could never be paid off.

A year ago, Chile exploded. A student protest movement - triggered by
fare hikes in a privatized transit system - tapped into the nation's
deep, simmering rage, the increasingly obvious fact of inexorable,
bottomless downward social mobility.


People from all walks of life took to the streets - and stayed there.
The protests grew, and as they did, the facade of eternal dominance of
rich over poor crumbled. The constitution, rammed through by a murdering
despot, became the object of the nation's fury.

It is a document designed to deliver legislative control to the wealthy
and their lackeys, and, more importantly, to make impossible for any of
that to change.

The Chileans demanded the impossible: they demanded a new constitution.

Now, a year later, a referendum to overturn the Chilean constitution has
passed with a spectacular majority: 78% (!!) (!!!!).


What's more, 79% of voters asked for the new constitution to be drawn up
by a popularly elected commission, rather than by the illegitimate
congress installed under the rules of the constitution they have set out
to abolish.

The exact method by which the new constitution will be drafted remains
to be seen, and the process could still go horribly awry.

But this is light at the end of a tunnel we've been traveling for half a

The US right has embarked on its own Chilean project, with the GOP bent
on creating eternal minority rule through systematic sabotage of
America's democratic institutions, from voting:


to the Supreme Court.

Senior elected lawmakers from the GOP have started openly campaigning
against the very IDEA of democracy:


And yet... The summerlong uprisings, people lining up all day to vote,
the record small-dollar fundraising for transformative US politicians
like AOC... There is a changing tide in US politics, and in global politics.

The Chicago School's ideal of plutocracy was tried, and it failed. It
created a world incapable of addressing the pandemic emergency, let
alone the climate emergency. It made billionaires out of sociopaths.
They've been shoving us out of a helicopter for half a century.

Last year, a US-backed coup sought to depose Evo Morales, the
democratically elected, indigenous socialist leader of Bolivia. Last
week, Bolivians returned to the polls and delivered a landslide for Morales.


Plutocracy declared war on the human race and the only planet capable of
supporting it in 1973. Today, their first fortress has fallen. In a
moment of stark terror and despair, that is cause for hope and celebration.


🕴🏼 Someone Comes to Town, Part 20

This week on my podcast, part 20 of my serialized reading of my 2006
novel Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, a book that Gene Wolfe
called "a glorious book unlike any book you’ve ever read."


You can catch up on previous installments in the reading here:


And here's a direct MP3 link (hosting courtesy of the Internet Archive,
they'll host your stuff for free, forever):


And here's the feed for my podcast:


🕴🏼 This day in history

#15yrsago Bruce Sterling’s design future manifesto: viva spime!

#10yrsago South Korea’s US-led copyright policy leads to 65,000 acts of
extrajudicial censorship/disconnection/threats by govt bureaucrats

#10yrsago Raiders of the Lost Ark as a Popeye comic

#5yrsago BBC helps Saudis whitewash arms trade to Syrian jihadis

#5yrsago Near-future Ikea catalog: the Internet of Things’ flat-pack as
a service

#5yrsago Sony licensed stock footage, then branded its creator a pirate
for using it himself

#5yrsago Youtube’s pay TV service makes video-creators a deal they
literally can’t refuse

#5yrsago IMF: Cheap oil will bankrupt the Saudis in five years

#1yrago New Hampshire state Rep John Potucek kills Right to Repair bill:
“cellphones are throwaways…just get a new one”

#1yrago Researchers’ budget blown when a migrating eagle’s tracker chip
connects to an Iranian cellular tower and sends expensive SMSes

#1yrago Nearly all Americans’ taxes will go down under Medicare for All

#1yrago “Affordances”: a new science fiction story that climbs the
terrible technology adoption curve


🕴🏼 Colophon

Today's top sources: Metafilter (https://www.metafilter.com/), Schneier
(https://schneier.com/, Naked Capitalism (https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/).

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel
about truth and reconciliation. Friday's progress: 518 words (76615 total).

Currently reading: Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 20)

Upcoming appearances:

* Keynote, Privacyweek, Oct 27

* How to Fix the Internet/Reboot 2020, Nov 9,

* Cyberterrorists, Post-Apocalyptic Landscapes, and
Were-Pomeranians/Texas Book Festival, Nov 12,

* Let's Talk About Influence/Designthinkers, Nov 16,

* Shaping the Digital Future Summit/Kaspersky, Nov 17, details TBD

* Misinformation and Disinformation in Science Fiction and Fantasy/LITA,
Nov 17, details TBD

* Keynote, Data Natives, Nov 18, https://datanatives.io/tickets/

* Keynote, Cologne Futures, Nov 20, details TBD

* Keynote, Cybersummit 2020, Nov 26 https://www.cybera.ca/cyber-summit-2020/

* Beaverbrook Lecture: How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism, Nov 30,

Recent appearances:

* TWiT: The J to J Protocol

* Writing Excuses: Researching the FCK out of Things

* SRSLY WRONG: Stop Techno Dystopia!

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone
technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political
cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution
and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies
* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

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