Aral Balkan

With the transition to a cashless society, millimeter wave body scanners, stop and search, WiFi and Bluetooth scanning by default, and G4S everywhere, the construction of the Dutch surveillance state seems to be on schedule for completion in time for the swearing in of prime minister Wilders in about ten year’s time.

@aral is doing the same on large train stations. Btw, wich airport is that?

@aral none of that feels like my privacy is ensured...

oooo that's creepy. I mean,...I've expected it but it still is creepy

@aral ugh. My only hope is that some countries will not be able to pay for surveillance engineers because IT knowledge is ridiculously overpriced. Once in place, surveillance is really hard to demolish.

„Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.“ biting us in the ass again.

We’d have to kill it before it lays eggs, which is probably too late.

@ente That's the problem with Geeks. Technological challenges are a question of Can it be done?, not Should it be done? On youtube there's a video of a middle aged engineer nerd who developed the MOAB. He drools over the technological accomplishment. Classic example of disconnect. @aral


You can be highly competent but still morally bankrupt.

This has a long history in engineering.


@aral Gibson preconed all this, but we took his visions for novels....

@aral If they have to go out of their way to say "your privacy is assured" on a sign then that probably means it isn't.

The phrase:
"Your privacy is ensured."
is like putting "honest" at the end of a sentence, it confirms what has just been stated is a pack of lies.

@aral Welcome to the Netherlands 🙂 You will also find this on larger trainstations in our country...

@frank @aral
Are these signs new? Are they a response to #GDPR?

@fitheach @aral I'm not quite sure. We have a history of surveillance and tracking around public transport. I'll look into it.

@aral I can understand the CCTV, but the WiFi and BT tracking is just ridiculous. And violating privacy is just the opposite of ensuring privacy.
(btw, our current prime minister also doesn't give a shit about privacy. Wilders is racist, but at least he does care (a little) about privacy. Anyway, I don't want any of them as PM.)


How convenient for the corporations watching us, we can be traced every step.

And it's not limited to Schiphol, some time ago upon leaving a food truck festival (held in a public area), this sign explained to me I had been tracked unknowingly via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

@eliasg @aral @rik

You install special bluetooth devices at fixed points then let them scan the area recording each seen device.

With that you can pretty accurately see where each device is and how it moves over time.

@ckeen @eliasg @aral @rik we are starting to put this in at remote industrial sites in addition to IP cameras to augment security and safety systems. It alerts SCADA operators of the presence of people (authorized and otherwise) at potentially hazardous locations so they can take appropriate action more quickly.

The technology has some compelling beneficial uses...and frightening potential for abuse at type same time.

@ckeen @eliasg @aral @rik But it only scans devices which have wifi/bluetooth enabled… right?

@jackdeeth @rik @aral @eliasg Of course!

A switched off device does not respond. Today's devices might make it difficult to ensure they are really switched off. Take apple's powernap feature for example, where your mac will wake up periodically and activates wifi...

@ckeen @rik @aral @eliasg But with my Android phone in this state… it's probably only visible to devices which monitor cell network traffic, right?

@jackdeeth @eliasg @aral @rik Yes, I think. If there isn't an app that is authorised to change the network / bt state

@rik @aral That's exactly why I do not use any of those so called « smart » f**** devices.
My personnal direct answer to the « there is no alternative » paradigm under the one those tracking devices where born.

@rik @aral doesn't this need 'active consent' now? Or is that just for online tracking?

@rik @aral I wonder, putting your device in airplane mode be sufficient? Or better switch off the whole thing?

@rik @aral Creepy. So I guess now we need a single button on the phone to toggle bluetooth and wifi on or off.

@bob @rik @aral It's called "Airplane Mode". Before you complain about cell operation, I'll just remind you that Cell towers track you as well.

@Deiru @bob @rik Wow, they do? I had no idea. How does that work? So, just so we’re clear, what you’re saying is the way we try and protect ourselves from surveillance is to switch off our devices and disconnect instead of complaining or trying to change the system? Do you have a manifesto or something somewhere that outlines this daring new vision? I’m champing at the bit to learn more about it.

@Deiru @bob @rik Sorry, just saw that your response was in reply to @bob’s and not a direct response to the criticism itself. I take it back if I misunderstood your intent.

@Deiru @bob @rik It just riles me up when I hear people utter some variant of “if you don’t like it, don’t use it” which is akin to the beloved fascist statement “love it or leave it”. No, we will and we do criticise, we will and we do resist and oppose, and we will and we do build alternatives and throughout all this, we will and we do keep using digital/networked technology and infrastructures instead of disconnecting & keeping quiet.

@aral @bob @rik I do not suggest to stop using the tech, but while we are solving this problem, I'd understand if some people would rather NOT use it, or at least know a way to stop doing it temporarily.
One part is resisting the system,
One part is changing it.
Both should be done, imo.

@aral @bob @rik Because all those tracking corporations and govt.s will not stop tracking just because they hear that some people are busy "solving" this.

@aral @rik @Deiru it will be difficult to stop this, so long as you're carrying a phone radiating radio waves. You could randomly change mac address, but that wouldn't stop them because they just join up the data points (they already have been doing that for a long time). So prevention is extremely difficult in that you'd need to shift the cultural and legal norms such that doing this becomes socially unacceptable, and most importantly unprofitable.

@aral but Aral - your privacy is ensured! 🙄


Might be a silly question but what does "bluetooth and wifi tracking" mean in this context?

@switchingsocial Tracking your location via WiFi and Bluetooth. I guess it might also refer to tracking your online activity if you connect via their open WiFi network (I didn’t check if there was one) but usually it refers to the former.

@aral I'm in Schipol just now. I opted out of the body scanner (with no issues) and randomize my MAC addresses to make tracking data unlinkable. There are ways you can make your voice heard.

@frank @aral

Although following the privacy link on the sign I then had to download a 29 page document on which the wifi/bluetooth and tracking is only described in detail on page 10.

Main reason given is simply "the legitimate ", around which are claims its being done to track flows of people and travel methods for planning, data is anonymised and also how long it is kept for (standard EU requirements)

All of this is only available in Dutch, not the English version of the site >>

@frank @vfrmedia @aral Exterion is a British company. We complained a lot and it seemed to help, for a while, but...

@KeaW @frank @aral from looking at their own website these are widely deployed in the Underground and maybe elsewhere in London.

Ipswich isn't yet affluent enough for them, we have a few JCDecaux electronic boards outside shops and in the main bit of town, I don't know 100% if these have cameras (I thnk the one outside Asda might have them)

@frank @aral

* that should have read "the legitimate interest" (het gerechtvaardigd belang) , but I could equally interpret that as meaning (in either Dutch or English) as "the law /allows/ us to do it, it helps our business so we will do it" (which is the same reasons given in London)

@vfrmedia @frank @aral Which reminds me... if you turn off WiFi on your phone, but (on Android at least) you have location set to "accurate", your phone will still use wifi and bt every now and again to determine your location. Wonder if you're leaking MACs then too. I am using a geofencing app to turn off WiFi when I leave my house or work, but that might not be enough.

Does this happen in other countries, but only the Netherlands are honest about it?

@aral and that's why you need MAC address randomization on all network interfaces

War is Peace,
Freedom is Slavery,
Surveillance is Privacy

Twitter is Mastodon,
WiFi is Ethernet,
Windows is Linux,
Bill Gates is Richard Stallman,
Hell is Heaven


@aral the nice folks at schipol strip-searched me because my jeans were too thick...

You are free as long as you do what everybody else does. #privacyMatters

you forgot the most relevant verse:
ignorance is strength
(widely practiced)

surveillance is protection
also fitting

@aral There's a village near the German border that isn't and won't soon be connected to the Dutch optical fiber network. The villagers requested a connection to the German network, but this was forbidden by the Dutch government. The Dutch govt probably can't intercept data on a foreign network so easily...

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