Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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Google? Use at your own risk.

How did they manage to turn Google into a verb? Here’s a clue:

A longish (10 – 15 minute read), eerily fascinating fragment from Julian Assange’s new book, When Google Met Wikileaks.  In this excerpt Assange documents his bizarre encounter with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, one of the most powerful managers of information – our information – on the planet.

Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

Eric Schmidt, Google CEO. Photo: Business Insider.

From the excerpt:

“I began to think of Schmidt as a brilliant but politically hapless Californian tech billionaire who had been exploited by the very U.S. foreign-policy types he had collected to act as translators between himself and official Washington.

“I was wrong.”

How wrong Julian Assange was, and how tightly enmeshed Google is in the US national security apparatus, he documents in meticulous, chilling detail. Here. Or here.

But all is not lost. There are alternatives to Googlism, created by people who value freedom – the real thing, not the flags-and-guns kind – over profit and power.

For common sense on options, check out the Electronic Freedom Foundation’s Surveillance Self Defence Index.

For deeper insight into the global shroud of state/corporate surveillance that’s tightening over us even as it seduces us into complicity, meet David Lyon, a world authority on surveillance and population control, in The Cloud, chapter 6 in Bold Scientists, here.  (Scroll down to The Cloud.)

 


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CSEC: We pay for it. It spies on us.

“An ultra-secretive government agency is collecting hugely revealing information on thousands of law-abiding Canadians.”

csec

Communications Security Establishment Canada.  We pay for it, they spy on us. That’s the deal.  They spy on all our communications, all the time: phone, email and internet, contacts, conversations, relationships, religious and political affiliations, medical records, financial transactions….

OpenMedia.ca is on the case.  But they can’t do it alone. The Canadian government needs to hear a very loud NO from everyone of us who cares.

David Lyon, world authority on surveillance and social control: “Indifference is appropriate only for those who think that efficiency, convenience and speed qualify as values to be placed over openness, fairness, and the accountability of those whose task it is to process personal data.”

Add your voice here: https://openmedia.ca/CSECisWatching?src=156782.

More on David Lyon, our very Transparent Lives and ‘social sorting’ in Bold ScientistsRead an excerpt here.

And pass it on, far and wide.


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Google: a slippery slope

“Who’s to say, now that Google has become an arm of law enforcement, how long that arm will reach?  I mean, can we really trust a giant transnational corporation to have our best interests at heart?”  Thom Hartmann, The Daily Take, via Truthout, August 06 2014.

Good questions.

Google spies

Bloomberg News, a US business paper, August 2013: “The government uses corporations to circumvent its prohibitions against eavesdropping domestically on its citizens. Corporations rely on the government to ensure that they have unfettered use of the data they collect.”

As Thom Hartman notes, “we can all agree that child porn is a bad thing.”  But then who’s next?  Recent exposures of NSA tactics by Edward Snowden and others have made clear that the surveillance state and its corporate partners will grab everything they can, then they decide later who and what is good or bad.

In Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, I asked David Lyon about the comforting mantra that if we’ve done nothing wrong, we have nothing to fear.  Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, Lyon replied:  “The idea that I’m innocent until proven guilty is seriously compromised if I’m placed arbitrarily in a category of suspicion, and the reassuring notion that if I have nothing to hide I have nothing to fear is completely falsified when my name is put on a list about which I know nothing.”

Take this blog, for example.  Its purpose is to share news and questions about how science is done, and what impacts it has on nature and humanity.  But what’s to stop Google from deciding that a blog critical of Google should be shut down?

There are alternatives to the giant trawler called Google.  None of them is 100% secure, but at least some browsers are less inclined to sell us all to the highest bidder.  One example: DuckDuckGo.  And others.

So who cares, some say.

David Lyon again:  “Indifference is appropriate only for those who think that efficiency, convenience and speed qualify as values to be placed over openness, fairness, and the accountability of those whose task it is to process personal data.”

Join David Lyon in tracking the trackers.  Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, coming September 4, 2014 from Between the Lines.


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1984 + 30

“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control.”  – William Binney, July 5, at a conference in London, England, organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism.

big brother, watchingImage: Reality Uncovered

Binney, one of the highest-level whistleblowers to escape the US National Security Agency, was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Soon after September 11, 2001, he resigned in protest against Washington’s embrace of mass surveillance.

“At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney told the conference. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in.”

All communication.  That means you and me.  Right now.

Details in The Guardian, UK, via Reader Supported News, here.

1984 + 30, and counting…

Surveil the surveillers in Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, due September 2014 from Between the Lines.


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Friending Big Brother: Facebook & Drones

Mark Zuckerberg wants everyone to friend Facebook.  And the billionaire CEO of Facebook does mean everyone.

Recently he announced a grand new plan : internet.org, a consortium of corporations and government agencies that will harness an array of drones, satellites and other technologies to wrap the entire world in a vast global WiFi.

NSA & FacebookThe primary government partner? None other than the US National Security Agency.

This is beyond sinister, says writer/internet activist/organizer Alfredo Lopez.  “The NSA spies on everyone it can.  It collects all the data it can.  It has shown no respect for people’s rights or for constitutional restrictions.  It is a criminal organization and, under this plan, it would control Internet access for large parts of the world.”

So much easier than the cumbersome business of Facebook handing over our data to the NSA. Via internet.org they can both vacuum it up at the same time.

And note that drones, which already serve as Big Brother’s remote-control weapon of mass destruction, will be among the primary vehicles.

More depth and scary details here.

Follow the ever-deepening surveillance story in Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, coming from Between the Lines, autumn 2014.


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“Is the Internet good or bad? Yes.”

So says Turkish social media analyst Zeynep Tufekci in the online magazine Matter.

Riot Police Enter Taksim Square in Istanbul, clashesPhoto: Nurphoto

“It’s time to rethink our nightmares about surveillance.”

Writing from Istanbul’s huge Gezi Park protests, and from his investigations in social media, Tufekci looks provocatively at the paradox of Twitter as a medium for connection and resistance, but also a powerful tool for state-corporate surveillance and control.

A good read, with stunning black & white images, here: https://medium.com/matter/76d9913c6011.

More on surveillance and social media in Pesky Facts: unspun science for dangerous times, coming from Between the Lines, autumn 2014.