Professor Katina Michael posted to the Uberveillance website in July 2013 shortly after the ISTAS13 conference - http://sites.ieee.org/istas-2013/ - a short post about the onset of Opal cards use on the Sydney public transport circuit - http://uberveillance.com/blog/2013/7/8/opal-travel-cards-by-kai-reimer?rq=opal
Literally two years later I found myself teaching ethics and social informatics (ISIT203) in the workplace at the University of Wollongong. At the time I would catch the train down from my parents home in Sutherland New South Wales, Sydney and disembark at the train station in Wollongong, New South Wales opposite the University.
As I lived in Canberra my commute also involved a trip to Sydney by bus, then the train trip to Wollongong via train for three days of the week. For many years I had avoided public transport and driven the whole journey but for some reason this year I decided to buy an Opal train 'ticket' pass. I walked to the train station and was told the Opal card could only be bought at the local news agent store close by the rail station. I thought that rather odd but walked and tried to get the card there only to be told that I needed to put $10 minimum 'credit' on the card.
Perplexed I returned to the train station and inquired at the customer counter as to why I was unable to purchase a paper ticket that would only have cost me $7.00 return. The station master informed me that as of that day, 10th August, 2015 that the whole Sydney commuter service would be switched over to a 'paperless' RFID enabled commuter card system called Opal over a three moth period.
I asked if I could please purchase the very last of the paper tickets which he agreed to.
Paper ticket in hand I got on the train at Kirrawee railway Station and by the time I had reached Waterfall railway station I was confronted by three uniformed Opal security staff on the train who were moving from commuter to commuter and 'checking' their Opal cards by scanning these via a handheld PDA looking device that showed them their credit spend or availbility on their card.
When they got to me they asked me for my Opal card and I stated I didnt have one, presenting them with my paper ticket issued at the Kirrawee Railway Station. They looked at it and stated I needed an Opal card or I would be fined for not having it - $250 on the spot fine. I presented my case and was informed I needed to produce identification with photo to verify my identity.
I replied that there were under no jurisdiction to ask for photo identification and their reply was to disembark the train at the next available station which was Heathcote railway station. I informed them I was teaching ethics and social informatics in the workplace at the University of Wollongong and that would cause me to be late. They replied that if I did not disembark they would radio in and be accompanied by Police. The train left the railway station and we continued on our trip which meant the only way I could disembark would be at the next station which was over 25 minutes away.
During that time they contacted NSW state police and were granted the right to issue me with a fine if I did not comply and provide photo identification. I gave them my drivers licence and using their radio system and their internet enabled mobile tablet device they crosschecked and confirmed my identification. They took photos of my drivers licence using their handheld device and informed me that this was being sent to their 'operatives' who would confirm it's validity.
I was astounded that this apparent breach of my civil rights by unknown entity could force me to surrender that identity and cross check it against systems I was even aware of existing. I was issued with a warning notice, written on a card that stated my personal records had been recorded in the Opal system as not having a 'valid form of travel'.
I stated that the paper ticket was purchased and issued as a valid form of travel on that day. Two officers remained with me and began asking me questions about my state of mind and my capacity to understand their role as a judicial officer with the capacity to issue law enforcement statutes as I was travelling now on a state based railway system that is contracted to Opal as the the travel infringement agency. I retorted that I was well in charge of my own faculties and questioned them as to whether they understood that their alteraction with me (which by this time had gathered a crowd on that train) was prime subject matter for my ethics class when I disembarked from the train.
As the train pulled into North Wollongong railway station I was ushered off the train and again I was read the riot act by two NSW state police officers who informed me that whilst I did have a valid train ticket ( they had radioed the station master in Kirrawee) that I was going to still be issued with a 'traffic infringement notice' and that the incident was still going to be entered into the 'system' as they called it. Ten minutes later after again checking my staff card for the University of Wollongong and my drivers licence they stated that I would be required to purchase an Opal card as a PhD student through the UOW student services office.
I was informed that I would be issued with a 'sticker' that is then attached to my student identification card that would 'validate' any purchase I might make against an Opal student card in the near future. Perplexed I asked the Opal officers who were still present why their Opal travel system was only available for purchase via the student services administration office and they informed me that identification systems matched, validated and issued the Opal system card according to the enrolment status of that individual. Not believing what I was hearing I proceeded to the campus and was informed by the UOW student services personnel that the information I was told was correct.
I walked to the coffee shop, bought a double strength cappuccino and sat down in a daze. A few minutes later a UOW security officer and another individual who identified himself as an 'Opal representative' confronted me as I sat on the campus grounds. I asked them both what they were speaking to me for given that my case was dismissed with the two NSW Police officers. They informed me that my 'aggressive questioning manner' with the UOW student administration had been reported. I asked if they would like to access the CCTV footage of my interaction with the staff member as I had recalled that a CCTV camera was installed at the front counter where the student administrator had interacted with me.
I knew that my questioning was quiet, not confronting and if anything an expression of disdain for their system of corporate inculturation. That perplexed them both and I stated I was late to teach my class and they walked away without any further incident.
I photographed them both as they left.
An hour later I stood at the lectern and using the slideset for my presentation engaged 35 or so of my students in the lecture theatre in a debrief of what I had just experienced. As we picked apart the ramifications of the information systems, networked identification and mobile enabled database crosschecking as well as the systems enforcement the whole experience resonated with students strongly enough for them to start questioning the future trajectory of where Opal might be taking this supposed expedient, efficient and interconnected system in the near future.
I held up my paper ticket and a number of students remarked that they had never actually seen a paper based train ticket as they had transitioned from secondary school into their first years of higher education using an electronic identification and student RFID enabled card for transport. Their recounts of how Opal was implemented in their two years prior astounded me as it was presented them to as a binary and mandatory mandate not an opt in choice.
The lecture and tutorial that followed is one of the most memorable in my teaching career to date.
So during that tutorial I listened to, engage with and recorded a range of possible trajectories that Opal might use to bring about awareness of the surveillance, the networked identification and the trajectory of technologies currently as hand held or wearable RFID enabled cards. The predominant scenario that we identified was that Opal would be likely to partner with digital identification management corporations (DIMC) to enable implanted technologies in humans that do away also with the need for a card.
The mapping we produced as a series of group based drawings demonstrated that these novice engineers, these students of the looming third millenia, had an understanding of the perceived and the actual trajectory of technology, which in their estimation included human implantable enabled technologies to triangulating a human entity as a corporation lead identity.
Today I awoke to the news that a Sydney based biohacker has leapfrogged and piggybacked that scenario by literally implementing that via a DIY test. His efforts contravene the Opal statutes for where the Opal chip can be located as it has 'escaped' the Opal branded plastic card yet I believe it sets a wilful and devastating precedent - that of implantable, embedded networked identification management of humans, subject to corporation lead control of entity.
"...Bio-hacker Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow, his legal name, had the Opal near-field communication (NFC) chip cut down and encased in bio-compatible plastic, measuring 10 millimetres by 6 millimetres. He then had the device implanted just beneath the skin on the side of his left hand."
The article is available at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-27/sydney-bio-hacker-has-opal-travel-card-implanted-into-hand/8656174
You can also read about this via https://au.news.yahoo.com/nsw/a/36184329/opal-card-chip-inserted-into-hand-of-sydney-train-commuter/#page1
The very same network are 'threatening' to outlaw that implant however, the cat is out of the bag. The precedent has been set and the socio-ethical implications of this handheld to implantable technology is underway.
Here is what they are seeking to do - http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-28/opal-card-meow-meow-implant-could-be-deactivated-by-authorities/8658986?pfmredir=sm
In essence, what I predicted in conjunction with Dr. MG. Michael and Professor Katina Michael's plethora of past publication predictions two years ago has come to fruition literally in the very same locale and within the same network and scenario base which I had been calling on my students to consider from a socio-ethical perspective.
The following gallery of images is from my own personal lifelog and provides evidence of my story.
My personal and professional view is that the trajectory of implantable DIMC is in earnest and that it will only be a matter of years before we see it as a real and actual optin then mandatory implementation across many different global communities. This dangerous step towards an Uberveillance is the very basis and constitution of the PhD that I'm enmeshed in at present.
I returned from Wollongong to Canberra a few days later and on my way to buy some groceries at a shop I passed in my car a digital roadside sign that pretty much summed up that weeks experiences. 'INSERT MEMORY CARD' it reads and I chuckled to myself thinking through how many mistakes humanity will be making as it tries to fast track itself to success only at risk of imploding the entire anthropocene due to our avid engagement with individuals who design systems to control humanity and have little regard for others well being let alone their own ability to know what 'well being' means in the first place.
"Researchers at Stanford and Princeton universities have found a way to connect the dots between people’s private online activity and their Twitter accounts—even for people who have never tweeted.
When the team tested the technique on 400 real people who submitted their browsing history, they were able to correctly pick out the volunteers’ Twitter profiles nearly three-quarters of the time.
Here’s how the de-anonymization system works: The researchers figured that a person is more likely to click a link that was shared on social media by a friend—or a friend of a friend—than any other random link on the internet. (Their model controls for the baseline popularity of each website.) With that in mind, and the details of an anonymous person’s browser history in hand, the researchers can compute the probability that any one Twitter user created that browsing history. People’s basic tendency to follow links they come across on Twitter unmasks them—and it usually takes less than a minute.
“You can even be de-anonymized if you just browse and follow people, without actually sharing anything.”
"With widespread adoption among law enforcement, advertisers, and even churches, face recognition has undoubtedly become one of the biggest threats to privacy out there.
By itself, the ability to instantly identify anyone just by seeing their face already creates massive power imbalances, with serious implications for free speech and political protest."
"But more recently, researchers have demonstrated that even when faces are blurred or otherwise obscured, algorithms can be trained to identify people by matching previously-observed patterns around their head and body.
In a new paper uploaded to the ArXiv pre-print server, researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Saarbrücken, Germany demonstrate a method of identifying individuals even when most of their photos are un-tagged or obscured. The researchers' system, which they call the “Faceless Recognition System,” trains a neural network on a set of photos containing both obscured and visible faces, then uses that knowledge to predict the identity of obscured faces by looking for similarities in the area around a person's head and body."
"In the past, Facebook has shown its face recognition algorithms can predict the identity of users when they obscure their face with 83% accuracy, using cues such as their stance and body type. But the researchers say their system is the first to do so using a trainable system that uses a full range of body cues surrounding blurred and blacked-out faces."
"Contrary to the claims of America's top spies, the details of your phone calls and text messages—including when they took place and whom they involved—are no less revealing than the actual contents of those communications.
In a study published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Stanford University researchers demonstrated how they used publicly available sources—like Google searches and the paid background-check service Intelius—to identify "the overwhelming majority" of their 823 volunteers based only on their anonymized call and SMS metadata.
Using data collected through a special Android app, the Stanford researchers determined that they could easily identify people based on their call and message logs.
The results cast doubt on [show as lies] claims by senior intelligence officials that telephone and Internet "metadata"—information about communications, but not the content of those communications—should be subjected to a lower privacy threshold because it is less sensitive."
"If the founders of a new face recognition app get their way, anonymity in public could soon be a thing of the past. FindFace, launched two months ago and currently taking Russia by storm, allows users to photograph people in a crowd and work out their identities, with 70% reliability.
It works by comparing photographs to profile pictures on Vkontakte, a social network popular in Russia and the former Soviet Union, with more than 200 million accounts. In future, the designers imagine a world where people walking past you on the street could find your social network profile by sneaking a photograph of you, and shops, advertisers and the police could pick your face out of crowds and track you down via social networks."
"[Founder] Kabakov says the app could revolutionise dating: “If you see someone you like, you can photograph them, find their identity, and then send them a friend request.” The interaction doesn’t always have to involve the rather creepy opening gambit of clandestine street photography, he added: “It also looks for similar people. So you could just upload a photo of a movie star you like, or your ex, and then find 10 girls who look similar to her and send them messages.”
QSymposium, Sydney 2014.
"M.G. Michael and Katina Michael (2010) describe this "carceral" phase of power relations with the concept of "uberveillance"- "the sum total of all types of surveillance and the deliberate integration of an individual's personal data for the continuous tracking and monitoring of identity and location in real time" (10). Under the digital conditions of "uberveillance," therefore, mobile tracking is most usefully viewed both as a new experiment in power enforcement and as one of the spatial designs of power in the wireless world of "flows." Elliot and Urry (2010) depict this "uberveillant phase" as a digital "Orwellianization" of self and society, in which there is essentially no movement without digital tracing or tracking" (150)."
Kwang-Suk Lee (2012) IT Development in Korea: A Broadband Nirvana? Routledge.
Thanks D.D. for this source!
From Amazon.com summary reads:
Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains.
For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.