Berlin, Germany: Incendiary Actions Against Telekom, Deutsche Bahn and Vodafone
Berlin, June 2018
Restructuring power via digitization is in full swing. Hardly anything that cannot be complemented by a ‘smart’ in its name and thus a new place in this world has escaped this process. Everything is networked. Cameras, sensors and chips are constantly sending and letting things communicate. ‘Big Data’ is the currency of tomorrow. Even our relationships, actions and thinking are permanently exposed to digital access. Reduced to information, we feed the algorithms of the machines, helping to make the future manageable and controllable.
It’s not always easy to hold on to the possibility of destroying this system as the rapid pace of the technological attack is widening and the net of domination stretches around us. All the more important are the moments of counterattack to reject the powerlessness that is spreading in the face of current developments. So we are all the more pleased that the answers to the misery produced by the colonization of the world via techno-industrial hegemony are found again and again in Berlin. Within the context of the planned Google campus in Kreuzberg, a fight has developed that is not only aimed at the tech giants and their universe, but also at the social level. Self-organization, direct communication and the power of the attack are the means of choice. Various acts of sabotage, such as the one last March by ‘Vulkangruppe NetzHerrschaft zerreißen’ have shown that the infrastructure of the flow of goods, communication and data networks is vulnerable and can be disrupted by arson attacks against cable networks and sensitive radio antennas. But other actors in the city’s and life’s smartification have also become the target of anger, such as the torched Amazon vehicles, the Molotov attack against the start-up factory, the attacks against Zalando or the Humboldthain Technology Park, and so on. We want to fuel these conflicts with our contribution by picking out some well-known players who are actively working to expand and optimize the web of domination and control.
And so, on the night of June 14th in the Tiergarten, just before the start of the public sports broadcast there, we set fire to the cables and control boxes of a Vodafone radio antenna. This antenna is used in addition to mobile radio for the BOS radio of the cops and other authorities. We are optimistic that our intervention at this antenna at least allowed a transmission break, so that for a moment it would have provided radio silence. The cop ticker went silent, perhaps this info on the way to the headquarters in the charred cables that now adorn the system, stuck.
On the night of June 15th, we torched Deutsche Bahn’s vehicle fleet on Kaskel street, and on the night of June 19th, we placed incendiary devices under Telekom’s cars on Sewan street, transporting six more vehicles to the junkyard. With these attacks, we are targetting some of the largest network operators in Germany, which form important pillars of the flow of goods and data via radio antennas, fiber optic cables and the rail network. These are indispensable to the functioning of capitalism. All three companies, however, do far more than just provide the infrastructure. With their technological developments in monitoring, control, Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0, Smart City, Smart Home etc, they are a driving force in the reorganization of rule in the cybernetic age.
With these actions, we send smoke signals to all prisoners of the social war and to those on the run. Special greetings go to Lisa, Thomas, Nero, Isa and the UP3 and G20 prisoners.
Mobile and public transport in the service of power
Media and politicial insiders and lobbyists have stirred a mood of fear for years. Fear of the stranger, the refugees and terrorism. This is accompanied by the call for authority. A new police law chases the other. The developers of security technologies are pleased, because with the fear, they can not only make politics, but also earn a lot of money. It is therefore not surprising that large established corporations are at the forefront of this and, in the interests of domination, inexorably participate in the maintenance of the existing order.
Telekom is the largest telecommunications company in Europe and operates technical networks for telephone, mobile, data transfer and online services. In addition to Germany, the company has subsidiaries in 14 other European countries where it is involved in mobile and fixed network providers. With its internationally operating subsidiary T-Systems, the group is one of the world’s leading providers of information and communication technology, aimed at large-scale customers, the financial sector, the energy sector and public administration and security.
For police, military and other security authorities, T-Systems offers comprehensive solutions and information technology. Under the title ‘PLX’, Deutsche Telekom is developing, among other things, an information and search system for the police, in which all relevant reporting processes, such as facial recognition services, detention data, criminal record evidence etc are integrated. In this way, all processes in the handling of transactions, from initial registration to submission of the proceedings to the judiciary, are to be supported.
In addition, T-Systems offers technology for an ‘Interactive Patrol Car Radio (IfuStw)’. A mobile police workplace with multifunction PCs in the vehicle, which enables full integration into the existing police infra and communication structure. These links are designed to reduce reaction and intervention times while facilitating evidence-securing documentation via video capture.
Vodafone, the German subsidiary of the British Vodafone Group and Germany’s second largest mobile service provider, is also campaigning for greater security. Vodafone not only provides a messenger service for the Bavarian police and body cams for the Federal Police, but also develops smart drones. This drone, equipped with onboard camera and SIM card for LTE radio, delivers and analyzes video material in real time. This could be used at major events, for example counting people or observing and directing streams of people. Traffic monitoring and license plate recognition are also part of the tasks of such applications. This technique may be arbitrarily replaced by other monitoring software, for example facial recognition could obviously be added.
With these and similar products, Telekom and Vodafone, along with many other companies in the security industry, have been exhibiting at trade fairs such as the European Police Congress for many years, where they care about competing for their military, police, intelligence and border control customers.
In contrast, Deutsche Bahn, as the operator of railway stations and the German railway network, is more likely to play the role of a consumer of such technologies. At the same time, the group’s infrastructure also offers a huge field of experimentation to test the use of the latest surveillance technologies under real conditions. The most popular field trial by Deutsche Bahn, in cooperation with the Federal Police, the BKA and the Federal Ministry of the Interior, is currently running at the Südkreuz railway station in Berlin. There, smart video cameras with inbuilt facial recognition software are designed to automatically detect, track and report suspicious behavior. With such projects, they lay the groundwork for a totalitarian society of control. Of course, if the results are positive for the operators, such technologies will also be used in other locations. Already, 900 Deutsche Bahn stations are being monitored with 6000 video cameras, which, equipped with smart surveillance software, in the spirit of the Minister of the Interior, would enable a near-complete network of personalized tracking and control on public transport. So, this group plays a key role in the implementation of new surveillance and prosecution paragraphs, as they occur in the new Bavarian Police Task Force (PAG).
From the Internet of Things to the Smart City and back
The Internet of Things is considered to be the largest growth sector in mobile communications. Experts expect up to 50 billion interconnected devices worldwide. This requires powerful networks that can rapidly exchange large amounts of data. As a result, wireless carriers are investing massive amounts of money into fiber obtic cable, Narrowband and 5G infrastructure to meet their current and future needs. At the same time, they are actively involved in various European Smart City projects and develop all sorts of things to help make the totally networked world a reality.
Telekom operates a so-called ‘Hub: raum’ as an incubator for start-ups and runs programs under the title ‘Smart City Lab / T-Labs’, to promote the digital efficiency of cities. Smart Transportation Solutions, Smart Parking, Smart Electric Vehicle Charging, Traffic and Passenger Management Systems, Smart Waste Management, Smart Lighting, Smart Metering and Smart Public Safety are just a few of the key words that show how comprehensive the corporation’s plans to make things happen are and which information can be produced and integrated into the profit chain. Telekom’s goal is to be a leading provider of smart city solutions in Europe. In doing so, they say they are committed to the environment and promise to address such issues as climate change, scarcity of resources, demographic change etc, in order to enable human survival on Earth for a long time. The fact that the destruction of the planet is result of the capitalist logic that reaps horrendous profits for companies goes unmentioned.
At Vodafone, along with safety and economic efficiency, the concerns of ecology are at the forefront of their Smart City projects. Together with the RWE ‘eco’ subsidiary Innogy, the group is developing concepts for the smart city. Connected traffic systems, smart waste management and smart lighting systems are the three main cornerstones of the company cooperation. Smart multifunction pylons with the name ‘Innogized Poles’ are equipped with sensors and devices to provide comprehensive solutions for urban networking. On the one hand, these could serve as charging stations for all types of e-vehicles that measure air pollution and temperature and produce digital advertising on LED screens. On the other hand, they could also simplify surveillance via smart video cameras in public spaces. Another product from Vodafone is the smart wall. Sensors can not only detect movement, but also chemical substances and individual spray paint particles. If a wall is sprayed, the sensor will automatically alert the authorities. Vodafone is also producing technologies that can be integrated directly into our everyday lives as surveillance devices. With ‘Smart Level Glasses’, which were developed in cooperation with the US manufacturer CSP, the group offers glasses that are full of smart technology. These would function primarily as a fitness monitor, but also contain tracking functions. A step-by-step ranking system, which supports social projects and the needy once you reach a certain score, is an incentive for people to use the glasses permanently. So the emotional blackmail of the data consumer is also included.
With these and similar applications, corporations are making it clear in which direction the processes of smartification are actually developing. What are sold to us as benefits for everyday life in the name of ecology, turn out to be green capitalism in its purest form. It’s about power and money. And so the devastation will spread inexorably and our habitats will gradually become places of total control. What remains for us is to hold on to the idea of another way of life and the possibility of destroying this world of domination and control, and translating it into action.
(via Chronik, translated into English by Nae Clone for Mpalothia)