We have already seen the first mass civil resistance using cyber warfare

Jo Kroese Jo Kroese Follow Sep 29, 2019 · 1 min read
We have already seen the first mass civil resistance using cyber warfare

Possibly the first mass civil resistance using cyber warfare: in Hong Kong, protestors are using lasers to scramble the Chinese government’s AI facial recognition cameras.⠀

The actions are a direct challenge to the state’s cyber infrastructure and their ability to collect data on protestors. Unusually, while almost all cyber warfare takes place between air-conditioned offices on opposite sides of the world, this citizen cyber warfare is in the streets.⠀

Though originally a technical tool against the use of AI and police data collection, the laser is now also being used as a symbol of resistance. As seen in this picture, protestors gather, holding their lasers and pointing them to the sky.⠀

As a tactic of protest, it seems to be effective for two reasons:⠀

  1. Using lasers to counter data collection is a lo-fi DIY approach that does not require protestors to have advanced technical skills.⠀
  2. You get a free laser show.


Posting a version of this article on the @radicaldataproject Instagram page led to our account being shadowbanned. As a result it did not list for any of the attached hashtags and was effectively invisible to anyone who was not already following @radicaldataproject.

I will write an article about that at some other point. For now, it highlights the importance of artists and writers having a piece of digital space which they have complete autonomous editorial control over.

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Jo Kroese
Written by Jo Kroese Follow
Jo is a freelance data scientist focused on environmental and social justice research. They have collaborated and published papers with organisations such as Cefas, Substance and Data for Good. Jo also live codes music as Jobi.