Guest Post: Cassie of Sydney – Privacy, IBM, Genocide & Covid

A few days ago, I was on a work zoom call. My boss asked casually if we were all “vaccinated’. I was shocked at his question, I didn’t respond (even though I’d received my first AZ jab) because it’s nobody’s business. I’m sure my workplace hasn’t yet mandated vaccines for its workers, so I don’t see any reason to divulge such private information to my colleagues. However the exchange rattled me and it got me thinking about privacy and how important it is, given the encroachment of big government and big corporations into our lives, the sinister alliance that now exists between many governments and big tech and how, in this Covid age, we’re being coerced to use QR tracking codes, we’re being pressured to get vaccinated despite many people’s doubts and the likelihood is that soon we’ll be forced to carry vaccine passports…even within Australia. Those who bravely resist these measures will be subjected to governmental and corporate social, political and economic censure and isolation.

In 2021 the notion of privacy, like good manners and modesty, seems quaint and old-fashioned. Once upon a time people guarded (or at least tried to guard) their privacy yet over the last twenty-five years, since the onset of the internet, privacy has become compromised and eroded because of our incessant desire for technology and what ensues from this …instant knowledge, instant pleasure and instant gratification. We’re now at a stage in 2021 where technology not only dominates our lives it actively intrudes and preys on us. Far too many of us are nonchalant about this and far too many of us actively invite this daily intrusion into our lives with the use of smartphones, apps and social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, Youtube, Twitter, WhatsApp etc. We’re now slaves to technology and every minute, every hour and every day this technology is monitoring and harvesting our personal data, even as we sleep.

Many might say, so what? It’s clear to me that such indifference goes hand in hand with our increasing dependency on corporations and governments as well as our blind trust in these corporations and governments. Too many assume corporations and governments will always act in our best interests. Such faith is dangerous. I too am guilty of this “blind faith”. I never think twice when Coles sends me emails of specials I might like. Why do they do this? Because Coles knows what I like to buy every week, it tracks my shopping data through my flybuys card. Too many of us naively assume personal data is only harvested for good intentions, such as grocery shopping. It isn’t. Our privacy is compromised by this collection of intimate data. Too many of us are ignorant as to how our personal data can be used against us, probably because too many of us neglect or are ignorant of history. State collection of personal information is not a new practice, in fact it dates back thousands of years. It was and still is called a census. The ancient Egyptians conducted censuses to collect labour data for pyramid building, the Romans conducted censuses every five years to keep track of populations. History is replete with further examples. And history also shows us that that personal data collection has been used to conduct genocide.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, he immediately began targeting German Jews. However, there was a snag. Identifying who was and who wasn’t Jewish was not easy for the Nazis because German Jews were very assimilated. There were no ghettoes in 1930’s Germany. So, what did the Nazis do? They enlisted the assistance of a large corporation called IBM. IBM then employed thousands of information collectors across Germany to physically go from door to door to collect critical personal information. All this information was assembled and collated in a Berlin warehouse. The data was then manually inserted into special IBM coding machines. What did this personal information comprise of? Every individual’s native language, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, nationality, profession, and city and suburbs where they resided. The Nazis were then quickly able to identify the location of all the Jews in Germany…with the help of a corporation called IBM.  This information allowed the Nazis to begin the persecution of Germany’s Jewish population. It’s a story we all know, it began with exclusion then confiscation then ghettoization then deportation and then finally…mass murder on an industrial scale.

During World War II, when the Nazis invaded a country, they immediately used the country’s collected data to methodically hunt down the occupied country’s Jewish and Roma populations. This happened all over Nazi Europe, in the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Belgian, Hungary, France, even the Channel Islands. After occupying a country one of the first things the Germans did was to seize a country’s data collections in order to find and target Jews. In some countries the Nazis were able to quickly find out the names of Jews, the suburbs and the regions where Jews lived, the occupations of Jews and so on. But it wasn’t always so easy for the Germans because different countries had different criteria as to what personal information they collected and stored and so here we arrive at the examples of the Netherlands and France. Both countries in 1939 had large Jewish populations however these two countries were very different in what criteria they collected from their citizens. Before the war, the Netherlands meticulously collected personal data on all its citizens, information about religion, ethnicity, occupations, suburbs, regions and so on whereas the French only collected limited information and most certainly and critically not ethnicity (France still doesn’t ask for ethnicity on its census).  Before invasion and occupation, the Netherlands had amassed a vast collection of personal information for administrative and statistical purposes. It was originally designed to monitor people from birth to death however during the occupation these records were used to create registration rolls that targeted the Jewish and Roma populations, and these rolls played a critical role in the tracking down, the rounding up, the transportation and the subsequent murder of Jews and Roma. It was catastrophic. Seventy percent of Dutch Jews did not survive the war. The Netherlands had the highest death rate among all occupied western European countries. Of the 140,000 Jews who lived in the Netherlands in 1941, only about 38,000 survived by the time the war ended in 1945. In contrast the survival rate of French Jews was much higher, seventy-five percent of French Jews survived, and more than half of Belgian’s Jews survived. Why? One theory is because France and Belgian had not collected and stored such personal information as ethnicity and so the Nazis had to use other methods.

Let me state that there were many Dutch who were heroic in their efforts to try to protect and save Jews but the occupying Nazis were gifted a cache of intimate personal data that enabled them to quickly intimidate, isolate and then annihilate Dutch Jewry and Roma.

And whilst I don’t compare our current situation to what happened in Nazi Germany and Nazi occupied Europe, we need to be mindful of the past and we need to learn from it. We must always guard our privacy. We cannot assume governments and corporations will always act benevolently…in fact I would argue that even here in Australia our right to privacy is in serious peril and our federal and state governments are NOT acting in our best interests. Always remember that privacy is one of our fundamental human rights.  Even the Australian government acknowledges this as follows:

“Privacy is a fundamental human right that underpins freedom of association, thought and expression, as well as freedom from discrimination.

Generally, privacy includes the right:

· to be free from interference and intrusion;

· to associate freely with whom you want;

· to be able to control who can see or use information about you.

Remember this because our fight is just beginning.

31 thoughts on “Guest Post: Cassie of Sydney – Privacy, IBM, Genocide & Covid”

  1. Might be time for boards of all types, the big and small, to have a simple additional statutory obligation for directors. Something well written (that’s beyond me) to ensure that the corporate entity and its office holders never opine on or commit the entity from encroaching in any way on the freedoms or privacy of any individual, whether they be an employee, customer or other stakeholder.

    CEO’s using their pulpits to chase virtue-scores can only end in tears.


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  2. Thanks Cassie, for another informative and perceptive post.

    One of the most infuriating memes of the “progressives” is the assertion that if you’ve done nothing wrong you shouldn’t worry about the government knowing everything about you. In addition to the revealing history in Cassie’s post I can describe something from here in Australia (though admittedly many years ago now).
    I once attended a consultation meeting between the Tax Office and the tax professional bodies. One of the tax agent bodies raised an issue about the “dependent spouse rebate”, a form of tax credit that one spouse could claim if the other spouse wasn’t earning income.
    From time to time a man would claim the dependent spouse rebate, only to have the Tax Office disallow the rebate, whereupon the man would demand an explanation and be told he wasn’t eligible because the wife was earning income.
    The tax agent rep told the Tax Office that in some of these cases the man was an abusive husband, and the wife was secretly doing a part time job to get enough money together to be able to escape. The consequence of the Tax Office disallowing the dependent spouse rebate was that the wife got bashed, the money she had saved was confiscated by the husband, and the husband kept her under surveillance so she could never try that again.
    The Tax Office were horrified, and a protocol was established by which the rebate wasn’t disallowed without checking first with the other spouse, and if necessary deferring the disallowance till after the escape.
    So that articular problem is now solved (we hope). But it was a clear example where even if the government isn’t actually doing wrong, their possession of information (in that case the wife’s income details) can inadvertently lead to disaster.
    Eventually someone, probably a woman, will be killed by an abusive ex who has tracked her down with covid tracing data which the ex obtained by working in government or in an organisation which handles such data (or having a mate who works there). It will happen. It’s only a matter of time.


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  3. From my personal perspective, as an employee of the State of Queensland, the greatest concern is with what I regard as a transfer of statuatory-like authority to government entities, like Queensland Health.

    Having done some background reading due to my now time-limited employment status, the references on both Federal and Queensland State Government websites to the centrality and apparent supremacy of ‘Public health directives’ to override privacy and informed decision-making (consent) issues is scary.


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  4. They enlisted the assistance of a large corporation called IBM. IBM then employed thousands of information collectors across Germany to physically go from door to door to collect critical personal information. All this information was assembled and collated in a Berlin warehouse. The data was then manually inserted into special IBM coding machines.

    It wasn’t IBM directly involved, it was their wholly owned subsidiary Dehomag.

    As far as I know they did not conduct a survey. Instead the used data from the previous two census’s.

    They used their proprietary Hollerith punch card sorting machines to sort the data and produce the basis for the list. Essentially you could run a sort on a particular town and short for Jew and get a specific list to be send to local enforcement. Running a sort on data might sound pretty basic today but it was revolutionary then.

    As the Hollerith equipment was essentially high end computing equipment. The equipment was mainly in possession of universities and the military.

    In Holland academia fully cooperated with the Nazi’s and as a consequence very few Jews survived. In France, French military personnel were forced to complete the sorts. They did their best to produce garbage information, as a consequence France had a relatively high survival rate for Jews.

    This history is well laid out in a book called “IBM and The Holocaust”.


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  5. Far too many of us are nonchalant about this and far too many of us actively invite this daily intrusion into our lives with the use of smartphones, apps and social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, Youtube, Twitter, WhatsApp etc. We’re now slaves to technology and every minute, every hour and every day this technology is monitoring and harvesting our personal data, even as we sleep.

    All this could be stopped overnight by the government legislating to make collecting this data illegal.

    A few consequences.
    Facechook and google would crash.
    The internet would become more “old days” and decentralized.
    people would regain a very large chunk of anonymity back.

    Yet no government has done this, I think people can think of the reasons themselves.


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  6. In 1986, during the Hawke campaign to introduce a national identity card, Neal Blewett, as Minister for Health, declared that “as socialists, we shouldn’t get too hung up on privacy because privacy, in many ways, is a bourgeois right that is very much associated with the right to private property.”

    The Australia Card was only defeated when a public servant noticed a fatal error in the drafting of the legislation. Hawke was so humiliated that he dropped the whole thing for good. I won’t be at all surprised if one of the outcomes of this pandemic is renewed pressure for a national identity card.


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  7. “It wasn’t IBM directly involved, it was their wholly owned subsidiary Dehomag.”

    Correct…but what’s your point? Dehomag was a fully owned subsidiary of IBM…..and they assisted in the census of 1933, a census which was wanted by the Nazi government to gather information about ethnic minorities – specifically Jews and Roma.

    As far as I know they did not conduct a survey. Instead the used data from the previous two census’s.

    As far as I know a census was conducted in Germany in 1933 after the Nazis came to power. Dehomag helped in the collation of the census results.


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  8. If the Government wants me to have a smart phone for their convenience they can pay for the bastard.
    Overreaching fascist scum. They can kiss my arse.


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  9. This is from Wikipedia re. Black’s book….

    On April 12, 1933, the German government announced plans to conduct a long-delayed national census. The project was particularly important to the Nazis as a mechanism for the identification of Jews, Gypsies, and other ethnic groups deemed undesirable by the regime. Dehomag offered to assist the German government in its task of ethnic identification, focusing upon the 41 million residents of Prussia. This activity was not only countenanced by Thomas Watson and IBM in America, Black argues, but was actively encouraged and financially supported, with Watson himself traveling to Germany in October 1933 and the company ramping up its investment in its German subsidiary from 400,000 to 7,000,000 Reichsmark—about $1 million (equivalent to $20 million today. ? This injection of American capital allowed Dehomag to purchase land in Berlin and to construct IBM’s first factory in Germany, Black charges, thereby “tooling up for what it correctly saw as a massive financial relationship with the Hitler regime”.?

    Black also cites documents regarding a “secret deal” was made between Heidinger and Watson during the latter’s visit to Germany which allowed Dehomag commercial powers outside of Germany, enabling the “now Nazified” company to “circumvent and supplant” various national subsidiaries and licensees by “soliciting and delivering punch card solution technology directly to IBM customers in those territories”. As a result, Nazi Germany soon became the second most important customer of IBM after the lucrative U.S. market. The 1933 census, with design help and tabulation services provided by IBM through its German subsidiary, proved to be pivotal to the Nazis in their efforts to identify, isolate, and ultimately destroy the country’s Jewish minority. Machine-tabulated census data greatly expanded the estimated number of Jews in Germany by identifying individuals with only one or a few Jewish ancestors. Previous estimates of 400,000 to 600,000 were abandoned for a new estimate of 2 million Jews in the nation of 65 million.


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  10. “Miss Anthropistsays:
    September 18, 2021 at 1:55 pm
    If the Government wants me to have a smart phone for their convenience they can pay for the bastard.
    Overreaching fascist scum. They can kiss my arse.”

    Agree.


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  11. Governments in this land have demonstrated that they believe there is no right they can’t alienate from us if they can just convince the majority that it can be justified by public health and/or safety and sometimes even less weighty concerns like saving money (which was the pretext for the Liberal government to dispense with the presumption of innocence and the requirement for evidence to be presented before raising debts against citizens who received a Centrelink payment).

    The Fourth Estate, instead of holding them to account, largely aids and abets them by shutting down dissenting views and demonising those who hold them (the use of the derogatory term “anti-vaxxers” to marginalise those who for valid ethical or health reasons have chosen not to get vaccinated is a case in point).

    In the corporate world a soft despotism seems to prevail whereby lip service is paid to the rights of employees and customers while a woke agenda is deployed from above which stifles those rights by inculcating fear and uncertainty.

    We are slipping into becoming an illiberal democracy in which elections are held but oppositions are weak, politicians in power are largely unaccountable and under certain circumsatnces even feel entitled to bypass constitutional limits on their power.

    Anyone of a certain vintage who remembers the ill-fated attempt to introduce the Australia Card must wonder how we got here. Certainly the political class has fewer idealists and more unprincipled careerists in their ranks, but the general population has also become more complaisent…or should that be compliant?

    We shall see.


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  12. Thank you also Cassie for a well written and informative post.
    I did know the survival rate for French citizens was pretty good, not so much for displaced refugees that fled there from the east.
    You can still view the French card system at the Shoah museum in Paris and it is possible that having regions governed by the Vichy and in the South, by the Italians, also helped Jewish citizens to survive but absolutely point taken.
    As for privacy
    I refuse to qr code, the only time I have is at medical appointments when I have been stood over. It infuriates me that the government thinks they have the right to track my movements.
    I saw a qr code reader hanging on the fence at a local oval the other day, the only reason I noticed is because a lone walker in the distance stopped to check in.
    Why?
    I know Google maps keeps a record of my movements as do other apps on my phone but at this stage the convenience of having them outweighs my concerns.
    And to think in Australia we have ‘Privacy Acts’


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  13. It only requires a few (percentage wise) to capitulate to an make an invasion such as that of Holland as described. The consequences are dire and can never be rectified, no matter how much you try.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/27/dutch-railway-to-pay-out-50m-over-role-in-holocaust
    My father spent a little over 2 years in Dachau as a prisoner with a death sentence for resistance( he wasn’t Jewish). The German government sent him two cheques for three thousand dollars each when he was in his eighties to compensate for his forced labour. On both occasions I took the then frail old man to the bank to deposit the cheques. His local branch was Mt Lawley in Perth which has a fair amount of orthodox Jews.
    On each visit I showed the cheque to the person ahead of us in the line and we were at the front of the line quickly and quietly. I seldom get emotional but just remembering this makes me teary.


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  14. “It only requires a few (percentage wise) to capitulate to an make an invasion such as that of Holland as described. The consequences are dire and can never be rectified, no matter how much you try.”

    The past is the past…I can’t change it. I ask that people not forget and learn from the past.


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  15. The Netherlands had the highest death rate among all occupied western European countries. Of the 140,000 Jews who lived in the Netherlands in 1941, only about 38,000 survived by the time the war ended in 1945.

    If I may go off on a tangent, the prominent German historian Gerhard Weinberg made the very apt point that the German invasion and occupation of Holland, and the oppression and mistreatment of the Dutch, and the slaughter of their Jewish people in World War II was the Nazis’ way of showing gratitude to the Dutch for taking in many German children orphaned as a result of World War I.


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  16. A brilliant and timely post. Ignore history at your peril — and the present is quite perilous for freedom and democracy because of the breakneck growth of government and big business, especially the big business monopolies that now control 90% of the public information systems we increasingly rely on and, in fact, can’t live without.


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  17. Great comment Roger.

    Thanks!

    You’ve got me thinking and writing, Cassie.

    Nothing new here of course, but I might ponder some more and expand upon it.

    You make a good point about being slaves to technology…there’s a lot to unpack there, layers of meaning, in fact.


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  18. One of the most infuriating memes of the “progressives” is the assertion that if you’ve done nothing wrong you shouldn’t worry about the government knowing everything about you.

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that your average leftist absolutely despises political opposition, even without ever meeting them. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the damage one of these psychopaths could do with sensitive information about someone that expresses a different opinion.


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  19. Beerie

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that your average leftist absolutely despises political opposition, even without ever meeting them. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the damage one of these psychopaths could do with sensitive information about someone that expresses a different opinion.

    The reason that, while I might look there occasionally, I will never post a comment at Phat Pussy.


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  20. there are old-school alternatives to using big tech for communicating within groups of interest within a generous geographical area.
    E.g. it’s amazing what you can do with a Colpitts oscillator built with cheap electronics components, matched with bits of an old TV antenna.
    and does anyone remember the days of CB radio, and point-to-point dial-up modems.
    Laugh at this some may, but ‘cockroach technology’ has a way of surviving and thriving.


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  21. Hundreds of my relations in Holland were murdered in the Death Camps. I have skin in the game.

    Luckily my branch of the family emigrated to England in the mid 1800’s.


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  22. “Woolfesays:
    September 19, 2021 at 9:02 am
    Hundreds of my relations in Holland were murdered in the Death Camps. I have skin in the game.

    Luckily my branch of the family emigrated to England in the mid 1800’s.”

    As did many of mine Woolfe. Most English Jews in the late 1700’s and 1800’s arrived via The Netherlands.


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