Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thought Police

There we all were sitting having dinner in Qingdao and there was the shout from the kitchen, "look, look, look" and there was a wee plane taking of from the sea, but we didn't see it, we continued eating, and about two hours later there was a "knock, knock, knock" on the door and there they were standing there, three policemen and a couple of men in plain clothes who introduced themselves as "Chinese National Security". The problem was, the wee plane, had been taking off from the wee military base that was next to my flat, the photo had been taken facing the sun, there had been a flash and, apparently, a little Chinese soldier had looked up at the window and had started screaming and screeching at the German lady, who had taken the photo and there they were confiscating my laptop and digital camera. To cut a long story short, I got the "guanxi" going and I got the laptop and the camera back within a couple of days. In the meantime, however, I had managed to send a couple of the photos from the base to a friend in England and he did not really understand the "much ado about nothing" telling me that you can get better photos of the base on 'Google Earth' and there was me about four months doing a little virtual walk in Seville on 'Google Street View' before I went to Seville and found myself doing the same "little" virtual walk real time every day and that brings me to the new iMac.
The new iMac arrived yesterday and I started playing with their programme for photos. It is really incredible not only does it have this "face recognition" facility, where you identify a face and it automatically finds all the faces belonging to that person, but it also has this thing that, providing you have been using a GPS camera, recognises where and when you have taken the photo, adds that information to the photo and then categorises it according to the place, date etc. However, there was another aspect of this GPS facility that I found mind boggling; it also provides a little google map for where the photo was taken. Now, I don't know where all of this is leading but I am beginning to think we have entered a brave new world where if "they" want, "they" don't only know where you are but "they" also know where you were and what you were doing when you were there. Furthermore, we are only starting out on this journey and already google, who I have to thank for facilitating this blog, seem to know quite a lot, quite a lot, about us and, while we might be able to trust them, we should always remember that there is the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, the MI5, the MI6, the etc. etc. , who already store our private calls and our emails, who might just say to google, "give us some data, please." Moreover, with google already having reached its "agreement" with the Chinese authorities and with yahoo having already given the Chinese informaton that led to arrests in China, it would be naive to think that they are not going to cooperate with other governments when those governments tell them to do so.

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