Oakland

Pressure Builds In Oakland To Ban Facial Recognition Tech

TN has long claimed that city councils have the ultimate stopping power for intrusive technology. Pressure is also building in San Francisco to ban facial recognition. Loss of anonymity is the biggest concern. ⁃ TN Editor

Privacy advocates in Oakland are proposing a ban on the city’s use of facial recognition technology. The ban would prohibit the use of “any face recognition technology or any information obtained from face recognition technology.”

Brian Hofer, chair of the Oakland Privacy Commission said the San Francisco District Attorney’s office and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department have already reported using the technology to fight crime.

“We need to limit it now,” said Hofer. “We’re moving to amend the [Oakland Privacy Ordinance] to prohibit the use of facial recognition technology because of the dangers it possesses.”

The risks of Amazon’s facial recognition technology, Rekognition, were highlighted last year when the ACLU tested the software and found that it falsely matched 28 members of Congress with mugshots. In a statement, the ACLU said, “The false matches were disproportionately of people of color, including six members of the Congressional Black Caucus.”

“We know that it has a really high error rate, especially for women and people of color,” Hofer said. “The darker your skin is, the more trouble it has identifying you.”

People KPIX 5 spoke to in Oakland feared that the technology would not just make mistakes, but it would also take away a person’s anonymity.

“Anytime they run your face through the software I’m sure it’s going to log your address, the time and everything else so it’s kind of just keeping tabs on everybody,” said Richard Hogan, a supporter of the proposed ban.

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Biometric Smackdown: Backlash Grows Against Facial Recognition

Stories of resistance against biometric schemes are seldom seen in established media because Big Tech lawyers head off such stories by bullying outlets with legal threats. Monsanto and Big Pharma turned this into an art form. ⁃ TN Editor

A teenager is suing Apple for $1 billion. The lawsuit, filed Monday, hinges on the alleged use of an increasingly popular — and controversial — technology: facial recognition. The tech can identify an individual by analyzing their facial features in images, in videos, or in real time.

The plaintiff, 18-year-old college student Ousmane Bah, claims the company’s facial recognition tool led to him being arrested for Apple Store thefts he didn’t commit, by mistakenly linking his name with the face of the real thief. NYPD officers came to Bah’s home last autumn to arrest him at 4 in the morning, only to discover that they apparently had the wrong guy. Bah says the whole ordeal caused him serious emotional distress. Meanwhile, Apple insists its stores do not use facial recognition tech.

Whatever the truth turns out to be in this case, Bah’s lawsuit is the latest sign of an escalating backlash against facial recognition. As the tech gets implemented in more and more domains, it has increasingly sparked controversy. Take, for example, the black tenants in Brooklyn who recently objected to their landlord’s plan to install the tech in their rent-stabilized building. Or the traveler who complained via Twitter that JetBlue had checked her into her flight using facial recognition without her consent. (The airline explained that it had used Department of Homeland Security data to do that, and apologized.)

That’s in addition to the researchersadvocates, and thousands of members of the publicwho have been voicing concerns about the risk of facial recognition leading to wrongful arrests. They worry that certain groups will be disproportionately affected. Facial recognition tech is pretty good at identifying white male faces, because those are the sorts of faces it’s been trained on. But too often, it misidentifies people of color and women. That bias could lead to them being disproportionately held for questioning as more law enforcement agencies put the tech to use.

Now, we’re reaching an inflection point where major companies — not only Apple, but also Amazon and Microsoft — are being forced to take such complaints seriously. And although they’re finally trying to telegraph that they’re sensitive to the concerns, it may be too late to win back trust. Public dissatisfaction has reached such a fever pitch that some, including the city of San Francisco, are now considering all-out bans on facial recognition tech.

A vote to ban Amazon from selling Rekognition

Amazon is not exactly known for playing nice. It’s got a reputation for fighting proposed laws it doesn’t like and for aggressively defending its work with the police and government. For years, it could afford to behave that way. Yet the uproar over facial recognition is making that posture harder to sustain.

Amazon’s facial recognition tool, Rekognition, has already been sold to law enforcement and pitched to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But leading AI researchers recently argued in an open letter that the tech is deeply flawed. (Case in point: In a test last year, Rekognition matched 28 members of Congress to criminal mug shots.) And Amazon shareholders have been clamoring for a vote on whether the company should stop selling the tool to government agencies until it passes an independent review of its civil rights impact.

Amazon fought hard to keep the vote from happening, but the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled this month that the company has to let it go ahead. It’ll take place on May 22. Although the result will be largely symbolic — shareholder resolutions aren’t binding — the vote stands to bring negative attention to Amazon.

In the meantime, the company has been trying to soften its image by, for example, dialing back some of its aggressive promotional tactics. Kartik Hosanagar, a Wharton School of Business professor, said Amazon is taking “preemptive action” to make nice “before one of the [presidential] candidates makes Amazon the poster child of what they refer to as the problems with Big Tech.”

Microsoft’s mixed messages on the ethical use of facial recognition

Whereas Amazon is still a young company, founded in 1994, Microsoft has reached adulthood — it’s been around since 1975. That longer life span means it’s had more time to make mistakes, but also more time to learn from them. Kim Hart at Axios argues that’s why Microsoft has, for the most part, managed to avoid the backlash against big tech. “Microsoft, which trudged through its own antitrust battle with the Justice Department in the ’90s, has sidestepped the mistakes made by its younger, brasher Big Tech brethren,” she writes.

Yet Microsoft is by no means completely immune to the backlash. After it was reported this month that Microsoft researchers had produced three papers on AI and facial recognition with a military-run university in China, some US politicians lambasted the company for helping a regime that’s detaining a million Uighur Muslims in internment camps and surveilling millions more. Sen. Marco Rubio called it “deeply disturbing … an act that makes them complicit in aiding the Communist Chinese government’s totalitarian censorship apparatus.”

The press also pointed out that the company has sold its facial recognition software to a US prison, and that Microsoft president Brad Smith has said it would be “cruel” to altogether stop selling the software to government agencies.

Days later, the company took pains to show that it does care about the ethical use of AI. Smith announced that it had refused to sell its facial recognition software to a California law enforcement agency that wanted to install it in officers’ cars and body cams. He said Microsoft refused on human rights grounds, knowing use of the software would cause people of color and women to be disproportionately held for questioning.

The push to ban facial recognition tech outright

This month has made clear that public pressure is working when it comes to facial recognition. Behemoth companies know they can no longer ignore the criticisms — or, as they recently did, simply say they’d welcome regulation of this technology. Critics are making clear that’s not good enough — they want to see such companies “get out of the surveillance business altogether,” as the American Civil Liberties Union told Vox.

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HB57

HB57: Utah Now Requires Search Warrant To Access Electronic Data

Utah now has the strongest protection of your private data, including cell phone contents, by requiring police to get a search warrant before access. Law enforcement fought HB57 but lost to the Constitutional protections of the 4th Amendment. ⁃ TN Editor

Gov. Gary Herbert signed off on HB57 on Wednesday designating Utah as the state with the strongest data privacy laws in the country when it comes to law enforcement accessing electronic information.

House Bill 57 modified provisions about privacy of electronic information and data for Utahns. Rep. Craig Hall, R-Utah, pitched the bill in order to require police to get search warrants before accessing Utahns’ electronic information, which up until this point has not been a necessity.

“Traditionally, we have pretty good protection with case law and statutes that protect our physical stuff if law enforcement wants to search any of our belongings such as our homes, cars, or hard drives,” Hall explained. “If law enforcement wants to search any of those things, they have to get a warrant first.”

It’s a little vague with respect to the electronic world. Hall said the goal of HB57 “is to provide the same protections we have in the physical world and apply those to the electronic world.”

The Libertas Institute, a think-tank that seeks to create a freer Utah through legal research and lawsuits, was active in the passage of this bill. Connor Boyack, the organization’s founder, said, “The U.S. Supreme Court recently required that our cell phone location data be protected by a warrant, which is a small step in the right direction. Utah’s new law takes that principle and puts it on steroids, applying it to all of our electronic data.”

Specifically, HB0057 does the following:

  • Requires the issuance of a search warrant to obtain certain electronic information or data.
  • Necessitates that when someone’s electronic data or information has been obtained there will be notification.
  • Declares that electronic information and data obtained without a warrant be excluded from consideration in legal cases.
  • “Electronic information and data” was defined as being any information or data including a sign, signal, writing, image, sound, or intelligence of any nature transmitted or stored in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo optical system. The definition includes location information, stored data, and transmitted data of an electronic device.

“In particular it protects information that is passed on to a third party,” Hall said. “So, for example, if an individual decides to draft a document and they store it on their computer, then law enforcement would have to seek and obtain a warrant before that computer’s hard drive could be searched. But what happens if the individuals store their document with Dropbox or Google Drive? Well, in the past, law enforcement has not had the requirement to seek such information by warrant. This bill makes clear that the protections we have in the physical world are also given in the electronic world.”

The bill seeks to establish a reasonable expectation of privacy for electronic information and data that has been stored in digital devices or servers.

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Huawei/US

Huawei/US Conflict Hinders Plans For 5G Rollout

China’s behemoth Huawei is hindered by the growing concern of foreign leaders that it is an organ of the Technocrat dictatorship. Huawei’s plans for 5G domination are thus in serious jeopardy.  ⁃ TN Editor

The US-led offensive against Chinese tech firm Huawei is creating big problems for mobile operators as they start building the next generation of wireless networks.

The United States is trying to persuade other countries not to allow Huawei equipment into new superfast 5G networks because it claims the gear could be used by the Chinese government for spying.
Huawei strongly denies the accusations. And it has already built up such a strong lead in 5G technology that it’s practically irreplaceable for many wireless carriers that want to be among the first to offer the new services.

“Banning Huawei will create a vacuum that no one can fill in a timely fashion and may seriously impair 5G deployments worldwide,” said Stéphane Téral, a mobile telecom infrastructure expert at research firm IHS Markit. The uncertainty is particularly problematic for Europe, where Huawei was expected to play a key role in building 5G networks that the region’s leaders say are vital for its economic future.
The international rollout of 5G has become a front line in the broader clash over advanced technology between the United States and China that is reshaping the relationship between the world’s top two economies.

The United States doesn’t have a heavyweight global competitor to Huawei in telecommunications equipment. The Chinese firm’s biggest rivals are Ericsson (ERIC) of Sweden and Nokia (NOK) of Finland. But they have struggled for years with losses and job cuts while Huawei has powered ahead, generating annual revenue of more than $100 billion, building a strong base in China and amassing intellectual property that will help determine the future of 5G.

Unhappy mobile operators

Some top international mobile operators are warning that by shutting Huawei out of 5G networks, countries risk undermining their own tech capabilities. The new wave of wireless communications is expected to increase internet speeds as much as 100 times compared with 4G networks, and help power emerging technologies like smart cities and connected vehicles.

Vodafone’s (VOD) CEO Nick Read cautioned last month that a complete ban on all Huawei gear would substantially delay the availability of 5G. The mobile carrier has suspended the installation of the Chinese company’s equipment in core networks in Europe while it speaks with authorities and the company.

In August, Vodafone slammed the Australian government’s decision to ban Huawei from providing 5G technology for networks there, saying the move “fundamentally undermines Australia’s 5G future.”

UK telecom group BT’s chief architect, Neil McRae, put the situation in stark terms late last year.

“There is only one true 5G supplier right now, and that is Huawei,” he said at an industry event in London. “The others need to catch up.”

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Virginia Is 4th State To Reject Smart Metering Plans

In a serious blow to the establishment of Technocracy, four states rejected Smart Metering plans in 2018. Smart meters control energy distribution and consumption, which is a key requirement for Technocracy. People and legislators are pushing back across the nation.⁃ TN Editor

On January 17, Virginia utility regulators rejected Dominion Energy’s bid to deploy ‘smart’ electricity meters across the state.

In doing so, Virginia joins state regulators in Kentucky (Aug 2018), Massachusetts (May 2018), and New Mexico (April 2018) in rejecting ‘smart’ meters. In Canada, New Brunswick (July 2018) also rejected ‘smart’ electricity meters.

UPDATE 29 Jan 2019: We received word that parts of Kentucky do have ‘smart’ meters, and KU seems to be still deploying even though the PSC ruled against their proposal. There’s also a similar situation in New Mexico, where the regulatory ruling there seems to not apply to all utilities. We’d like your help to get to the bottom of such situations where regulatory rulings seem to be only partially applicable. If you have further info on these details, please comment below!!

The official reasons for energy regulators’ decisions in all of these regions has been a) exorbitant costs; and b) lack of customer benefit. Though in my view, it is very likely that the liability associated with other aspects about this dangerous technology also played motivational factors, such as privacy violations, documented biological harm from radiation and voltage transients, home fires(including fatalities), and hacking / securityissues.

Dominion Energy’s plans included spending a whopping $5.07 billion just for ‘smart’ / AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) meters. The denial by the State Corporation Commission is “without prejudice,” however, allowing Dominion to refile a revised proposal in the future.

UtilityDrive.com identified this this latest rejection in Virginia as

“part of a trend that has seen AMI deployment flatline at roughly 50% of electric customers [in the USA].”

In response, Marjorie Leach-Parker, Chair of Sierra Club’s Virginia Chapterstated:

Today’s decision by the SCC was a victory for all of Dominion’s customers who have grown tired of watching the corporation’s pockets get fatter at their expense. We would have loved to support a true “grid modernization” proposal by Dominion, if the company had proposed measures to increase renewable energy penetration, reduce energy waste, and facilitate electric vehicle integration. Instead, Dominion’s self-serving proposal was met with a firestorm of opposition, and the SCC rightly rejected it.

I envision that since the trends strongly indicate that ‘smart’ meter technology is being widely recognized as useless if not harmful, the “50% deployed” number will diminish as ‘smart’ AMI meters start to be replaced with safe, proven electromechanical technology which does not waste money, lasts 6-8 times longer, is far more accurate, does not surveil utility customers, and does not cause either physical harm or damage to property.

However, whether the trend of ‘smart’ meter proposal rejection (by PUCs) leads to the widespread replacement of ‘smart’ meters (with safe technology) is entirely dependent on the actions of utility customers.

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Is Big Tech Merging With Big Brother?

Technocracy is encroaching to the point that it is taking over the pilot’s seat in governments around the world. Representative governments and societies have little chance except to succumb. Violent resistance, such as Yellow Vest movement in France, will continue to resist. ⁃ TN Editor

A friend of mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People’s Republic of China, was walking to work.

When he offered to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she “needed the steps” on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating, which is monitored by the government. A low social rating could prevent her from working or traveling abroad.

China’s social rating system, which was announced by the ruling Communist Party in 2014, will soon be a fact of life for many more Chinese.

By 2020, if the Party’s plan holds, every footstep, keystroke, like, dislike, social media contact, and posting tracked by the state will affect one’s social rating.

Personal “creditworthiness” or “trustworthiness” points will be used to reward and punish individuals and companies by granting or denying them access to public services like health care, travel, and employment, according to a plan released last year by the municipal government of Beijing. High-scoring individuals will find themselves in a “green channel,” where they can more easily access social opportunities, while those who take actions that are disapproved of by the state will be “unable to move a step.”

Big Brother is an emerging reality in China. Yet in the West, at least, the threat of government surveillance systems being integrated with the existing corporate surveillance capacities of big-data companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon into one gigantic all-seeing eye appears to trouble very few people—even as countries like Venezuela have been quick to copy the Chinese model.

Still, it can’t happen here, right? We are iPhone owners and Amazon Prime members, not vassals of a one-party state. We are canny consumers who know that Facebook is tracking our interactions and Google is selling us stuff.

Yet it seems to me there is little reason to imagine that the people who run large technology companies have any vested interest in allowing pre-digital folkways to interfere with their 21st-century engineering and business models, any more than 19th-century robber barons showed any particular regard for laws or people that got in the way of their railroads and steel trusts.

Nor is there much reason to imagine that the technologists who run our giant consumer-data monopolies have any better idea of the future they’re building than the rest of us do.

Facebook, Google, and other big-data monopolists already hoover up behavioral markers and cues on a scale and with a frequency that few of us understand. They then analyze, package, and sell that data to their partners.

A glimpse into the inner workings of the global trade in personal data was provided in early December in a 250-page report released by a British parliamentary committee that included hundreds of emails between high-level Facebook executives. Among other things, it showed how the company engineered sneaky ways to obtain continually updated SMS and call data from Android phones. In response, Facebook claimed that users must “opt-in” for the company to gain access to their texts and calls.

The machines and systems that the techno-monopolists have built are changing us faster than they or we understand. The scale of this change is so vast and systemic that we simple humans can’t do the math—perhaps in part because of the way that incessant smartphone use has affected our ability to pay attention to anything longer than 140 or 280 characters.

As the idea of a “right to privacy,” for example, starts to seem hopelessly old-fashioned and impractical in the face of ever-more-invasive data systems—whose eyes and ears, i.e., our smartphones, follow us everywhere—so has our belief that other individual rights, like freedom of speech, are somehow sacred.

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Macron’s Technocrat ‘Revolution’ Repudiated By Fed Up French Citizens

The ‘Yellow Vest’ movement in France has its own problems, but it’s chagrin for Macron’s Technocrat policies is in plain view. The outcome if far from being clear, but the Euro-elite are frightened and on the defensive. ⁃ TN Editor

Jean-Baptiste Moreau, a farmer who splits his time between parliament and his cow sheds, thought he would be part of the solution to France’s political problems when he was elected.

The 41-year-old won a seat in parliament in June 2017 in what some commentators termed a “velvet revolution” led by President Emmanuel Macron, which saw grumpy voters turf out a whole generation of MPs from the country’s main political parties.

Macron’s victorious centrist movement filled half its parliamentary seats with people who had never held political office before, including Moreau, who posted a picture on Twitter of himself delivering a calf on Christmas Day.

But less than two years after the biggest turnover in political personnel in 60 years, France has faced another anti-elite revolt led by “yellow vest” protesters commanding widespread public support.

“Given the weight of the legislative agenda, we’ve been very busy in the parliament and in Paris and not on the ground enough explaining how we want to do politics differently,” Moreau said in an interview.

“And perhaps we’ve not been different enough from our predecessors,” the MP from the central Creuse region told AFP in what he called a “mea culpa”.

The failure of Macron’s bid to restore faith in politicians in France could have repercussions in a country where anti-establishment far-right and far-left parties have never been so popular.

Research published last week by the Cevipof political institute at Sciences Po university found more than two thirds of the French people still had overwhelmingly negative views of politicians.

When asked to sum up their feelings towards them, 37 percent said they felt “distrust”, 32 percent “disgust”, eight percent “boredom” and four percent “fear”.

Only France’s roughly 35,000 mayors, seen as close to the people they represent, inspired confidence in a majority of people.

– ‘Alarming’ results –

Overall, cynicism was at its highest level since Cevipof began its surveys in 2007, before the presidencies of Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, which were both judged harshly by French voters.

“The surge in confidence hoped for by Emmanuel Macron after his election has not materialised,” Cevipof director Martial Foucault commented last week, calling the results “alarming”.

Many of the new MPs in Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) party have been shocked by the abuse directed at them since the “yellow vest” protesters from rural and small-town France took to the streets in late November.

Bruno Questel, a northern MP, was shaken in mid-December when someone fired six gunshots in front of his house shortly before midnight which was followed by a noisy demonstration of around 40 people.

“I was stunned. We’ve reached a new level of aggressiveness,” he told AFP, adding that the crowd insulted and threatened him when he went outside to reason with them.

“I don’t think any MP deserves to have gunshots in front of his house.”

Around 50 of Macron’s 305 MPs say they have been victims of some form of intimidation.

In other incidents, protesters have smashed a forklift truck through the doors of a ministry building, guillotined an effigy of Macron, and daubed graffiti on the Arc de Triomphe, one of the symbols of the French republic.

– Revolutionary spirit –

Macron has interpreted the protests as a sign of impatience from an electorate desperate for change — for lower taxes, better public services and democratic reforms.

All of those were campaign promises from the 41-year-old ex-banker, who like many of his MPs had never been elected before becoming president.

But analysts also see Macron’s perceived arrogance, top-down governing style, and tax policies favouring high earners as reasons behind the “yellow vest” revolt.

Other research from Cevipof has shown that Macron’s MPs are mostly drawn from the middle or professional classes — with little experiences of the poverty and economic difficulties denounced by the “yellow vests”.

Historian Jean Garrigues calls the level of abuse directed at MPs “unprecedented” under the fifth republic, which began in 1958.

But this new wave of anti-elitism draws from deep sources, he says.

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Henn Na Hotel

World’s First Robot Hotel Fires Half Of Robot Staff

The Japanese hotel was opened with much fanfare in March 2017 as the world’s first robot-run hotel. TN wrote then, “They built it, but will anyone come?” Guests did try it out, but repudiated the whole thing with a myriad of complaints about the robots themselves. ⁃ TN Editor

A Japanese hotel reportedly fired half of its nearly 250 robot staff following various complaints from guests.

Henn-na Hotel, which employs various robots from check-in staff to in-room help, reportedly decided to lay off half of its robot employees after they proved to be more of a nuisance than a benefit.

According to CNET, “Henn-na’s robot staff was first employed in 2015 with the aim of becoming ‘the most efficient hotel in the world.’ But four years later, it seems that the 243 robots are less of a novelty and more of a nuisance. As a result, the Henn-na Hotel has fired half of them.”
CNET reported that a number of guests had complained about the robots, which allegedly woke them up in the middle of the night, interrupted conversations, and struggled to “answer basic guest questions without human help.”

“Bellhop robots were designed to carry luggage, but they could only move on flat surfaces and could only access a small number of rooms,” explained CNET. “Their hotel careers were also cut short.”

On Henn-na Hotel’s website, the hotel claims to be “the world-first hotel staffed by robots.”

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France’s Ghosts Of ’68: General Strike Vs. Macron And The Technocrat Elites

Unlike Americans, Europeans are not reticent to openly discuss Technocrats and Technocracy in light of their current struggles. France’s Technocrats are learning a hard lesson about what happens with over-manipulated citizens. ⁃ TN Editor
 

The Paris elites and their enablers may find that the next general strike won’t immobilize Paris, it will strangle Paris from the periphery.
Eleven months ago, I posited in The Ghosts of 1968 (2/14/18) that the idealistic hope that mass demonstrations could trigger real reform had expired. The mass demonstrations of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) in 2018 dramatically reinvigorated the topic.

I don’t see the yellow vest uprising as idealistically fueled; it’s fueled by desperation and what Francis Fukuyama termed the working classes’ “perception of invisibility” in a recent essay (Against Identity Politics (Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct. 2018), a view echoed by French geographer / author Christophe Guilluy who said that “the French people are using the gilets jaunes to say we exist.”

Unstoppable”: Christophe Guilluy on the cultural divide driving the yellow vests (via Arshad A.)

Guilluy: “Not only does peripheral France fare badly in the modern economy, it is also culturally misunderstood by the elite. The yellow-vest movement is a truly 21st-century movement in that it is cultural as well as political. Cultural validation is extremely important in our era.

One illustration of this cultural divide is that most modern, progressive social movements and protests are quickly endorsed by celebrities, actors, the media and the intellectuals. But none of them approve of the gilets jaunes. Their emergence has caused a kind of psychological shock to the cultural establishment. It is exactly the same shock that the British elites experienced with the Brexit vote and that they are still experiencing now, three years later.”

Interviewer: How have the working-classes come to be excluded?

Guilluy: “All the growth and dynamism is in the major cities, but people cannot just move there. The cities are inaccessible, particularly thanks to mounting housing costs. The big cities today are like medieval citadels. It is like we are going back to the city-states of the Middle Ages. Funnily enough, Paris is going to start charging people for entry, just like the excise duties you used to have to pay to enter a town in the Middle Ages.

The cities themselves have become very unequal, too. The Parisian economy needs executives and qualified professionals. It also needs workers, predominantly immigrants, for the construction industry and catering et cetera. Business relies on this very specific demographic mix. The problem is that ‘the people’ outside of this still exist. In fact, ‘Peripheral France’ actually encompasses the majority of French people.”

Interviewer: What role has the liberal metropolitan elite played in this?

Guilluy: We have a new bourgeoisie, but because they are very cool and progressive, it creates the impression that there is no class conflict anymore. It is really difficult to oppose the hipsters when they say they care about the poor and about minorities.

But actually, they are very much complicit in relegating the working classes to the sidelines. Not only do they benefit enormously from the globalised economy, but they have also produced a dominant cultural discourse which ostracises working-class people.

The middle-class reaction to the yellow vests has been telling.

Immediately, the protesters were denounced as xenophobes, anti-Semites and homophobes. The elites present themselves as anti-fascist and anti-racist but this is merely a way of defending their class interests. It is the only argument they can muster to defend their status, but it is not working anymore.

Now the elites are afraid. For the first time, there is a movement which cannot be controlled through the normal political mechanisms. The gilets jaunes didn’t emerge from the trade unions or the political parties. It cannot be stopped. There is no ‘off’ button. Either the intelligentsia will be forced to properly acknowledge the existence of these people, or they will have to opt for a kind of soft totalitarianism.”

Mobilizing 80,000 heavily armed “security forces” is more like hard totalitarianism, justified, of course, by a fatuous claim of defending “the social order,” i.e. the complete domination of elites.

But the French elites are discovering the disconcerting reality that it’s impossible to defend every traffic-speed camera, every bank, etc. from sabotage.

Yellow vests knock out 60% of all speed cameras in France

The class analysis of the current crisis is now coming into focus: a reversal of polarity from the 1968 general strike of elite students and labor unions. Fifty years ago, the students of the elite Paris universities garnered the support of the labor unions and this combined force nearly toppled the government with a general strike.

Now, students of the elite Paris universities are complicit supporters of the technocrat elite, as the most fervent hope of most of these students is to nail down a position in the technocrat elite threatened by the yellow vest dissenters.

The labor unions are also missing in action, as they are now adjuncts of the ruling elites, feeding at the same trough of tax revenues and corporate globalization-financialization profits.

The gilets jaunes / yellow vests are a working class revolt against the elites and those who identify with the elites: the fake-progressive hipsters, the aspiring technocrats and the comfortably secure state unions, all of whom are now on the elite side of the barricades.

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Judge: Cops Can’t Force You To Unlock iPhone With Finger or Face

Although this is a lower court, it sets a precedent for privacy that is urgently overdue now that fingerprint and facial scanning are commonly used unlock tools on smart phones. Police will now have to secure warrants before searching a suspects phone. ⁃ TN Editor

A California judge has ruled that American cops can’t force people to unlock a mobile phone with their face or finger. The ruling goes further to protect people’s private lives from government searches than any before and is being hailed as a potentially landmark decision.

Previously, U.S. judges had ruled that police were allowed to force unlock devices like Apple’s iPhone with biometrics, such as fingerprints, faces or irises. That was despite the fact feds weren’t permitted to force a suspect to divulge a passcode. But according to a ruling uncovered by Forbes, all logins are equal.

The order came from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in the denial of a search warrant for an unspecified property in Oakland. The warrant was filed as part of an investigation into a Facebook extortion crime, in which a victim was asked to pay up or have an “embarassing” video of them publicly released. The cops had some suspects in mind and wanted to raid their property. In doing so, the feds also wanted to open up any phone on the premises via facial recognition, a fingerprint or an iris.

While the judge agreed that investigators had shown probable cause to search the property, they didn’t have the right to open all devices inside by forcing unlocks with biometric features.

On the one hand, magistrate judge Kandis Westmore ruled the request was “overbroad” as it was “neither limited to a particular person nor a particular device.”

But in a more significant part of the ruling, Judge Westmore declared that the government did not have the right, even with a warrant, to force suspects to incriminate themselves by unlocking their devices with their biological features. Previously, courts had decided biometric features, unlike passcodes, were not “testimonial.” That was because a suspect would have to willingly and verbally give up a passcode, which is not the case with biometrics. A password was therefore deemed testimony, but body parts were not, and so not granted Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.

That created a paradox: How could a passcode be treated differently to a finger or face, when any of the three could be used to unlock a device and expose a user’s private life?

And that’s just what Westmore focused on in her ruling. Declaring that “technology is outpacing the law,” the judge wrote that fingerprints and face scans were not the same as “physical evidence” when considered in a context where those body features would be used to unlock a phone.

“If a person cannot be compelled to provide a passcode because it is a testimonial communication, a person cannot be compelled to provide one’s finger, thumb, iris, face, or other biometric feature to unlock that same device,” the judge wrote.

“The undersigned finds that a biometric feature is analogous to the 20 nonverbal, physiological responses elicited during a polygraph test, which are used to determine guilt or innocence, and are considered testimonial.”

There were other ways the government could get access to relevant data in the Facebook extortion case “that do not trample on the Fifth Amendment,” Westmore added. They could, for instance, ask Facebook to provide Messenger communications, she suggested. Facebook has been willing to hand over such messages in a significant number of previous cases Forbes has reviewed.

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