If you’re worried about the capability of government to conduct surveillance of citizens engaged in political assembly and protest, or even just personal activity, then you should be aware the technological capability of government surveillance is about to expand exponentially.
The US Air Force’s Research Lab (yes, it has its own lab) has recently signed a contract to test new software of a company called SignalFrame, a Washington DC wireless tech company. The company’s new software is able to access smartphones, and from your phone jump off to access any other wireless or bluetooth device in the near vicinity. To quote from the article today in the Wall St. Journal, the smartphone is used “as a window onto usage of hundreds of millions of computers,s routers, fitness trackers, modern automobiles and other networked devices, known collectively as the ‘Internet of Things’.”
Your smartphone in effect becomes a government listening device that detects and accesses all nearby wireless or bluetooth devices, or anything that has a MAC address for that matter. How ‘near’ is nearby is not revealed by the company, or the Air Force, both of which refused to comment on the Wall St. Journal story. But with the expansion of 5G wireless, it should be assumed it’s more than just a couple steps from your smartphone.
One can imagine some scary scenarios with this capability in the hands of government snoops:
Not only would the government know your geographical location via the GPS signal to your cellphone. They’d know what you are doing. And with whom.
A political gathering would allow them to see all the owners of other cellphones in the vicinity of a protest or demonstration. How many are gathering at a particular street or location. The direction they might be heading. Or whether there’s an organization meeting in a hall or room and who (with a cellphone as well) might be attending.
If you’re driving on a winding coastal or mountain road, it would know, and could possibly access, your car’s various electronic systems to turn them off. It might access your car’s circuit board that governs your power steering when you’re driving in an area of winding roads. Or it might be able to just shut down your car’s electrical system and remotely lock all your doors. The police no longer have to engage in highway chases until capture.
The new tech would allow the government to access the data on your fitbit device while you’re jogging. Or worse, maybe even interfere with the signal on your heart pacemaker device.