‘Shock’ of surveillance leaks is acclimating public to management under ‘big data’ system
Editor’s Note: As the following article makes clear, the formal revelations about the wholesale surveillance programs that encompass the whole of American data concerning AT&T were already leaked to the public via Mark Klein. Yet Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is only the latest Washington figure to deny such programs even exist, claiming that any such spying is “accidental” and claiming that abusive programs were stopped. Chambliss ludicrously asserted that he would be ‘shocked’ to learn of the sweeping programs like PRISM as described by whistleblower Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald, emphasizing: “It wouldn’t just surprise me, it would shock me.”
In our previous satirical video discussing the surveillance leaks, we too expressed our “shock” over these recent revelations. In fact, it has been well established, yet clearly shameful knowledge. In the typical multiple-tiered approach to this information, periodicals like MIT Technology Review pose the question “Has Big Data Made Anonymity Impossible?,” which is a more realistic paradigm for this ubiquitously monitored information age.
While public officials continue to deny the existence of spying for the consumption of the most naïve and gullible sectors of the general population, industry players and government insiders are adjusting to the era of “Big Data.” One of the globe most influential and secretive confabs, the Bilderberg Conference, met in London in 2013 to discuss “How Big Data is Changing Almost Everything,” an area that invitee Alex Karp, founder of ‘big data’ NSA contracting firm Palantir, specializes in.
Palantir is accurately mentioned in this article: “Just as the CIA-funded Palantir, a firm currently valued at $8 billion and exposed two years ago as a “partner” in a Bank of America-brokered scheme to bring down WikiLeaks, profited from CIA interest in its social mapping Graph application, so too, the NSA spin-off Sqrrl, launched in 2012 with agency blessings, stands to make a killing off software its corporate officers helped develop for NSA.”
Tom Burghardt’s fine blog “Antifascist Calling” details a great deal of relevant information on this emerging topic in his full article. Please take the time to read it and visit his site. It is posted here in part just to start the discussion.
‘Big Data’ Dynamo: How Giant Tech Firms Help the Government Spy on Us and Gut Privacy
July 28, 2013
As the secret state continues trawling the electronic communications of hundreds of millions of Americans, lusting after what securocrats euphemistically call “actionable intelligence,” a notional tipping point that transforms a “good” citizen into a “criminal” suspect, the role played by telecommunications and technology firms cannot be emphasized enough.
Ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began leaking secrets to media outlets about government surveillance programs, one fact stands out: The zero probability these privacy-killing projects would be practical without close (and very profitable) “arrangements” made with phone companies, internet service providers and other technology giants.
Indeed, a top secret NSA Inspector General’s report published by The Guardian, revealed that the agency “maintains relationships with over 100 US companies,” adding that the US has the “home field advantage as the primary hub for worldwide telecommunications.”
Similarly, the British fiber optic cable tapping program, TEMPORA, referred to telcos and ISPs involved in the spying as “intercept partners.” The names of the firms were considered so sensitive that GCHQ “went to great lengths” to keep their identities hidden, fearing exposure “would cause ‘high-level political fallout’.”
With new privacy threats looming on the horizon, including what CNET described as ongoing efforts by the FBI and NSA “to obtain the master encryption keys that Internet companies use to shield millions of users’ private Web communications from eavesdropping,” along with new government demands that ISPs and cell phone carriers “divulge users’ stored passwords,” can we trust these firms?
And with Microsoft and other tech giants, collaborating closely with “US intelligence services to allow users’ communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company’s own encryption,” can we afford to?
Hiding in Plain Sight
Ever since retired union technician Mark Klein blew the lid off AT&T’s secret surveillance pact with the US government in 2006, we know user privacy is not part of that firm’s business model.
The technical source for the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit, Hepting v. AT&T and the author of Wiring Up the Big Brother Machine, Klein was the first to publicly expose how NSA was “vacuuming up everything flowing in the Internet stream: e-mail, web browsing, Voice-Over-Internet phone calls, pictures, streaming video, you name it.”