Friday, December 06, 2013

"Collect It All"... They Really Mean It

A few months ago, I argued that

The National Surveillance State doesn't want anyone to be able to communicate without the authorities being able to monitor that communication.  Think that's too strong a statement?  If so, you're not paying attention.  There's a reason the government names its programs Total Information Awareness and Boundless Informant and acknowledges it wants to "collect it all" and build its own "haystack" and has redefined the word "relevant" to mean "everything."  The desire to spy on everything totally and boundlessly isn't even new; what's changed is just that it's become more feasible of late.  You can argue that the NSA's nomenclature isn't (at least not yet) properly descriptive; you can't argue that it isn't at least aspirational.

What’s interesting, too, is that the National Surveillance State doesn’t even recognize there could be anything fundamentally wrong or objectionable about any of this.  Here’s their latest logo:

If we ever do come to live in a world where the government will be able to monitor every meaningful thing we do, we won't be able to say we weren't warned.

If we value freedom and democracy, we citizens need to engage in a national — an international — conversation about whether we want any government to be able to monitor all the communications, Internet behavior, and physical movement of everyone in the world.  If you're glad that conversation has begun, thank Edward Snowden.


Don Bay said...

Edward Snowden put meat on the bones of what had been journalistic speculation before his revelations. For that reason, Snowden is a hero to at least three-quarters of the people on the planet.

However, he has embarrassed the hypocritical American government, he has thrown a temporary monkey wrench into the machinery of total surveillance, and for that he cannot be forgiven regardless of the opinions of the vast majority of the world's informed inhabitants. He and Greenwald (possibly Poitras,too) will be pilloried and pursued until America is brought to its knees. Since that is unlikely to happen, Snowden and the others would be wise to protect themselves the best way they know how.

Snowden is a hero, not a villain as the complicit mainstream media would have us believe.

Ambon Pereira said...

regarding the highly pertinent question of what, exactly, the octopus is intending towards the earth/everybody; i suppose all hypothetical scenarios are equally valid, eating/mating/strangling, when considered from the perspective of typical octopus behavior. they tend to be highly aggressive towards their conspecifics, to such an extent that female octopuses not infrequently devour the greater portion of their own brood; not unlike revolutions, i suppose. i assume that the intel division in question adopted the octopus as their mascot because they were familiar with octopus anatomy and behavior; i assume that they were especially impressed by the octopuses ability to allow its individual limbs to operate and explore "autonomously", without the direct supervision of the central nervous system; although when an interesting/or difficult object is encountered by an autonomous limb, the central nervous system can/will impose itself. i assume that they were also greatly impressed by the octopus' powers of bio-mimicry; a surveillance system that can effortlessly look like something else, is a worthy aspiration. perhaps the individual or committee which recommended the octopus was also influenced by the passages in Gravity's Rainbow referencing the psychic octopus-- because after all, it does seem that a background reading in pynchonesque paranoia should be a requirement, in any pseudo-dystopian surveillance program that aspires to some level of self-knowledge/strategic vision. ((i suspect that in 20 years time, when somebody sits down to write this history of these affairs, he or she might be tempted to ascribe all of this surveillance as a "breakout capability moment" roughly analogous to the original h-bomb, in terms of redefining the power landscape/conferring a temporary "first mover advantage" on the first party to successfully implement said technology. no doubt, an apologist can and will construct an attractive argument, that such power-- being inevitable among competing states-- needed to be initially monopolized/dominated by a democratic gov't, to counteract destabilizing forces/organizations-- mafias, cartels, terror cells, and basic human corruption. however: the examples of history have pitilessly demonstrated that any power which is unchecked by law or tradition, will eventually become a hazard to itself and society; see: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, considering the unconstrained power of the Roman army. In the absence of laws, good intentions are rarely if ever good enough.)) in conclusion: surveillance is not like poetry, in which it can be positively declared that "--the reach should extend the grasp".

demosophist said...

Are the watchers immune to the desires of those they watch? I think not. Watching can be hazardous.