Social media, Silicon Valley are “surveillance marketers” for NSA et al

Richard Stallman, Julian Assange, with picture of Edward Snowden. Credit: Wikileaks
Richard Stallman, Julian Assange, with picture of Edward Snowden. Credit: Wikileaks

Bruce Sterling has a must-read piece about Snowden and NSA, nailing the complicity of internet companies with the national surveillance state. Rather than being plucky little startups that made it big due to grit, determination, and new ideas, the Googles and Microsofts of the planet were hugely aided by big helping hands from government spooks offering contracts, money, and connections. The companies were only too happy to oblige, chirping all the while about how they were different from those tacky old traditional companies. “Do no evil” now seems a cynical in-joke and ploy among billionaires who sold us out long ago rather than a corporate slogan that was  actually followed. Emphasis added.

Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, Google et al … are intelligence assets posing as commercial operations. They are surveillance marketers. They give you free stuff in order to spy on you and pass that info along the value chain. Personal computers can have users, but social media has livestock.

Sterling asks, why is it that Wikileaks was the only entity that really helped Snowden? I’d say it is because Assange is genuinely, perhaps even fanatically, committed to his cause and at this point has nothing left to lose.

It’s incredible to me that, among the eight zillion civil society groups on the planet that hate and fear spooks and police spies, not one of them could offer Snowden one shred of practical help, except for Wikileaks. This valiant service came from Julian Assange, a dude who can’t even pack his own suitcase without having a fit.

Activists. Read this. Political uprising must have clear-cut goals and leaders. Or else the results probably won’t be what you want or expect.

Even if the proles rise up in a wave, busily Twittering away, you’re gonna get an Arab Spring, followed by a regretful military coup once people figure out that networks just aren’t governments.

Even the electronic civil lib contingent is lying to themselves. They’re sore and indignant now, mostly because they weren’t consulted — but if the NSA released PRISM as a 99-cent Google Android app, they’d be all over it. Because they are electronic first, and civil as a very distant second.

However, Sterling is actually quite optimistic. Richard Stallman, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden now have the initiative and are genuinely making governments tremble. Super empowered inviduals can do that…

A super empowered individual, in my view, is autonomously capable of creating a cascading event that grand strategist Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett has termed a ” system perturbation”; a disruption of system function and invalidation of existing rule sets to at least the national but more likely the global scale. The key requirements to become “superempowered” are comprehension of a complex system’s connectivty and operation; access to critical network hubs; possession of a force that can be leveraged against the structure of the system and a wilingness to use it.

Let’s all become superempowered individuals.

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Statement by Julian Assange after one year in Ecuadorian Embassy

Julian_Assange

It has now been a year since I entered this embassy and sought refuge from persecution.

As a result of that decision, I have been able to work in relative safety from a US espionage investigation.

But today, Edward Snowden’s ordeal is just beginning.

Two dangerous runaway processes have taken root in the last decade, with fatal consequences for democracy.

Government secrecy has been expanding on a terrific scale.

Simultaneously, human privacy has been secretly eradicated.

A few weeks ago, Edward Snowden blew the whistle on an ongoing program – involving the Obama administration, the intelligence community and the internet services giants – to spy on everyone in the world.

As if by clockwork, he has been charged with espionage by the Obama administration.

The US government is spying on each and every one of us, but it is Edward Snowden who is charged with espionage for tipping us off.

It is getting to the point where the mark of international distinction and service to humanity is no longer the Nobel Peace Prize, but an espionage indictment from the US Department of Justice.

Edward Snowden is the eighth leaker to be charged with espionage under this president.

Bradley Manning’s show trial enters its fourth week on Monday.

After a litany of wrongs done to him, the US government is trying to convict him of “aiding the enemy.”

The word “traitor” has been thrown around a lot in recent days.

But who is really the traitor here?

Who was it who promised a generation “hope” and “change,” only to betray those promises with dismal misery and stagnation?

Who took an oath to defend the US constitution, only to feed the invisible beast of secret law devouring it alive from the inside out?

Who is it that promised to preside over The Most Transparent Administration in history, only to crush whistleblower after whistleblower with the bootheel of espionage charges?

Who combined in his executive the powers of judge, jury and executioner, and claimed the jurisdiction of the entire earth on which to exercise those powers?

Who arrogates the power to spy on the entire earth – every single one of us – and when he is caught red handed, explains to us that “we’re going to have to make a choice.”

Who is that person?

Let’s be very careful about who we call “traitor”.

Edward Snowden is one of us.

Bradley Manning is one of us.

They are young, technically minded people from the generation that Barack Obama betrayed.

They are the generation that grew up on the internet, and were shaped by it.

The US government is always going to need intelligence analysts and systems administrators, and they are going to have to hire them from this generation and the ones that follow it.

One day, their generation will run the NSA, the CIA and the FBI.

This isn’t a phenomenon that is going away.

This is inevitable.

And by trying to crush these young whistleblowers with espionage charges, the US government is taking on a generation, and that is a battle it is going to lose.

This isn’t how to fix things.

The only way to fix things is this:

Change the policies.

Stop spying on the world.

Eradicate secret law.

Cease indefinite detention without trial.

Stop assassinating people.

Stop invading other countries and sending young Americans off to kill and be killed.

Stop the occupations, and discontinue the secret wars.

Stop eating the young: Edward Snowden, Barrett Brown, Jeremy Hammond, Aaron Swartz, Gottfrid Svartholm, Jacob Appelbaum, and Bradley Manning.

The charging of Edward Snowden is intended to intimidate any country that might be considering standing up for his rights.

That tactic must not be allowed to work.

The effort to find asylum for Edward Snowden must be intensified.

What brave country will stand up for him, and recognize his service to humanity?

Tell your governments to step forward.

Step forward and stand with Snowden.

The photo that could clear Assange

The photo was taken 48 hours after the women with the blurred face said Assange sexually assaulted her. Her face is blurred for privacy. But the Daily Mail says she is smiling. (The photo is on their website.)

For Mr Falkvinge, one of the things that was striking about it, in view of what he later learned, was that Woman A volunteered to become Mr Assange’s press secretary during the meal. Mr Falkvinge has refused to go into details about the way Woman A behaved with Mr Assange, because he has to give evidence in court if a trial is held.

But he made it clear that he did not think Woman A behaved like a victim or someone who had suffered a traumatic sexual experience only two days earlier.

Assange and the attempt to extradite him to the US

Anyone opposing the extradition of Assange immediately gets demonized. The empire moves in lockstep on this. Yes, some have concerns about the rape charge but underlying all this is the fierce determination of the US to try Assange here, with a guilty verdict a foregone conclusion.

Craig Murray’s speaks about whistle-blowing at the Ecuadorian Embassy (with transcript)

CRAIG MURRAY: We should not forget what this is about. This is about the persecution of an individual who has made life much more simple and more productive for whistleblowers in the Information Age and in an age when, as Western governments become increasingly authoritarian and civil liberties are diminished, we need whistleblowers more than ever to protect the rights of all of us.

The oldest feminist, anti-rape organization in Britain says the Assange extradition attempt is political.

We are Women Against Rape but we do not want Julian Assange extradited. For decades we have campaigned to get rapists caught, charged and convicted.

But the pursuit of Assange is political

On demonizing those who support Assange

The concerted attempt to demonize George Galloway over his comments on the rape allegations levelled at Julian Assange is reflective of something rotten in British cultural life. Nothing short of a lynching-by-media is being attempted by a range of commentators from right to left, to the point where there’s no room left on the bandwagon.

Craig Murray on Assange and the British threat of force

Blogs are republishing this since Craig Murray’s website was hit with a DOS attack after he printed the following. Murray is a former UK diplomat who resigned after the Foreign Service refused to do anything about his reports of torture and brutal suppression in Uzbekistan. He speaks out against the British apparent determination to ignore international law in their attempt to seize a man who still has been charged with nothing.

But then,

Pinochet had women raped by dogs and Britain wouldn’t extradite him.

So I don’t want to hear anything from Britain about how important extradition is to them or how important rape accusations are.

**** Craig Murray’s statement

America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally

I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided – after immense pressure from the Obama administration – to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.

This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries – arguably millennia – of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.

The provisions of the Vienna Convention on the status of diplomatic premises are expressed in deliberately absolute terms. There is no modification or qualification elsewhere in the treaty.

Article 22

1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.

2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.

3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

Not even the Chinese government tried to enter the US Embassy to arrest the Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen. Even during the decades of the Cold War, defectors or dissidents were never seized from each other’s embassies. Murder in Samarkand relates in detail my attempts in the British Embassy to help Uzbek dissidents. This terrible breach of international law will result in British Embassies being subject to raids and harassment worldwide.

The government’s calculation is that, unlike Ecuador, Britain is a strong enough power to deter such intrusions. This is yet another symptom of the “might is right” principle in international relations, in the era of the neo-conservative abandonment of the idea of the rule of international law.

The British Government bases its argument on domestic British legislation. But the domestic legislation of a country cannot counter its obligations in international law, unless it chooses to withdraw from them. If the government does not wish to follow the obligations imposed on it by the Vienna Convention, it has the right to resile from it – which would leave British diplomats with no protection worldwide.

I hope to have more information soon on the threats used by the US administration. William Hague had been supporting the move against the concerted advice of his own officials; Ken Clarke has been opposing the move against the advice of his. I gather the decision to act has been taken in Number 10.

There appears to have been no input of any kind from the Liberal Democrats. That opens a wider question – there appears to be no “liberal” impact now in any question of coalition policy. It is amazing how government salaries and privileges and ministerial limousines are worth far more than any belief to these people. I cannot now conceive how I was a member of that party for over thirty years, deluded into a genuine belief that they had principles.