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SciTech

The 'Open Informant' badge: A high-tech protest against high-tech surveillance




In an apt twist of irony, a new wearable electronic badge lets you protest the "intrusion" into your privacy by authorities like the US National Security Agency—by mining your private messages.
 
Dubbed "Open Informant," the badge is an art project mines your private messages for keywords that can trigger the NSA's attention, then displays them on an e-ink display.
 
"Our project ‘Open Informant’ attempts to confront the unsettling realties of surveillance in a networked age. Open Informant is a phone app and e-ink badge. The app searches your communications for these NSA trigger words and then sends text fragments containing these words to the badge for public display," said the creators, who called themselves Superflux.
 
"Using the body as an instrument for protest, the badge becomes a means of rendering our own voice visible in an otherwise faceless technological panopticon. By openly displaying what is currently taken by forceful stealth, we question the intrusive forms of mass surveillance adopted by democratic nations on its own citizenry, and in the process, shift the conversation around wearables from being about you and your body as machine, to the culture of machine intelligence and algorithmic monitoring," they added.

 
A separate article on tech site The Verge said the badge is coupled with a smartphone app, which searches the phone's messages and communications for NSA trigger words like "assassination" or "bomb."
 
"It then displays those words on the badge in bold for everyone to see," The Verge said.
 
The Verge added the first prototype was created in two weeks by London-based design studio Superflux. It added the project is largely open-source.
 
According to Superflux, the increase in the use and scope of surveillance technologies is often justified "with an emotive narrative of safety, and in simplistic statements."
 
It said the badge's design and construction are freely available for anyone to use and build upon: https://github.com/Superflux-in/badge — Joel Locsin/TJD, GMA News
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