NP: Surveillance on the Human Mind

By James W Astrada


Since the only real freedom left for the human being is our private thoughts within the brain, technology has been developed that will change that in mind.  New security researchers from the University of California Berkeley, the University of Oxford, and the University of Geneva have all created a custom program.  This custom program was designed to interface with brain-computer interface devices (CBI) to extract sensitive data and information from unknowing participants/victims.  These researchers have already utilized these programs including videogame programs, biometric feedback programs, and hands-free computer interfacing.  To make matters worse, these applications are already in the marketplace similar to the Apple platform and Android platform which also rely on API to collect data from BCI devices.  There are those who claim multiple risk factors containing this technology by stating at a press release: “The security risks involved in using consumer-grade BCI devices have never been studied and the impact of malicious software with access to the device is unexplored.”

Certain individuals who researched this project came to a conclusion in their research paper named “On the Feasibility of Side-Channel Attacks with Brain-Computer Interfaces” that this type of technology could be used to extract sensitive or private information from users unknowingly.  The information could range from bank ATM pins, to area where one resides, to even knowledge of known associates and their information.  The researchers conducted a study on 28 willing participants who during their test run were not aware they were being “brain hacked” and were told it was a simple study.  Tests results displayed that the general experiments had the capacity of obtaining 10-40% “useful information.”  Even in its infancy, this program could spell doom for citizens who could be attacked unknowingly stripping away valuable private information.

Electroencephalography or EEG is the basis program for these BCI devices.  Researchers had utilized this to recognize brain patterns with P300 response.  This brain wave acted a certain way when individuals recognized certain faces, places or tools used for given tasks.  Scientists then developed a program based on the P300 response by flashing pictures of bank maps, pins etc… while monitoring for any P300 responses from the test subjects.  The results displayed incredible accuracy on where the subject lived, what bank was used and the PIN number, and other personal information.  The only way for these successful tests was to keep the subject unaware of the extraction process by using “games” designed to steal personal information from the mind of or through a false sense of security engendered by “social engineering techniques.”  Whether seen as a scientific breakthrough or not, human minds will no longer belong to the individual; rather to whatever agency utilizes this program to get what they want.  How do we know when playing games, researchers are not unconsciously using the P300 response program to extract personal information? As technology improves so will the technology of BCI devices which will enhance the success of hacking the brain.

In a different manner, the NYPD have developed with Microsoft a new program called “Domain Awareness System” released on August 8th  which allow police to track “criminals and potential terrorists” before they attempt a crime.  The system includes computers, cameras, and databases that act as a cohesive unit to capture the convicted before realizing they are under surveillance.  The utilization of 300 cameras is constantly monitored linked to license plates, 911 calls and NYPD records.  The ability of this program enables police to identify whether a radiation alarm was set off by actual radiation, a weapon, or a harmless medical isotope, track where a suspect’s car is located, and where it has been in the past few days, weeks or months, or instantly see a suspect’s arrest record, and 911 calls related to the crime.  If the success of this program delivers, NYPD will collect revenue as it is sold to other localities.

The concept of this idea is rooted from the Orwellian 1984 ideal of a clandestine government keeping an eye on its citizens for the “greater good.” The message that Bloomberg stated about “protecting New Yorkers, securities and freedoms” fell under the guise of omnipresent government surveillance with its intent to monitor every activity of every citizen.  The more citizens surrender their freedom for the illusion of “displacing the terrorists” the less private freedom one will have in future times.  Although this concept is considered fiction, there are those who believe that the “one world government” or “Big Brother” idea is in our midst.

Together these two programs could prevent terrorism and bring other monumental problems.  The concept of privacy is well known and respected in many countries and cultures.  The ability to be “oneself” is the only real freedom we have left in the comfort of our own homes.  The idea of course is not to affect the ones around you no matter how bizarre one’s lifestyle is.  With constant monitoring, drones, and this new BCI device system utilized to extract information, the idea of privacy is lessened by the day.  If and when the entire system is monitored, citizens will live in fear placing themselves at the mercy of a government looking for criminals and terrorists that are “national security threats.”  If anyone thinks or acts differently, a system will be able to detect their abnormalities and possibly monitor them for further review.  Could these programs be an invasion of privacy or are they justified?  Some could argue that this type of system is a form of domestic terrorism on the people; however this is left to the judgment of the individual.  Most will defend this program in light of what happened recently in Colorado and Wisconsin to further prevent shootings on civilians.  Others will argue that this is intentional to disarm the American public in order to subdue them and avoid retaliation.  Ultimately, the decision relies on the informed individual who will eventually take part in the future.  The rest lies in the hands of our trusted governments who claim to be in our best interests.



Associated Press. “Domain Awareness System: State-Of-The-Art Venture with Microsoft Puts Police in the Next Century.” CBS News New York (August 2012).

Sebastian Anthony. “Hackers backdoor the human brain, successfully extract sensitive data.” Extreme Tech (August 2012).

George Orwell. 1984: A Novel. G.K. Hall and Co. (February 2001).

Madison Ruppert. “Hacking the human brain: researchers demonstrate extraction of sensitive data via brain-computer interface.” Blacklisted News (August 2012).

Rachel Cohen. “North American Union Plan to Disarm the People of the United States.” (April 2012).

Paul Joseph Watson. “Eyewitness: 4 Man Team Behind Sikh Temple Shooting.” (August 2012).

Staff. “Overwhelming Evidence Mounts Indicating Colorado Shooting Staged.” (July 2012).

© Copyright 2012. James Astrada.

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