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Olympics to Have Massive Surveillance Network 441

sharkdba writes "CNN has an article about Olympic digital security. This should be of interest to /. readers since it's a supposedly largest surveillance network ever. Thousands of cameras are combined with software (AI agents?) to look for anomalies. Also words are parsed (scan equivalent to OCR). I understand the idea that if you're in public expect no privacy, but even CNN says: 'Although the state's right to take all necessary measures that it deems necessary is recognized, there is fear that these measures will have a negative impact on basic human rights.'"
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Olympics to Have Massive Surveillance Network

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  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:26PM (#9936148)
    So when is surveillance acceptable? What level of surveillance is acceptable? Under what conditions? Why is any attempt at surveillance for the clear purpose of the protection of peoples' lives and safety always variously called a violation human rights (!) or an invasion of privacy, while there would inevitably be shrill cries of "not enough was done" if something did happen? Why do the naysayers never have any better alternatives, but just negative comments? I may sound sarcastic, but these are serious questions. I realize there is a balance, and that the debate is valuable, but seriously: do people ever recognize the hypocrisy of criticizing every action taken, while simultaneously saying "not enough was done" when something *does* happen? (And yes, it is very often the very same group of people.)

    Even today, the US was criticized for not responding adequately (or publicly, previous to this point) to the threat of terrorists potentially using tourist helicopters as weapons (or for delivery of a weapon), by the same group of people who attacked the recent public release of critical intelligence threat information as purely politically motivated. (Think about this for a second: if the local authorities in New York and DC were simply told secretly about the newly obtained threat information, as they *most certainly* should have been, the information would DEFINITELY have leaked to the press once it hit local authorities and local police agencies, who would then DEMAND that DHS reveal the full nature of the information - a lose/lose situation [and it doesn't matter that the information was "old" - it's well, well known that attacks are planned years in advance, as in the case of 9/11]. So instead, DHS reveals the information, and targets threat information as locally as possible, and they're crucified for releasing it exclusively for political reasons.)

    Please, try to give real answers (not in the form of a Ben Franklin quotation).

    (Also, "CNN" doesn't say that last quote; it was attributed to six "human rights groups" who wrote a letter of protest to the Greek government.)
    • by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:31PM (#9936179) Homepage Journal
      Why is any attempt at surveillance for the clear purpose of the protection of peoples' lives and safety always variously called a violation human rights (!) or an invasion of privacy, while there would inevitably be shrill cries of "not enough was done" if something did happen?

      Newsflash: the people who complain that surveillance is an invasion of privacy are not the same people who will cry that "not enough was done" when something happens.

      There are a lot of people in the world, and they all have different opinions. You can't make all of the people happy all of the time. Deal with it.
    • by CosmeticLobotamy ( 155360 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:46PM (#9936258)
      Surveillance might start to be acceptable when it has any chance of being beneficial. It's a placebo, and it's horribly intrusive. If you tried, it would take you five seconds to find a way to kill a bunch of people their despite the precautions.
      • I'll agree with the basic premise that there are still ways around any level of security, thus reducing the value of the surveillance for security purposes, and more greatly exposing it as an intrusion into one's privacy (not to mention a waste).

        But would you agree that there are indeed some measures that can make an attack significantly more difficult, or perhaps even catch or avert others? I guess the question is: what's a reasonable threshold for such measures?

        Also, I'm fine with the answer that it's a
        • by CosmeticLobotamy ( 155360 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:12PM (#9936381)
          Without a 4-inch-thick steel building with a security checkpoint that lets no one in who is wearing clothing, you'll never be safe. As long as you can bring in a can of hairspray or a laptop, any security measures are pointless. The only thing you can defend against are dirty and nuclear weapons, and you don't need cameras and transcriptions of everyone's phone calls to do it.

          Stupid people will say lots of annoying things. When they tell you you didn't do enough, you ignore them. If you're in power and it happens, then that sucks, but somebody else gets your job because stupid people are allowed to vote, and there's nothing you can do about it without becoming Bush.
          • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:48PM (#9936547)
            You could be nicer and have less people hate you. Hell you could actually have people like you.

            Did the terrorists target canadians or the new zealanders? No. You know why? It's because everybody likes canadians and kiwis.

            The terrorists didn't attack us because we are free (so is most of the world) they attacked us becuause they hate us. They hate us because we do and have done terrible things to them. Sorry to be blunt but it has to be said.
            • by shut_up_man ( 450725 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @12:05AM (#9936616) Homepage
              Dude, I'm a New Zealander living in Canada. You just made my day twice.
            • Okay, but I'm not sure why it had to be said to me. I agree with you. But that would only help if any of this had anything to do with saving lives.
            • I'm glad to see people who know the truth. Terrorists don't hate us because WE are free, they hate us because we are stopping THEM from being free. (Support of Israel, support of Saudi Arabia, positioning of 100,000 troops in Iraq)
            • by canicus ( 670885 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @12:38AM (#9936734)

              That isn't necessarily true. The U.S. is the superpower in the world, not Canada and not New Zealand. No, it doesn't help that we have troops deployed in over a hundred countries, but the terrorists would have attacked us in time without that. I have no doubt that if I looked, I could find the terrorists preaching jihad against Canada or New Zealand. They just aren't as appealing a target.

              Also, remember that this has been going on since before either of us were born. There was a jihad against the infidels for three hundred years before the first crusader donned his armor, it has persisted after the Crusades ended, and it will persist after western-style democracies have ceased to exist.

              The U.S., since it is the sole superpower in the world, just happens to wear a big, red bullseye, and due to globilisation our natural defences (two oceans and two peaceful nations as borders) are no longer effective. The terrorists are fighting, not for freedom or any of our ideals, but for religion, and they won't be appeased, nor will they stop. Let's stop trying to rationalize their behavior and just get used to an endless stream of terrorists, because it won't end, and they won't give up.

              • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:27AM (#9936973)
                "No, it doesn't help that we have troops deployed in over a hundred countries, but the terrorists would have attacked us in time without that."

                No. Terrorists have been very specific about their complaints with the US. It's actually just a couple of long standing US policies and could very easily be changed.

                1) Support of corrupt arab dictators such as the saudi family, shah of iraq, saddam hussein.
                2) Unconditional support of israel, protection of israel from international law, funding israel in their support of the occupation of palestine.
                3) The presense of US troops on Muslim holy places.

                That's all. Nothing myterious or religious.

                P.S the crusades were initiated by the christians.

                "Let's stop trying to rationalize their behavior and just get used to an endless stream of terrorists, because it won't end, and they won't give up."

                No it won't end because we won't change our policies. Besides now that al-quada has laid out the blueprint everybody else in the world who has a grudge against us (gee isn't that just about everybody) is waiting in line. Yes get used to endless terrorism we have sown way too many bad seeds and now they are starting to sprout.
                • by canicus ( 670885 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:31AM (#9937266)

                  Then we disagree on whether it will stop once their demands are met. I don't beleive it will, and I firmly believe history validates that. Why do I believe it won't happen?

                  1). The overwhelming majority of conflicts in the world involve Muslims against someone else. That cannot be said so firmly of any other religious identity.

                  2). Setting aside Turkey, there is no Muslim country even close to a functioning democracy and liberty. Even Turkey has "acheived" that so recently, it can hardly be considered stable. They aren't fighting for freedom to remove despotic regimes, but for setting up their own, a la Iran, and this is whether the fighters are Wahabbist (who consider Wahabbist Saudi to be too lax), Sunni, Sufi, or whatever.

                  3). Those terrorist actions of attacking the infidel are prescribed specifically in the Q'ran.

                  4). It is still the common practice in Muslim countries to rabidly persecute other religions, including the "people of the Book," Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians (the latter being by far the most tragic). Other religions in the world have moved away from that being the norm.

                  On the Christians, "starting" the Crusades, first it is specically the Roman Catholic Church. Neither the non-Chalcedonians nor the Eastern Orthodox sent troops. In fact, these were raped and plundered by the Crusaders.

                  Second, it was a response. Let's not forget the Arab invasions, where Spain was subjegated and which Charlemagne stopped in 732 at Poitiers, and they were attacking the very gates of Constantinople. Let's not forget also the slaves taken and forced into battle in the name of Allah to spread religion and empire. Then we have the second wave of attacks, that took a large portion of the Eastern Roman Empire's territory in the tenth century. If the destruction of Muslim holy sites is sufficient to warrant terrorism, what of the destruction of the Christians', because they did just that to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. What finally sparked the Crusades? The killing of Christian pilgrems on the way to holy sites.

                  This list of Muslim aggressions before the Crusades is not exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination. However, why is it that Christians initiated it, when Christians never took any religious military action before 1095? There are examples aplenty of Islamic. Christians were patient through three hundred years of said aggression and only initiated Crusades at the second wave of Muslims (Arabs first, then the Ottomans). All this, and the Arab waves nearly destroyed Europe. Saying Christians started it is just telling half the story, just like saying that Hindus began attacking Muslims is just telling half the story.

                  Considering the above facts, I think that my position is both justified and historical. Again, they aren't exhaustive, but they are sufficient. It will never end, even if we pull out.

      • >Surveillance might start to be acceptable when it has any chance of being beneficial.

        Surveillance isn't beneficial?

        >It's a placebo

        Maybe. But even if it is just a placebo, I still think it is beneficial.

        >If you tried, it would take you five seconds to find a way to kill a bunch of people their despite the precautions.

        Have some faith in the people who call themselves security experts (and have the experience to back it up). People tell me all that time that computers are junk and pointle

        • by CosmeticLobotamy ( 155360 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:31PM (#9936476)
          Surveillance is useful after-the-fact. You look at the tapes to catch the bad guy. It's a deterrent for people who don't want to be caught. The people they're trying to stop are going to be dead at the end and they know it. They want cameras. They want as many people as possible to see the carnage and be afraid.

          How does a camera have any hope of stopping someone who walks in with a suitcase bomb and a trigger on the handle? Even if they saw that the guy was acting funny, all they could do is approach him, because you sure as hell can't shoot him on suspicion. And so they go up to him, and bonus for him, 'cause now he gets to kill some cops, too.

          We're all about as expert as anybody in terrorism surveillance, because it's only existed for three years, and we think about it as much as anyone.
          • >Surveillance is useful after-the-fact.

            The issue here is intelligence. In this case, some of the intelligence is gained through surveillance, but it's still intelligence.

            >How does a camera have any hope of stopping someone who walks in with a suitcase bomb and a trigger on the handle?

            Imagine some questions:
            Why is he carrying a suitcase?
            Why does he look nervous?
            Who is he?
            Where is he from?
            Who does he hang out with on the weekends?
            Why does he want to see the Olympics?


          • by Feyr ( 449684 ) * on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:58PM (#9936596) Journal
            i agree, cameras are good for the propaganda and nothing more.

            until people realize the simple fact that human lives are expendable, bullshit like this will continue to go on

            on 9/11, 3000 people died? 5000 maybe? more than that die each day from multiple causes. there's 6 billions humans on earth from the last number i heard, 250 millions in america alone. take out 5000, it's a negligible number, easily replaced by the next batch of immigrants from mexico.

            it's not a number game, it's a PSYCHOLOGY one. if no one paid any attention, the idiot terrorists would stop their useless bombings. alas that will never happen, because people are dumb, and dumb people believe what the government-controlled medias tell them, and the medias tell them to be very afraid

            go on, be afraid. encourage the terrorists.
        • > Maybe. But even if it is just a placebo, I still think it is beneficial.

          How is it beneficial? You do realize we're using placebo in the usual makes-you-feel-good-about-yourself-but-does-nothin g sense, not as in "deterant"

          And IMO false security is much worse than little or no security at all.
      • Security Theatre (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sbszine ( 633428 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:57PM (#9936591) Homepage Journal
        Check out this Bruce Schneier [] interview from Newsweek where he talks about real security vs security theatre. He basically says that surveillance, ID cards etc just provide an illusion of security (especially when limited to only a few sites: secure the olympic statium and they'll bomb the subway, or the CBD, or the stock exchange etc). Real security in the context of terrorism comes from better intelligence gathering and better spooks.
      • I agree. You can watch all you like, but when some guy manages to sneak in a carbon fiber knife and slaughters 20 people before the guards get there, all these multimillion dollar cameras really did was provide the guys in the viewing room a spectacular shot of it.

        See, I look at it this way: they pretend this "surveillance" is an ACTIVE defense. That's silly. Prominent and well-trained security are the best. Besides, nothing is ever going to stop a guy hellbent on causing damage. You will never stop a gu
    • If there are specific public areas that are considered highly desireable targets, then it's only prudent to have correspondingly high security, even if it's intrusive (I'm speaking generally). Especially in a place like this, where nobody's putting a gun to your head and saying "go to the olympics" (especially since Uday Hussein is no longer in charge of the the Iraqi teams) - attending the Olympics is a purely optional pursuit, and people can make an informed choice as to whether or not to subject themse
    • by dead sun ( 104217 ) <aranach AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:10PM (#9936374) Homepage Journal
      What does surveillance give you? What is a huge network of cameras going to do? You want to be able to watch from 100 different angles as a crowd is killed? Great.

      Because deterrence and and an idea of who did something after the fact is about all you get.

      Picture this scenario: A group of 5 or so mad out of their mind people hides a few guns and a load of explosives in a private vehicle, drives into the city. Maybe you can catch them at a security checkpoint, but if you're lulled into thinking surveillance is going to catch them you're likely out of luck. This vehicle then rams an entrance gate, the lunatics set the car bomb timer, get out, and start shooting, herding people towards the car. They stop only when swarmed by the public (unlikely), mown down by security, or out of ammo, using the last bullet on themselves, glorious martyrs to a cause. The bomb hits a highly public area, scares the pants off people (hey, terror from terrorists, novel), and maybe gets a few people or some infrastructure while they're at it. If they're lucky (in the sense of their cause) they get the whole crowd to believe that of the maybe 50-100 people killed it certainly could be them next. They're on the news nonstop with all the security camera coverage a media outlet could ever want.

      They were going to die at the culmination of their plans regardless. They have nothing to be deterred from by it being on camera. All the better for them. Physical security is lessened because everybody thinks the cameras are some silver bullet. All this can't be prevented and people are inspected to a closer eye from the government. Who wins, besides the camera makers?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      That's the problem as I see it.

      Let's face a hard fact: it is impossible to defend against fanatics who are willing to die. We can make it more difficult to accomplish certain types of attacks in certain places, but we will always leave countless avenues wide open for spectacular attacks.

      That's why I see a this type of security as counterproductive and wasteful. Public officials are just covering their butts. Disparage Franklin all you want, but we really could be giving up essential liberty for some te
    • by BenSnyder ( 253224 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:20PM (#9936424) Homepage
      I'm no genius and I don't have all the answers but I'll at least take a crack at it. Fundamentally, it comes down to trust. Who do you trust and how much and how often? Terrorism is a phantom enemy. You don't know about it until it's too late. The building is reduced to rubble, the hostage is already a hostage, etc. Is it acceptable to record the conversations and the comings and goings of everybody in Athens because of the fear of terrorism? And for the majority of us (I dare say) on Slashdot I'd bet that we believe that it's not a stretch to say that this tech is or will be soon used by other law enforcement agencies for their own purposes. I don't even dare to respond to anything past your first paragraph - it begs arguing situations instead of policy ideals - so don't take it as a slight that I didn't rejoin that topic. That's a discussion without an ending.

      Instead of trying to draw larger truths, lemme just offer you my opinions. I don't trust my government. Bush, Chaney, Rice, Powell, Wolfie, and the rest are all on my shit list. I want them or their subordinates knowing my business like I want a baton shoved up my ass. We're talking about the Olympics but I have no problems believing that the current US administration is just salivating at being able to get their hands on that tech, if they haven't already.

      My government lies to me. In fact, short of defectors like Richard Clarke, et al, it seems incapable of admitting a wrong. So if you're asking me, when is surveillance acceptable, my answer is NEVER.

      Now, label me a member of the tin foil hat brigade if you wanna, but I'm not stupid either. I see the cameras at intersections. I know that a camera is on me when I walk into most stores. I get it - privacy is under a never ending string of attacks. That doesn't mean I'm happy with it.

      From where I'm sitting - and on 9/11 I was very close to the WTC - I'd rather have privacy than safety. The potential for abuse is too large without honest public dialogue about how surveillance will be conducted and what limitations will be put on it.

      I know you don't want to hear the Ben Franklin quote - but there's truth in it. If you want safety, there are only two ways to guarantee it - go someplace very very far away from everything else, or be monitored constantly. Everything else is a security threat. In the interest of knowing what I'm talking about, I'm reading 1984 right now. Even Winston and Julia knew that if you played right in front of the cameras, you could manage a secluded meeting now and again. Therefore, there is no safety, only the illusion of safety.

      You could install cameras in every corner of the world but people would still die.

      The fundamental problem with surveillance is that it takes its cue from the military. The military ethos, as espoused by our administration, is pre-emptive strike. That means force. We will win through force, invasive force, whether it's a bullet in the abdomen or a camera recording conversations.

      Why not try the method known as 'dialogue'? I realize that dialogue involves honest intentions from all dialoguing parties - but ultimately it's the only solution. Otherwise, we'll blow some shit up, then they'll kill some people or blow some shit up and that cycle will continue. In matters of domestic security (as well as event security like the Olympics) it will only get more invasive. Those that are deemed dangerous according to some unknown algorithm will be dealt with - vaporized was the word used in 1984. It's not going to work.

      So my answer - if it makes you feel better to see a rent a cop at your grocery store after 11pm. If it makes you feel safer to know that somebody or some camera is watching your every motion in public places - I'm glad. But it's not security, it's just an illusion. The solution to terror is to eliminate the reasons why terror exists. But we're not serious enough about solving the problem to contemplate that solution. At the moment, anybody who consider
    • The question is how is the surveillance actually going to stop terrorism from taking place?

      Take for instance the practice of racial profiling in certain places. There is a lot of evidence (some of it testimony from police officers themselves) stating that the practice actually hurts the ability of the police to protect the population. At the same time there are significant human rights problems with the practice.

      Now, I'm not arguing that the surveillance in Athens will cause the same problem or violate
    • some answers (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
      This Olympic surveillence is not just "any attempt at surveillence", it's "supposedly [the] largest surveillance network ever". People are concerned about the protection of our basic human rights, because we don't trust the government. Governments do bad things, always have, probably always will. America was founded on distrust of the government, which spread around the world once we demonstrated how to build a better government based on the mitigations of that distrust.

      Terrorist attacks don't just "happen
  • Amazing cost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by robogun ( 466062 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:27PM (#9936153)
    1.5bn cost versus 3,000,000 tickets sold = $500 per spectator spent in security.

    How are these Games supposed to make money?
    • "Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made. Spaceballs the T-shirt. Spaceballs the lunchbox. Spaceballs the coloring book. Spaceballs... the flame thrower! Kids love it."
    • Re:Amazing cost (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kenja ( 541830 )
      "How are these Games supposed to make money?"

      Ads, broadcast rights, cheap crap to sell to jerks aka souvenirs. Also, keep in mind that the boost to the local economy is far more then 500$ per seat. These people need to eat etc.

    • Especially when... (Score:4, Informative)

      by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:33PM (#9936191)
      ... half [] of the 5.3 million tickets are still unsold.
      • by abulafia ( 7826 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:37PM (#9936211) would make more economic sense to not admit anyone, CGI the crowds in for broadcast, and pocket the 1.3B you didn't spend on security.
      • ...but is it security concerns, and if so, which kind? Fear of being blown up, or fear of not having fun due to delays and the discomfort of being watched all the time?

        CNN ran a story on the poor indicators for level of interest, and a lot of Greeks said they weren't comfortable with the police-state nature of the games. You can tell people to have "reasonable expectations" all you want, but Olympic attendance is optional so people can vote with their feet. (Obviously not so easy when Big Brother come

    • by pangel83 ( 598985 ) * on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:10PM (#9936375) Homepage
      Basically $1.5bn dollars was what the games were supposed to cost. That was sort of covered by the European Union, Sponsors, and Greece. The final cost was closer to a $3bn price, due to the mismanagement and the corruption of the previous government.

      That extra $1.5bn is going straight to the taxpayers.. I expect that my country will not be able to get over this debt for the next 25 years.

      Still, I expect that no foreigner can understand how much to these games mean to us. I am greatly looking forward to them!!!

      PS: It also goes without saying that all the greek construction companies will be doomed on the post-olympics era since no major projects are going to take place in the forthcoming years...

    • The games will make money from advertising and commercial sponsorship deals, but eventhough, it's already clear that the Greek taxpayers will suffer for a decade out of hosting the Olympics.

      What is ominous though about this 1.5bn cost is how it'll serve as both a precedent and a de facto early-adopter funding for the emerging "security" technologies and therefore providing you with *security*, an act that's indistinguishable from monitoring your activities, will be a thing that's far more normal and aff
    • The games make practically no money. The sale of tickets is purely to eliminate people mobbing events. Think of the income the Olympics will bring to Athens. Thousands of hotel reservations, mostly price gouged. Millions of meals to serve. Transportation for all the spectators. The point is that you can't go to Athens any time soon without spending thousands on hotels, food, transportation, extras, tickets, and all that.
    • It makes me wonder if there was a misplaced decimal place.
  • Agreed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:28PM (#9936157)
    There is very little you can do to stop fanatics who are willing to die.

    I was in Boston during the DNC. The security was an absolute joke. Anyone could have gotten on the public transport system or rented a large truck and blown up a low-value (but still prominent) target.

    There is really nothing that can be done in a free society. They're gonna' get us.

    • Re:Agreed (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DrCash ( 800431 )
      I seriously doubt that anything substantial will happen at the olympics. Terrorist organizations (and definitely Al Qaeda) know that security is going to be tight as hell during the olympics, and most likely won't even bother planning anything major. Al Qaeda's tendencies are to attack when we least likely expect, like some oddball, non-holiday, non-event tuesday in September,...

    • Re:Agreed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:33PM (#9936483)
      >The security was an absolute joke. Anyone could have gotten on the public transport system or rented a large truck and blown up a low-value (but still prominent) target.

      Let me try to ask this politely...

      You probably weren't aware of half of the security that was present, and we may not even find out if a plot like this were to be foiled.

    • Re:Agreed (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DeepHurtn! ( 773713 )
      There is really nothing that can be done in a free society. They're gonna' get us.

      Well, the best solution is not act in such a way that half the world has serious grievances with you. It's not just a case of "they hate us because they hate freedom" -- there's more to it than that. Of course, one wouldn't know it from the media coverage...

  • ..I'm not interested. I mean, they do have security cameras in the female facilities.. right?
  • Too fast (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Capt'n Hector ( 650760 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:30PM (#9936169)
    It's probably a blessing in disguise that Athens took so long to finish preparations for the olympics. Since it is said Al Qaeda spends years preparing for an attack, I don't think anything big will happen at the olympics. That's also the kind of thing a bunch of cameras won't do shit against.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:31PM (#9936174) Homepage
    Since we in the US will not be able to see it without paying some jackass company a bunch of money and still not be able to see it live, I wonder if we can tap into the surveilance network? :)
    • If you were reading up on olympic progress, the greek folks are just behind assembling everything. From track paint to a roof over a new pool. What makes you think they took the liberty to install surveillance on time when everything else is delayed. No offense on greek folks please. This is just fact.

  • by NeoThermic ( 732100 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:32PM (#9936181) Homepage Journal
    ... If this can prevent security breaches, then I'm all for it. Its being used for the Olympics, not for the average street.
    An organiser of the games can take whatever steps they feel necessary to ensure the safety of the crowd and the athletes of the games.
    I'm not sure about anyone else, but I would rather be followed about on camera and be safe, than to have no cameras, and end up killed by some form of security breach.

  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xerxes2695 ( 706503 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:33PM (#9936185)
    I understand the need for security, but the problem with measures like this, is that once people become accustomed to seeing cameras everywhere, it's very easy to just leave them in place. Over time, more and more of our freedoms are sacrificed in the name of security, creating a society of fear, and a "Big Brother" situation in government. This is what the defined goal of terrorism is, to instill terror, to make us sleep with one eye open. Extremists will never win through conventional warfare, but through a series of calculated clandestine attacks, they can influence politics, make or break presidential elections, and sway popular opinion. We are playing right into their trap.
    • Xerxes2695 said
      This is what the defined goal of terrorism is, to instill terror, to make us sleep with one eye open.
      Really? That sounds like propaganda to me. Personally, I was under the impression that the goal of terrorism is something more along the lines of, if you want to take down a giant, sometimes the only way is to sling a stone at his knee.

      • Main Entry: terrorism
        Pronunciation: 'ter-&r-"i-z&m
        Function: noun
        : the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

        Propeganda? WTF?

        Of course the defined goal of terror is to instill terror. Its the f*cking definition of the word.

        You can debate whether or not a given person is a terrorist, but you can't debate what a terrorist is.

        • : the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

          Obviously, the defined goal of terror is coercion. Terror is the means, not the end. The end is a change in whatever situation is making the terrorist angry enough to resort to terrorism.

          Saying that terror itself is the goal of terrorism sounds like propaganda because it gives a Government a great excuse to remove some freedoms in order to guard against "terror" so that the people don't have to be afraid.


  • I would consider millions (billions?) of people, all over the world, watching the games on television and the Internet to be a pretty massive surveillance network.
  • by failedlogic ( 627314 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:36PM (#9936210)

    Considering the only branded foods available on ground will be, namely, McDonalds and Coke I don't think how this will fare well for spectators. My stomach feels insecure after eating that garbage! I feel sorry for everybody else. All the special forces, police, etc won't be able to help there. Maybe they need more doctors on hand or perhaps some dieticians?
  • by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:37PM (#9936216) Homepage
    Well I don't know about human rights, but I bet that the security guards who get to keep an eye on the women's gymnastic events from 100 different angles are pretty happy.
  • Face it... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chill ( 34294 )
    This sort of thing will become pervasive. In the 50s it was the Red Scare and "commies". This time around it is "terrorists". "Homeland security" will be used as an excuse to futher the Orwellian state.

    The only hope is to accept it and subvert it from the inside. The more digital this stuff gets, the easier it is to fuck with it.

    Lets get to fucking.

  • Brings to mind... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nlawalker ( 804108 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:44PM (#9936243)
    "It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could igve you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself--anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face... was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime..." -- George Orwell, 1984
    For those of you that haven't RTFA, I highly suggest. Brings to light some amazing technological feats. I don't know what to say about the level of surveillance though; that picture of the blimp in the sky is what made me think of 1984, and one wonders what the cityscape under the photographer's lens looks like.

    Although the level of security will be so high as to probably induce paranoia, I believe people will still be afraid of the looming threat of terrorist attacks. We're talking about a city here, with all it's dynamics and movement, not to mention the extra jillion people that will be there, each with his or her own agenda and places to be. I can't help but think that it's not enough, but what is?

    • It is never enough (Score:4, Interesting)

      by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:24PM (#9936444) Homepage
      You cannot have both a free society and be free from terrorist attacks. It is impossible. The more "security" you add the more Orwellian your government becomes.

      A balence must be struck. And IMO it should be struck further toward "freedom" than it is being currently.

      Some food for thought:

      Dorothy Thompson:

      "When liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered."

      John Adams:

      "There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."

      Wendell Phillips:

      "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

      And the ever popular Benjamin Franklin:

      "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security"

  • Bigger concerns (Score:2, Interesting)

    After reading the article, I'm far less concerned about the cameras at the Olympics than I am about the other measures they've taken such as scanning phone communications (both mobile and land line) as well as monitoring e-mail, images and other electronic traffic. It seems to me that that kind of stuff is really what crosses the line. Ridiculous surveillance in public is one thing, but extreme surveillance of private communication is entirely another.
    • Want to mess with their heads? Get somebody that's going there to send out a massive spam with images in it. Watch them go crazy trying to monitor several million messages with images.

      Seriously, the whole problem here is that the security team is being expected to make everything perfectly safe, prevent every imaginable threat and is being given as much money as they think they need to do whatever they want. No matter how much they do, they can always think of something else to watch for, something else

  • by British ( 51765 ) <> on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:45PM (#9936255) Homepage Journal
    With the excessive corporate sponsorship(okay that never stopped), the banning of non-sponsored products, the excessive surveillance, the silly Draconian laws enacted over what city takes place in, blah blah blah.... ...honestly, screw the Olympics.

    I have no intentions of watching them, and I'm just waiting for the IOC secret police to make their first arrests to someone who erects a "" website.
    • With the excessive corporate sponsorship(okay that never stopped), the banning of non-sponsored products, the excessive surveillance, the silly Draconian laws enacted over what city takes place in, blah blah blah.... ...honestly, screw the Olympics.

      Oh. Ha-ha. I thought you were talking about the National Conventions here in the United States. Silly me!

  • Ticket sales to this Olympics are dismal. You don't HAVE to submit to the surveillance. You can stay home, like lots of other people.
  • terrorism works (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pizza_milkshake ( 580452 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:53PM (#9936292)
    fear works. all the terrorists have to do is manage to blow up one high-level target every couple of years and then just sit back as the West smothers itself in its own security blanket.
    • Re:terrorism works (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lavaface ( 685630 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @12:44AM (#9936758) Homepage
      and all the while, the large defense companies and security companies laugh their ways to the bank. For that matter, the banks, the financiers that supply both sides of most armed conflicts, must sit smugly indeed. Another appropriate 1984 quote:

      "The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living."
    • Re:terrorism works (Score:3, Informative)

      by arivanov ( 12034 )
      If there will be any targets blown up they will be more then one and they will be blown up by friendly fire, not terrorists. Patriot missiles, with fire permit at sectors of civilian airspace including the approach sector for Athens airport and no IFF on all planes (not that it helped in the gulf). Nope, thank you. This will be one even I will definitely stay as far away from as I can.

      That is besides the fact that the batteries were bought entirely as a result of drowning the relevant officials in bribes.
  • by hadesan ( 664029 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @10:56PM (#9936312)
    Whatever security measures are deemed necessary by those running the Olympic games should be put in place. People are there to compete, not worry about being killed by some wacko asshole terrorists. Security goes a long way to preventing most terrorist activities or at least makes it that much more difficult.

    As someone mentioned in the earlier posts, all it takes is someone willing to die for their "cause". As far as I am concerned that is all the more reason to hunt every last one of the bastards down; before they have a chance to organize anything remotely similar to September 11th anyplace else in the world.

    • As far as I am concerned that is all the more reason to hunt every last one of the bastards down...

      You have just exhibited the difficulty in determine just who the bad guys are:

      Sept 1972? Palestinians.
      April 1995? Angry White Guy.
      July 1996? Angry White Guy.
      Sept 2001? Saudis.

      Which specific bastards are you going to hunt down?

      Do we just completely flush our civil liberties to make certain that we catch the bad guys?

      Great idea: become just like our like our enemies!

      Why are we fighting them again?
  • You are NOT guaranteed total anonymity everywhere all the time. Why is this so freakin hard to understand?

    Really, come on. If you're out in public, and you commit a crime, you have every right to be caught and punished. If you're not commiting crimes, you have nothing to worry about. This Big Brother paranoia is sickening.
  • by The Dark ( 159909 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:20PM (#9936423)
    From the original article:
    "The Olympic Games are accompanied with extended security measures that are unprecedented for Greece," six human rights groups said in a protest letter to Greek Parliament in July. "Although the state's right to take all necessary measures that it deems necessary is recognized, there is fear that these measures will have a negative impact on basic human rights."
    From the slashdot article:
    but even CNN says: 'Although the state's right to take all necessary measures that it deems necessary is recognized, there is fear that these measures will have a negative impact on basic human rights.'

    It is not CNN saying these things, it is "six human rights groups" from Greece.
  • I don't believe the claim that the software they use can, in general, "see and hear." Software agents can "see" and "hear" only in a very specific sense. For example, using Motion [], you can capture only the frames that are "interesting," i.e., with some things moving. Some existing vision technology allow the recognition of large areas of exposure (visible light or infra red), like that caused by an explosion. It may be able to count cars and see if they're moving. I know of a project at my school to recogni

  • Rights, Shmights (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timminator ( 719854 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:27PM (#9936451)
    If you don't want anyone to catch you in public watching the olympics, then stay home with your tin foil hats and bandolier full of TV remote controls. Don't try watching the olympics on TV at the mall either, because somebody else in the store might be pointing a camcorder right at you.
  • by Goonie ( 8651 ) * <> on Tuesday August 10, 2004 @11:37PM (#9936501) Homepage
    Aside from the obvious privacy concerns, one might suspect this system is going to generate so much data and so many false leads that the security forces are going to either a) ignore this stuff, or b) be so busy chasing things up that they'll miss the obvious-in-hindsight.

    Much of this stuff is just "security theater", as Bruce Schnier puts it, anyway.

  • "Although the state's right to take all necessary measures that it deems necessary is recognized, there is fear that these measures will have a negative impact on basic human rights." ...Until that snack truck(s) blows up in the middle of a crowd, killing and maiming scores of people while raining lunchen meat down upon the shell-shocked masses. Then we can create an 'Olympic Investigation Commision' to slog through this farce again, wasting tax-payer dollars to lament on the couldwouldshouldas and the need
  • Terrorist notifed as to what areas of the olympics will be "rights positive". These areas will be free of "rights imposing" things like security and suveilance, who might look at you, thereby profile you, etc.

    The "rights negative" area will also be in effect, for people who will submit themselves to tyranny and the like. Those who believe that security and surveilance are good things will be ushered to a secure area to view the games.

    It will be no extra charge for the secure area to view the "fireworks sh
  • This only so they can catch people wearing Nike t-shirts [].

  • Pointless Crap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:57AM (#9937357) Homepage
    Any terrorist with any competence (hard to find, I know, but some must exist somewhere) will not be in the least deterred by a bunch of cameras - unless he happens to look EXACTLY like Osama bin Laden.

    In the immortal words of Wulfgar (Rutger Hauer doing his Carlos the Jackal impression) in the movie "Nighthawks", "Remember - there is no security."

  • by Project2501a ( 801271 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @06:29AM (#9938041) Journal
    Games Watch you (eating souvlaki)

    -- Yes I live in Athens, Greece (unfortunately) and yes, i can see the effing blimp right outside my window at work.

    -- ADD:SIG --

    Lessons in English for Greek lovers-wannabes:

    "Hi, baby! Me I am! Yesterday you gave her to me, because you are very searched woman. Are you to find her together, tonight?

    No? Because no? Come on baby! I'll have you in opa-opa! Carpet I will be to step me! Come on baby, don't break her to me...

    (To all the geek ladies in the house, with style and grace...)

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.