Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Campus-Homeland Security Upgrade

Two weeks ago it was the National Notification Network. This week it's the Wide-Area Broadcast System. Five of these towers emerged within the last month and today security technicians were testing their amplification power. I spend little time on the campus, but since I was there I snapped this photo.

"BEEEEP. This is a test of the Emergency Wide-Area Broadcast System!" the loudspeaker blared off and on. Throughout the entire campus you could hear infrequent beeps and glitches from the goofy looking machines. Students walking by got the shit scared out of them as the towers went off without warning.

No student body or faculty to my knowledge voted (or at the very least discussed) this new security apparatus. It's only been brought to our attention as something "the campus" is doing now. And of course our student newspaper cares more about poorly-written pickup lines than these issues. They could ask questions like, where is the Homeland Security money coming from (ahem), what the fuck are these machines doing here, why the fuck are you doing this without our consent, etc etc. But they won't. And look how easily it was to install an entirely new campus environment before our eyes.

I wonder if our school will buy one of these soon. Data-mining equipment like the kind provided by Narus and its sister corporations in the security industrial complex are the logical next-step in the "emergency preparedness" process. A campus environment, with all its sensitive digital information, is highly vulnerable to denial-of-service attacks and other breaches. So the argument goes, we need more black boxes! Just as "emergency preparedness" is a euphemism for police state, so "lawful interception" is a euphemism for domestic spying. Hundreds of high speed internet offices already set that up in the United States without anyone's consent or notification.

No comments: