Americans Give Their Information Freely
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “Let’s hop into the King Dude’s wayback machine. The videotape is archived. Digital images are permanent. Once they’re part of the internet, you can’t get rid of them. So if you’re trying to then construct a case against an American citizen for something they may do in the future, then you would have a way to go back into time. You would then be able to identify where someone might have been. If you were trying to make a case against a citizen, you would be able to piece it together by having access to the digital images in the places you were looking for.” Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: “NSA Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images.”
The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts from its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents.
The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal.
[Mike: Note, ladies and gentlemen, that all the things that are mentioned here where the images may be found are things that you and I probably do on a daily basis. This probably happens every day, if not every hour of every day.] Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show. The agency’s ambitions for this highly sensitive ability and the scale of its efforts have not previously been disclosed.
The agency intercepts “millions of images per day”—including about 55,000 “facial recognition quality images”—which translate into “tremendous untapped potential,” according to 2011 documents obtained from the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden.
Mike: Just think about that for a minute, 55,000 per day. So in 100 days, you’ve captured 55 million. In 200 days, you’ve captured 110 million. In 300 days, you’ve captured 165 million. Just run the number out. In approximately 600 days, if these were unique images, you could potentially capture the recognizable face of every of the 309 million American citizens. You’d have a profile on them. If the facial recognition software or whatever the technical name for that is, if it is then used to catalog and describe or make a template, if you will, of all of those individuals, you’d be able to spot anyone like me or Eric or any of the rest of you that has the image out there. You’d be able to spot us anywhere at any time. [mocking] “Mike, what’s the big deal?”
I’ll tell you what the big deal is. Let’s hop into the King Dude’s wayback machine. The videotape is archived. Digital images are permanent. Once they’re part of the internet, you can’t get rid of them. So if you’re trying to then construct a case against an American citizen for something they may do in the future, then you would have a way to go back into time. You would then be able to identify where someone might have been. If you were trying to make a case against a citizen, you would be able to piece it together by having access to the digital images in the places you were looking for.
What’s really creepy about this — it’s one of the intriguing things about this monstrosity they’re building out in the middle of the Utah desert, which, by the bye, is scheduled to go online or is online and operating right now as I speak. One of the purposes of this thing, from what we know, is to gather and store all of those images that I’m reading you the story about right now, and not just the facial recognition images. Remember, one of the things that Snowden revealed when we learned about the PRISM program is that major social media providers and major search engines like Google were basically allowing the NSA to tap into their servers and take whatever they wanted. Apparently they go in and take whatever they want and store it. Some argue they’re just doing that so they can continue selling the software needed to do it and it’s all a big moneymaking racket and operation. That may be true, but at the end of the day, there does remain the very serious potential that there’s criminal wrongdoing going on here and something more nefarious.
As a condition of citizenship, it is beyond the pale, to me and many other people, that as a condition of citizenship that I have somehow given a wink and nod or have in another form acknowledged that you have the right to gather and catalog and hold and detain forevermore every piece of information that I generate about my life or that I generate through living my life, and that the government has some sort of an interest in this. If that’s the case, when they say the entire world is a battlefield for terrorism, that means your MacBook Pro sitting on the dining room table in your house is part of the battlefield. The smartphone that you carry around in your pocket to take photographs of yourself or children or wife or family members and what have you, that is also then part of the battlefield. Is that part of the deal?
Folks, you think about some of the dystopian scenarios that have been fictionalized in futures that have gone awry, for example, in the future where the machines control everything after Skynet goes live and starts killing humans in the Terminator series. Many of you have probably seen the original or the sequels that had Schwarzenegger in them. I think the last one was Judgment Day with Christian Bale in it. It’s a very dystopian future where the machines have arisen and they have taken over because they’ve become sentient or conscious or whatever the case may be. How farfetched does that now seem today? Even if the machines haven’t actually taken over, the machines, as depicted, are now being used in the same fashion as they are in the nefarious plotlines that are acted out in these dramas, or in these action movies or thrillers or whatever you want to call them, that are set in the future.
This is what is really — I don’t want to use the work shocking because just the existence of the thing should be shocking enough, so unprecedented. You can’t get a camera anywhere near where they’re building this monstrosity in Utah. The closest you can get is a road that passes by within, it looked like from what I saw, probably about a mile and a half, two miles. It’s quite a distance. To try to put it into a size or scale that people can understand, this NSA plant they’re building out in the Utah desert, you probably have a Costco or a BJ’s Wholesale or a Sam’s Club somewhere around you in Maryland, right?
Eric: Absolutely, several.
Mike: These things are massive, maybe 100,000 square feet some of them. They’re huge. It’ll take you 20 minutes to walk from one end to the other, right?
Eric: Yeah, it’s very big.
Mike: Imagine a couple dozen of those things, four, six, eight stories tall. Just imagine that. That’s the kind of square footage that is being utilized at this data gathering center out in Utah. What in dude’s holy name could you possibly be cataloging? Again, let’s just think about this. How many of you went shopping this weekend or you went to a wholesale club and loaded up on organic chicken thighs or 50-pound bags of dog food or whatever the case may be? While you were meandering about there and marveling over the amount and quantity of the goods available to you to display, hopefully you took in just a snapshot or you were aware of just how large that particular building was, just how huge that thing is. Just imagine that thing, instead of being filled with chicken thighs and other assorted wholesale goods, just imagine that story after story after story of that thing is filled with digital recording instruments or implements, and an occasion human or two to monitor them.
Now think about that little phone in your pocket. That little phone in your pocket can hold what, 40 gigabytes, 80 gigabytes? They keep getting larger. Now just run a couple rough computations in your head. Just imagine now, we’re not talking about phones; we’re talking about computer hard drives. We’re not talking about little ones that fit inside phones. You can make them as large as is needed to store the information. What is it that they could possibly be storing or have the need to store that would fill up a dozen or so Costco or Sam’s Clubs or BJ’s? It boggles the mind. Somebody had said they had the ability to store zettabytes there, whatever that is, which is a billion or trillion gigabytes or whatever that is. Just imagining this now, what would they need all that data to be stored?
Now maybe it all starts to make a little bit of sense. It’s the cataloging and collection of every piece of data that is being created by all of us on an ongoing, running basis, regardless of who you are and regardless of what protections you think you have. That’s why when I was watching this movie Terms and Conditions May Apply, the documentarian was also subtly making the point along the way that much of what an agency like the NSA or whatever, or the CIA, that it would have coveted in the past and wished to get its hands on, that it doesn’t even have to go looking for that now. Americans voluntarily post it, surrender it every day. [mocking] “Here’s where I’m going to be. Here’s where I was.”
If you’re one of the people that are doing this, I’m not telling you what to do, but you may want to reconsider it.
Those that just habitually now must catalog and feel the need to tell the world their every single, solitary movements, you are making an indelible, irreversible decision here. The indelible part of this is that you’re imprinting this into the digital world. You can’t take it back. Once you’ve put this stuff out there, once you’ve established “here’s what I do from 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., then from 6:30 a.m. I’m in the car …” so in many instances they don’t even have to go looking for it. We voluntarily post it. There’s just something that’s a bit creepy about that.
End Mike Church Show Transcript