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. 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 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.)
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.”
“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.
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.
Remote-controlled drones are used for aerial surveillance and assassination of designated enemies. Until recently most of the targets have been at a safe remove, over there where other people live. Now drones operate over the United States, and they will soon be flying over our heads in Canada.
Dazzling leaps in science and technology tend to obscure uncomfortable questions about control and consequence. David Lyon has built a career on asking such questions. I met Professor Lyon, an international authority on surveillance and identification systems, at his office in Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. With quiet intensity he detailed what he sees and thinks, and what questions arise. For example:
“Several companies are setting up just now to manufacture drones in Canada – clearly they believe they can corner some part of this expanding market. Primarily they would produce surveillance drones, but even those raise significant questions. If you look at their marketing materials, they want to provide drones for private security companies to scan public events – sporting events, political demonstrations, picket lines, that sort of thing. These drones would operate in conjunction with facial recognition technology, generating very precise high-resolution images. This raises deeply important moral and ethical questions – or at least it ought to – for example about the kinds of things this technology allows us to do from a great distance, remotely, with impunity.* How do such vital questions go missing so easily? How have we managed to create a world like this?”
* Dreams in Infrared: The Woes of an American Drone Operator. Spiegel Online International, 12/14/2012.