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Singapore: Surveillance state and Social engineering

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Singapore: Surveillance state and Social engineering

Postby zzm9980 » Sat, 02 Aug 2014 12:40 am

Great new article at Foreign Policy Mag. I'm only partly through, but wanted to share and discuss later.

The Social Laboratory

Singapore is testing whether mass surveillance and big data can not only protect national security, but actually engineer a more harmonious society.


http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2 ... ance_state


Basically it is about Singapore implementing the US's "Total Information Awareness" Big Brother program.

Because of such uproars, many current and former U.S. officials have come to see Singapore as a model for how they'd build an intelligence apparatus if privacy laws and a long tradition of civil liberties weren't standing in the way.


Across Singapore's national ministries and departments today, armies of civil servants use scenario-based planning and big-data analysis from RAHS for a host of applications beyond fending off bombs and bugs. They use it to plan procurement cycles and budgets, make economic forecasts, inform immigration policy, study housing markets, and develop education plans for Singaporean schoolchildren -- and they are looking to analyze Facebook posts, Twitter messages, and other social media in an attempt to "gauge the nation's mood" about everything from government social programs to the potential for civil unrest.

In other words, Singapore has become a laboratory not only for testing how mass surveillance and big-data analysis might prevent terrorism, but for determining whether technology can be used to engineer a more harmonious society.



by U.S. standards, Singapore's privacy laws are virtually nonexistent, and it's possible that the government collected private communications, financial data, public transportation records, and medical information without any court approval or private consent -


Bolded by me.

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Postby zzm9980 » Sat, 02 Aug 2014 1:02 am

Singaporeans have even begun studying what officials describe as a pervasive "nostalgia" among many citizens, who are longing for a simpler, slower-paced time before the city-state's breathtaking economic rise, moving from Third World to First World status in a generation and a half. "But there is also an ugly side to nostalgia," the government warns. "It can be about rejecting certain aspects of the present, such as the growth of Singapore into a diverse, global city, and cultivating an insular sense of nationalism. We explore what can be done to channel this urge for nostalgia in a direction that is more forward-looking."


Then some stuff about :blah blah blah population white paper":

The National Population and Talent Division -- a kind of immigration-cum-human-resources department -- intends to slow the growth of the workforce to about 1 to 2 percent per year over the rest of the decade, which is a dramatic departure from the more than 3 percent annual growth over the past 30 years. With that, GDP growth is likely to retract to an average of 3 to 4 percent per year. It is impossible to know whether wealthy Singaporeans -- and the country's foreign investors -- will tolerate an economic slowdown. (Or whether a country with an abysmal fertility rate of 1.2 children can even sustain its economy without foreign labor.) But the government has concluded that a slowdown is the right price to pay for keeping a harmonious society. The data tells it so.


So that answers everyone's comments about "Singapore is shooting itself in the foot! The government can't possible kill the golden goose!". Yes, plan to.

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Postby beppi » Sat, 02 Aug 2014 5:21 am

"It's o.k. to be nostalgic as long as it's forward-looking."
Paraphrased by me, but still quote of the month, I think!

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Postby Brah » Sat, 02 Aug 2014 11:47 am

Thanks for posting this, will have to read through it. Though it's probably nothing unexpected, it's probably going to get me POed.

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Postby JR8 » Sat, 02 Aug 2014 1:30 pm

beppi wrote:"It's o.k. to be nostalgic as long as it's forward-looking."
Paraphrased by me, but still quote of the month, I think!


Lol!

According to a spokesman - 'Ek-chew-a-leee all patriots should welcome this new Ministry of Public Thought, Feelings and Happiness*, as they will know precisely who isn't fully on board, and such individuals will be assisted by the newly formed Joy Division on their way to the Contentedness Chambers where they will be put out of their state of dissatisfaction'.



p.s. *Or maybe MoHaHa, the Ministry of Happiness and Harmony

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Postby JR8 » Sat, 02 Aug 2014 3:25 pm

'In this tiny laboratory of big-data mining, the experiment is yielding an unexpected result: The more time Singaporeans spend online, the more they read, the more they share their thoughts with each other and their government, the more they've come to realize that Singapore's light-touch repression is not entirely normal among developed, democratic countries -- and that their government is not infallible.'
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I lol'd at that one! :o :lol:
[My bolding]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'Across Singapore's national ministries and departments today, armies of civil servants use scenario-based planning and big-data analysis from RAHS for a host of applications beyond fending off bombs and bugs. They use it to plan ... ... forecast ... ... develop []policies] -- and they are looking to analyze Facebook posts, Twitter messages, and other social media in an attempt to "gauge the nation's mood" about everything from government social programs to the potential for civil unrest.'


Now I'm not naive about what get monitored in this country. But if Facebook is regarded as 'open-source' then presumably the government have a back-door to get around privacy settings... hmmm... let's hope you don't subscribe to the Demon-Cratic cartoon on Facebook or mebbe you gonna get a knock on your door.

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Postby JR8 » Sat, 02 Aug 2014 8:20 pm

p.s. Talking about social engineering, I was woken this morning, maybe 8-8.30 by a large, very loud, and apparently live choir singing the national anthem. It was clearly really quite some distance away (a mile+?), but THAT loud. And I am most certainly NOT a light sleeper.

'Patriotism never sleeps' ... :???:



Me: Oh God, WTF is that [frustrated disbelief/dozey-groan]?!
Wife: 'Majulah Singapura'
Me: Of FFS, you're kidding - no you're not! [>pillow on head].

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Postby zzm9980 » Sat, 02 Aug 2014 11:20 pm

JR8 wrote:Now I'm not naive about what get monitored in this country. But if Facebook is regarded as 'open-source' then presumably the government have a back-door to get around privacy settings... hmmm... let's hope you don't subscribe to the Demon-Cratic cartoon on Facebook or mebbe you gonna get a knock on your door.


Nah, you're not naive. You'd just be surprised by how naive some people are in setting up those privacy settings on Facebook. Many keep it at the stock default which lead to the majority of your shared content being public.

Also, anything on Facebook you comment on or "like" that is marked public is available for the entire world to see. I've seen numerous privacy conscious folks even taken by that. Some Facebook users have a feature enabled called "Graph search". This lets you run queries like "Photos of JR8" "Music liked by JR8" "Comments by JR8", even if your profile is completely locked down and none of your content is available to me when I browse to facebook.com/jr8.

Lastly, Facebook will respond to any government request where there is sufficient legal backing. Since Singaporean law pretty much says the government can ask for whatever they want, Facebook will just hand it over. Facebook publishes statistics on the number of these requests received/served. Singapore's numbers seem quite small though:
https://govtrequests.facebook.com/count ... e/2013-H2/


Oh! Some of you may have seen me harping on those "transparent proxy servers" many of the ISPs use, and see me suggesting ISPs that don't do this. If you wanted to monitor Internet usage (up to the application-level~ URLs accessed and content consumed/posted) across a very large network with little regard for end-user experience, proxies are the easiest way to do it.

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Postby taxico » Sun, 03 Aug 2014 12:18 am

zzm9980 wrote:...Some of you may have seen me harping on those "transparent proxy servers" many of the ISPs use, and see me suggesting ISPs that don't do this. If you wanted to monitor Internet usage (up to the application-level~ URLs accessed and content consumed/posted) across a very large network with little regard for end-user experience, proxies are the easiest way to do it.


what do you suggest is a simple/cost-effective way to keep our business to ourselves?

will paying for VPN subscription be enough or is monitoring of that traffic simply unavoidable through use of singapore's ISPs?
Aut viam ad caelum inveniam aut faciam

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Postby zzm9980 » Sun, 03 Aug 2014 9:27 am

taxico wrote:
zzm9980 wrote:...Some of you may have seen me harping on those "transparent proxy servers" many of the ISPs use, and see me suggesting ISPs that don't do this. If you wanted to monitor Internet usage (up to the application-level~ URLs accessed and content consumed/posted) across a very large network with little regard for end-user experience, proxies are the easiest way to do it.


what do you suggest is a simple/cost-effective way to keep our business to ourselves?

will paying for VPN subscription be enough or is monitoring of that traffic simply unavoidable through use of singapore's ISPs?


A VPN service that terminates outside of Singapore will be mostly effective at it.

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Postby the lynx » Mon, 04 Aug 2014 10:46 am

zzm9980 wrote:
JR8 wrote:Now I'm not naive about what get monitored in this country. But if Facebook is regarded as 'open-source' then presumably the government have a back-door to get around privacy settings... hmmm... let's hope you don't subscribe to the Demon-Cratic cartoon on Facebook or mebbe you gonna get a knock on your door.


Nah, you're not naive. You'd just be surprised by how naive some people are in setting up those privacy settings on Facebook. Many keep it at the stock default which lead to the majority of your shared content being public.

Also, anything on Facebook you comment on or "like" that is marked public is available for the entire world to see. I've seen numerous privacy conscious folks even taken by that. Some Facebook users have a feature enabled called "Graph search". This lets you run queries like "Photos of JR8" "Music liked by JR8" "Comments by JR8", even if your profile is completely locked down and none of your content is available to me when I browse to facebook.com/jr8.

Lastly, Facebook will respond to any government request where there is sufficient legal backing. Since Singaporean law pretty much says the government can ask for whatever they want, Facebook will just hand it over. Facebook publishes statistics on the number of these requests received/served. Singapore's numbers seem quite small though:
https://govtrequests.facebook.com/count ... e/2013-H2/


Oh! Some of you may have seen me harping on those "transparent proxy servers" many of the ISPs use, and see me suggesting ISPs that don't do this. If you wanted to monitor Internet usage (up to the application-level~ URLs accessed and content consumed/posted) across a very large network with little regard for end-user experience, proxies are the easiest way to do it.


Obviously the smart ones won't be very visible...

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Postby zzm9980 » Mon, 04 Aug 2014 11:10 am

the lynx wrote:Obviously the smart ones won't be very visible...


Either your bar for "smart ones" is really high or you severely underestimate what is available to be mined via Facebook with anyone that knows your name.

Check your PM ;)

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Re: Singapore: Surveillance state and Social engineering

Postby nakatago » Mon, 04 Aug 2014 1:06 pm

zzm9980 wrote:
by U.S. standards, Singapore's privacy laws are virtually nonexistent, and it's possible that the government collected private communications, financial data, public transportation records, and medical information without any court approval or private consent -



Just the amount of Singapore spam one gets when you've filled enough forms in Singapore is circumstantial evidence of this.

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Postby Mi Amigo » Mon, 04 Aug 2014 4:27 pm

JR8 wrote:According to a spokesman - 'Ek-chew-a-leee all patriots should welcome this new Ministry of Public Thought, Feelings and Happiness*, as they will know precisely who isn't fully on board, and such individuals will be assisted by the newly formed Joy Division on their way to the Contentedness Chambers where they will be put out of their state of dissatisfaction'.

I'm still chuckling at that one. :lol:

Joy Division - Isolation

In fear every day, every evening,
He calls her aloud from above,
Carefully watched for a reason...
Be careful what you wish for


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