• Anarchism
  • Civil rights
  • Liberalism
  • Libertarianism
  • Open society
  • Panopticon
  • Police state
  • Privacy
  • Secrecy
  • Shock doctrine
  • Totalitarianism
  • Transparancy & accountability
  • Data retention
  • Employee surveillance
  • Insurance policies
  • Pay/get paid to give up privacy
  • Security privatization
  • Target marketing
  • Total Information Awareness
  • Virtuele slotgracht/nodale controle (Netherlands)
  • Audiovisual surveillance
  • Biometrics
  • Crowd control
  • Data mining
  • Databases
  • Data mining
  • Encryption
  • High resolution photography
  • Identity documents
  • Network-centric warfare
  • Networks
  • Non-lethal weapons
  • Police militarization
  • Radio-frequency identification
  • Web-based geographic visualization


Movie listing:

  • Gattaca
  • Enemy of the State

Man and its relentless need to self-destroy:

  • Matrix: interrogation scene: man is like a virus/stench
  • Terminator 2: scene with two fighting children and toy guns: we're never gonna make it, are we?
  • i,Robot: Viki's motivation to initiate a rise of the robots

Machines taking over:

  • Matrix
  • Terminator 2
  • i,Robot

Rationalizing society/laws:

  • i,Robot

Privatization of law enforcement/military:

  • RoboCop: corporate corruption, critique on Reaganism, “Good business is where you find it”

Dystopian environments

  • i,Robot: high production value, CGI, cliché depiction (high rise, civilian protest etc.)
  • Children of Men: more organic environments, documentary film style
  • Statewatch
  • EDRI-gram
  • Hardware hacking as resistance to consumer culture
  • A government having knowledge about its citizens is not quite the same as having control over its citizens (cf. EMD bracelet)
  • July 05, 2007: FoAM, Brussels
  • February 01, 2008: The Hub Brussels
  • April 25, 2008: Nadine, Saint-Erme
  • June 18, 2008: FoAM, Brussels
  • July 07, 2008: FoAM, Brussels
  • July 10, 2008: The Hub Brussels Co-creation meeting
  • July 13, 2008: Margo De Koster (VUB/UCL), FoAM

Total Information Awareness

TIA continuation

Police state

Amateur terror fighters to report photographers in Colorado

“Hundreds of police, firefighters, paramedics and even utility workers have been trained and recently dispatched as “Terrorism Liaison Officers” in Colorado and a handful of other states to hunt for “suspicious activity” — and are reporting their findings into secret government databases. […] “Suspicious activity” is broadly defined in TLO training as behavior that could lead to terrorism: taking photos of no apparent aesthetic value, making measurements or notes, espousing extremist beliefs or conversing in code, according to a draft Department of Justice/Major Cities Chiefs Association document. […] “We're simply providing information on crime-related issues or suspicious circumstances,” said Denver police Lt. Tony Lopez, commander of Denver's intelligence unit and one of 181 individual TLOs deployed across Colorado. “We don't snoop into private citizens' lives. We aren't living in a communist state.” —, July 01, 2008.

U.S. defense contractors help to build a high-tech police state in Shenzen, China

“The Communist Party chose Chenzen — thanks to its location close to Hong Kong's port — to be China's first “special economic zone,” one of only four areas where capitalism would be permitted on a trial basis. The theory behind the experiment was that the “real” China would keep its socialist soul intact while profiting from the private-sector jobs and industrial development created in Shenzhen. The result was a city of pure commerce, undiluted by history or rooted culture — the crack cocaine of capitalism. […] Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range — a project driven in part by U.S. technology and investment. Over the next three years, Chinese security executives predict they will install as many as 2 million CCTVs in Shenzhen, which would make it the most watched city in the world. (Security-crazy London boasts only half a million surveillance cameras.) The security cameras are just one part of a much broader high-tech surveillance and censorship program known in China as “Golden Shield.” The end goal is to use the latest people-tracking technology — thoughtfully supplied by American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric — to create an airtight consumer cocoon: a place where Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cellphones, McDonald's Happy Meals, Tsingtao beer and UPS delivery (to name just a few of the official sponsors of the Beijing Olympics) can be enjoyed under the unblinking eye of the state, without the threat of democracy breaking out.” — Naomi Klein,, May 29, 2008.

Totalitarian state

Definition and differences with dictatorial and police states

“A form of government that theoretically permits no individual freedom and that seeks to subordinate all aspects of the individual’s life to the authority of the government. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini coined the term totalitario in the early 1920s to describe the new fascist state of Italy, which he further described as: “All within the state, none outside the state, none against the state.” By the beginning of World War II, “totalitarian” had become synonymous with absolute and oppressive single-party government.

In the broadest sense, totalitarianism is characterized by strong central rule that attempts to control and direct all aspects of individual life through coercion and repression. Examples of such centralized totalitarian rule include the Maurya dynasty of India (c. 321–c. 185 bc), the Ch’in dynasty of China (221–206 bc), and the reign of Zulu chief Shaka (c. 1816–28). The totalitarian states of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler (1933–45) and the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin (1924–53) were the first examples of decentralized or popular totalitarianism, in which the state achieved overwhelming popular support for its leadership. This support was not spontaneous; its genesis depended on a charismatic leader; and it was made possible only by modern developments in communication and transportation.

Totalitarianism is often distinguished from dictatorship, despotism, or tyranny by its supplanting of all political institutions with new ones and its sweeping away of all legal, social, and political traditions. The totalitarian state pursues some special goal, such as industrialization or conquest, to the exclusion of all others. All resources are directed toward its attainment regardless of the cost. Whatever might further the goal is supported; whatever might foil the goal is rejected. This obsession spawns an ideology that explains everything in terms of the goal, rationalizing all obstacles that may arise and all forces that may contend with the state. The resulting popular support permits the state the widest latitude of action of any form of government. Any dissent is branded evil, and internal political differences are not permitted. Because pursuit of the goal is the only ideological foundation for the totalitarian state, achievement of the goal can never be acknowledged.


Police operations within a totalitarian state often appear similar to those within a police state, but one important difference distinguishes them. In a police state the police operate according to known, consistent procedures. In a totalitarian state the police operate without the constraints of laws and regulations. Their actions are unpredictable and directed by the whim of their rulers. Under Hitler and Stalin uncertainty was interwoven into the affairs of the state. The German constitution of the Weimar Republic was never abrogated under Hitler, but an enabling act passed by the Reichstag in 1933 permitted him to amend the constitution at will, in effect nullifying it. The role of lawmaker became vested in one man. Similarly, Stalin provided a constitution for the Soviet Union in 1936 but never permitted it to become the framework of Soviet law. Instead, he was the final arbiter in the interpretation of Marxism–Leninism–Stalinism and changed his interpretations at will. Neither Hitler nor Stalin permitted change to become predictable, thus increasing the sense of terror among the people and repressing any dissent.”

— Encyclopaedia Britannica


Peter McWilliams, Ain't nobody's business if you do, 1996

“McWilliams marshals a vast army of anecdotes, quotes, statistics and assertions to argue that America would be a lot better off if we stopped using the force of law to save each other from drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, suicide and sex in its more exotic flavors.” — New York Times

“There's a huge difference between crime and sin - and the government has no business making the former out of the latter. At least, not in America.” — New York Newsday

“In witty, well-researched pages, McWilliams gives a series of compelling arguments to back up his contention that it's morally wrong to prosecute people for victimless crimes against morality.” — Detroit News

Download the entire book for free at

Activist groups

Open Rights Group

“Politicians and the media don’t always understand new technologies, but comment and legislate anyway. The result can be ill-informed journalism and dangerous laws. The Open Rights Group is a grassroots technology organisation which exists to protect civil liberties wherever they are threatened by the poor implementation and regulation of digital technology. We call these rights our “digital rights”. In 2005, a community of 1,000 digital rights enthusiasts came together to create the Open Rights Group. Since then, ORG has spoken out on copyright term extension, DRM and the introduction of electronic voting in the UK. We have informed the debate on data protection, freedom of information, data retention and the surveillance state.”

“On this blog, I return frequently to the things I'm most passionate about — especially civil liberties — from a mostly libertarian point of view. That said, I hate doctrinarian thinking, so every once in a while I'll stray from the course and antagonize even my libertarian friends. Of course, my professional affiliations and long-suffering clients notwithstanding, the thoughts expressed here are mine alone, as are the inevitable typos and other glaring shortcomings. Speaking of which: if you catch a mistake, or a link that doesn't work, please e-mail me and I'll fix it. […] I've borrowed the title “Nobody's Business” from a book that seriously influenced my political thinking: the late Peter McWilliams' “Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do” (the Billie Holiday song of that name isn't bad either). Peter's book is a great libertarian screed based on one simple idea: Consenting adults should not be arrested or punished unless they physically harm the person or property of a nonconsenting other. It's an especially powerful argument when you apply it to the War on Drugs that we've been fighting (and losing, no contest) for the better part of a century. Here's a quick overview of the book. If you want more, you can actually download the whole tome from the McWilliams site.” — Rogier van Bakel

Activist art

Hasan M. Elahi

Tracking Transience

“One of the works that received an honorary mention at the Prix Ars Electronica in the Net Vision category is Tracking Transience: The Orwell Project, a collection of photographs with a web based companion that tracks Hasan M. Elahi and his movements in real-time, from the last meal he ate to the last public urinal he visited. Between June and November 2002, Elahi had been the subject of an investigation by the FBI as a possible terrorist suspect. He was at a residency overseas while this was initiated. Upon returning home, the artist spent 6 months frequently meeting with FBI agents who wanted to know every detail of everything, explains Elahi: What was I doing there? Who was I speaking with? What did I see? Where did I sleep? And even down to what I ate and drank. I was eventually cleared and to the relief of my friends, family and co-workers, I am officially no longer considered a terrorist – after a 3 hour long polygraph exam which was repeated 9 times. Tracking Transience uses modern technologies to document every aspect of his life. Inspired by the “prison ankle bracelet”, he chose to wear a device far more invasive of his privacy in terms of access to the detail of information available. The device uploads images tagged with exact GPS coordinates of where the image was shot to a server which then sends the GPS tag to the United States Geological Survey which returns an aerial surveillance image of the artist's exact location. The server compiles this map with the uploaded images and small thumbnails of the previously used images into the web based file which is then accessed online by anyone.” — WMMNA, September 11, 2006

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