Wednesday, August 21, 2013

If everything is under surveillance ...

A powerful two minutes with Jacob Appelbaum of Tor Project and Der Spiegel. 
Mr. Appelbaum has been flagged and detained many times like Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda was at Heathrow three days ago. An American citizen, he no longer travels to the US.

Wall Street Journal, Aug 20 2013 :
"The NSA, in conjunction with telecommunications companies, has built a system that can reach deep into the U.S. Internet backbone and cover 75% of traffic in the country, including not only metadata but the content of online communications."
The Guardian, Aug 1 2013
"The US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ over the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain's intelligence gathering programmes. The top secret payments are set out in documents which make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment, and that GCHQ has to work hard to meet their demands. 
Ministers have denied that GCHQ does the NSA's "dirty work", but in the documents GCHQ describes Britain's surveillance laws and regulatory regime as a "selling point" for the Americans.

Appelbaum transcript:
"I think at its core what is at stake is the ability for a human being to have dignity and for journalists to have integrity with their sources, and from that I believe that it threatens the whole concept of a free democracy.
This is I think in a sense being shown in the last 48 hours to the extreme and I don't mean that as hyperbole but if everything is under surveillance, how is it that you can have a democracy? 
How is it that you can organize a political function or have confidentiality with a constituent or with a source or with a friend or with the lover?
That's fundamentally an erasure of fundamental things that we have had for quite some time.

And planetary surveillance has very serious concerns, not the least of which is economic espionage and not the least of which I think for me personally is about journalistic source protection.
I mean how is it that we will be able to protect our sources if there's no way to securely meet, no way to communicate about having a meeting, no way to actually communicate about basic facts? 
There's no such thing as on or off the record when in fact you don't control the record.

And it's not merely a matter of whether or not we have something to hide because it is not us that will decide whether we have something to hide - it is an analyst somewhere, it is a machine learning algorithm somewhere. And this is the thing that is perhaps the most terrifying : because people are flagged, then other people are dispatched. Each person plays their role and more and more a machine plays that role, a machine that does not understand constitutional protections, does not understand the Magna Carta or the Bill of Rights, does not understand humanity. It's a machine and the humans they behave like machines too - which is a great fear - that humans will start to behave like machines. 

And so what is at stake is in fact democracy where we still have it."

Pink Floyd, 1975
"Welcome, my son, welcome to the machine.
Where have you been? It's alright we know where you've been."

h/t West End Bob for Democracy Now link.


Boris said...

The fracture line in society is increasingly between states/elites, which are old order institutions left over from days when people felt they needed gods and kings, are set against this great swelling drive to emancipate humanity from these things. Everywhere, Egypt, Syria, UK, US, we see the same fight between the emerging secular generation and the old ones from the old world using every means to protect their treasures.

West End Bob said...

Thanks for taking that Democracy Now! and running with it, M'Lady - Excellent job! Jacob Applebaum's emotional segment was riveting.

Your Pink Floyd insert reminded me of this bit of news on Roger Waters.

How 'bout that, eh ? ? ? ?

Anonymous said...

I remember going to the "US" Festival in San Bernadino California back in 1982.
The 3 day festival was put on by Steve Jobs/Apple and was essentially a great success.
The only thing that shocked me was the police prescence.
As I listened to the Star Spangled Banner being sung I looked around and spotted.....
California Highway patrolmen on motorcycle dirt bikes, National Parks wardens on horseback, San Bernadino County Sherriff Deputy's on golf carts, California Sate Police walking through the crowd. armed private security guards.
As I looked at all this I remember thinking, " THIS is the Land of the Free?"

Saskboy said...

@ioerror is a must-follow on Twitter.

Alison said...

Much obliged, Saskboy - Jacob Appelbaum on twitter. Thanks!

I really should have hi-lited this in the text :
"And it's not merely a matter of whether or not we have something to hide because it is not us that will decide whether we have something to hide - it is an analyst somewhere, it is a machine learning algorithm"

Anon : And now they have this

Bob : No, thank you for your tireless supply of the most relevant and important links.!
And Go Roger!

Boris : re gods and kings & states/elites
We are still considerably stuck into the Great Man theory of history/progress when all evidence points to any real gains being much more dependent upon us growing systems that at their core are not designed to fuck people over.

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