Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.
The tag 'internet' is associated with 3 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.


Too Much of a Good Thing? The New EU Data Privacy Rules Have a Transparency Problem

There are some big changes headed towards the internet but we don’t know what they are yet. And that probably won’t change any time soon. It’s a problem.