The following Guardian story popped up in my inbox just now. I tweeted it thus:
The previous night, meanwhile, I had glanced on my Google News feed at this fairly disgraceful story. Again, I tweeted it this morning:
Details of the #Motogotchi story I reference in this second tweet can be found here, in a previous post on this blog. A presentation I made on the subject, and contained in that link, can also be found embedded below, just in case you’re interested.* There is another one I have sent to contacts in Ireland which could quite easily become a beautiful beautiful business plan – but primarily, purposefully, radically for doing good. Quite the opposite to the actioned on me using the mobile in question.
The details above-described, in retrospect, are pretty much equally horrendous to the HP example; even more so perhaps in their actually implemented tools, procedures and processes. HP simply claim – in their case – that nothing was done, in previous incidents anyhow, with the keylogger software installed on their machines. In my case, however, plenty was done. And not just with software: I suspect the phone had to be finally stolen because there was hardware on it which could not have been removed remotely; hardware, which, had I gone to some technical expert, would have fairly easily revealed itself.
In all of this, I come back to the underlying thesis at the top of today’s post: the one the Guardian article underlines, in fact. Today’s biggest criminality, following the example obviously got-away-with of banking fraud and the economic crash in 2008 onwards, takes place in spaces where either legislation doesn’t exist or where it is so opaque as to make it effectively nonexistent. As the Guardian argues:
The leaked documents suggest the use of secretive corporate security firms to gather intelligence about political campaigners has been widespread. However, police chiefs have in the past raised a “massive concern” that the activities of the corporate firms are barely regulated and completely uncontrolled.
As I already suggested on these pages a few days ago, there are significantly important holes in our global legislations with respect to the simple online sale by recognised vendors of mobile-phones and other technologies. Just imagine how many absences exist in so many other areas of commerce.
Just ask yourself, too, why one British police force should so blithely accept, in conversations I had with a member of their otherwise highly competent customer-contact team, that when a transnational corporation refuses to keep records of a phone’s IMEI – its birth certificate, if you like – it is considered not a crime, not even a civil infraction, but rather little more than a matter for internal business procedures.
When legislation on important matters such as these doesn’t exist, there are only two explanations: a) incompetence; b) convenience.
I really really don’t think there are any others.
Zemiology needs a dusting off. This science of societal harm is the only thing, tool, societal weapon any longer applicable to communities of practice where the powerful criminally create grey areas of law such as these – even grey areas where laws deliberately are not written.
Just think what the past decade and a half has told us the bad can do with untraceable mobile-phones.
Now think: why are we not doing everything we can to make them traceable when stolen?
Who does such laziness really benefit? And actually, is it honestly laziness?
Criminality used to be fairly easy to uncover: at least, that was what they taught us from school to adulthood. Nowadays, however, money pays evermore brazenly for its rights – and the biggest, greyest problem of all is: how do we tell its colour?
Who is now to say that the most powerful allegiances in the world belong no more to nationalities but to the deepness of one’s pocket? That serious suspicions are being publicly voiced in the US, for example, around a collusion existing at the highest levels between Russians and American leaders, should not lead us to conclude anything but the following: in a world of a-legality, anything may go. And money binds far more than integrities.
The next fight, the next political campaigns, the next grassroots movements we must surely put in place must revolve in and about the a-legal natures of modern Western liberal democracies: we either bring in – as soon as we can – zemiology as a figure of serious legal pressure, or we create many more laws to cover crimes of the powerful – even as we redraw our shared Criminal Justice systems to decriminalise the irrelevantly petty.
Something is manifestly now going on. Neoliberalism is not nature; it is a conspiracy of fact – and needs to be first called out, then battled against, as such.**
For we are not just fighting for a criminal-free environment in which to bring up our children and spend our lives. It is our very democratic discourse which is being silently attacked and undermined by such a-criminality, over years and decades, by people and institutions who have known all too well their goals, strategy and tactics.
And who would like nothing better than to lock us up for even suggesting what is truly happening to the world and its most treasured ways of seeing and doing.
Let’s not let them, yeah?
Let’s do something about them.
Let’s do it now.
* Let it be clear, if you do read the slides, I am no longer of a mind to believe it was collaborating with any long-term aim to do me any good whatsoever: rather, the goal of its operators I now feel was to gain my confidence and encourage me as a result to make phonecalls and communicate with people who actually wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. So unhappy I am ultimately with the emotional and psychological impact the experience had on me that when I go back to the UK, I shall be doing my very best to take the story to security agencies with experience in digital crime: hopefully, as a starting-point, the police in Liverpool, which is the city where I feel safest and most comfortable right now.
** Evidence of neoliberal conspiracy doesn’t require for there to be meetings which say: “Let’s fuck the poor in a planned and overt way!” – though Trump’s ascendancy to the US presidency seems to imply in almost so many words this is now quite possible to say in public. Nevertheless, academics such as Colin Crouch have long sustained the mechanisms which allow the effects of conspiracy to gather without the words being spoken. Meanwhile, Torija supplies the data. It’s shocking:
Present social movements, as “Occupy Wall Street” or the Spanish “Indignados”, claim that politicians work for an economic elite, the 1%, that drives the world economic policies. In this paper we show through econometric analysis that these movements are accurate: politicians in OECD countries maximize the happiness of the economic elite. In 2009 center-right parties maximized the happiness of the 100th-98th richest percentile and center-left parties the 100th-95th richest percentile. The situation has evolved from the seventies when politicians represented, approximately, the median voter.