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Mon. Jun 17th, 6pm - 7pm: Damon Krukowski, author of "Ways of Hearing" (More info...)

Options April 22, 2019: Paul Mozur, New York Times journalist, on surveillance in China

Listen to this show: MP3 - 128K | | Add or read comments

This week: Paul Mozur, New York Times journalist


Above from How China Turned a City Into a Prison (NYT, Apr 4)


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In this show we're spotlighting Paul Mozur and the New York Times team for its excellent coverage of surveillance in China, and its (almost) excellent coverage of the same surveillance beginning to appear in the U.S., including on the streets of New York City.

Remember: what happens to Chinese Uighurs is what will happen to you, if we don't oppose Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other surveillance capitalists. There are no term limits for Zuckerberg, and no elections for Brin, Page, or Bezos.

This week's links:

• Our guest, Paul Mozur, on Twitter: @paulmozur

How China Turned a City Into a Prison (New York Times, April 4, 2019, by Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur, and Austin Ramzy, reporting from Kashgar, Xinjiang region, China): "The police sometimes take Uighurs' phones and check to make sure they have installed compulsory software that monitors calls and messages."

One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority (New York Times, April 14, 2019, by Paul Mozur): "The Chinese A.I. companies behind the software include Yitu, Megvii, SenseTime, and CloudWalk, which are each valued at more than $1 billion. ... Fidelity International and Qualcomm Ventures were a part of a consortium that invested $620 million in SenseTime. Sequoia invested in Yitu."

Being Tracked While Reporting in China, Where ‘There Are No Whys’ (New York Times, April 16, 2019, by Paul Mozur): "I was in Kashgar to report on how the Chinese authorities had turned to technology to cement their control of the Xinjiang territory ... my followers were by turns menacing and buffoonish. There were seven of them, and they took down the information of anyone I spoke to, making it too dangerous to interview residents. The police stopped me many times a day at checkpoints, demanding to look through my phone and often deleting photos and videos."

Limiting Your Digital Footprints in a Surveillance State (New York Times, Feb 27, 2019, featuring Paul Mozur): "China is wired with about 200 million surveillance cameras, Beijing controls the telecom companies, and every internet company has to hand over data when the police want it. They also know where journalists live because we register our address with police. In Shanghai, the police regularly come to my apartment; once they demanded to come inside."

Looking Through the Eyes of China’s Surveillance State (New York Times, July 16, 2018, by Paul Mozur): At a policeman's invitation, Mozur puts on surveillance glasses, looking "through a view finder like one on an old video camera. First I was instructed to aim it at a female officer. A small rectangle appeared around her head, and after a few seconds, the screen displayed her name and national identification number." ... "The abilities and intentions of the authorities here are rarely clear, and uncertainty is part of the point. China’s surveillance state is far from perfect, but if people don’t know where it excels and where it breaks down, there’s a better chance they’ll assume it’s working and behave."

China Appears to Block Microsoft’s Bing as Censorship Intensifies (New York Times, Jan 23, 2019, by Paul Mozur and Karen Weise): Microsoft's Bing search engine has been blocked in China, "even though the American company already censors its results in China." Mark's note: Pity Microsoft, trying their best to accommodate Chinese censors by removing from Bing any mention of democratic impulses in China - and still they don't get credit! They'll have to take their surveillance-manipulation tools and just apply them on Americans.

We Built a (Legal) Facial Recognition Machine for $60 (New York Times, April 16, 2019, by Sahil Chinoy): "But the city’s LinkNYC kiosks, which are scattered through the streets and intended to provide free wireless internet, each have two security cameras. Law enforcement agencies need a subpoena or court order to gain access to the footage, and using facial recognition is against the policy of the company that owns the kiosks. However, the existence of more than 3,000 additional cameras has raised concerns about their potential to bolster the city’s surveillance capabilities." Mark's note: Excellent story, but would suggest one clarification: the "company that owns the kiosks" is Google/Alphabet, and it certainly has no problems with facial recognition.

Someone Smashed The Hell Out Of Dozens Of LinkNYC Kiosks (Gothamist, Apr 22): "at least 30 LinkNYC kiosks in the West Village and Chelsea" have been smashed.

Techtonic from November 5, 2018 - featuring Ava Kofman, talking about Google's LinkNYC surveillance kiosks. Jump to interview or read her article on LinkNYC in the Intercept.


Above, from Looking Through the Eyes of China’s Surveillance State


The Messy Truth About Social Credit (Shazeda Ahmed in Logic magazine, April 2019): American media depictions of China's social credit system "are wildly off-base... the [Chinese] social credit system as it currently exists is not aimed at Orwellian social control... the government is itself unsure, and is still in the process of figuring out, what such a system can accomplish." Hmm... Ahmed goes on to describe the blacklists of social credit: "Punishments for landing on certain blacklists include being barred from taking civil service jobs, from sending one’s children to private schools, and from booking air travel." Finally, Ahmed points out (correctly) that American data brokers have created some of the same methods of control here in the US. (See Frank Pasquale on Techtonic from November 2018.)

On the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka Blocks Social Media, Fearing More Violence (NYT, Apr 21): "Sri Lanka blocked several social media networks in the wake of terrorist attacks on Sunday, including Facebook and the messaging service WhatsApp. The extraordinary step reflects growing global concern, particularly among governments, about the capacity of American-owned networks to spin up violence. YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Viber were also inaccessible."

Sri Lanka Shut Down Social Media. My First Thought Was ‘Good.’ (Kara Swisher in the NYT, Apr 22): "This is the ugly conundrum of the digital age: When you traffic in outrage, you get death." But Swisher concludes that "Shutting social media down in times of crisis isn’t going to work," since it's "too late."

Thread by Megha Rajagopalan (Apr 22, Twitter): "Suggesting the Sri Lankan government was justified in blocking Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube & other platforms over misinformation fears . . . is super problematic. News media is controlled in SL and journalists under lots of pressure, so people seeking legitimate information also rely on social media."

It’s U.S. vs. World as Big Tech Faces Specter of Limiting Speech Online (NYT, Apr 21): "'For the first time, I’m seeing the left and right agree that something has gotten out of control, and there is a lot of consensus on the harms created by fake news, terrorist content and election interference,' said Nicole Wong, deputy chief technology officer for the Obama administration." Also discusses Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, "Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material."


Above, Hangzhou's West Lake. From my trip to China last summer. -mark


- - -

Listener meetup: You're invited! Killer Robots Movie Night at WFMU - Friday, May 10 in Monty Hall.

- - -

Check out techtonic.fm for recent Techtonic interviews and Little Slice of Tech Pie segments.

PODCAST: Subscribe to the Techtonic podcast

Artist Track Images Approx. start time
  Paul Mozur, New York Times journalist, talks about what's happening in China: surveillance, control, and the fate of Uighurs in the Xinjiang region.
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Options
Options
 
  Mark's intro  
Options
 
  Interview with Paul Mozur  
Options
0:16:27 (MP3 | )
Abdurehim Heyit  Karşılaşınca   Options   0:55:11 (MP3 | )

Listener comments!

Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:00pm ultradamno:

Hello Mark! Techster Bunnies!
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:00pm geezerette:

Howdy!
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:01pm ultradamno:

...or is Teachster Bunnies better, I've been debating it.
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:01pm melinda:

Hi all
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:02pm listener james from westwood:

Evening, Mark and all!!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:02pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Welcome, Earthly Techtonigists.
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:02pm geezerette:

Ultra-TecTeacher? ...Bunnies.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:03pm Webhamster Henry:

Is it Six O'Clock already?
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:03pm brycepunk1:

Good evening Mark, everyone.
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:03pm geezerette:

Bring my dread with me...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:03pm ɨkɛ:

I went to western China briefly in 2007 and was NOT a fan.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:04pm Webhamster Henry:

This is going to be a scary show tonight!
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:04pm geezerette:

..inging..
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:04pm Bas NL:

Mark, Techtoniceggies!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:05pm annie:

hey!
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:05pm kevlicki:

Good evening all
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:05pm Matt from Sunset Park:

I'm not missing!
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:07pm Dr. Goot:

You rang? Great show, Mark. Please keep up the good work. Thanks!
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:10pm ultradamno:

Thoughts and prayers and dollars.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:11pm Ken From Hyde Park:

In solidarity with our afflicted citizens, we can be TechtUighurs tonight.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:11pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

A digression for future reference? Friday on SheilaB's I said :

Something to consider: There were many Small Broadcasters on the Interwebz who got shut down by a change in Royalty Laws that meant they couldn't keep up financially - while Spotify & giants still pay pennies on millions of plays...one for Techtonic, perhaps...& the Internet Providers scoop up profits for bringing all of it - & I doubt they pay a red cent for any Content @ all...

About which : www.facebook.com...
www.247onlineradio.com...
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:13pm Sam:

I dont know if it’s fair to say Facebook makes money off these kinds of tragedies, I mean all media do, and always have.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:13pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Because - all these Interwebz things should be Public Utilities
- but - they are the biggest monolithic Monopolies there are.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:13pm annie:

not to detract fromthe seriousness of this, but... did part of yahoo sell out to verizon,specifically the smartphone app ?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:14pm annie:

^ for email^?
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:14pm geezerette:

What RevRab sez.
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:15pm melinda:

@Sam I thought of that too
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:19pm Emily S:

Don't get me wrong, Facebook is hugely complicit in the propagation of hate and violence. But to pin so much blame on them misses another conversation about toxicity in our societies and cultures at large. Facebook is a platform, and it does allow things to fester and grow, but these ideas start offline. It's easy to use Facebook and other tech companies as a scapegoat to avoid talking about what's really going wrong societally.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:22pm annie:

right on, emily
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:24pm John from Florham Park:

@Emily thank you Facebook may have problems but people should not place all the blame on them
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:25pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

But do their algorithms specifically encourage & enable this negativity?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:26pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

...while they claim to be apolitical ??
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:26pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

...& profit from it? A lot...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:28pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

...& feign accountability...
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:29pm John from Florham Park:

@Revolution rabbit I as a rule try to avoid politics on Facebook, after the last election I make a effort to avoid it
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:29pm chris:

that argument for facebook sounds alot like the arguments the gun lobby uses. facebook is the assault rifle with a large capacity magazine of social media. it can do a lot of damage in a very short time. regulation and/or limitations on its power just seems to make sense in the same way that assault rifles shouldn't be easy to get.
  Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:31pm Emily S:

Undoubtedly. Views are money, and nothing gets more views than inflammatory content. By no means am I vouching for Big Tech's innocence, I'm just pointing out that these things have history and relevance offline. Facebook fuels and profits off these things, and getting rid of it would probably help quell some of the extremism. But such extremism has always existed, and while we shouldn't give it a platform, I think something is missed when so much blame gets placed on tech.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:31pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Well - there's a flood of Information in all directions. I've learned a lot from intelligent people on fb. But of course the whole Electoral Process is gonna sway under the weight of it...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:31pm annie:

i actually witnessed a FB censorship action a coupleof days ago; the Columbine anniversary prompted a fellow to post up a phtoto of the aftermath .. two sprawled bodies.. removng it ... to me. was unnecessary and wrong-minded censorship by FB. they use the cloak of "Community standards", which i find is very oblique, easily applied at their whim..
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:32pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

point annie
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:32pm John from Florham Park:

RRN63 there have been wackos who were around before Facebook
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:34pm John from Florham Park:

@Annie I posted a Led Zeppelin song a couple of days ago and I ran afoul of community standards and I used a different version of the same song
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:35pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Yes - but webz creates the echo silos...it has clearly enabled movements like the White Nationalists - not just fb, noted...
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:35pm Sam:

Isn’t Facebook supposed to be just an open forum where people can say what they want? If someone stands on a soapbox in Washington square park yelling hateful things, would we blame the parks department?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:35pm Webhamster Henry:

The thing to watch out for is: after we force Google, Facebook, etc to more effectively monitor and disempower extremism,(big 'if' there), we may think that the job is done.
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:36pm geezerette:

Hubris of Nixon.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:36pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

...just as it connects us here - or Godzilla fans on fb, for random example - as has podcasting - everything...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:37pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

@Sam: Is the Park cashing in on contention?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:38pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Monopolizing it?
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:39pm annie:

and just imagine the back-room talks between china and the USA for this trade deal..there WILL be tech involved...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:40pm annie:

and that's just those two countries talking..
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:40pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

A big takeaway from this Program: Have to change thinking from things to information now...
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:40pm John from Florham Park:

@Annie wonder if dumpster will get some ideas from talks with China
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:41pm Webhamster Henry:

I sounds like there are some good easy jobs, being on someones tail all day.
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:42pm BigCat:

Pretty sure China will "win" the Green Revolution.
They will be laughing all the way to the Carbon Tax bank.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:43pm annie:

without a doubt, john
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:44pm John from Florham Park:

I knew it Annie
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:45pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

China has too many people & too few resources to want environmental challenges.
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:46pm BigCat:

The surveillance seems to be working, with respect to domestic terrorism in their country.
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:47pm ultradamno:

Emojiworld: twitter.com...
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:50pm BigCat:

Rabbit, China has a "5-Year Plan" that they update annually.
It has a strong climate protection component.

They're plnning to kick our U.S.Ass -- bc they'll be the darlings of the global community
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:51pm northguineahills:

Thanks, Mark and Paul!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:54pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Maybe a way to try to stay a step ahead of them is to get some drones up in the air to take pictures.
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:54pm BigCat:

anyone know if Paul Mozur was targeted bc he is a Journalist?

I got here late
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:54pm northguineahills:

*claps hands*
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:55pm annie:

interesting anecdote on surveillance: a good family friend went to visit russia. he was a student of my dad's... he was tailed and followed, was not comfortable exposing his camera. he took many shots covertly. had a second camera as a decoy. this was 1965 or so.. he got some GREAT shots.. mostly of the disrepair behind the scenes...along with other forbidden subjects....
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:55pm ultradamno:

Mark's reaction is the appropriate response to that song in any context.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:55pm Granny Spicy Tuna:

this is all more than fascinating, wow. thank you for another excellent and informative show (and hi to all my listener pals!)
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:56pm BigCat:

Well, Mark Hurst . . . hereafter you can expect China to be surveilling Techtonic shows now that Mr. Mozur was on this show!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:56pm annie:

hey granny!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:57pm Bas NL:

Thanks Paul.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:58pm Rich in NC:

Nice show tonight
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:58pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Mark's table: How to turn a 45 RPM record into a surveillance device, and also tinfoil hats for sale.
  Mon. 4/22/19 6:58pm Dave Miss:

Thank you for the great work.
Avatar Mon. 4/22/19 6:58pm geezerette:

Thanks, Mark and Paul!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:58pm chris:

thanks, Mark and Paul!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:59pm Bas NL:

Thanks Mark!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 6:59pm listener james from westwood:

Thanks, Mark and Paul!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Mon. 4/22/19 7:01pm Ken From Hyde Park:

en.wikipedia.org...
Avatar Tue. 4/23/19 2:55pm kimzilla:

I've only read a few articles about the Uighurs, but this was just shocking, the million people city sized camps, the disappearing of a culture and individuals, the mandated software put on their equipment, it was all so insane. It's so important that you are sharing these stories, thank you.
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