Panopticon

A citizenry that’s constantly on guard for secret, unaccountable surveillance is one that’s constantly being remade along the lines the state would prefer. Foucault illustrated this point by reference to a hypothetical prison called the Panopticon. Designed by utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham, the Panopticon is a prison where all cells can be seen from a central tower shielded such that the guards can see out but the prisoners can’t see in.

foucault-panopticon

Panopticon

The prisoners in the Panopticon could thus never know whether they were being surveilled, meaning that they have to, if they want to avoid running the risk of severe punishment, assume that they were being watched at all times. Thus, the Panopticon functioned as an effective tool of social control even when it wasn’t being staffed by a single guard.

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Technocracy

Note: Governments just love technology. They always assume that every problem, whether social, martial, economic, or ecological, is just waiting for some magic device to solve it. This is a weakness of theirs.

The logic of this system is, in a limited sense, highly logical: past elites were unable to maintain control due to human mistakes and unpredictabilities. The thinking behind a technocracy is that machines make no mistakes. The large tech companies have all discussed this openly at large conferences. Money is a symbol of energy, and the erection of the mass surveillance grid is not for the purpose of security or preventing “terrorism”.

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In my opinion, the predicament we’re in has been woven of threads that include our evolved neuropsychology, our innate cleverness, our general lack of wisdom, and the technological and cultural structures that we have created around us. We may be able to work our way free of this monkey trap, but not unless we gain insight into our own nature, lovingly nurture the wisdom we need to recognize what we’re doing, and the courage to say “No” to some of it. If we can do that, the problems of nuclear power and all the rest will become much less threatening. Can we accomplish such a radical transformation of human consciousness? We are getting a wake-up call. it’s time for us to heed it, and to do a bit of growing up. ~ Slaying The Hydra

Due to the transmission technology of cellphone systems and the internet, there is not likely to be a means to prevent geolocation and user data from being accessed by unauthorised parties. Every communication system is a spying system. Digital systems are far easier to penetrate than analogue systems and thus much easier to use for spying.

Dragnets

The Snowden leaks revealed a massive surveillance program including interception of email and other internet communications and phone call tapping. Some of it appears illegal, while other documents show the US spying on friendly nations during various international summits.

… while so loudly advocating for freedom from (whatever …), the Internet Freedom (IF) coalition was, in fact, providing the diplomatic cover and lobbying campaign to ensure that no outcome of Internet governance would interfere with the overall US strategy of freedom “to” — surveil, subvert, suborn and overall embed and maintain (as the NSA so aptly put it) — “total information dominance” of the Internet. ~ Michael Gurstein

This did not make people happy.

The programs are enabled by two US laws, the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), and a side dish called Executive Order 12.333.

Although the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court oversees such surveillance activities, it operates in secrecy through one-sided procedures that favor the government. It appears mainstream US media are not too worried about that because something important has happened: surveillance by NSA has included American citizens. Big headlines.

People in the rest of the world somersaulted around, making faces like anonymous and pseudonymous avatars in twitter and on other social media. Well, some people did. People living in areas being robbed, pillaged and plundered for resources to keep the war-work-machine going were too busy fo that.

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animal-farmAt best there will be legal protections which cannot be technologically fulfilled. It has become common to enact legal programs with promises of digital data protection and privacy which mislead about technological capabilities. ~ John Young

Not only that, several laws and treaties are in the making that protect proprietary money-making interests. Courtesy for the Powerful, Not the Public.

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Monkey Business

The mass surveillance industry is a multi-billion dollar economic sector that has experienced phenomenal growth rates since 2001. According to data provided by The Wall Street Journal, the retail market for surveillance tools has sprung up from “nearly zero” in 2001 to about US$5 billion in 2011. The size of the video surveillance market rose to US$13.5 billion in 2012, and is expected to reach US$39 billion by 2020.

Deception about digital systems is fundamental to their carefully guarded operation, marketing and minimization of liability. Every manufacturer of communication systems equipment is capable of being penetrated, corrupted and bribed. Undiscovered covert attacks are most lethal to the manufacturer’s survival; discovered attacks are most often concealed, denied, lied about, used against competitors, secretly sold as products by the manufacturer, by their rogue employees, by inside spies of competitors. Deception about successful attacks is fundamental to the systems’ operation.~ John Young

Many of the world’s largest corporations and their trade associations — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald’s, Shell, BP, BAE, Sasol, Brown & Williamson and E.ON – have been linked to espionage or planned espionage against nonprofit organizations, activists and whistleblowers.

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In an increasingly networked world, data about us, as individuals (from our age and sex to our buying habits and more) have increasing monetary value. The information can be used to make money. It’s Big Business. BB!

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Operators

Operators are aware of the impossibility of technological protection to fulfill legal requirements but join in the deception in order to falsely assure customers, officials and watchdogs that protection is possible.

Some operators even work in concert with governments to allow access beyond what is legislated, in accord with long-standing practices worldwide and/or also permit access to the systems by third parties under contract provisions which are customarily revealed only in part to users, and in some cases only in part to officials.~ John Young
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Backbone Beacon

I dinnae get people, like they all want to be watched, to be seen, like all the time. They put up their pictures online and let people they dinnae like look at them! And people they’ve never met as well, and they all pretend tae be shinier than they are – and some are even posting on like four sites; their bosses are watching them at work, the cameras watch them on the bus, and on the train, and in Boots, and even outside the chip shop. Then even at home – they’re going online to look and see who they can watch, and to check who’s watching them!” ― Jenni Fagan, The Panopticon

Growth of the military-industrial-complex, violations of human rights, undermining of trust, net neutrality out the door (as if that empty promise ever meant anything), function creep of surveillance (as if it isn’t already totally out of control), more targeted advertising (and more adblock), surveillance (and counter-surveillance), censorship (and censorship workarounds), prosecution and incarceration of file sharers (to serve the prison-industrial-complex), political repression and social discrimination … and an increasing number of dissenters getting creative.

Self censorship?

Governments, commerce, orgs, experts cooperate to foster crises under guise of opposition to get us to hop on their bandwagons using shock doctrine. We are in an ongoing struggle to protect ourselves from existing threats as well as from that attempt. GNU free software is not in the role of “rescuer”, but we can use it to put our freedom (to act), our power, back into our own hands on the internet.

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