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Maybe the Most Orwellian Text Message a Government’s Ever Sent

Maybe the Most Orwellian Text Message a Government’s Ever Sent 1

“Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”

That’s a text message that thousands of Ukrainian protesters spontaneously received on their cell phones today, as a new law prohibiting public demonstrations went into effect. It was the regime’s police force, sending protesters the perfectly dystopian text message to accompany the newly minted, perfectly dystopian legislation. In fact, it’s downright Orwellian (and I hate that adjective, and only use it when absolutely necessary, I swear).

But that’s what this is: it’s technology employed to detect noncompliance, to hone in on dissent. The NY Times reports that the “Ukrainian government used telephone technology to pinpoint the locations of cell phones in use near clashes between riot police officers and protesters early on Tuesday.” Near. Using a cell phone near a clash lands you on the regime’s hit list.

See, Kiev is tearing itself to shreds right now, but since we’re kind of burned out on protests, riots, and revolutions at the moment, it’s being treated as below-the-fold news. Somehow, the fact that over a million people are marching, camping out, and battling with Ukraine’s increasingly authoritarian government is barely making a ripple behind such blockbuster news bits as bridge closures and polar vortexes. Yes, even though protesters are literally building catapaults and wearing medieval armor and manning flaming dump trucks.

Hopefully news of the nascent techno-security state will turn some heads—it’s right out of 1984, or, more recently, Elysium: technology deployed to “detect” dissent. Again, this tech appears to be highly arbitrary; anyone near the protest is liable to be labeled a “participant,” as if targeting protesters directly and so broadly wasn’t bad enough in the first place.

[…]

Read the full article at: motherboard.vice.com

Meanwhile, the US embassy in Ukraine said it had revoked the visas of “several Ukrainians who were linked to the violence”. It did not give names, but said it was “considering further action against those responsible for the current violence”.

The clashes took place on the day that new anti-protest laws come into force. Parliament approved the laws last week, triggering renewed protests which spilled into violence on Sunday night.

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Hundreds of people have been injured, though some of the violence has been blamed on a little-known far-right group, Right Sector.

The anti-government movement started in protest at Mr Yanukovych’s decision in late November to pull out of a landmark treaty with the EU, but has expanded to demand his resignation.

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From Dec 2013

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