Dutch IT Contractor Suggests Letting Police Have Direct Real-Time Access To All Of Your Devices... For Your Safety

from the Big-Brother-is-my-co-pilot dept

The premise seems like something right out a Phillip K. Dick novel (or a Doctorow) but the actual deployment is cheerily animated, as if it were selling something as innocuous as breakfast cereal or vehicle insurance. Dutch IT company PinkRoccade envisions a future where all of your everything can be accessed by local law enforcement… for safety!

Here's the not-actually-a-promo (more on that in a moment) video, helpfully subtitled by the nameless Techdirt reader who submitted the story.


The proposal is simple: all portable and wearable electronics can be given completely accessed (opt-in, apparently) by local law enforcement. The cheery figure who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (an "unsafe area") is rescued from a certain mugging by local officers, and all he had to give up was biometric data and access to all of his devices.

Heart rate data and perspiration sensors send a distress signal. The local police note that the "distress signal" emanates from an area with a higher-than-normal crime rate. The police access the citizen's glasses (of the Google variety, presumably) and see what he sees: two approaching figures possibly harboring malicious intent. Police scan GPS signals to see if phones in the area belong to known criminals. The nearest cop car is scrambled to the scene and the citizen who is the police's eyes, ears and sweat glands Makes It Home Alive.

The reaction in the Netherlands has been fierce. Here's the headline of one response, automatically translated:
Holy fuck video: PinkRoccade fucks the privacy.
Even in the untranslated version, one can pick up various iterations of WTF scattered through the native Dutch. The author of this post points out how this supposed public safety tool could be abused, or just applied badly with horrific results.
"The GPS in your smart glasses indicates that you are next to an elementary school and the implanted chip in your testicle gives a slight state of excitement… [t]he vice squad is now underway."
Another Dutch news outlet decided to ask PinkRoccade whether this video was actually, you know, REAL, rather than the misguided attempt at satire it really should be? The answer it received only makes it worse.

Roughly translated, PinkRoccade said that even though the video had been posted to YouTube by the company, it was meant for company personnel and law enforcement only. The general gist of the response is that the public is too stupid to understand this tech proposal and is only mocking it because it's viewing the video without the proper expertise or context.

The company says that all data sharing is purely voluntary, but doesn't address what happens when someone rescinds their permission. How can anyone be assured that the Big Brother they invited into their wearables will actually pack up and leave when asked to? Beyond that, there's the thousands of implications of allowing law enforcement to surveill and respond as it sees fit based on unreliable input like heart rates and perspiration.

It doesn't surprise me that an IT contractor would promo such a product and sadly even less surprising that it would generate interested responses from law enforcement agencies, who have often approached safety (both officer and public) as an area where no rules should apply. But neither of these entities should ever consider following through, even with consent. The potential for abuse and a long list of unintended consequences should warn anyone away. But PinkRoccade deserves most of the blame: for dreaming up this genocidal attack on privacy and for brushing off criticism by telling the public it's simply not smart enough to understand what it's proposing.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 5:22am

    Interestingly I highly doubt law enforcement agents would opt-in to such lunacy. I'm not sure why though. /sarc

    Those open-sourced smartphones (that use both open source software and hardware) are getting more and more attractive...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 5:51am

    Sign me up

    Just like a religious promise of heavenly immortality... or Mr. Ponce de Leon's magic fountain... it's a promise of safety and security, now and forever!

    Sounds idyllic to me. I'm having copies of my house, car and safe deposit box keys made, and driving them downtown to Sergeant Phil at the local PD -- and then, here comes carefree living!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mark Harrill (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 6:00am

    Actually I like the idea

    If they put it on law enforcement. Imagine:
    First person views of shooting/tasering events.
    Chips implanted in uniforms and/or privates to alert to possible sexual assaults about to begin.
    GPS location of traffic stops and integrated video of first person and dash cam so the head office can watch to make sure the cops behave.
    This has the potential to cut abuse by police officers in at least 50%, maybe even more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Digitari, 7 Oct 2014 @ 7:57am

      Re: Actually I like the idea

      of course, this will also need an "auto-Tazer" feature, for when Officers do get out of line......

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 6:20am

    Seriously guys, but I can't stress this enough, it seems: 1984 was NOT supposed to be a work manual...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    anti-antidirt (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 6:24am

    Wish we had this here. Love this idea!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 6:36am

      Re:

      Unfortunately not for a while yet... But in the meantime, because you're such an upstanding pillar of the community, perhaps we can arrange a round-the-clock surveillance tean for you. And just to make sure you're OK, we'll have them remove you house and car locks. And drapes and curtains (particularly on the shower stall if you have one). And we
      ll ransack (err, I mean diligently search) your home for all banking and other financial credentials, so that we can helpfully monitor them for you (and withdraw any funds to cover costs of the above, saving you that troublesome little burden).

      There, that will give you all the benefits of the as yet unavailable technology without having to wait. Because we love you and you're "special", at least in one sense.

      Have a nice day - I know we will (big smiley)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 5:27pm

      Re:

      I'm sure it can be arranged, although you may be the one and only participant.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 6:29am

    I fear that in the future individuals will have less and less control of the choices their electronic devices make for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    tomczerniawski, 7 Oct 2014 @ 6:37am

    So, when do we start setting fires and cutting important-looking cables?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 6:46am

    I can see it now... Holland, Saturday night, a very stoned IT guy is watching Elysium...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ltlw0lf (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 7:17am

      Re:

      I can see it now... Holland, Saturday night, a very stoned IT guy is watching Elysium...

      Damn, I was thinking the same exact thing.

      What is interesting is with Elysium, they had satellite tracking of John Carlyle, was able to see him from multiple angles via satellite. Had remote controlled, or at least remote managed robots along with hovering and quickly moving spy drones with defensive and offensive weaponry, and yet they still let him die even though he had the source code to reboot Elysium stuck in his head (wouldn't want that to get compromised by just anyone.) Those guys were there for quite some time, fighting with his robots, and long enough that the villain could be notified and picked up, yet the robot police cavalry never showed up. (Sure, the movie had a lot of holes, but I still loved it.)

      Wonder if we could expect the same from this technology? "We would save you, but gosh darn, there are people far more wealthy than you that need saving. Please report to the police station once you are safe as we need to talk to you about some of the stuff you've been doing lately."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 6:49am

    So many ways...

    To work around this. Jammers, Shielding, and good old Ninjas!

    If they don't see the attack coming... no heart rate to raise alarm until its too late. ~Ninja!

    Police are nothing more than after the fact responders. You want protection? Then you provide it for yourself!

    ~Just a Ninja!
    Kain was the first ninja... Able didn't see that one coming!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 6:49am

    1) Turn off and remove all wearables before getting it on, (don't want the excitement to attract the authorities).
    2) Loss of contact signals an emergency situation, and they rush in anyway.
    3) The human race stops breeding and goes extinct.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 6:50am

    The GPS in your smart glasses indicates that you are next to an elementary school and the implanted chip in your testicle gives a slight state of excitement… [t]he vice squad is now underway.

    This awesome fucker just won this week's funniest comment on TechDirt.



    Also..."Holy fuck! [insert government official/organization/etc] fucks the privacy." is going to be my new saying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 7 Oct 2014 @ 6:57am

    Actually, I'm fairly certain that the guy's raised heart rate was due to the fact that he was pushing his bicycle down the street.

    I'm not convinced he actually noticed the criminals because if he had, he probably would have gotten on the bicycle and ridden it away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 7:00am

    That other scenario...

    Your heart rate goes up. You start to sweat.
    Your gps says you are not in your own neighbourhood.
    The image from your google glass is dark, with an occasional flash of light. There is a woman in the picture...

    Since you are not at home, but at the nightclub with that dark-haired beauty, let us rob your place clean. No witnesses, no mess.

    Hey, you didn't think this data access would remain exclusive to the police, did you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 7:33am

      Re: That other scenario...

      Not only that but imagine the police visiting your HOT 16 year old daughter that does drugs whilst you are not at home.

      The police (or this guy) really are thinking of the advantages here!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 7:04am

    >Roughly translated, PinkRoccade said that even though the video had been posted to YouTube by the company, it was meant for company personnel and law enforcement only.

    First Red Flag

    >The company says that all data sharing is purely voluntary, but doesn't address what happens when someone rescinds their permission.

    Second Red Flag

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 7:04am

    This would be an excellent tool for police to use ... on themselves. Then whenever a cop says to a grand jury "I was in fear for my life" his physiological monitoring might indicate otherwise.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 7:48am

      Re:

      Fear for your life is a horrible legal standard as it encourages cowardice and paranoia for liability reasons. Of course they probably want to promote fear to gain power so....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 7:20am

    ...I wonder how much blackmail material was involved?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zorg The Conqueror, 7 Oct 2014 @ 7:27am

    Breeding self-reliance out of our food source is a good idea. When this system is fully implemented (first with the children, of course, then with the adult cattle) we'll know exactly where our resources are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 7:43am

    Why is it the more Police want to protect me, the less safe I feel?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 12:08pm

      Re:

      Because their idea of 'protection' would be better defined as 'control'.

      They just want to 'keep you safe', but wouldn't you know it, those pesky 'right' and 'privacy' things keep getting in the way, and so, for your protection of course, it's better to just get rid of those hindrances...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 12:47pm

      Re:

      Because they have a higher body count than terrorists and gangsters at this point. At this rate, they'll have more blood on their hands than a typical tinpot dictator.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 7:58am

    Permission Denied?

    "The company says that all data sharing is purely voluntary, but doesn't address what happens when someone rescinds their permission."

    Let me sum it up using an actual law enforcement officer's quote:

    "If you're exercising your rights, you must be doing something wrong."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 8:07am

    They forgot the mandatory collars everyone has to wear with an always on microphone, GPS and small explosive right beside your jugular vein a'la Battle Royale.

    That way instead of dispatching police, they just turn on the explosive warning signal to the muggers remotely.

    Think of the cost savings! Only peadophile supporters would be against this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rabbit80 (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 8:10am

    Of course..

    If it is all voluntary then it is doomed from the start.. What mugger / rapist / vandal (and dare I say terrorist / paedophile) would volunteer to be tracked 24/7 and commit a crime whilst carrying all the stuff that tracks them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Just Another Anonymous Troll, 7 Oct 2014 @ 10:13am

      Re: Of course..

      The official project is you wear your tech, and when it detects a mugger or other threat police are notified and dispatched to save you. Whether that's the real motive or a front to spy on you is to be determined.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 8:36am

    Orwell was right

    We would all be safer if all our big screen TVs had a mandatory built in camera allowing police to monitor for criminal activities and thoughts.

    What could go wrong?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 8:58am

    Orwell was wrong

    Orwell was basing his visionary idea on obsolete technology. While telescreens are useful, they are only part of the solution to keep us all safe.

    A better vision (pun intended) would be mandatory Google Glass with always on vision and microphone -- remotely monitored for your safety.

    As a bonus feature for your enjoyment, whenever you see or hear anything copyrighted, your credit card can be automatically billed. Now that is unparalleled convenience!

    What will they think of next?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 9:38am

      Re: Orwell was wrong

      Orwell wasn't wrong, exactly. It's more that his Big Brother was a rank amateur.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2014 @ 5:05am

      Re: Orwell was wrong

      Your own personal spycam drone observer would make more sense. Or just implants straight into the central nervous system. Or Precogs. What could go wrong with Precogs?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me, 7 Oct 2014 @ 9:19am

    me@me.net

    No.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 9:35am

    The proposal is actually worse: The local authority (the council) has access to your bio-signs and location data because you are in a bad neighbourhood. You do not give permission for this.
    You give permission for the use of the video-feed. The council would share all info in real time with the police, the department of the interior, the justice department, presumably the AIVD (national security agency) and anyone else deemed official enough by them. (Recursively, off course: I cannot see the NSA kept out.)
    So both mandatory access and opt-in access. And off course widespread sharing of data with all the safety problems that entails.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 10:59am

    No one has pointed this out yet?

    You're in a bad neighborhood, some known druggies are walking up to you, your heart rate goes up. The cops pull up and arrest your ass for conspiracy to distribute illegal substances.

    This is how it would be used in the US (and everywhere else, just give it time).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 11:19am

      Re: No one has pointed this out yet?

      Not to mention that my heart rate goes up whenever on-duty cops are nearby. Since cops take visible nervousness as a sign that you're up to something bad, just imagine what they'd do if they could detect that nervousness automatically.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 11:03am

    I'm less concerned about the premise of 'trying to opt out' than I am of the assumed implications of not being opted in.

    "He's not allowing us unfettered access to his whole life! He's hiding something. Arrest him and we'll come up with an excuse after."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 12:17pm

      Re:

      Oh yeah, if there was ever an instance of the police pushing the idea of 'If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide' it would be this. You can be sure if such a system were deployed it would be only a matter of time until not 'opting in' would be implied to be a sign of guilt.

      After all, a good citizen trusts the police, a good citizen has nothing to 'hide' from them, and the system is designed to protect people, so clearly anyone who refused to agree to being monitored is up to no good and needs extra 'observation' to compensate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    djl47 (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 11:18am

    It's a magical golden key.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 11:53am

    Nothing like have George Orwell strapped to your face. I hate to break it to people, but it's more likely this technology will be used to prosecute the wearer, instead of protecting them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 12:54pm

    Well, we're not getting anywhere saying that backdoors let hackers in. Maybe we're just not speaking their language?

    "These illegal, Fourth Amendment-breaking backdoors (supposedly for police use) will be commandeered by cyberterrorists who will use them for cyberattacks! We need to stop opening cybervulnerabilities for cyberterrorists to exploit before they bring about Cyber Pearl Harbor!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      GEMont (profile), 8 Oct 2014 @ 9:18am

      Re:

      Methinks we are simply looking in the wrong direction when we seek out the "Cyber-Terrorists".

      If Cyber Terrorism, is defined as scaring the bejeezums out of folks, through clandestine theft and willful misuse of their private data by tapping into their (cyber)communications devices, then we really need look no further than our own government and its various agencies and affiliates such as Law Enforcement.

      Who needs foreign terrorists when we have the Human Rights ignoring and Constitution violating USG, right here at home.

      ---

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 1:51pm

    How completely stupid.

    You want to play this actually for the safety of citizens? You do the same after someone has pushed the panic button in their wearable device that then sends a full data 911 call to the fuzz.

    They would probably complain about that, though.

    They like spying on people, but not so much actually taking intentional calls initiated by citizens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2014 @ 12:22am

      Re:

      Also the like solving crimes after the event, so that they can arrest people safely (for them) with the swat teams.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matthew A. Sawtell, 7 Oct 2014 @ 3:30pm

    Hm... 2020?

    I really love these sort of IT sales pitches, much like reading old science fiction (books, comics, movies, etc.) about future - whole lot of 'great ideas' and not much else. This pitch would have been better if they had a holographic Billy Mays hosting it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2014 @ 4:52am

    Hail Hitler!

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2014 @ 4:59am

    And how would they spy the "suspects" if they don't opt-in for 1984?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 8 Oct 2014 @ 9:09am

    Bad Guys in White Hats, everywhere!

    "...the public is too stupid to understand this tech proposal and is only mocking it because it's viewing the video without the proper expertise or context."

    Sounds like the deal was going to be another top secret surveillance technique sold to the public as a secure safety system, with only the important parts - like total privacy forfeiture - left out of the publicly known details.

    Whenever "the public is too stupid to understand the proposal", it usually just means that the public was not going to be privy to those specific details, because they would see only the privacy violation aspect of it all and complain.

    The police on the other hand would understand those particular aspects completely and consider the public privacy violations as the best part of the proposal.

    Yep. I believe him completely when he says the video was not intended for public consumption. Not ever.

    Funny thing how, in a fascist run society, secret public privacy violation becomes just another big business model.

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 8 Oct 2014 @ 9:36am

    The Future

    What I find disheartening, is the infantile eagerness expressed by law enforcement for every single privacy violation technique they are offered by the new Anti-Terrorism and Cyber Crime Industries.

    As soon as remote devises that can measure heart rate and perspiration and such, simply by pointing them at a suspect are possible, we can assume that Law Enforcement will fall all over itself in its rush to incorporate them into its arsenal of citizen surveillance tools and techniques, because then no public endorsement will be needed or considered.

    Shortly thereafter, similar static devices will be mounted in appropriate positions in all government and corporate buildings. Added to facial recognition, voice recognition and DNA analysis systems, the LEOs will begin to feel omnipotent in their ability to enforce the law.

    Catch bad guys... not so much...

    By then, "the law" will be fully rewritten by the bad guys in white hats, to protect only the bad guys in white hats, leaving John Q. Public to take the rap for all future crimes.

    Fascist Dream number 32002.

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 8 Oct 2014 @ 9:43am

      Re: The Future

      "the LEOs will begin to feel omnipotent in their ability to enforce the law"

      On the positive side, the history of mankind indicates clearly that once someone begins to feel omnipotent they are in great danger of being thrown out of their power position.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.