Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.
The tag 'data privacy' is associated with 15 posts.

FTR #1077 Surveillance Valley, Part 3: Cambridge Analytica, Democracy and Counterinsurgency

Con­tin­u­ing the dis­cus­sion from FTR #1076, the broad­cast recaps key aspects of analy­sis of the Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca scan­dal.

In our last pro­gram, we not­ed that both the inter­net (DARPA projects includ­ing Project Agile) and the Ger­man Nazi Par­ty had their ori­gins as coun­terin­sur­gency gam­bits. Not­ing Hitler’s speech before The Indus­try Club of Dus­sel­dorf, in which he equat­ed com­mu­nism with democ­ra­cy, we high­light how the Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca scan­dal reflects the coun­terin­sur­gency ori­gins of the Inter­net, and how the Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca affair embod­ies anti-Democ­ra­cy/as coun­terin­sur­gency.

Key aspects of the Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca affair include:

1.–The use of psy­cho­graph­ic per­son­al­i­ty test­ing on Face­book that is used for polit­i­cal advan­tage: ” . . . . For sev­er­al years, a data firm even­tu­al­ly hired by the Trump cam­paign, Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, has been using Face­book as a tool to build psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­files that rep­re­sent some 230 mil­lion adult Amer­i­cans. A spin­off of a British con­sult­ing com­pa­ny and some­time-defense con­trac­tor known for its coun­tert­er­ror­ism ‘psy ops’ work in Afghanistan, the firm does so by seed­ing the social net­work with per­son­al­i­ty quizzes. Respon­dents — by now hun­dreds of thou­sands of us, most­ly female and most­ly young but enough male and old­er for the firm to make infer­ences about oth­ers with sim­i­lar behav­iors and demo­graph­ics — get a free look at their Ocean scores. Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca also gets a look at their scores and, thanks to Face­book, gains access to their pro­files and real names. . . .”
2.–The par­ent com­pa­ny of Cam­bridge Analytica–SCL–was deeply involved with coun­tert­er­ror­ism “psy-ops” in Afghanistan, embody­ing the essence of the coun­terin­sur­gency dynam­ic at the root of the devel­op­ment of the Inter­net. The use of online data to sub­vert democ­ra­cy recalls Hitler’s speech to the Indus­try Club of Dus­sel­dorf, in which he equat­ed democ­ra­cy with com­mu­nism: ” . . . . Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca was a com­pa­ny spun out of SCL Group, a British mil­i­tary con­trac­tor that worked in infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions for armed forces around the world. It was con­duct­ing research on how to scale and digi­tise infor­ma­tion war­fare – the use of infor­ma­tion to con­fuse or degrade the effi­ca­cy of an ene­my. . . . As direc­tor of research, Wylie’s orig­i­nal role was to map out how the com­pa­ny would take tra­di­tion­al infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions tac­tics into the online space – in par­tic­u­lar, by pro­fil­ing peo­ple who would be sus­cep­ti­ble to cer­tain mes­sag­ing. This mor­phed into the polit­i­cal are­na. After Wylie left, the com­pa­ny worked on Don­ald Trump’s US pres­i­den­tial cam­paign . . . .”
3.–Cambridge Ana­lyt­i­ca whistle­blow­er Christo­pher Wylie’s obser­va­tions on the anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic nature of the fir­m’s work: ” . . . . It was this shift from the bat­tle­field to pol­i­tics that made Wylie uncom­fort­able. ‘When you are work­ing in infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions projects, where your tar­get is a com­bat­ant, the auton­o­my or agency of your tar­gets is not your pri­ma­ry con­sid­er­a­tion. It is fair game to deny and manip­u­late infor­ma­tion, coerce and exploit any men­tal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties a per­son has, and to bring out the very worst char­ac­ter­is­tics in that per­son because they are an ene­my,’ he says. ‘But if you port that over to a demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem, if you run cam­paigns designed to under­mine people’s abil­i­ty to make free choic­es and to under­stand what is real and not real, you are under­min­ing democ­ra­cy and treat­ing vot­ers in the same way as you are treat­ing ter­ror­ists.’ . . . .”
4.–Wylie’s obser­va­tions on how Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca’s method­ol­o­gy can be used to build a fas­cist polit­i­cal move­ment: ” . . . . One of the rea­sons these tech­niques are so insid­i­ous is that being a tar­get of a dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign is ‘usu­al­ly a plea­sur­able expe­ri­ence’, because you are being fed con­tent with which you are like­ly to agree. ‘You are being guid­ed through some­thing that you want to be true,’ Wylie says. To build an insur­gency, he explains, you first tar­get peo­ple who are more prone to hav­ing errat­ic traits, para­noia or con­spir­a­to­r­i­al think­ing, and get them to ‘like’ a group on social media. They start engag­ing with the con­tent, which may or may not be true; either way ‘it feels good to see that infor­ma­tion’. When the group reach­es 1,000 or 2,000 mem­bers, an event is set up in the local area. Even if only 5% show up, ‘that’s 50 to 100 peo­ple flood­ing a local cof­fee shop’, Wylie says. This, he adds, val­i­dates their opin­ion because oth­er peo­ple there are also talk­ing about ‘all these things that you’ve been see­ing online in the depths of your den and get­ting angry about’. Peo­ple then start to believe the rea­son it’s not shown on main­stream news chan­nels is because ‘they don’t want you to know what the truth is’. As Wylie sums it up: ‘What start­ed out as a fan­ta­sy online gets port­ed into the tem­po­ral world and becomes real to you because you see all these peo­ple around you.’ . . . .”
5.–Wylie’s obser­va­tion that Face­book was “All In” on the Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca machi­na­tions: ” . . . . ‘Face­book has known about what Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca was up to from the very begin­ning of those projects,” Wylie claims. “They were noti­fied, they autho­rised the appli­ca­tions, they were giv­en the terms and con­di­tions of the app that said explic­it­ly what it was doing. They hired peo­ple who worked on build­ing the app. I had legal cor­re­spon­dence with their lawyers where they acknowl­edged it hap­pened as far back as 2016.’ . . . .”
6.–The deci­sive par­tic­i­pa­tion of “Spy Tech” firm Palan­tir in the Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca oper­a­tion: Peter Thiel’s sur­veil­lance firm Palan­tir was appar­ent­ly deeply involved with Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca’s gam­ing of per­son­al data har­vest­ed from Face­book in order to engi­neer an elec­toral vic­to­ry for Trump. Thiel was an ear­ly investor in Face­book, at one point was its largest share­hold­er and is still one of its largest share­hold­ers. In addi­tion to his oppo­si­tion to democ­ra­cy because it alleged­ly is inim­i­cal to wealth cre­ation, Thiel does­n’t think women should be allowed to vote and holds Nazi legal the­o­reti­cian Carl Schmitt in high regard. ” . . . . It was a Palan­tir employ­ee in Lon­don, work­ing close­ly with the data sci­en­tists build­ing Cambridge’s psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­fil­ing tech­nol­o­gy, who sug­gest­ed the sci­en­tists cre­ate their own app — a mobile-phone-based per­son­al­i­ty quiz — to gain access to Face­book users’ friend net­works, accord­ing to doc­u­ments obtained by The New York Times. The rev­e­la­tions pulled Palan­tir — co-found­ed by the wealthy lib­er­tar­i­an Peter Thiel — into the furor sur­round­ing Cam­bridge, which improp­er­ly obtained Face­book data to build ana­lyt­i­cal tools it deployed on behalf of Don­ald J. Trump and oth­er Repub­li­can can­di­dates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a sup­port­er of Pres­i­dent Trump, serves on the board at Face­book. ‘There were senior Palan­tir employ­ees that were also work­ing on the Face­book data,’ said Christo­pher Wylie, a data expert and Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca co-founder, in tes­ti­mo­ny before British law­mak­ers on Tues­day. . . . The con­nec­tions between Palan­tir and Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca were thrust into the spot­light by Mr. Wylie’s tes­ti­mo­ny on Tues­day. Both com­pa­nies are linked to tech-dri­ven bil­lion­aires who backed Mr. Trump’s cam­paign: Cam­bridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mer­cer, the com­put­er sci­en­tist and hedge fund mag­nate, while Palan­tir was co-found­ed in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an ini­tial investor in Face­book. . . .”
7.–The use of “dark posts” by the Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca team. (We have not­ed that Brad Parscale has reassem­bled the old Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca team for Trump’s 2020 elec­tion cam­paign. It seems prob­a­ble that AOC’s mil­lions of online fol­low­ers, as well as the “Bernie Bots,” will be get­ting “dark posts” craft­ed by AI’s scan­ning their online efforts.) ” . . . . One recent adver­tis­ing prod­uct on Face­book is the so-called ‘dark post’: A news­feed mes­sage seen by no one aside from the users being tar­get­ed. With the help of Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, Mr. Trump’s dig­i­tal team used dark posts to serve dif­fer­ent ads to dif­fer­ent poten­tial vot­ers, aim­ing to push the exact right but­tons for the exact right peo­ple at the exact right times. . . .”

Sup­ple­ment­ing the dis­cus­sion about Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, the pro­gram reviews infor­ma­tion from FTR #718 about Face­book’s appar­ent involve­ment with ele­ments and indi­vid­u­als linked to CIA and DARPA: ” . . . . Face­book’s most recent round of fund­ing was led by a com­pa­ny called Grey­lock Ven­ture Cap­i­tal, who put in the sum of $27.5m. One of Grey­lock­’s senior part­ners is called Howard Cox, anoth­er for­mer chair­man of the NVCA, who is also on the board of In-Q-Tel. What’s In-Q-Tel? Well, believe it or not (and check out their web­site), this is the ven­ture-cap­i­tal wing of the CIA. After 9/11, the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty became so excit­ed by the pos­si­bil­i­ties of new tech­nol­o­gy and the inno­va­tions being made in the pri­vate sec­tor, that in 1999 they set up their own ven­ture cap­i­tal fund, In-Q-Tel, which ‘iden­ti­fies and part­ners with com­pa­nies devel­op­ing cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies to help deliv­er these solu­tions to the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency and the broad­er US Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ty (IC) to fur­ther their mis­sions’. . . .”

More about the CIA/DARPA links to the devel­op­ment of Face­book: ” . . . . The sec­ond round of fund­ing into Face­book ($US12.7 mil­lion) came from ven­ture cap­i­tal firm Accel Part­ners. Its man­ag­er James Brey­er was for­mer­ly chair­man of the Nation­al Ven­ture Cap­i­tal Asso­ci­a­tion, and served on the board with Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel, a ven­ture cap­i­tal firm estab­lished by the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency in 1999. One of the com­pa­ny’s key areas of exper­tise are in ‘data min­ing tech­nolo­gies’. Brey­er also served on the board of R&D firm BBN Tech­nolo­gies, which was one of those com­pa­nies respon­si­ble for the rise of the inter­net. Dr Ani­ta Jones joined the firm, which includ­ed Gilman Louie. She had also served on the In-Q-Tel’s board, and had been direc­tor of Defence Research and Engi­neer­ing for the US Depart­ment of Defence. She was also an advis­er to the Sec­re­tary of Defence and over­see­ing the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is respon­si­ble for high-tech, high-end devel­op­ment. . . .”

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Review of Face­book’s plans to use brain-to-com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy to oper­ate its plat­form, there­by the enabling of record­ing and data­bas­ing peo­ple’s thoughts; Review of Face­book’s employ­ment of for­mer DARPA head Regi­na Dugan to imple­ment the brain-to-com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy; Review of Face­book’s build­ing 8–designed to dupli­cate DARPA; Review of Face­book’s hir­ing of the Atlantic Coun­cil to police the social medi­um’s online con­tent; Review of Face­book’s part­ner­ing with Naren­dra Mod­i’s Hin­dut­va fas­cist gov­ern­ment in India; Review of Face­book’s emloy­ment of Ukrain­ian fas­cist Katery­na Kruk to man­age the social medi­um’s Ukrain­ian con­tent.


FTR #1076 Surveillance Valley, Part 2: Mauthausen on Our Mind

The pro­gram begins with recap of the adap­ta­tion of IBM’s Hol­lerith machines to Nazi data com­pi­la­tion. (We con­clud­ed FTR #1075 with dis­cus­sion of this.): ” . . . . Germany’s vast state bureau­cra­cy and its mil­i­tary and rear­ma­ment pro­grams, includ­ing the country’s grow­ing con­cen­tra­tion camp/slave labor sys­tem, also required data pro­cess­ing ser­vices. By the time the U.S. offi­cial­ly entered the war in 1941, IBM’s Ger­man sub­sidiary had grown to employ 10,000 peo­ple and served 300 dif­fer­ent Ger­man gov­ern­ment agen­cies. The Nazi Par­ty Trea­sury; the SS; the War Min­istry; the Reichs­bank; the Reich­spost; the Arma­ments Min­istry; the Navy, Army and Air Force; and the Reich Sta­tis­ti­cal Office — the list of IBM’s clients went on and on.

” ‘Indeed, the Third Reich would open star­tling sta­tis­ti­cal venues for Hol­lerith machines nev­er before insti­tut­ed — per­haps nev­er before even imag­ined,’ wrote Edwin Black in IBM and the Holo­caust, his pio­neer­ing 2001 exposé of the for­got­ten busi­ness ties between IBM and Nazi Ger­many. ‘In Hitler’s Ger­many, the sta­tis­ti­cal and cen­sus com­mu­ni­ty, over­run with doc­tri­naire Nazis, pub­licly boast­ed about the new demo­graph­ic break­throughs their equip­ment would achieve.’ . . . .

“Demand for Hol­lerith tab­u­la­tors was so robust that IBM was forced to open a new fac­to­ry in Berlin to crank out all the new machines. At the facility’s chris­ten­ing cer­e­mo­ny, which was attend­ed by a top U.S. IBM exec­u­tive and the elite of the Nazi Par­ty, the head of IBM’s Ger­man sub­sidiary gave a rous­ing speech about the impor­tant role that Hol­lerith tab­u­la­tors played in Hitler’s dri­ve to puri­fy Ger­many and cleanse it of infe­ri­or racial stock. . . .”

In that same arti­cle, Yasha Levine notes that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s pro­posed changes in the 2020 cen­sus sound as though they may por­tend some­thing akin to the Nazi cen­sus of 1933: ” . . . . Based on a close read­ing of inter­nal Depart­ment of Com­merce doc­u­ments tied to the cen­sus cit­i­zen ques­tion pro­pos­al, it appears the Trump admin­is­tra­tion wants to use the cen­sus to con­struct a first-of-its-kind cit­i­zen­ship reg­istry for the entire U.S. pop­u­la­tion — a deci­sion that arguably exceeds the legal author­i­ty of the cen­sus. ‘It was deep in the doc­u­men­ta­tion that was released,’ Robert Groves, a for­mer Cen­sus Bureau direc­tor who head­ed the Nation­al Acad­e­mies com­mit­tee con­vened to inves­ti­gate the 2020 cen­sus, told me by tele­phone. ‘No one picked up on it much. But the term ‘reg­istry’ in our world means not a col­lec­tion of data for sta­tis­ti­cal pur­pos­es but rather to know the iden­ti­ty of par­tic­u­lar peo­ple in order to use that knowl­edge to affect their lives.’ Giv­en the administration’s pos­ture toward immi­gra­tion, the fact that it wants to build a com­pre­hen­sive cit­i­zen­ship data­base is high­ly con­cern­ing. To Groves, it clear­ly sig­nals ‘a bright line being crossed.’ . . .”

In the con­clu­sion to Sur­veil­lance Val­ley, Yasha Levine notes how IBM com­put­ing tech­nol­o­gy facil­i­tat­ed the Nazi slave labor oper­a­tions through­out the Third Reich. The epi­cen­ter of this was Mau­thausen.

The sys­tem­at­ic use of slave labor was cen­tral to Nazi Ger­many’s indus­tri­al infra­struc­ture: ” . . . . But in the 1930s, Mau­thausen had been a vital eco­nom­ic engine of Hitler’s geno­ci­dal plan to remake Europe and the Sovi­et Union into his own back­yard utopia. It start­ed out as a gran­ite quar­ry but quick­ly grew into the largest slave labor com­plex in Nazi Ger­many, with fifty sub-camps that spanned most of mod­ern-day Aus­tria. Here, hun­dreds of thou­sands of prisoners–mostly Euro­pean Jews but also Roma, Spaniards, Rus­sians, Serbs, Slovenes, Ger­mans, Bul­gar­i­ans, even Cubans–were worked to death. They refined oil, built fight­er air­craft, assem­bled can­nons, devel­oped rock­et tech­nol­o­gy, and were leased out to pri­vate Ger­man busi­ness­es. Volk­swa­gen, Siemens, Daim­ler-Benz, BMW, Bosch–all ben­e­fit­ed from the camp’s slave labor pool. Mau­thausen, the admin­is­tra­tive nerve cen­ter, was cen­tral­ly direct­ed from Berlin using the lat­est in ear­ly com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy: IBM punch card tab­u­la­tors. . . .”

Mau­thausen’s IBM machines were, in turn, cen­tral to Ger­man indus­try’s use of slave labor: ” . . . . the camp had sev­er­al IBM machines work­ing over­time to han­dle the big churn of inmates and to make sure there were always enough bod­ies to per­form the nec­es­sary work. These machines didn’t oper­ate in iso­la­tion but were part of a larg­er slave labor con­trol-and-account­ing sys­tem that stretched across Nazi-occu­pied Europe con­nect­ing Berlin to every major con­cen­tra­tion and labor punch card, tele­graph, tele­phone, and human couri­er. This wasn’t the auto­mat­ed type of com­put­er net­work sys­tem that the Pen­ta­gon would begin to build in the Unit­ed States just a decade lat­er, but it was an infor­ma­tion net­work nonethe­less: an electro­mechan­i­cal web that fueled and sus­tained Nazi Germany’s war machine with blaz­ing effi­cien­cy. It extend­ed beyond the labor camps and reached into the cities and towns, crunch­ing moun­tains of genealog­i­cal data to track down peo­ple with even the barest whiff of Jew­ish blood or per­ceived racial impu­ri­ty in a mad rush to ful­fill Adolf Hitler’s dri­ve to puri­fy the Ger­man peo­ple, but they made the Nazi death machine run faster and more effi­cient­ly, scour­ing the pop­u­la­tion and track­ing down vic­tims in ways that would nev­er have been pos­si­ble with­out them. . . .”

In his book–one of the most impor­tant in recent memory–Yasha Levine sets forth vital, rev­e­la­to­ry infor­ma­tion about the devel­op­ment and func­tion­ing of the Inter­net.

Born of the same over­lap­ping DARPA projects that spawned Agent Orange, the Inter­net was nev­er intend­ed to be some­thing good. Its gen­er­a­tive func­tion and pur­pose is counter-insur­gency. ” . . . . In the 1960s, Amer­i­ca was a glob­al pow­er over­see­ing an increas­ing­ly volatile world: con­flicts and region­al insur­gen­cies against US-allied gov­ern­ments from South Amer­i­ca to South­east Asia and the Mid­dle East. These were not tra­di­tion­al wars that involved big armies but gueril­la cam­paigns and local rebel­lions, fre­quent­ly fought in regions where Amer­i­cans had lit­tle pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence. Who were these peo­ple? Why were they rebelling? What could be done to stop them? In mil­i­tary cir­cles, it was believed that these ques­tions were of vital impor­tance to Amer­i­ca’s paci­fi­ca­tion efforts, and some argued that the only effec­tive way to answer them was to devel­op and lever­age com­put­er-aid­ed infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy. The Inter­net came out of this effort: an attempt to build com­put­er sys­tems that could col­lect and share intel­li­gence, watch the world in real time, and study and ana­lyze peo­ple and polit­i­cal move­ments with the ulti­mate goal of pre­dict­ing and pre­vent­ing social upheaval. . . .”

In this land­mark vol­ume, Levine makes numer­ous points, includ­ing:

1.–The har­vest­ing of data by intel­li­gence ser­vices is PRECISELY what the Inter­net was designed to do in the first place.
2.–The har­vest­ing of data engaged in by the major tech cor­po­ra­tions is an exten­sion of the data gathering/surveillance that was–and is–the rai­son d’e­tre for the Inter­net in the first place.
3.–The big tech com­pa­nies all col­lab­o­rate with the var­i­ous intel­li­gence agen­cies they pub­licly scorn and seek to osten­si­bly dis­tance them­selves from.
4.–Edward Snow­den, the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion, Jacob Appel­baum, the milieu of the Tor Net­work and Wik­iLeaks are com­plic­it in the data har­vest­ing and sur­veil­lance.
5.–Snowden and oth­er pri­va­cy activists are dou­ble agents, con­scious­ly chan­nel­ing peo­ple fear­ful of hav­ing their com­mu­ni­ca­tions mon­i­tored into tech­nolo­gies that will facil­i­tate that sur­veil­lance!

The pro­gram notes that counterinsurgency–the func­tion­al con­text of the ori­gin of the Internet–is at the foun­da­tion of the gen­e­sis of Nazism. At the con­clu­sion of World War I, Ger­many was beset by a series of socialist/Communist upris­ings in a num­ber of cities, includ­ing Munich. Respond­ing to that, under­ground Reich­swehr units com­mand­ed by Ernst Rohm (lat­er head of the SA) sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly assas­si­nat­ed the lead­ers of the rev­o­lu­tion, as well as promi­nent social democ­rats and Jews, such as Walther Rathenau. In Munich, an under­cov­er agent for the polit­i­cal depart­ment of the Reich­swehr under Gen­er­al Von Los­sow infil­trat­ed the rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies, pre­tend­ing to be one of them.

Fol­low­ing the crush­ing of the rebel­lion and occu­pa­tion of the city by Reich­swehr units, that infil­tra­tor iden­ti­fied the lead­ers of the rev­o­lu­tion, who were then sum­mar­i­ly exe­cut­ed. The infil­tra­tor’s name was Adolf Hitler.

After the sup­pres­sion of the rebel­lion, Hitler, Rohm and under­cov­er Reich­swehr agents infil­trat­ed a mori­bund polit­i­cal par­ty and turned it into an intel­li­gence front for the intro­duc­tion of the sup­pos­ed­ly de-mobi­lized Ger­man Army into Ger­man soci­ety for the pur­pose of gen­er­at­ing polit­i­cal reac­tion. That front was the Ger­man Nation­al Social Work­ers Par­ty.

The broad­cast re-capit­u­lates (from part of Mis­cel­la­neous Archive Show M11) Hitler’s speech to the Indus­try Club of Dus­sel­dorf. This speech, which won the Ger­man indus­tri­al and finan­cial elite over to the cause of the Nazi Par­ty, equat­ed democ­ra­cy with Com­mu­nism.

Man­i­fest­ing a Social Dar­win­ist per­spec­tive, Hitler opined that the [assem­bled] suc­cess­ful, accom­plished were, by def­i­n­i­tion supe­ri­or to oth­ers. If those, by def­i­n­i­tion, infe­ri­or peo­ple were allowed to con­trol the polit­i­cal process, they would struc­ture the social and eco­nom­ic land­scape to their own ben­e­fit.

This, accord­ing to Hitler, would be counter-evo­lu­tion­ary.


FTR #1075 Surveillance Valley, Part 1: Eugenics, Racism and High Tech

Begin­ning a crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant series on a vital­ly impor­tant book titled Sur­veil­lance Val­ley: The Secret Mil­i­tary His­to­ry of the Inter­net, this pro­gram explores the gen­e­sis of high tech and data pro­cess­ing, an ori­gin that is inex­tri­ca­bly linked with eugen­ics, anti-immi­grant doc­trine and–as is char­ac­ter­is­tic of fas­cism, the fear of the ubiq­ui­tous, malev­o­lent “oth­er.”

High­lights of dis­cus­sion and analy­sis include:

1.–The gen­e­sis of high tech was Her­man Hol­lerith’s tab­u­lat­ing machine. ” . . . . A few years ear­li­er, work­ing for the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau, Hol­lerith had devel­oped the world’s first func­tion­al mass-pro­duced com­put­er: the Hol­lerith tab­u­la­tor. An electro­mechan­i­cal device about the size of large desk and dress­er, it used punch cards and a clever arrange­ment of gears, sorters, elec­tri­cal con­tacts, and dials to process data with blaz­ing speed and accu­ra­cy. What had tak­en years by hand could be done in a mat­ter of months. As one U.S. news­pa­per described it, ‘with [the device’s] aid some 15 young ladies can count accu­rate­ly half a mil­lion of names in a day.’ . . .’
2.–Hollerith’s machine found its (arguably) great­est appli­ca­tion with the com­pi­la­tion of the cen­sus and the appli­ca­tion of the pseu­do-sci­ence of eugen­ics to it: ” . . . . Grasp­ing about for solu­tions, many set­tled on var­i­ous strains of race sci­ence quack­ery. So-called social Dar­win­ists relied on a twist­ed ver­sion of the the­o­ry of evo­lu­tion to explain why the poor and mar­gin­al­ized should remain that way while the wealthy and suc­cess­ful deserved to rule unchal­lenged. Tak­ing this notion a step fur­ther, adher­ents of eugen­ics fer­vent­ly believed that nat­u­ral­ly supe­ri­or Anglo-Amer­i­cans were on the verge of being wiped out due to the high birth rates of ‘degen­er­ate’ and immi­grant stock. To head off this threat, they advo­cat­ed strict con­trols on repro­duc­tion — breed­ing humans for qual­i­ty in the same way that farm­ers did cows and hors­es. . . .”
3.–Hollerith’s machine was seen as the per­fect vehi­cle for real­iz­ing eugenic prac­tice through refin­ing the cen­sus: ” . . . . The cen­sus had been a racial instru­ment from its incep­tion, begin­ning with the orig­i­nal con­sti­tu­tion­al clause that instruct­ed cen­sus offi­cials to count black slaves sep­a­rate­ly from whites and to assign them a val­ue of only three-fifths of a per­son. With each decade, new ‘racial’ cat­e­gories were invent­ed and added to the mix: ‘free col­ored males and females’ and ‘mulat­to’ were count­ed, includ­ing sub­di­vi­sions like includ­ing ‘quadroon’ and ‘octoroon.’ Cat­e­gories for Chi­nese, ‘Hin­doo,’ and Japan­ese were added, as were ‘for­eign’ and ‘native born’ des­ig­na­tions for whites. The cen­sus slow­ly expand­ed to col­lect oth­er demo­graph­ic data, includ­ing lit­er­a­cy lev­els, unem­ploy­ment sta­tis­tics, and med­ical ail­ments, such as those who were ‘deaf, dumb, and blind’ and the ‘insane and idi­ot­ic.’ All of it was bro­ken down by race. . . .The cen­sus need­ed to improve dras­ti­cal­ly. What it need­ed was a tal­ent­ed inven­tor, some­one young and ambi­tious who would be able to come up with a method to auto­mate tab­u­la­tion and data analy­sis. Some­one like Her­man Hol­lerith. . . .”
4.–Hollerith’s technology–when applied to the cen­sus, antic­i­pat­ed the mass sur­veil­lance tech­nol­o­gy of the inter­net: ” . . . . Overnight, Hollerith’s tab­u­la­tor tech­nol­o­gy had trans­formed cen­sus tak­ing from a sim­ple head count into some­thing that looked very much like a crude form of mass sur­veil­lance. To the race-obsessed polit­i­cal class, it was a rev­o­lu­tion­ary devel­op­ment. They could final­ly put the nation’s eth­nic make­up under the micro­scope. The data seemed to con­firm the nativists’ worst fears: Poor, illit­er­ate immi­grants were swarm­ing America’s cities, breed­ing like rab­bits, and out­strip­ping native Anglo-Amer­i­can birth rates. Imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the cen­sus, the states and the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment passed a flur­ry of laws that heav­i­ly restrict­ed immi­gra­tion. . . .”
5.–As dis­cussed in FTR #279, IBM’s Hol­lerith machines (acquired when Thomas J. Wat­son bought out Hol­lerith) were fun­da­men­tal to the oper­a­tions of the Third Reich: ” . . . . ‘Indeed, the Third Reich would open star­tling sta­tis­ti­cal venues for Hol­lerith machines nev­er before insti­tut­ed — per­haps nev­er before even imag­ined,’ wrote Edwin Black in IBM and the Holo­caust, his pio­neer­ing 2001 exposé of the for­got­ten busi­ness ties between IBM and Nazi Ger­many. ‘In Hitler’s Ger­many, the sta­tis­ti­cal and cen­sus com­mu­ni­ty, over­run with doc­tri­naire Nazis, pub­licly boast­ed about the new demo­graph­ic break­throughs their equip­ment would achieve.’ . . . Demand for Hol­lerith tab­u­la­tors was so robust that IBM was forced to open a new fac­to­ry in Berlin to crank out all the new machines. At the facility’s chris­ten­ing cer­e­mo­ny, which was attend­ed by a top U.S. IBM exec­u­tive and the elite of the Nazi Par­ty, the head of IBM’s Ger­man sub­sidiary gave a rous­ing speech about the impor­tant role that Hol­lerith tab­u­la­tors played in Hitler’s dri­ve to puri­fy Ger­many and cleanse it of infe­ri­or racial stock. . . .”
6.–The Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s fram­ing of ques­tions for the 2020 cen­sus appear aimed at cre­at­ing a “nation­al registry”–a con­cept rem­i­nis­cent of the Third Reich’s use of IBM’s Hol­lerith-col­lect­ed data: ” . . . . Based on a close read­ing of inter­nal Depart­ment of Com­merce doc­u­ments tied to the cen­sus cit­i­zen ques­tion pro­pos­al, it appears the Trump admin­is­tra­tion wants to use the cen­sus to con­struct a first-of-its-kind cit­i­zen­ship reg­istry for the entire U.S. pop­u­la­tion — a deci­sion that arguably exceeds the legal author­i­ty of the cen­sus. ‘It was deep in the doc­u­men­ta­tion that was released,’ Robert Groves, a for­mer Cen­sus Bureau direc­tor who head­ed the Nation­al Acad­e­mies com­mit­tee con­vened to inves­ti­gate the 2020 cen­sus, told me by tele­phone. ‘No one picked up on it much. But the term ‘reg­istry’ in our world means not a col­lec­tion of data for sta­tis­ti­cal pur­pos­es but rather to know the iden­ti­ty of par­tic­u­lar peo­ple in order to use that knowl­edge to affect their lives.’ Giv­en the administration’s pos­ture toward immi­gra­tion, the fact that it wants to build a com­pre­hen­sive cit­i­zen­ship data­base is high­ly con­cern­ing. To Groves, it clear­ly sig­nals ‘a bright line being crossed.’ . . .”


Birds of a Feather: The So-Called Internet “Privacy Activists,” the Intelligence Services and Big Tech

Yasha Levine’s recent book “Sur­veil­lance Val­ley” is a MUST READ! Rel­a­tive­ly short and very much to the point, this volume–subtitled “The Secret Mil­i­tary His­to­ry of the Internet”–chronicles the fact that the Inter­net is a weapon, devel­oped as part of the same group of over­lap­ping DARPA/Pentagon projects as Agent Orange. In posts and pro­grams to come, we will more ful­ly devel­op the basic themes set forth in the excerpt recapped in this post: 1 )The Inter­net is a weapon, devel­oped for counter-insur­gency pur­pos­es. 2) Big Tech firms net­work with the very intel­li­gence ser­vices they pub­licly decry. 3) Big Tech firms that data mine their cus­tomers on a near­ly unimag­in­able scale do so as a direct, oper­a­tional exten­sion of the very sur­veil­lance func­tion upon which the Inter­net is pred­i­cat­ed. 4) The tech­nolo­gies tout­ed by the so-called “Pri­va­cy Activists” such as Edward Snow­den and Jacob Apple­baum were devel­oped by the very intel­li­gence ser­vices they are sup­posed to deflect. 5) The tech­nolo­gies tout­ed by the so-called “Pri­va­cy Activists” such as Edward Snow­den and Jacob Applebaum–such as the Tor Inter­net func­tion and the Sig­nal mobile phone app– are read­i­ly acces­si­ble to the very intel­li­gence ser­vices they are sup­posed to deflect. 6) The orga­ni­za­tions that pro­mote the alleged virtues of Snow­den, Apple­baum, Tor, Sig­nal et al are linked to the very intel­li­gence ser­vices they would have us believe they oppose. 7) Big Tech firms embrace “Inter­net Free­dom” as a dis­trac­tion from their own will­ful and all-embrac­ing data min­ing and their ongo­ing con­scious col­lab­o­ra­tion with the very intel­li­gence ser­vices they pub­licly decry.


Agent Orange and the Internet: The Spawn of Project Agile

In his book–one of the most impor­tant in recent memory–Yasha Levine sets forth vital, rev­e­la­to­ry infor­ma­tion about the devel­op­ment and func­tion­ing of the Inter­net. Born of the same DARPA project that spawned Agent Orange, the Inter­net was nev­er intend­ed to be some­thing good. Its gen­er­a­tive func­tion and pur­pose is counter-insur­gency. In this land­mark vol­ume, Levine makes numer­ous points, includ­ing: The har­vest­ing of data by intel­li­gence ser­vices is PRECISELY what the Inter­net was designed to do in the first place. The har­vest­ing of data engaged in by the major tech cor­po­ra­tions is an exten­sion of the data gathering/surveillance that was–and is–the rai­son d’e­tre for the Inter­net in the first place. The big tech com­pa­nies all col­lab­o­rate with the var­i­ous intel­li­gence agen­cies they pub­licly scorn and seek to osten­si­bly dis­tance them­selves from. Edward Snow­den, the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion, Jacob Appel­baum and Wik­iLeaks are com­plic­it in the data har­vest­ing and sur­veil­lance. Snow­den and oth­er pri­va­cy activists are dou­ble agents, con­scious­ly chan­nel­ing peo­ple fear­ful of hav­ing their com­mu­ni­ca­tions mon­i­tored into tech­nolo­gies that will facil­i­tate that sur­veil­lance!


FTR #890 Tracking from the Far Right: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

QUICK: Who said this?: “ ‘It seems like the [Unit­ed States Dol­lar] and [Great Britain’s Pound] are both like­ly to go the way of the zim­babwe dol­lar,’ he sug­gested in March 2009. ‘Espe­cially with that cock­bag Bernanke decid­ing to mag­i­cally print 1.2T more dol­lars.’ . . . Oba­ma was ‘plan­ning to deval­ue the cur­rency absolute­ly as fast as the­o­ret­i­cally pos­si­ble,’ he wrote. . . .” Ted Cruz? Don­ald Trump? Mar­co Rubio? Paul Ryan? Rand Paul? No, it is Edward Snow­den. Note how this jibes with Paul Krug­man’s descrip­tion of the GOP pri­ma­ry field: ” . . . . After all, Paul Ryan, the speak­er of the House, not only berat­ed Ben Bernanke, Ms. Yellen’s pre­de­ces­sor, for poli­cies that alleged­ly risked infla­tion (which nev­er mate­ri­al­ized), but he also dab­bled in con­spir­a­cy the­o­riz­ing, accus­ing Mr. Bernanke of act­ing to “bail out fis­cal pol­i­cy.” . . . But Wall Street isn’t the only source of malign pres­sure on the Fed, and in the actu­al­ly exist­ing U.S. polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, such a bill would essen­tial­ly empow­er the cranks — the gold-stan­dard-lov­ing, hyper­in­fla­tion-is-com­ing types who dom­i­nate the mod­ern G.O.P., and have spent the past five or six years try­ing to bul­ly mon­e­tary pol­i­cy mak­ers into ceas­ing and desist­ing from their efforts to pre­vent eco­nom­ic dis­as­ter.” This pro­gram high­lights the far-right, fascis­tic forces under­ly­ing Eddie the Friend­ly Spook. Much of the pro­gram con­sists of excerpts of past pro­grams, stretch­ing back to the late 1990’s. The elec­tron­ic “vac­u­um clean­er” approach of NSA and GCHQ has been on the pub­lic record for years. In the 1990’s NSA, GCHQ and the ECHELON/Five Eyes net­work came under joint assault by Ger­many and the Free Con­gress Foun­da­tion. The lat­ter is very close to Nazi alum­ni of the Third Reich, the OUN/B in par­tic­u­lar, and is an ele­ment deeply involved in pro­ject­ing the Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations back into the for­mer U.S.S.R. and East­ern Europe. GOP big­wig Grover Norquist has been a vocif­er­ous oppo­nent of NSA spy­ing, as well as shep­herd­ing Mus­lim Broth­er­hood-linked ele­ments in the Unit­ed States. Pro­gram High­lights Include: Mr. Emory’s first post on “L’Af­faire Snow­den,” in which he won­dered aloud what all the fuss was about, since this has been on the pub­lic record for years; review of the fact that oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries do the same thing as NSA/GCHQ; Review of Snow­den’s views on Social Secu­ri­ty: ” . . . Snow­den wrote that the elder­ly ‘wouldn’t be fuck­ing help­less if you weren’t send­ing them fuck­ing checks to sit on their ass and lay in hos­pi­tals all day.’ ”


FTR #851 Technocratic Fascism and Post-Reaganoid Political Dementia: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

Updat­ing “L’Af­faire Snow­den,” this pro­gram ana­lyzes the fun­da­men­tal political/ideological prin­ci­ples that unite Eddie the Friend­ly Spook (Snow­den) with the cor­po­rate enti­ties com­pris­ing “Big Tech.” Tak­ing advan­tage of the notion that “gov­ern­ment is bad, but cor­po­ra­tions are good” (“post-Reaganoid polit­i­cal demen­tia”), many of the indi­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies in the tech world are pur­su­ing and achiev­ing goals that are fun­da­men­tal­ly anti­thet­i­cal to demo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ples. Fun­da­men­tal to the dis­cus­sion is a bril­liant analy­sis by David Golum­bia in “Uncomputing.org” that dis­tills the essence of “tech­no­crat­ic fascism”–the polit­i­cal and social phi­los­o­phy that unites “coders”–Snowden, Assange and hack­ers of all stripes–with the cor­po­rate giants of Big Tech. Build­ing on a view­point sim­i­lar to that expressed in “The Decline of the West,” by Oswald Spen­gler (a text fun­da­men­tal to much of 20th cen­tu­ry fas­cism), they con­tend that soci­ety is bro­ken, the polit­i­cal process is bro­ken, and there­fore they have the right–expressed as “nat­ur­al law”–to do what­ev­er they think is best. Demo­c­ra­t­ic poli­ties are to have no say in their actions, regard­less of the poten­tial con­se­quences for the mem­bers of those poli­ties. They do not feel that they need “the con­sent of the gov­erned.” Pro­gram high­lights include: the pres­ence at the exclu­sive elite gath­er­ing of the Bilder­berg­ers of key Sil­i­con Val­ley techies includ­ing Peter Thiel and Alex Karp of Palan­thir; review of the rela­tion­ship between Ron Paul–Snowden’s polit­i­cal idol–and Thiel; the pres­ence of Third Reich alum­ni in the Bilder­berg­er gath­er­ings; the anti-labor prac­tices of Big Tech; the role of Big Tech in financ­ing extreme right can­di­dates like Ted Cruz; the dri­ve by the Indi­an gov­ern­ment of Naren­dra Modi (whose elec­tion was aid­ed by EBay’s Pierre Omid­yar) to under­mine Indi­a’s laws against child labor, a syn­op­tic overview of the key ele­ments of our analy­sis of The Adven­tures of Eddie the Friend­ly Spook.


Update on Eddie the Friendly Spook’s Economic Warfare against the U.S.

Snowden–whom we think is being direct­ed by BND (as well as by an ele­ment of CIA)–engaged in his “op” in order to jus­ti­fy a pre-arranged eco­nom­ic offen­sive against the Amer­i­can IT sec­tor. As we not­ed in our series on Eddie the Friend­ly Spook, the Snow­den “op” is an act of eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal war­fare against the Unit­ed States. Now, we note an arti­cle that chron­i­cles seri­ous dam­age to the U.S. high-tech econ­o­my as a result of Snow­den’s “op.”


Update on The Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

Updat­ing our long, detailed dis­cus­sion of The Adven­tures of Eddie the Friend­ly Spook [Snow­den] aka “The Peach Fuzz Fas­cist”, we note a num­ber of things, includ­ing: more infor­ma­tion that Snow­den’s so-called “dis­clo­sures” were actu­al­ly intend­ed to jus­ti­fy a pre-arranged Ger­man, EU and Brazil­ian IT eco­nom­ic war­fare offen­sive against the Unit­ed States; Snow­den’s con­sum­mate hypocrisy in dis­clos­ing infor­ma­tion to Nazi fel­low-trav­el­ers Glenn Green­wald and Julian Assange that nei­ther should pos­sess; Green­wald’s flack­ing for the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood; Ger­man pro­tege and Lux­em­bourg EU Com­mis­sion­er Viviane Red­ing’s cham­pi­oning of an EU intel­li­gence agency designed to do exact­ly what the hyp­o­crit­i­cal EU com­plains about when done by the NSA and GCHQ; the recent (declined) offer of inclu­sion of Ger­many into the Five Eyes Club; Palan­tir’s role in spy­ing on Face­book users for the mil­i­tary.


Edward Snowden, Unplugged: The Elderly “Wouldn’t be Fucking Helpless If You Weren’t Sending Them Fucking Checks to Sit on their Ass and Lay in Hospitals all Day”

Excerpt­ing some of Snow­den’s 2009 online musings–crafted dur­ing the same time peri­od in which he decid­ed to leak NSA documents–gives us insight into his true nature. We’ve men­tioned Snow­den’s embrace of the gold stan­dard, belief that we should elim­i­nate Social Secu­ri­ty and deep affin­i­ty for Ron Paul. Per­haps exam­in­ing his actu­al pro­nounce­ments will prove edu­ca­tion­al. Snow­den [at right] is a nasty lit­tle fas­cist. Peo­ple should care­ful­ly con­sid­er the rest of his behav­ior in the con­text of his ide­o­log­i­cal state­ments.