Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.
The tag 'Google' is associated with 9 posts.

YouTube Fascism in Brazil

In recent pro­grams, we have exam­ined the pro­found role of online tech­nol­o­gy in the pro­mo­tion of fas­cism, as well as over­lap­ping areas of intel­li­gence activ­i­ty. In that con­text, it is vital to remem­ber that the Inter­net was devel­oped as a weapon, with the focus of the tech­nol­o­gy being coun­terin­sur­gency. In Brazil, the rise of Jair Bol­sonaro’s fas­cist gov­ern­ment received deci­sive momen­tum from YouTube, which is trans­form­ing the polit­i­cal land­scape in Brazil, as it is in this coun­try.


FTR #1081 Surveillance Valley, Part 7: Yasha Levine Gets the Jim Garrison/Gary Webb Treatment

We empha­size the treat­ment afford­ed Yasha Levine. As might be expect­ed, Levine received the Jim Garrison/Gary Webb treat­ment. The ret­ri­bu­tion direct­ed at Yasha Levine epit­o­mizes why Mr. Emory refers to the so-called pro­gres­sive sec­tor as “so-called.”

” . . . . The threats and attacks had begun some­time overnight while I slept. By morn­ing, they had reached a vicious and mur­der­ous pitch. There were calls for my death—by fire, by suf­fo­ca­tion, by hav­ing my throat slit by razor blades. Peo­ple I had nev­er met called me a rapist, and alleged that I took delight in beat­ing women and forc­ing peo­ple to have sex with me. I was accused of homo­pho­bia. Anony­mous peo­ple filed bogus claims with my edi­tor. Alle­ga­tions that I was a CIA agent poured in, as did claims that I worked with British intel­li­gence. The fact that I had been born in the Sovi­et Union did­n’t do me any favors; nat­u­ral­ly, I was accused of being an FSB spy and of work­ing for Rus­si­a’s suc­ces­sor to the KGB. I was informed that my name was added to a dark net assas­si­na­tion list—a site where peo­ple could place anony­mous bids for my mur­der. The roam­ing eye of the Inter­net hate machine had sud­den­ly fixed on me. . . .”

In addi­tion to online bul­ly­ing, slan­der and veiled and direct threats, the so-called “pri­va­cy activists” joined in pil­lo­ry­ing Yasha Levine: ” . . . . Mic­ah Lee, the for­mer EFF tech­nol­o­gist who helped Edward Snow­den com­mu­ni­cate secure­ly with jour­nal­ists and who now works at The Inter­cept, attacked me as a con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist and accused me and my col­leagues at Pan­do of being sex­ist bul­lies, he claimed that my report­ing was moti­vat­ed not by a desire to get at the truth but by a mali­cious impulse to harass a female Tor devel­op­er. Although Lee con­ced­ed that my infor­ma­tion about Tor’s gov­ern­ment fund­ing was cor­rect, he counter intu­itive­ly argued that it did­n’t mat­ter. . . .

” . . . . Jour­nal­ists, experts, and tech­nol­o­gists from groups like the ACLU, the EFF, Free­dom of the Press Foun­da­tion and The Inter­cept and employ­ees of the Tor Project joined in to attack my report­ing. Unlike Lee, most did not attempt to engage my report­ing but employed a range of famil­iar PR smear tactics—tactics you usu­al­ly see used by cor­po­rate flacks, not prin­ci­pled pri­va­cy activists. They took to social media, telling any­one who showed inter­est in my arti­cles that they should ignore them instead. Then, when that did­n’t work, they tried to dis­cred­it my report­ing with ridicule, mis­di­rec­tion, and crude insults. . . .

” . . . . A respect­ed ACLU pri­va­cy expert, who now works as a con­gres­sion­al staffer, called me “a con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist  who sees black heli­copters every­where” and com­pared my report­ing about Tor to the Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion. As some­one who escaped state-spon­sored anti-Semi­tism in the Sovi­et Union, I found the com­par­i­son extreme­ly offen­sive, espe­cial­ly com­ing from the ACLU. The Pro­to­cols were an anti-Semit­ic forgery dis­sem­i­nat­ed by the Russ­ian Tsar’s secret police that unleashed waves of dead­ly pogroms against Jews across the Russ­ian Empire in the ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. Tor employ­ees put forth a tor­rent of child­ish insults, call­ing me a ‘dumb Stal­in­ist state-felch­er’ and a ‘fuck­tard’s fuck­tard.’ They accused me of being fund­ed by spies to under­mine faith in cryp­tog­ra­phy. One of them claimed that I was a rapist, and hurled homo­pho­bic insults about the var­i­ous ways in which I had sup­pos­ed­ly per­formed sex­u­al favors for a male col­league.

 “In the way that these Inter­net haz­ing ses­sions, go, the cam­paign evolved and spread. Strange peo­ple began threat­en­ing me and my col­leagues on social media. Some accused me of hav­ing blood on my hands and of rack­ing up an “activist body count”–that peo­ple were actu­al­ly dying because of my report­ing under­mined trust in Tor.The attacks widened to include reg­u­lar read­ers and social media users, any­one who had the nerve to ask ques­tions about Tor’s fund­ing sources. An employ­ee of the Tor Project went so far as to dox an anony­mous Twit­ter user, expos­ing his real iden­ti­ty and con­tact­ing his employ­er in the hopes of get­ting him fired from his job as a junior phar­ma­cist.

It was bizarre. I watched all this unfold in real time but had no idea how to respond. Even more dis­con­cert­ing was that the attacks soon expand­ed to include libelous sto­ries placed in rep­utable media out­lets. The Guardian pub­lished a sto­ry by a free­lancer accus­ing me of run­ning an online sex­u­al harass­ment and bul­ly­ing cam­paign. The Los Ange­les Review of Books, gen­er­al­ly a good jour­nal of arts and cul­ture, ran an essay by a free­lancer alleg­ing that my report­ing was fund­ed by the CIA. Paul Carr, my edi­tor at Pan­do, lodged offi­cial com­plaints and demand­ed to know how these reporters came to their con­clu­sions. Both pub­li­ca­tions ulti­mate­ly retract­ed their state­ments and print­ed cor­rec­tions. An edi­tor at the Guardian apol­o­gized and described the arti­cle as a ‘fuck up.’ But the online attacks con­tin­ued. . . .”

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

1.–The role of Eddie Snow­den in mis­at­tribut­ing the Shad­ow Bro­kers non-hack to Rus­sia.
2.–Snowden’s fore­shad­ow­ing of the alleged Russ­ian “hack” of the Macron cam­paign”: ” . . . . ‘That could have sig­nif­i­cant for­eign pol­i­cy con­se­quences,’ Snow­den wrote on Twit­ter. ‘Par­tic­u­lar­ly if any of those oper­a­tions tar­get­ed US allies. Par­tic­u­lar­ly if any of those oper­a­tions tar­get­ed elec­tions.’ . . .”
3.–James Bam­ford’s analy­sis of WikiLeaker/Tor promoter/BBG asso­ciate Jacob Apel­baum as the most like­ly source of the Shad­ow Bro­kers non-hack. 
The ludi­crous nature of the “Rus­sia-did it” hypoth­e­sis con­cern­ing the Macron hacks: ” . . . . The hacked doc­u­ments in the ‘Macron hack’ not only con­tained Cyril­lic text in the meta­da­ta, but also con­tained the name of the last per­son to mod­i­fy the doc­u­ments. That name, ‘Rosh­ka Georgiy Petro­vichan’, is an employ­ee at Evri­ka, a large IT com­pa­ny that does work for the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, includ­ing the FSB (Russ­ian intel­li­gence.) Also found in the meta­da­ta is the email of the per­son who uploaded the files to ‘archive.org’, and that email address, frankmacher1@gmx.de, is reg­is­tered with a Ger­man free web­mail provider used pre­vi­ous­ly in 2016 phish­ing attacks against the CDU in Ger­many that have been attrib­uted to APT28. It would appear that the ‘Russ­ian hack­ers’ not only left clues sug­gest­ing it was Russ­ian hack­ers behind the hack, but they decid­ed to name names this time–their own names. . . .”
4.–Neo-Nazi and Glenn Green­wald and Lau­ra Poitras asso­ciate Andrew Aueren­heimer’s role in mod­i­fy­ing the doc­u­ments in the Macron hack:  ” . . . . Short­ly after an anony­mous user of the 4chan.org dis­cus­sion forum post­ed fake doc­u­ments pur­port­ing to show Mr. Macron had set up an undis­closed shell com­pa­ny in the Caribbean, the user direct­ed peo­ple to vis­it nouveaumartel.com for updates on the French elec­tion. That web­site, accord­ing to research by web-secu­ri­ty provider Virtualroad.org, is reg­is­tered by ‘Wee­v­los,’ a known online alias of Andrew Auern­heimer, an Amer­i­can hack­er who gained noto­ri­ety three years ago when a U.S. appeals court vacat­ed his con­vic­tion for com­put­er fraud. The site also is host­ed by a serv­er in Latvia that hosts the Dai­ly Stormer, a neo-Nazi news site that iden­ti­fies its admin­is­tra­tor as ‘Weev,’ anoth­er online alias of Mr. Aeurn­heimer, Virtualroad.org says. ‘We strong­ly believe that the fake off­shore doc­u­ments were cre­at­ed by some­one with con­trol of the Dai­ly Stormer serv­er,’ said Tord Lund­ström, a com­put­er foren­sics inves­ti­ga­tor at Virtualroad.org. . . .”
5.–French cyber­se­cu­ri­ty chief Guil­laume Poupard negat­ed the asser­tion that Rus­sia hacked the Macron cam­paign: ” . . . . The head of the French government’s cyber secu­ri­ty agency, which inves­ti­gat­ed leaks from Pres­i­dent Emmanuel Macron’s elec­tion cam­paign, says they found no trace of a noto­ri­ous Russ­ian hack­ing group behind the attack. . . . ”


FTR #1080 Surveillance Valley, Part 6: Double Agents, Part 2 (Foxes Guarding the Online Privacy Henhouse, Part 3)

In this pro­gram, we resume dis­cus­sion and analy­sis of the con­sum­mate­ly impor­tant recent book Sur­veil­lance Val­ley: The Secret Mil­i­tary His­to­ry of the Inter­net by Yasha Levine. In the pre­vi­ous pro­gram, we not­ed, among oth­er points of analy­sis, the deci­sive role of Eddie “The Friend­ly Spook” Snow­den in pro­mot­ing the intel­li­gence-agency craft­ed Tor net­work.

In addi­tion to Tor, the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund (read “CIA”) helped finance the Sig­nal app for mobile phones. It, too, is fun­da­men­tal­ly com­pro­mised. ” . . . . . . . . The Tor project remained the best-known pri­va­cy app fund­ed by the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund, but it was quick­ly joined by anoth­er: Sig­nal, an encrypt­ed mobile phone mes­sag­ing app for the iPhone and Android. . . .”

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, the CIA’s Eddie “The Friend­ly Spook” Snow­den was a big pro­mot­er of Sig­nal, as well as Tor: ” . . . . Peo­ple at the ACLU claimed that Sig­nal made fed­er­al agents weep. The Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion added Sig­nal along­side Tor to its Sur­veil­lance Self-Defense guide. Fight for the Future, a Sil­i­con Val­ley-fund­ed pri­va­cy activist orga­ni­za­tion, described Sig­nal and Tor as ‘NSA-proof’ and urged peo­ple to use them. Edward Snow­den was the com­bo’s biggest and most famous boost­er and repeat­ed­ly took to Twit­ter to tell his three mil­lion fol­low­ers that he used Sig­nal and Tor every day, and that they should do the same to pro­tect them­selves from gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance. ‘Use Tor, Use Sig­nal,’ he tweet­ed out.

“With endorse­ments like these, Sig­nal quick­ly became the go-to app for polit­i­cal activists around the world. Egypt, Rus­sia, Syr­ia, and even the Unit­ed States—millions down­loaded Sig­nal, and it became the com­mu­ni­ca­tion app of choice for those who hoped to avoid police sur­veil­lance. Fem­i­nist col­lec­tives, anti-Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pro­test­ers, com­mu­nists, anar­chists, rad­i­cal ani­mal rights orga­ni­za­tions, Black Lives Mat­ter activists—all flocked to Sig­nal. Many were heed­ing Snow­den’s advice: ‘Orga­nize. Com­part­men­tal­ize to lim­it com­pro­mise. Encrypt every­thing, from calls to texts (use Sig­nal as a first step.)’ . . . .”

Yasha Levine sums up the fun­da­men­tal con­tra­dic­tions inher­ent  in this dynam­ic: ” . . . . If you stepped back to sur­vey the scene, the entire land­scape of this new Inter­net Free­dom pri­va­cy move­ment looked absurd. Cold War-era orga­ni­za­tions spun off from the CIA now fund­ing the glob­al move­ment against gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance? Google and Face­book, com­pa­nies that ran pri­vate sur­veil­lance net­works and worked hand in hand with the NSA, deploy­ing gov­ern­ment-fund­ed pri­va­cy tech to pro­tect their users from gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance? Pri­va­cy activists work­ing with Sil­i­con Val­ley and the US gov­ern­ment to fight gov­ern­ment surveillance—and with the sup­port of Edward Snow­den him­self? . . . .”

Fol­low­ing Snow­den’s pro­mo­tion of OTF’s Tor and Sig­nal tech­nolo­gies, OTF was at a zenith: ” . . . . After Edward Snow­den, OTF was tri­umphant. It did­n’t men­tion the leak­er by name in its pro­mo­tion­al mate­ri­als, but it prof­it­ed from the cryp­to cul­ture he pro­mot­ed and ben­e­fit­ed from his direct endorse­ment of the cryp­to tools it financed. It boast­ed that its part­ner­ship with both Sil­i­con Val­ley and respect­ed pri­va­cy activists meant that hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple could use the pri­va­cy tools the US gov­ern­ment had brought to mar­ket. And OTF promised that this was just a start: ‘By lever­ag­ing social net­work effects, we expect to expand to a bil­lion reg­u­lar users tak­ing advan­tage of OTF-sup­port­ed tools and Inter­net Free­dom tech­nolo­gies by 2015. . . .’

As even­tu­al­ly became clear, the Tor net­work was eas­i­ly breached. It is a safe bet that the fas­cists grouped around the Pirate Bay site (on which Wik­iLeaks held forth), had breached Tor’s “secre­cy,” in addi­tion to the obvi­ous fact that intel­li­gence ser­vices could pen­e­trate it at will.

With this in mind, John Young’s rumi­na­tion about Wik­iLeaks sound more and more sub­stan­tive.

In all prob­a­bil­i­ty, Wik­iLeaks was a huge data min­ing oper­a­tion both by the very intel­li­gence agen­cies who were osten­si­bly tar­get­ed by Wik­iLeaks, and the Fas­cist Inter­na­tion­al net­work around Carl Lund­strom, Daniel Friberg, David Duke et al.

In FTR #‘s 756 and 831 we not­ed Snow­den’s fas­cist views and con­nec­tions. Levine mere­ly char­ac­ter­izes him as a “right-wing lib­er­tar­i­an,” but there is MUCH MORE TO IT THAN  THAT!

Snow­den down­played the fun­da­men­tal role of the Big Tech firms in aid­ing and abet­ting gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance, in addi­tion to their own mas­sive sur­veil­lance and resul­tant data min­ing. ” . . . . There, while liv­ing under state pro­tec­tion at an undis­closed loca­tion in Moscow, he swept Sil­i­con Val­ley’s role in Inter­net sur­veil­lance under the rug. Asked about it by Wash­ing­ton Post reporter Bar­ton Gell­man, who had first report­ed on the NSA’s PRISM pro­gram, Snow­den shrugged off the dan­ger posed by com­pa­nies like Google and Face­book. The rea­son? Because pri­vate com­pa­nies do not have the pow­er to arrest, jail, or kill peo­ple. ‘Twit­ter does­n’t put war­heads on fore­heads,’ he joked. . . .”

Embody­ing his “cor­po­ratist” and Tech­no­crat­ic Fas­cist point of view, Snow­den cham­pi­oned the Big Tech firms as bul­warks against gov­ern­ment Inter­net sur­veil­lance, despite the only-too-obvi­ous fact (rein­forced by the doc­u­ments he leaked) that Big Tech is–and always has been–in bed with, and active­ly col­lab­o­rat­ing with, the very gov­ern­ment intel­li­gence agen­cies con­duct­ing that sur­veil­lance: ” . . . . The only islands of safe­ty were the pri­vate data cen­ters con­trolled by pri­vate companies—Google, Apple, Face­book. These were the cyber-fortress­es and walled cities that offered sanc­tu­ary to the mass­es. In this chaot­ic land­scape, com­put­er engi­neers and cryp­tog­ra­phers played the role of self­less gal­lop­ing knights and wiz­ard-war­riors whose job was to pro­tect the weak folk of the Inter­net: the young, the old and infirm, fam­i­lies. It was their duty to ride out, weapons aloft, and con­vey peo­ple and their pre­cious data safe­ly from fortress to fortress, not let­ting any of the infor­ma­tion fall into the hands of gov­ern­ment spies. He called on them to start a peo­ple’s pri­va­cy war, ral­ly­ing them to go forth and lib­er­ate the Inter­net, to reclaim it from the gov­ern­ments of the world. . . .”

The nau­se­at­ing head of Facebook–Mark Zuckerberg–has decried the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty’s use of the Inter­net for data min­ing. In FTR #1077, we high­light­ed the Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca affair, and Face­book’s full coop­er­a­tion with that project at every turn.

Oth­er Big Tech firms had sim­i­lar reac­tions. “. . . . . ‘We had­n’t even heard of PRISM before yes­ter­day,’ Mark Zucker­berg wrote in a Face­book post. He blamed the gov­ern­ment and posi­tioned Face­book as a vic­tim. “I’ve called Pres­i­dent Oba­ma to express my frus­tra­tion over the dam­age the gov­ern­ment is cre­at­ing for all of our future. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.’ Apple,  Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! All react­ed in much the same way, deny­ing the alle­ga­tions and paint­ing them­selves as the vic­tims of gov­ern­ment over­reach. ‘It’s tremen­dous­ly dis­ap­point­ing that the gov­ern­ment sort of secret­ly did all this stuff and did­n’t tell us. We can’t have a democ­ra­cy if we’re hav­ing to pro­tect you and our users from the gov­ern­ment,’ Lar­ry Page told Char­lie Rose in an inter­view on CBS. . . . .”

We present the con­clu­sion of the main part of the book, with Levine’s sum­ma­tion of the inex­tri­ca­ble nature and sym­bio­sis between the Inter­net, the tech firms and the so-called “pri­va­cy com­mu­ni­ty.”

The key points of dis­cus­sion and analy­sis of Levine’s book (as a whole) include:

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.

NB: Mr. Levine does not go into the fascis­tic char­ac­ter of Snow­den, Assange, Green­wald et al. Some of those shows: Greenwald–FTR #888, Snowden–FTR #‘s 756, 831, Assange and WikiLeaks–FTR #‘s 732, 745, 755, 917.

“. . . . Then there was the fact that Sig­nal ran on Ama­zon’s servers, which meant that all its data were avail­able to a part­ner in the NSA’s PRISM sur­veil­lance pro­gram. Equal­ly prob­lem­at­ic, Sig­nal need­ed Apple and Google to install and run the app on peo­ple’s mobile phones. Both com­pa­nies were, and as far as we know still are, part­ners in PRISM as well. ‘Google usu­al­ly has root access to the phone, there’s the issue of integri­ty,’ writes Sander Ven­e­ma, a respect­ed devel­op­er and secure—technology train­er, in a blog post explain­ing why he no longer rec­om­mends peo­ple use Sig­nal for encrypt­ed chat. ‘Google is still coop­er­at­ing with the NSA and oth­er intel­li­gence agen­cies. PRISM is also still a thing. I’m pret­ty sure that Google could serve a spe­cial­ly mod­i­fied update or ver­sion of Sig­nal to spe­cif­ic tar­get for sur­veil­lance, and they would be none the wis­er that they installed mal­ware on their phones.’ . . .

. . . . So, although the app encrypt­ed the con­tent of peo­ple’s mes­sages, it also marked them with a flash­ing red sign: ‘Fol­low Me, I Have Some­thing to Hide.’ (Indeed, activists protest­ing at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Philadel­phia in 2016 told me that they were bewil­dered by the fact that police seemed to know and antic­i­pate their every move despite their hav­ing used Sig­nal to orga­nize. . . .”

” . . . . For many Inter­net com­pa­nies, includ­ing Google and Face­book, sur­veil­lance is the busi­ness mod­el. It is the base on which their cor­po­rate and eco­nom­ic pow­er rests. Dis­en­tan­gle sur­veil­lance and prof­it, and these com­pa­nies would col­lapse. Lim­it data col­lec­tion, an the com­pa­nies would see investors flee and their stock prices plum­met. [Ital­ics are mine–D.E.]

“Sil­i­con Val­ley fears a polit­i­cal solu­tion to pri­va­cy. Inter­net Free­dom and cryp­to offer an accept­able alter­na­tive. Tools like Sig­nal and Tor pro­vide a false solu­tion to the pri­va­cy prob­lem, focus­ing people’s atten­tion on gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance and dis­tract­ing them from the pri­vate spy­ing car­ried out by the Inter­net com­pa­nies they use every day. All the while, cryp­to tools give peo­ple a [false] sense that they’re doing some­thing to pro­tect them­selves, a feel­ing of per­son­al empow­er­ment and con­trol. And all those cryp­to rad­i­cals? Well, they just enhance the illu­sion, height­en­ing the impres­sion of risk and dan­ger. With Sig­nal or Tor installed, using an iPhone or Android sud­den­ly becomes edgy and rad­i­cal. So instead of push­ing for polit­i­cal and demo­c­ra­t­ic solu­tions to sur­veil­lance, we out­source our pri­va­cy pol­i­tics to cryp­to apps–software made by the very same pow­er­ful enti­ties that these apps are sup­posed to pro­tect us from. . . .”


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.


The Cambridge Analytica Microcosm in Our Panoptic Macrocosm

Let the Great Unfriend­ing Com­mence! Specif­i­cal­ly, the mass unfriend­ing of Face­book, which would be a well deserved unfriend­ing after the scan­dalous rev­e­la­tions in a recent series of arti­cles cen­tered around the claims of Christo­pher Wylie, a Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca whis­tle-blow­er who helped found the firm and worked there until late 2014 until he and oth­ers grew increas­ing­ly uncom­fort­able with the far right goals and ques­tion­able actions of the firm. And those ques­tion­able actions by Cam­bridge involve a larg­er and more scan­dalous Face­book pol­i­cy brought forth by a Fac­book whis­tle-blow­er, Sandy Parak­i­las: Face­book was hand­ing out exact­ly the kind of data col­lect­ed by Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca to all sorts of app devel­op­ers for years. Beyond that, it appears that Face­book real­ly did have an excep­tion­al­ly close rela­tion­ship with Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca’s research part­ner and was only both­ered by its data col­lec­tion when the media got wind of it. It also looks like Steve Ban­non was over­see­ing this entire process, although he claims to know noth­ing. Oh, and Palan­tir appears to have had an infor­mal rela­tion­ship with Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca this whole time. And this state of affairs is an exten­sion of how the inter­net has been used from its very con­cep­tion a half cen­tu­ry ago. And that’s all part of why the Great Unfriend­ing of Face­book real­ly is long over­due, along with a lot of oth­er reforms.


FTR #996 Civilization’s Twilight: Update on Technocratic Fascism

Updat­ing our ongo­ing analy­sis of what Mr. Emory calls “tech­no­crat­ic fas­cism,” we exam­ine how exist­ing tech­nolo­gies are neu­tral­iz­ing and/or ren­der­ing obso­lete foun­da­tion­al ele­ments of our civ­i­liza­tion and demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­men­tal sys­tems.

We begin our descrip­tion by ref­er­enc­ing a vital­ly impor­tant arti­cle by David Golum­bia. ” . . . . Such tech­no­cratic beliefs are wide­spread in our world today, espe­cially in the enclaves of dig­i­tal enthu­si­asts, whether or not they are part of the giant cor­po­rate-dig­i­tal leviathan. Hack­ers (‘civic,’ ‘eth­i­cal,’ ‘white’ and ‘black’ hat alike), hack­tivists, Wik­iLeaks fans [and Julian Assange et al–D. E.], Anony­mous ‘mem­bers,’ even Edward Snow­den him­self walk hand-in-hand with Face­book and Google in telling us that coders don’t just have good things to con­tribute to the polit­i­cal world, but that the polit­i­cal world is theirs to do with what they want, and the rest of us should stay out of it: the polit­i­cal world is bro­ken, they appear to think (right­ly, at least in part), and the solu­tion to that, they think (wrong­ly, at least for the most part), is for pro­gram­mers to take polit­i­cal mat­ters into their own hands. . . . [Tor co-cre­ator] Din­gle­dine  asserts that a small group of soft­ware devel­op­ers can assign to them­selves that role, and that mem­bers of demo­c­ra­tic poli­ties have no choice but to accept them hav­ing that role. . . .”

Begin­ning with a chill­ing opin­ion piece in “The New York Times,” we note that tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment threat­ens to super-charge the Big Lies that dri­ve our world. As any­one who saw the file Star Wars film “Rogue One” knows, the tech­nol­o­gy required to cre­ate a near­ly life-like com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed videos of a real per­son is already a real­i­ty. Once the province of movie stu­dios and oth­er firms with mil­lions to spend, the tech­nol­o­gy is now avail­able for down­load for free.

” . . . . In 2016 Gareth Edwards, the direc­tor of the Star Wars film ‘Rogue One,’ was able to cre­ate a scene fea­tur­ing a young Princess Leia by manip­u­lat­ing images of Car­rie Fish­er as she looked in 1977. Mr. Edwards had the best hard­ware and soft­ware a $200 mil­lion Hol­ly­wood bud­get could buy. Less than two years lat­er, images of sim­i­lar qual­i­ty can be cre­at­ed with soft­ware avail­able for free down­load on Red­dit. That was how a faked video sup­pos­ed­ly of the actress Emma Wat­son in a show­er with anoth­er woman end­ed up on the web­site Celeb Jihad. . . .”

The tech­nol­o­gy has already ren­dered obso­lete selec­tive edit­ing such as that per­formed by James O’Keefe: ” . . . . as the nov­el­ist William Gib­son once said, ‘The street finds its own uses for things.’ So do rogue polit­i­cal actors. The impli­ca­tions for democ­ra­cy are eye-open­ing. The con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal activist James O’Keefe has cre­at­ed a cot­tage indus­try manip­u­lat­ing polit­i­cal per­cep­tions by edit­ing footage in mis­lead­ing ways. In 2018, low-tech edit­ing like Mr. O’Keefe’s is already an anachro­nism: Imag­ine what even less scrupu­lous activists could do with the pow­er to cre­ate ‘video’ fram­ing real peo­ple for things they’ve nev­er actu­al­ly done. One har­row­ing poten­tial even­tu­al­i­ty: Fake video and audio may become so con­vinc­ing that it can’t be dis­tin­guished from real record­ings, ren­der­ing audio and video evi­dence inad­mis­si­ble in court. . . .”

After high­light­ing a sto­ry about AI-gen­er­at­ed “deep­fake” pornog­ra­phy with peo­ple’s faces super­im­posed on oth­ers’ bod­ies in porno­graph­ic lay­outs, we note how robots have altered our polit­i­cal and com­mer­cial land­scapes, through cyber tech­nol­o­gy: ” . . . . Robots are get­ting bet­ter, every day, at imper­son­at­ing humans. When direct­ed by oppor­tunists, male­fac­tors and some­times even nation-states, they pose a par­tic­u­lar threat to demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­eties, which are premised on being open to the peo­ple. Robots pos­ing as peo­ple have become a men­ace. . . . In com­ing years, cam­paign finance lim­its will be (and maybe already are) evad­ed by robot armies pos­ing as ‘small’ donors. And actu­al vot­ing is anoth­er obvi­ous tar­get — per­haps the ulti­mate tar­get. . . .”

Before the actu­al replace­ment of man­u­al labor by robots, devices to tech­no­crat­i­cal­ly “improve”–read “coer­cive­ly engi­neer” work­ers are patent­ed by Ama­zon and have been used on work­ers in some of their facil­i­ties. ” . . . . What if your employ­er made you wear a wrist­band that tracked your every move, and that even nudged you via vibra­tions when it judged that you were doing some­thing wrong? What if your super­vi­sor could iden­ti­fy every time you paused to scratch or fid­get, and for how long you took a bath­room break? What may sound like dystopi­an fic­tion could become a real­i­ty for Ama­zon ware­house work­ers around the world. The com­pa­ny has won two patents for such a wrist­band. . . .”

For some U.K Ama­zon ware­house work­ers, the future is now: ” . . . . Max Craw­ford, a for­mer Ama­zon ware­house work­er in Britain, said in a phone inter­view, ‘After a year work­ing on the floor, I felt like I had become a ver­sion of the robots I was work­ing with.’ He described hav­ing to process hun­dreds of items in an hour — a pace so extreme that one day, he said, he fell over from dizzi­ness. ‘There was no time to go to the loo,’ he said, using the British slang for toi­let. ‘You had to process the items in sec­onds and then move on. If you didn’t meet tar­gets, you were fired.’

“He worked back and forth at two Ama­zon ware­hous­es for more than two years and then quit in 2015 because of health con­cerns, he said: ‘I got burned out.’ Mr. Craw­ford agreed that the wrist­bands might save some time and labor, but he said the track­ing was ‘stalk­er­ish’ and feared that work­ers might be unfair­ly scru­ti­nized if their hands were found to be ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ ‘They want to turn peo­ple into machines,’ he said. ‘The robot­ic tech­nol­o­gy isn’t up to scratch yet, so until it is, they will use human robots.’ . . . .”

Some tech work­ers, well placed at R & D pace­set­ters and giants such as Face­book and Google have done an about-face on the  impact of their ear­li­er efforts and are now strug­gling against the mis­use of the tech­nolo­gies they helped to launch:

” . . . . A group of Sil­i­con Val­ley tech­nol­o­gists who were ear­ly employ­ees at Face­book and Google, alarmed over the ill effects of social net­works and smart­phones, are band­ing togeth­er to chal­lenge the com­pa­nies they helped build. . . . ‘The largest super­com­put­ers in the world are inside of two com­pa­nies — Google and Face­book — and where are we point­ing them?’ Mr. [Tris­tan] Har­ris said. ‘We’re point­ing them at people’s brains, at chil­dren.’ . . . . Mr. [RogerM­c­Namee] said he had joined the Cen­ter for Humane Tech­nol­o­gy because he was hor­ri­fied by what he had helped enable as an ear­ly Face­book investor. ‘Face­book appeals to your lizard brain — pri­mar­i­ly fear and anger,’ he said. ‘And with smart­phones, they’ve got you for every wak­ing moment.’ . . . .”

Tran­si­tion­ing to our next program–updating AI (arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence) tech­nol­o­gy as it applies to tech­no­crat­ic fascism–we note that AI machines are being designed to devel­op oth­er AI’s–“The Rise of the Machine.” ” . . . . Jeff Dean, one of Google’s lead­ing engi­neers, spot­light­ed a Google project called AutoML. ML is short for machine learn­ing, refer­ring to com­put­er algo­rithms that can learn to per­form par­tic­u­lar tasks on their own by ana­lyz­ing data. AutoML, in turn, is a machine learn­ing algo­rithm that learns to build oth­er machine-learn­ing algo­rithms. With it, Google may soon find a way to cre­ate A.I. tech­nol­o­gy that can part­ly take the humans out of build­ing the A.I. sys­tems that many believe are the future of the tech­nol­o­gy indus­try. . . .”


FTR #946 In Your Facebook: A Virtual Panopticon, Part 2

In FTR #718 (record­ed on Inde­pen­dence Day week­end of 2010), we not­ed that the new social medium–Facebook-might very well be the oppo­site of the lib­er­at­ing, empow­er­ing enti­ty many believed it to be.

On the con­trary, we said–it received finan­cial back­ing from the CIA, per­mits unprece­dent­ed gath­er­ing and data­bas­ing of users’ per­son­al infor­ma­tion, and might very well be a “panopticon”–a type of prison in which the interned can nev­er see his or her jail­ers, but their keep­ers can see the interned at all times.

In par­tic­u­lar, we not­ed the promi­nent posi­tion of major Face­book investor Peter Thiel in “Mon­do Zucker­berg.” Of Ger­man (and prob­a­ble I.G. Far­ben) ori­gins, we opined that Thiel was Under­ground Reich. Opposed to democ­ra­cy because he feels it is inim­i­cal to wealth cre­ation and does­n’t believe women should be allowed to vote, Thiel has now emerged as one of the most promi­nent of Don­ald Trump’s sup­port­ers, tran­si­tion team cre­ators and influ­en­tial pol­i­cy wonks.

Where­as we explored the “vir­tu­al panop­ti­con” con­cept of Face­book with a ques­tion mark in 2010, we now feel affir­ma­tive­ly on the issue.

A very impor­tant sto­ry from New York mag­a­zine sets forth Face­book’s role in the just-con­clud­ed elec­tion. ” . . . . Facebook’s size, reach, wealth, and pow­er make it effec­tive­ly the only one that mat­ters. And, boy, does it mat­ter. At the risk of being hyper­bol­ic, I think there are few events over the last decade more sig­nif­i­cant than the social network’s whole­sale acqui­si­tion of the tra­di­tion­al func­tions of news media (not to men­tion the polit­i­cal-par­ty appa­ra­tus). Trump’s ascen­dan­cy is far from the first mate­r­i­al con­se­quence of Facebook’s con­quer­ing inva­sion of our social, cul­tur­al, and polit­i­cal lives, but it’s still a brac­ing reminder of the extent to which the social net­work is able to upend exist­ing struc­ture and trans­form soci­ety — and often not for the bet­ter. . . .

” . . . . Facebook’s enor­mous audi­ence, and the mech­a­nisms of dis­tri­b­u­tion on which the site relies — i.e., the emo­tion­al­ly charged activ­i­ty of shar­ing, and the show-me-more-like-this feed­back loop of the news feed algo­rithm — makes it the only site to sup­port a gen­uine­ly lucra­tive mar­ket in which shady pub­lish­ers arbi­trage traf­fic by entic­ing peo­ple off of Face­book and onto ad-fes­tooned web­sites, using sto­ries that are alter­nate­ly made up, incor­rect, exag­ger­at­ed beyond all rela­tion­ship to truth, or all three. . . .

” . . . . And at the heart of the prob­lem, any­way, is not the moti­va­tions of the hoax­ers but the struc­ture of social media itself. Tens of mil­lions of peo­ple, invig­o­rat­ed by insur­gent out­sider can­di­dates and anger at per­ceived polit­i­cal ene­mies, were served up or shared emo­tion­al­ly charged news sto­ries about the can­di­dates, because Facebook’s sort­ing algo­rithm under­stood from expe­ri­ence that they were seek­ing such sto­ries. Many of those sto­ries were lies, or ‘par­o­dies,’ but their appear­ance and place­ment in a news feed were no dif­fer­ent from those of any pub­lish­er with a com­mit­ment to, you know, not lying. As those peo­ple and their fol­low­ers clicked on, shared, or oth­er­wise engaged with those sto­ries — which they did, because Trump dri­ves engage­ment extreme­ly bigly — they were served up even more of them. The engage­ment-dri­ving feed­back loop reached the heights of Face­book itself, which shared fake news to its front page on more than one occa­sion after fir­ing the small team of edi­to­r­i­al employ­ees tasked with pass­ing news judg­ment. . . .

” . . . . Some­thing like 170 mil­lion peo­ple in North Amer­i­ca use Face­book every day, a num­ber that’s not only sev­er­al orders of mag­ni­tude larg­er than even the most opti­mistic cir­cu­la­tion reck­on­ings of major news out­lets but also about one-and-a-half times as many peo­ple as vot­ed on Tues­day. Forty-four per­cent of all adults in the Unit­ed States say they get news from Face­book . . . ”

Symp­to­matic of Face­book’s fil­ter of what its users see con­cerns the social medi­um’s recent non-cov­er­age of the wom­en’s march:

” . . . . We don’t usu­al­ly post on Pan­do at the week­end, but this is too top­i­cal and too shame­ful to wait until Mon­day. As you cer­tain­ly know, today is the day of the Women’s March on Wash­ing­ton in protest of Don­ald Trump. The main event is in DC, where some­thing close to 500,000 pro­test­ers of all gen­ders and ages have packed the streets — but there are also major protests in Chica­go, New York and around the world. Includ­ing Antarc­ti­ca.

You cer­tain­ly know this because the protest march is the top sto­ry on every major news out­let, and because updates and pho­tos from the event are flood­ing your Twit­ter and Face­book feeds.

And yet, here’s what Facebook’s trend­ing news feed looked like at the height of the march…

And here’s its trend­ing pol­i­tics feed…

Notice any­thing miss­ing?

Like, say, a half mil­lion women? . . .

In case you think I’m see­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent from the rest of the world, be assured I’m not….”

Face­book has changed its algo­rithm, no longer fac­tor­ing in “likes” and oth­er per­son­al pref­er­ences in deter­min­ing its news feed.

This, how­ev­er, does not bode as well as Face­book would like us to believe. Face­book has pro­mot­ed, among oth­ers, Camp­bell Brown, to an impor­tant posi­tion in struc­tur­ing its news feed: ” . . . . Brown has long­stand­ing ties not just to the tra­di­tion­al news media, but also to con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics, although she describes her­self as a polit­i­cal inde­pen­dent. She is a close per­son­al friend of Bet­sy DeVos, the Repub­li­can megadonor who is Don­ald Trump’s nom­i­nee for Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary, and is mar­ried to Dan Senor, a for­mer top advi­sor to Mitt Rom­ney who also served as spokesper­son for the Coali­tion Pro­vi­sion­al Author­i­ty in the wake of the 2003 inva­sion of Iraq. . . .

. . . . And along­side her main­stream media expe­ri­ence, Brown is famil­iar with the world of non-tra­di­tion­al news out­lets spring­ing up online. In 2014, she found­ed a non­prof­it news site, The 74, which bills itself as non­par­ti­san but which crit­ics have said func­tions as advo­ca­cy jour­nal­ism, tilt­ed in favor of char­ter schools and against teach­ers’ unions. The site was launched with mon­ey from donors includ­ing the foun­da­tion run by DeVos, Trump’s pro­posed Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary. When the nom­i­na­tion was announced, Brown said she would recuse her­self from The 74’s cov­er­age of DeVos. . .”

Brown is joined by Tuck­er Bounds, a for­mer John McCain advis­er and spokesman for the McCain/Palin cam­paign.

Exem­pli­fy­ing the ter­ri­fy­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties of the vir­tu­al panop­ti­con, we exam­ine the nexus of Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, its prin­ci­pal investors, Robert and Rebekah Mer­cer and Steve Ban­non, a key mem­ber of the fir­m’s board of direc­tors and a polit­i­cal guru to Rebekah. ” . . . . 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.

“Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca worked on the ‘Leave’ side of the Brex­it cam­paign. In the Unit­ed States it takes only Repub­li­cans as clients: Sen­a­tor Ted Cruz in the pri­maries, Mr. Trump in the gen­er­al elec­tion. Cam­bridge is report­ed­ly backed by Robert Mer­cer, a hedge fund bil­lion­aire and a major Repub­li­can donor; a key board mem­ber is Stephen K. Ban­non, the head of Bre­it­bart News who became Mr. Trump’s cam­paign chair­man and is set to be his chief strate­gist in the White House. . .

” . . . . Their [the Mer­cers] data firm, Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, was hired by the Cruz cam­paign. They switched to sup­port Trump short­ly after he clinched the nom­i­na­tion, and he even­tu­al­ly hired Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, as well. Their top polit­i­cal guru is Steve Ban­non, the for­mer Bre­it­bart News chair­man and White House chief strate­gist. They’re close, too, with Trump’s cam­paign man­ag­er Kellyanne Con­way, who also has a senior role in the White House. They nev­er speak to the press and hard­ly ever even release a pub­lic state­ment. Like Trump him­self, they’ve flout­ed the stan­dard play­book for how things are done in pol­i­tics. . . .”

Ban­non’s influ­ence on Rebekah Mer­cer is par­tic­u­lar­ly strong: ” . . . Anoth­er of the Repub­li­can oper­a­tives described Ban­non as the ‘Obi-Wan Keno­bi’ to Rebekah Mer­cer, and a third was even more point­ed: ‘Sven­gali.’ Ban­non is ‘real­ly, real­ly, real­ly influ­en­tial’ with Mer­cer, said the for­mer Bre­it­bart employ­ee. The Mer­cers, the for­mer employ­ee said, made their wish­es known through Ban­non, who would some­times cite the company’s finan­cial back­ers as a rea­son for Bre­it­bart not to do a sto­ry. Ban­non didn’t respond to a request for com­ment about this. . . .”

In turn, the influ­ence of Steve Ban­non with­in the Face­book vir­tu­al panop­ti­con is even more sin­is­ter con­sid­er­ing Ban­non’s polit­i­cal out­look: ” . . . . But, said the source, who request­ed anonymi­ty to speak can­did­ly about Ban­non, ‘There are some things he’s only going to share with peo­ple who he’s tight with and who he trusts.’

Bannon’s read­ings tend to have one thing in com­mon: the view that tech­nocrats have put West­ern civ­i­liza­tion on a down­ward tra­jec­to­ry and that only a shock to the sys­tem can reverse its decline. And they tend to have a dark, apoc­a­lyp­tic tone that at times echoes Bannon’s own pub­lic remarks over the years—a sense that human­i­ty is at a hinge point in his­to­ry. . . .”

One of the influ­ences on Ban­non is Cur­tis Yarvin, aka Men­cius Mold­bug, who has actu­al­ly opened a backchan­nel advi­so­ry con­nec­tion to the White House: ” . . . . Before he emerged on the polit­i­cal scene, an obscure Sil­i­con Val­ley com­put­er pro­gram­mer with ties to Trump backer and Pay­Pal co-founder Peter Thiel was explain­ing his behav­ior. Cur­tis Yarvin, the self-pro­claimed ‘neo­re­ac­tionary’ who blogs under the name ‘Men­cius Mold­bug,’ attract­ed a fol­low­ing in 2008 when he pub­lished a wordy trea­tise assert­ing, among oth­er things, that ‘non­sense is a more effec­tive orga­niz­ing tool than the truth.’ When the orga­niz­er of a com­put­er sci­ence con­fer­ence can­celed Yarvin’s appear­ance fol­low­ing an out­cry over his blog­ging under his nom de web, Ban­non took note: Bre­it­bart News decried the act of cen­sor­ship in an arti­cle about the programmer-blogger’s dis­missal.

Moldbug’s dense, dis­cur­sive mus­ings on history—‘What’s so bad about the Nazis?’ he asks in one 2008 post that con­demns the Holo­caust but ques­tions the moral supe­ri­or­i­ty of the Allies—include a belief in the util­i­ty of spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion that now looks like a tem­plate for Trump’s approach to truth. ‘To believe in non­sense is an unforge­able [sic] demon­stra­tion of loy­al­ty. It serves as a polit­i­cal uni­form. And if you have a uni­form, you have an army,’ he writes in a May 2008 post.‘It’s been a while since I post­ed any­thing real­ly con­tro­ver­sial and offen­sive here,’ he begins in a July 25, 2007, post explain­ing why he asso­ciates democ­ra­cy with ‘war, tyran­ny, destruc­tion and pover­ty.’

Mold­bug, who does not do inter­views and could not be reached for this sto­ry, has report­ed­ly opened up a line to the White House, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Ban­non and his aides through an inter­me­di­ary, accord­ing to a source. Yarvin said he has nev­er spo­ken with Ban­non. . . .”

After dis­cussing Face­book’s new AI tech­nol­o­gy being employed to search users’ pho­tos, the pro­gram con­cludes with the shift of Sil­i­con Val­ley mon­ey to the GOP.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: review of Steve Ban­non’s role on the NSC; review of the mar­tial law con­tin­gency plans drawn up by Oliv­er North dur­ing the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion, involv­ing the dep­u­tiz­ing of para­mil­i­tary right-wingers; review of Erik Prince’s rela­tion­ship to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and Bet­sy De Vos, Trump’s edu­ca­tion sec­re­tary.


Beware of Dragon Slayers Bearing Bad Ideas. They Might Not Be Fair. Or Useful

As should be obvi­ous to near­ly every­one with an inter­net con­nec­tion these days, Google is both real­ly use­ful and kind of ter­ri­fy­ing giv­en the scope of how much Google knows about near­ly all of us and how much it con­trols what we know. The fact that Google’s list of cor­po­rate ambi­tions includes things like ‘own­ing the inter­net’ and own­ing the inter­net’s pipes does­n’t real­ly. And then there’s the killer robots and wage-theft. All in all, it’s not hard to hope Google gets Scroogled. Soon.

But there’s more than one way to screw Google and not every­one that fears Google is some ran­dom con­sumer. Major cor­po­rate enti­ties also fear Google and it just so hap­pens that a coali­tion of many of the largest pub­lish­er in Europe has a plan to slay the Google Drag­on they fear so much. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this coali­tion might slay “fair use” across the inter­net in the process. That’s right, copy­right law could be get­ting a big ‘upgrade’ in the dig­i­tal realm as part of a new anti-Google ini­tia­tive in a way that upgrades the bot­tom line of the biggest pub­lish­ers and down­grades every­one else’s gen­er­al abil­i­ty to find news arti­cles and talk about the world. This is hap­pen­ing.


Books for Download

Germany’s Master Plan — The Story of an Industrial Offensive How the Nazis took advantage of the budding globalized economy to restrict both their enemies’ strategic production and their access to critical raw materials. Read more »