Surveillance Society

This is currently my only means of communication. After concluding that my phone could have been stolen (incomprehensibly while I was sleeping and with no other sign of intrusion) I took a half empty tram to the city and bought a $89 Telstra Slim Plus as the quickest way to keep in touch, try to find it if has mysteriously hidden itself and turned off regular alarm times and as spare phone for emergencies so I won’t have to deal with Telecos while sick even if it does turn up.

Convinced that Telstra would have a nightmarish registration system online I proceeded to the nearby Telstra shop cnr Bourke and Swanston with my phone and driver’s licence to have it activated while I wait and asked for the form. Told there was no problem but also no form and a “consultant” would assist. Some time later while reading the papers, at 13:39 I was told (without asking) “won’t be long now”. At 14:07 a “consultant” quickly and efficiently established that I simply wanted the phone activated without going online and went off with the phone and driver’s licence.

At 14:23 she returned and told me the phone was “activated” presenting me with the used SIM card container showing the mobile number and a message on the screen inviting me to send a text message. I returned to base to attempt catching my previous phone in hiding by tempting it to make a noise anywhere near me when I call or text it from the new phone. But first I entered a couple of phone numbers in the contact book to get back in touch. On calling each of them I got the message “this number cannot be reached at present from this service” or something equally uninformative.

So at 16:47 I gave up and texted “Hi” to my new number and duly received the message at the only number that CAN be reached with my “activated” phone. So I then had to go through exactly the procedure the “consultant” had spent 15″ pretending to do. But first I had to go online by turning on mobile data and clicking the link for “Activation”. That ensures that purchaser’s of new Telstra phones will set “mobile data” on so they can be billed for more than just making calls. Then I entered a 13 digit SIM card number from the cardboard container after carefully analysing the two different 13 digit barcodes and correctly identifying that the one with ON at the end must be the right one since the N is just to maximize confusion and is not a digit.

The purpose of this is presumably in the hope that I would have thrown away the cardboard SIM card number as completely useless since the SIM was already in the phone and registered to Telstra.

So much for Telstra. Now comes the government surveillance. I knew what to expect and had therefore taken my driver’s licence on the tram trip. Naturally everybody is required to continuously notify the three closest teleco antennas of where they are at all times when their phone battery has not been removed from the phone and this needs to be linked with other surveillance IDs such as driving licence. So I entered the name, address and date of birth shown on my driving licence.

This was completely unacceptable. I was further required to choose between “Mr”, “Miss”, “Mrs” or “Ms”, none of which is on my driver’s licence, compelled to retype the address omitting the “c/o” in front and compelled to provide an email address. Then had to choose between “Prepaid Max” and “Long Life”. There is a 47 page booklet “Telstra Pre-paid Welcome Guide” which I may consult later.

I knew I would have to provide a working email address since the online form would send a verification message and would not activate the phone without me answering it. This is a standard convenient way of handling the common problem of people needing to reset passwords etc after forgetting them and is particularly convenienent for correlating online activity with movement and phone calls as well as for Teleco spam. So I gave them my working gmail address and was told I would get a confirmation email in 4 hours. GOTCHA!

So a completely pointless 4 hour delay was imposed in which I could not search for my missing phone or make other calls. It isn’t even like the banks adding days of delay between accepting cash and adding it to an account because they keep the interest on the “float”. Nor does it serve any government surveillance purpose I can think of quickly (though perhaps others have given it more thought). Seems to just be Telecos being as irritating as possible. Perhaps as further punishment for using a pre-paid account instead of getting a “Customer ID” and linking in all financial transactions for surveillance.

Anyway, off I went to the park to finish reading the papers, honestly thinking that I would just be able to click on the email link without further hassles. OF COURSE NOT.

Google told me “Account Action Is Required” and then at 19:56 “Your password was changed 14 hours ago”. Same on both Tablet and Laptop. So either Google changed it or my phone WAS stolen. No problem, Google had kept insisting that I provide them with a phone number for verifying changed passwords, which is convenient both for solving that problem of verification when unable to access email and for ensuring that email addresses and phone numbers are tied together in both directions for surveillance. So I did.

AND NOW I AM REALLY STUCK. Since Google can only reset the password when verified from my old phone and the thief has the phone, Telstra won’t activate the new phone. I assume I will now have to call Telstra at some functioning number hidden towards the end of the 47 page booklet and then sort things out with Google later. First a good nights sleep.

Meanwhile, in case my access to this WordPress blog disappears I could start using another WordPress blog on the same account at:

https://thecapitalistcycle.wordpress.com/ or else:

https://github.com/capitalistcycle/tech/issues which is now owned by Microsoft and also tied to my gmail account.

Naturally this is while dealing with covid-19 situation.

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