The damaging of Iran’s centrifuges through the Stuxnet virus a year or so back can only be considered an act of war (certainly the Iranians see it that way!). Is the President authorized to commit acts of war against Iran? I have yet to meet any foreign policy wonk who thinks so. The closest thing to an “authorization to use military force (AUMF)” they can come up with is Article 2 of the Constitution. All I find there is the vesting of executive power in the President and the naming him “Commander in Chief”. The article goes on to state the President shall “from time to time” recommend to the “Consideration” of Congress “such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient” (This in contradistinction to the explicit right of Congress to declare war in Article 1).
Only a constitutional lawyer of John Yoo’s caliber could take this to mean President Obama (or Bush, under whom it all started) is authorized to commit acts of war against Iran. But I have heard of no move to hold the president accountable for violating the constitution. Maybe that should yet be considered, as the question of what hostile acts the president is authorized to engage in has assumed a qualitatively larger dimension with the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. Is Obama authorized to commit acts of war against Russia?
The idea may seem preposterous, but consider this. Even before the confrontation began, back last July, a Russian space launch, which was to place a satellite in orbit as part of Russia’s attempt to build a global positioning system (GPS) competitive with our own, failed spectacularly while being broadcast live on national TV. Then, in May, another launch carrying a $200 million telecommunications satellite failed. Such failures can hardly be blamed on Russian ineptitude in space technology as we rely on their rocket engines for our own launches, including shuttling astronauts to the International Space Station. By comparison, the European space agency has not suffered a launch failure in 12 years.
Then, in early March, there was a major fire at the largest refinery in Europe, which happens to be in Russia. Here’s a photo of it:
At that time, you may recall, Russia’s annexation of the Crimea appeared imminent. Finally, in late April there was a massive explosion at an ammunition depot in Siberia (There have been a number of ammo dump explosions over the last few years).
Are we committing acts of war against Russia?* Is the president authorized to engage in such hostile acts? Consider that Iranian centrifuges would still be blowing up without the Iranians knowing why or we being aware our government was at war with Iran if the Iranians (with Russian help) hadn’t discovered the Stuxnet virus. It might be well to press the president on this point before we learn the hard way why the Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, placed the power to declare war exclusively in the hands of the legislative branch.
*If we are, I think I know how we are doing it; but, lest you reclassify me from conspiracy nut to bona fide wacko, I’ll keep it to myself (just two words: Star Wars).
Videos From: youtube.com…
Pyramids on the Moon – NASA’s Apollo lunar coverup…
Yes, they went to the Moon, and yes, they also lied about it. And why did they need to lie? In order to hide the truth about what is REALLY up there.
The stunning Apollo 10 coverup – The Music Behind The Moon…
Apollo 10′s amazing encounter with a VERY bizarre anomaly while behind the far side of the Moon. This segment will give you an up-close look at an astounding audio transcript from the Apollo 10 mission that has never before been publicly analyzed – and that NASA and the Apollo 10 astronauts to this day still refuse to talk about.
You will follow Tom Stafford, Gene Cernan, and John Young as they become only the second crew in history to journey behind the lunar far side. During this period of “LOS” (Loss Of Signal), the astronauts encounter something truly incredible – they discover MUSIC behind the Moon!
NASA’s Alien Anomalies caught on film – A compilation of stunning UFO footage from NASA’s archives…
This compilation includes many of my favorite NASA UFO encounters/sightings that I have archived over the years. All of these examples (with the exception of the second-to-last one) were captured on film by NASA astronauts or Russian Cosmonauts over the past half-century – showing many amazing examples from different eras – Gemini, Apollo, Apollo/Soyuz Test Project, Skylab, STS, the ISS, plus a couple Russian-source additions from their unmanned Zond and Mir Space Station programs as well thrown in to round things out.
The second last example is the only one in the compilation that features footage that was not taken in space and is not official-source (NASA or Soviet/Russian Space Agency). That clip shows an LTP (Lunar Transient Phenomenon) event captured through a camera connected to the eyepiece of a terrestrial-based telescope that luckily was being focused on the Moon at the time. In this case, the LTP manifests as an object transiting across the face of the lunar disc. Many thanks to amateur astronomer Alberto Mayer of Italy for doing a wonderful job of filming this stunning event (and for stacking the footage for us all to see).
While the examples you will see here captured on film can all be “officially” classified as “unidentified” objects, that absolutely does NOT mean that NASA, the DoD, and certain elements within the scientific community worldwide are completely in the dark as to what these things you are seeing are. Make no mistake: The Powers That Be are indeed aware of far more about our mysterious Universe than they are ever willing to admit to us. We, the plebeian masses of this planet, are being held in a state of enforced ignorance, deemed not worthy of knowing the full truth by those who are REALLY “running the show” down here on Earth. As this video shows over and over again however, there are indeed snippets of that amazing truth that have been left scattered about the official government archives over the decades, there for us to find so we may begin to educate ourselves about what is the most monumental coverup in human history – where the only thing more incredible than the lies is the truth!
Videos From: youtube.com/lunacognita
By Giordano Bruno | Neithercorp Press…
Tyranny thrives by feeding on human necessity. It examines what sustains us, what we hope for, what we desire, what we love, and uses those needs as leverage against us. If you want safety, they will take it away and barter it back to you at a steep price. If you want success or respect, then you must bow to the existing arbitrary pecking order and play the game nicely. If you want to raise a family, then you must accept the state as a part-time parent. If you want kinship, then you must settle for a thin veneer of empty pleasantries and insincere associations. If you want independence, then you are simply labeled as a threat and done away with altogether. Autocratic rulers are first and foremost salesmen; they convince us that life itself has a “cost”, that we are born indebted, and all bills must be made payable to the establishment. First and foremost, we are sold on the idea that in all of this, we are ultimately alone…
It is within these manipulated concepts of cost and isolation that we discover the foundation of all totalitarian cultures: Collectivism.
Collectivism is not a space age invention or a product of the abstract musings of Marxists, though many seem to think that their version of a hive society is “new” and certainly better than anything ever attempted in the past. No, collectivism is a psychological prison derived from a beneficial instinct as old as humanity itself; the instinct to connect with others, to share experiences and knowledge, to build and create together. It is an instinct as essential to our survival as breathing. Collectivism uses this instinct as a weapon. It is a corrupted and poisoned harnessing of our intuitive nature. It is an inadequate and cancerous substitute for something which normally invigorates and supports healthy culture: true community.
In this age, our ideas of what constitutes “community” have been tainted and confused with the propaganda of collectivists. Our instincts tell us that the world we have been presented is hollow, while our controlled environment tells us that the world is just as it should be (or the best we’re going to get, anyway). How then, are we to tell the difference between natural community, and destabilizing and destructive collectivism? Let’s examine some of the root conflicts between these two social systems, as well as the philosophical shortcomings of collectivism itself…
Common Aspects Of Collectivism
Looking back at the single minded and highly dominating collectivist experiments of the past, it is easy to see the common threads between them. Certain methods are always present. Certain actions are always taken. Certain beliefs are always adopted. Here are just a few…
The Blank Slate: In order for the state to elevate itself in importance above the individual, it must first promote the idea that the individual does not exist, that your uniqueness or inherent character are only a byproduct of your environment. There are many methods to propagating this mindset. Junk science and establishment psychological theorists often treat the human mind as a mere bundle of chemicals and synapses. Emotions are pigeonholed as “hormonal reactions”. Conscience and even attachment a result of “conditioning” (i.e. H.F. Harlow’s ridiculous rhesus monkey experiments).
Existentialism attacks individualism from the philosophical end; suggesting that all actions and reactions are random results of a purely chaotic universe, while at the same time peddling moral relativism and apathy. If all is based on environment and chance, and there is no purpose or meaning to life, then why care about anything?
Religious organizations that choose to abuse their positions of trust also feed collectivism by standing in the way of personal awareness, or even making it taboo to value the individual over the collective (though people tend to wrongly blame the concept of religion itself, rather than the corrupt men who sometimes misuse it).
Each one of these tactics is a tool in the arsenal of collectivists meant to degrade our social admiration for individual thought. Of course, if one actually studies beyond mainstream sources for information (as we have in numerous articles) on the many biological mysteries of the human mind, the numerous inconsistencies of clinical psychiatry, the irrational assumptions of existentialism, that person would find that the blank slate assertion is filled with so many holes it is laughable. However, as long as groups of men strive for power over others, the attacks on individualism will continue. As desperate as elitists have been through the years to build an environment devoid of independent thought, they have met only with failure. Perhaps you just can’t remove from all people those values which are inborn and intuitive, no matter how monstrous the world is around us.
Centralization Instead Of Cooperation: Cooperation in society is often spontaneous and dependent on a number of underlying factors working together at the right place, and at the right time. It takes a noble endeavor and even more noble leadership indeed to inspire the masses to step onto the same path towards the same direction. This is why legitimate large scale cooperation is so venerated in the annals of history; such events are truly rare and miraculous. Tyrants and elitists have no endeavors that rank as “noble”. They serve only their own interests. So, instead of trying to encourage cooperation they won’t receive, they centralize various systems by coercion. If you can’t convince the public to abandon their own paths for yours, then forcefully remove all paths until the people have only one choice left.
Economic centralization is very indicative of this maneuver. While we in the Liberty Movement see a whole spectrum of possible options for markets and trade, many other people see only what is right in front of them; the same crooked fiat money system controlled by the same gaggle of fraudulent central bankers. A large portion of our populace has been convinced that there is only one way to participate in the economy, and thus they act collectively, and blindly.
Another obvious example is the false left/right political system. While there are as many political views as there are people, most tend to affiliate themselves with one of two; Republican or Democrat. Even if you were to believe that the two major parties are honestly opposed, you have still allowed the establishment to narrow your choices down to two. Add the fact that both major parties actually support nearly the same exact policies and goals, and now your choices have been narrowed to one. Millions of people jump on this one bandwagon every four years, thinking that they are cooperating voluntarily, when they have instead been centralized, and collectivized.
Constant Fear, Constant Threats: Fear and survival are powerful motivators. Without ample self awareness and strength of character, these base instincts can overwhelm rationality and conscience. Every collectivist feudalist system ever devised has used a “common enemy” or an iron hand, to quell dissent in the citizenry and to forcefully unify them not under the auspices of an honest cause, but a terror so profound as to drive them to malleable despair.
When life and death hang in the balance everyday, and people have no time to relax, they can in fact go literally mad. All logic flies out the window, panic ensues, and the masses turn to whoever is ready to offer them a way to sanity; “sanity” meaning “comfort”. After a period of constant danger and distress, even fascism can feel comfortable for a while. Collectivist systems are always clashing with the bubbling tides of individual freedom. Because of this, they must continuously qualify their usefulness. There must always be an imminent threat over the horizon, otherwise, the strangling regulations of the state serve no purpose.
Individualism Equated With “Selfishness”: One of the inevitable conditions of collectivism is the demonization of free thought. In a collective, every person becomes a cog in a great machine. The majority begins to see itself not as a group of individuals acting together, but as a single unit with a single purpose. Any person who chooses to step outside of the box and point out a different view becomes a danger to the whole. A machine cannot function if all the parts are not working in harmony. Disagreement in a collectivist system is not considered a civic duty; it is considered a crime that places everyone else at risk. As a dissenter, you are not a person, but a malfunction that must be dealt with.
It is easy to tell when your nation is turning towards collectivism; you only have to gauge how often you are accused of “selfishness” every time you question the needs of the state over the needs of the individual. This argument arises incessantly in countries on the verge of a despotic shift. Interestingly, it is selfishness that tends to drive collectivists, not individualists. As we discussed earlier, collectivists act out of base fear, and a personal desire to survive regardless of the expense. They may disguise it as duty, or “universal love”, but at bottom, they are driven by pure self-interested. They are willing to sacrifice anything, including their own souls, to hang onto what little they have. They are especially willing to sacrifice what YOU have, to maintain THEIR standard of living, or to see their personal world view enacted. Is there anything more self-centered than a man prepared to destroy the livelihood and freedoms of others just to feel temporarily secure?
Promises Of A Fantastic Future: “Innovation” and “progress” are alluring dreams, dreams which can easily be realized in a free society made up of intelligent individuals thinking in ways which go against the norm. The more unique insights present in a culture, the more likely it is to surpass itself and succeed. Strangely though, it always seems to be collectivists who throw around visions of high tech trains, floating cities, and sustainability as benefits to relinquishing certain freedoms. The insinuation is that if people set aside their individualism, their society becomes stronger, and more productive, like worker bees who only strive for one thing; the perfect hive.
Now, this has never been proven to be an advantage of collectivism. One could say given the evidence that a society flourishes less and contributes less the more centralized it becomes. Constructing immaculate castles, pyramids, magnetic highways, or space stations on the moon, does not necessarily make a culture great. It doesn’t even make a culture interesting. What is far more interesting is a society that seeks to enrich the lives of common men, rather than fabricating edifices and launching technologies while using people up as fuel for the collectivist fire. At any rate, I cannot think of a single extreme centralized system that actually delivered on the grand promises it made when in its initial stages of power. Whether this is because their pledges were impossible to fulfill, or because they never intended to fulfill them in the first place, is hard to say…
Common Aspects Of Community
Now that we have explored the intricacies of collectivism, let’s take a look at what it is designed to destroy. What makes real community? What are its benefits and its weaknesses? How does it begin? How does it end? Why is it such a threat to collectivists? Here are a few answers…
Real Purpose: Communities develop in light of meaningful exchange. Their purpose is natural and common. Their goals are not fixed, but evolve as the community progresses. The beneficiaries are the citizenry, sometimes even those who do not directly participate, rather than a select minority of elites. Because the actions of communities are decentralized, and based on a sense of honor and integrity instead of egomania, they tend to appear direction-less, while at the same time making vast and concrete achievements. Communities work best when purpose and destiny are self determined.
Voluntary Participation: There is no need to force people to participate in a system that operates on honesty, conscience, and individual will. In fact, many people today long for a system like this. When men and women apply their energies to something they believe in, instead of something they are manipulated into following, the results can be spectacular. Progress becomes second nature, an afterthought, instead of an unhealthy obsession.
Legitimate Respect: The purpose of a true community is not to keep tabs on the personal lives of its participants, nor to mold their notions. The rights of the individual are respected above all else. Again, the more varied the insights of a population, the stronger it becomes. For a community to attempt to stifle the viewpoints of its citizens would be to commit suicide. There is strength in numbers, but even greater strength in variety. Individualism takes effort, time, and dedication. A society made up of people who have made this journey cannot help but esteem each other.
Flexibility Leads To Stability: A wise man adopts that which works, and throws out that which fails. He does not dismiss methods out of hand, nor does he hang onto methods that disappoint simply because he cannot let go. He educates himself through experience. Adaptability, flexibility, agility in thought and in policy creates solid ground for a society to build. Communities survive by being able to admit when a mistake has been made, and by being open to new options. Rigid systems, like collectivist systems, cannot function unless the people conform to the establishment, and its deficiencies. Communities function best when the establishment conforms to the people, and the truth.
Mutual Aid: Collectivist systems are notorious for promoting the idea that “we are all one”, however, they usually end up becoming the most anti-social and uncaring cultures to grace the planet. You cannot centralize or enforce charity because then it is no longer charity, but slavery. Citizens of communities, on the other hand, actually seek to help each other, not because they expect immediate returns, or because it’s “good for the state”, but because they value an atmosphere of benevolence. The generosity of community helps individuals detach from dependence on government, or bureaucracy. The less dependence on centralized authority, the stronger and safer everyone becomes.
Mutual Defense: While collectivism sacrifices its participants for some undefined “greater good”, communities defend one another, knowing that if the fate of one’s neighbor is ignored, the fate of oneself may also be ignored by others. No one is “expendable” in a community. EVERYONE is expendable in a collective.
Building Community In A Modern World
The task of constructing meaningful community today is daunting, but crucial. In an increasingly centralized and desensitized world, the only recourse of the honorable is to decentralize, and to reintroduce the model of independence once again. This starts with self sufficient communities and solid principles. It starts with unabashed and unwavering pride in the values of sovereignty and liberty. It starts with a relentless pursuit of balance, and truth. It starts with an incredible amount of hard work.
The trappings of collectivism sometimes seem insurmountable. The mindless devotion of our friends and family to a system that harms them can cause us to lose hope, and to lose focus. We must remember how collectivism operates; by removing the power of choice from the equation. If we return that power, then many people who we may have once deemed “lost causes” might awaken as well. By exposing the masses to another option, a better option, we undo years of lies, and lengths of chain. If there was ever a perfect moment to begin this battle, now is the time; while Americans are still searching for solutions, and not too fearful to pursue them once they are found.
Ghost in the Machine: Secret State Teams Up with Ad Pimps to Throttle Privacy
The secret world of “cyber situational awareness” is a spymaster’s wet dream, made all the more alluring by the advent of ultra high speed computing and the near infinite storage capacity afforded by massive server farms and the ubiquitous “cloud.”
Within that dusky haze, obscured by claims of national security or proprietary business information, take your pick, would you bet your life that the wizards of misdirection and deception care a whit that you really are more than a disembodied data point?
Lost in the debate surrounding privacy invasion and data mining however, is the key role that internet service providers (ISPs) play as intermediaries and gatekeepers. From their perch, ISPs peer deeply into and collect and analyze the online communications of tens of millions of users simultaneously, in real-time.
Concerted efforts to eliminate online anonymity, in managed democracies and authoritarian regimes alike, are greatly enhanced by the deployment of deep packet inspection (DPI) sensors and software on virtually all networks.
As Canadian privacy watchdogs DeepPacketInspection.ca tell us, DPI offer ISPs “unparalleled levels of intelligence into subscribers’ online activities.”
“To unpack this a little” they aver, “all data traffic that courses across the ‘net is contained in individual packets that have header (i.e. addressing) information and payload (i.e. content) information. We can think of this as the address on a postcard and the written and visual content of a postcard.”
All of which is there for the taking, “criminal evidence, ready for use in a trial,”Cryptohippie chillingly informs.
Still the illusion persists that communication technologies are somehow “neutral.” Neither good nor bad but rather, much like a smart phone loaded with geolocation tracking chips or the surveillance-ready internet itself, simplythere for all to use.
Reality as is its wont, bites with ever-sharper teeth.
As with other recent advances touted as breakthroughs–from the biomedical and pharmaceutical research that spawned factory farming and genetically-modified crops to something as seemingly banal as the highway system that ushered in exurban sprawl–from the workplace to the car-pool lane to idle hours spent trolling the web, our techno-toys function rather handily as instruments of social control.
Simply put, DPI hand our minders an unprecedented means to examine and catalogue our online communications. From blog posts to web searches to the content of email and video files, we’re delivered up every day, figuratively and literally, to advertising pimps or law enforcers, a faceless army of gatekeepers guarding an indefensible system in perpetual crisis.
Subtly guiding internet traffic into fast and slow lanes, based on the size and content of a particular file, or examining said file for malicious or illegal content, DPI has been deployed as a means of conserving bandwidth and as a defense against viral attacks.
Leaving aside the critical issue of net neutrality, linked to moves to further monetize the internet and hold communications hostage to the ability to pay for quicker network speeds, there is no question that ISPs and individual users should have a keen interest in defending themselves against the depredations of organized gangs of identity thieves and predators.
If DPI were solely a tool to weed out malicious hacks or channel traffic in more equitable ways, thereby ensuring the broadest possible access to all, it couldprovide concrete benefits to users and contribute to a safer and more secure communications’ environment.
This hasn’t happened. Instead, securocrats and corporatists alike are working feverishly to “reengineer the internet”–for the delivery of targeted ads and as a surveillance platform–and both view DPI’s ability to read individual messages, the “deep packet” as it were, as a singular means to do just that.
Last year, Antifascist Calling reported on moves by surveillance mavens to deploy deep packet sniffing Einstein 3 software developed by the National Security Agency on the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure.
As with the agency’s pervasive driftnet spying on Americans, as AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein revealed in his release of internal companydocuments, DPI and the hardware that powers it is the “secret sauce” animating these illegal programs.
Earlier this year, Klein told Wired Magazine that the documents suggest that NSA’s warrantless wiretapping “was just the tip of an eavesdropping iceberg,” evidence of “an untargeted, massive vacuum cleaner sweeping up millions of peoples’ communications every second automatically.”
Ostensibly designed for detecting and thwarting malicious attacks aimed at government networks, The Wall Street Journal revealed that the packet sniffing Einstein 3 program, developed under the code name TUTELAGE, can screen computer traffic flowing into state portals from private sector networks, including those connecting people to the internet.
“Its filtering technology,” journalist Siobhan Gorman wrote, “can read the content of email and other communications.”
Einstein 3 is considered so toxic to privacy that AT&T sought “legal assurance that it will not be sued for participating in the pilot program,” The Washington Post reported. Although they were given assurances by Bush’s former Attorney General, Michael B. Mukasey, that the firm “would bear no liability,” AT&T deferred until the Obama administration granted the waiver in 2009. So far, the federal government has expended some $2 billion on the program.
Jacob Appelbaum, a security researcher with the Tor Anonymity Project toldCNET News in March that expanding Einstein 3 to private networks “would amount to a partial outsourcing of security” to unaccountable corporations.
But it will do much, much more. Appelbaum averred that the project represents “a clear loss of control [for the public]. And anyone with access to that monitoring system, legitimate or otherwise, would be able to monitor amazing amounts of traffic.”
A year later, a related program under development by NSA and defense giant Raytheon, “Perfect Citizen,” relies on a suite of sensors deployed in computer networks that will persistently monitor whichever system they are plugged into. While little has been revealed about how Perfect Citizen will work, it was called by a corporate insider the cyber equivalent of “Big Brother,” according to an email obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
I have pointed out many times that under the rubric of cybersecurity (the latest profit-generating “War on Terror” front), the secret state, America’s telecoms and internet service providers are conjoined at the hip in what are blandly called “public-private partnerships.”
Ultimately, the goal of the secretive enterprise, Public Intelligence averred, “is not simply to increase the flow of ‘threat information’ from government agencies to private industry, but to facilitate greater ‘information sharing’ between those companies and the federal government.”
This will be accomplished once “real-time cyber situational awareness” is achieved across all eighteen critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR) sectors identified in the report.
Simply put, NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program and a constellation of top secret cybersecurity projects will come to nought if filtering software that examines–and catalogues–the content, or deep packets, of those spied upon aren’t deployed across all networks, public and private.
No surprise then, that the origins of the ghost in the internet surveillance machine lie in unscrupulous efforts by advert pimps to deliver us to market.
“Opting In” to the Corporate Police State
Readers are familiar with the practice of web sites that install tracking “cookies” and other nasty bits of code that follow our antics across the internet.
This information is sold to advertisers by firms such as Google and Yahoo who charge a premium price for the privilege of peering into browsing habits.
Last month The Wall Street Journal reported that a gaggle of niche firms “harvest online conversations and collect personal details from social-networking sites, résumé sites and online forums where people might discuss their lives.”
We’re told that the dubious practice of “web scraping” provides the “raw material” in a rapidly expanding “data economy.” Journal reporters found that marketers “spent $7.8 billion on online and offline data in 2009″ and that “spending on data from online sources is set to more than double, to $840 million in 2012 from $410 million in 2009.”
And with incentives such as these, and virtually nothing in the way of regulation, is it any wonder we find ourselves preyed upon.
While we might garner a measure of privacy from the prying eyes of ISPs, marketing vultures and our political minders through the use of strong encryption, as I reported last month, the Obama administration will soon seek congressional authorization which mandates that software designers and social networking sites build backdoors into their systems.
According to The New York Times, the administration claims this is necessary so that law enforcement and intelligence snoops have a surefire means “to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages,” because their “ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is ‘going dark’.”
Mendacious administration claims are more than matched by those in the online advertising industry.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that deep packet inspection, “one of the most potentially intrusive technologies for profiling and targeting Internet users with ads is on the verge of a comeback, two years after an outcry by privacy advocates in the U.S. and Britain appeared to kill it.”
Right up front, Phorm declares that theirs’ is a “global personalisation technology company” that “delivers a more interesting online experience,” that is, if your interests lie in having a behavioral profile of yourself created, centered around intrusive web tracking and data mining technologies.
While both firms claim that user privacy is of “paramount” concern, the industry’s track record suggests otherwise. In 2008 for example, internet marketing firm NebuAd planned to “use deep packet inspection to deliver targeted advertising to millions of broadband subscribers unless they explicitly opted out of the service.”
An outcry ensued when the scheme became public knowledge. While NebuAd has gone out of business, “several U.S. ISPs who signed deals with NebuAd have been hit with class-action lawsuits accusing them of ‘installing spyware devices; on their networks,” the Journal averred.
According to Ars Technica, the lawsuit charged the firm and ISPs “Bresnan Communications, Cable One, CenturyTel, Embarq, Knology, and WOW! of all being involved in the interception, copying, transmission, collection, storage, usage, and altering of private data from users.”
“All of the involved parties,” journalist Jacqui Cheng wrote, were “alleged to have violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, California’s Computer Crime Law, the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the California Invasion of Privacy Act.”
In Britain, a similar controversy erupted when BT Group PLC were forced to disclose that they “had tested Phorm’s technology on some subscribers without telling them. Last year, BT and two other British ISPs that explored deploying Phorm’s service–Virgin Media Inc. and TalkTalk–abandoned it,” theJournal reported.
At the time, the nose-tweaking tech web site The Register revealed that although Phorm refused to state how many BT customers had been profiled, “at the absolute least there are 38,000 BT Retail customers unaware their communications have been allegedly criminally intercepted in the last two years. The number could be as high as 108,000.”
When grilled by The Register as to why Phorm doesn’t believe “people have the right to know how likely it is they were part of a secret test,” a Phorm spokesperson replied “‘We’re just not going to disclose that’.” He claimed “‘they were BT customers and you have to ask BT about that’.”
BT also refused to respond to inquiries. How’s that for transparency!
Why then, should users believe industry professions of faith that ISPs won’t provide them with subscribers’ real identities? After all, as one wag told theJournal, ISPs “feel like they have data and they ought to be able to use it” and “they really desperately want to.”
Accordingly, the Journal reported that Kindsight, owned by telecommunications giant Alcatel-Lucent SA (talk about a seamless web!), “says six ISPs in the U.S., Canada and Europe have been testing its security service this year although it isn’t yet delivering targeted ads. It declined to name the clients.”
CEO Mike Gassewitz told Journal reporters that the company “has been placing ads on various websites to test the ad-placement technology and build up a base of advertisers, which now number about 100,000.”
Phorm’s history hardly inspires confidence. CEO Kent Ertugrul, “a Princeton-educated, former investment banker,” we’re informed by the Journal, honed his business skills in the early 1990s when he formed “a joint venture with the Russian Space Agency to offer joy rides to tourists in MiG-29 fighter jets.”
Coming at the height of the Yeltsin kleptocracy that looted billions of dollars in assets from the sell-off of the prized possessions of the former Soviet Union, at the very least this should have raised an eyebrow or two.
Before changing its name to Phorm in 2007, Ertugrul ran an enterprise called 121Media. According to numerous published reports, the firm produced a spyware application called PeopleOnPage. “This application,” Wikipediaaverred, “acted as a browser hijacker and passed details of the user’s currently visited website to central ContextPlus servers, so that the user could be targeted with advertising” in the form of intrusive pop-ups.
The adware component, AproposMedia, was described by InternetSecurityZone.com as “…a malicious executable program that is usually installed without user consent or knowledge. AproposMedia may have the ability to secretly monitor, record, and transmit computer activity.” Indeed, The Register reported that Ertugrul’s PeopleOnPage ad network “was blacklisted as spyware by the likes of Symantec and F-Secure.”
Former pop-up king Ertugrul has called online rights’ campaigners “privacy pirates” who represent a “neo-Luddite retrenchment,” and told The Daily Telegraph last year that Phorm’s technology is a “game changer” in “protecting users’ privacy.”
But armed with a marketing scheme that promises “the potential for companies to collect substantially more revenue for literally any page on the internet,” serious privacy concerns are a real issue when deep packet inspection technologies are touted as a splendid means to do so.
Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee told New Scientist in 2009 that the “ever-increasing power of computers that is helping the internet to grow is also threatening its future.”
Berners-Lee “likened DPI to wiretapping, and pointed out that companies could use it to learn a huge amount about our ‘lives, hates and fears’.”
Information I might add, that is portable and readily exploitable by our political minders and the corporate grifters they so lovingly serve.
And with a national security state already monitoring huge volumes of data collected from the internet and other electronic communications’ platforms,The Guardian warns that Britain and other managed Western democracies are “sleepwalking into a surveillance society.”
Isn’t it time we woke up?
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily,Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.
Huddled around flickering candles and eating food before it could spoil, longtime neighbors introduced themselves, discovering similarities and answering the question of the day: “Where were you when the lights went out?” They were asking this, of course, during the big blackout of August 14, 2003, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself. This story begins in the stars…
Living in New York City, I often have the opportunity to see stars. They’re everywhere: at cafés, boutiques, movie premieres, health clubs, & other such earthbound venues. Check the gossip columns if you don’t believe me.
When the blackout of ’03 dimmed the mighty skyline, however, I could suddenly see stars simply by looking up…zillions of them blinking at me from beyond the unlit skyscrapers.
Traffic lights were out of commission, but to the southeast, Mars provided the only red light we really needed.
By odd coincidence, our crimson neighbor was closer to Earth than ever before and the power outage gave us Easterners an excellent view of Mars’s southern hemisphere from a mere 34.6 million miles away—34,646,418.5 miles to be exact, but who measures in the middle of a blackout?
Still, even with the stars twinkling above and little green Martians close enough to reach out and shake my hand, it was when I returned my gaze back down to the streets that I truly couldn’t believe my eyes. Strolling through Astoria as the sun set that clammy evening, one could witness a sight even more uncommon than any celestial spectacle.
My neighbors had abandoned their post-modern pace and begun listening to their primitive instincts. All across the darkened city, Big Apple inhabitants stopped hustling. They sat still and talked to each other.
No computers, no televisions, no telephones…just face-to-face communication (even if it was too dark at times to actually see faces).
This unforeseen solidarity was somehow accomplished without the assistance of Twitter or Facebook. Money didn’t change hands, no cell phone radiation was emitted, no air was conditioned.
Under a sky full of stars and a visiting red space-mate, it was miraculously possible to re-connect to our more prehistoric roots and encounter the sort of life we may have evolved to live back in the “caveman” days.
Our modern caves, the subterranean tunnels of transportation known as “the subway,” were virtually empty that night but the concrete jungle above them might as well have been the Savannah of ancient Africa. The tribes of Astoria sat around fires, sharing food and communal stories. Some even beat on drums.
In times like this, it’s easier to appreciate that we each possess a physiology that evolved to negotiate the Stone Age. Inconveniently, we live in the Space Age. Therein lies the rub. We are urban cavemen (and cavewomen, of course)—overmatched in our daily crusade to navigate an artificial reality because we have lost contact with our nature.
For one thing, we likely didn’t evolve to be surrounded by this many people. Thus, in our futile search for a manageable tribe, we preserve our attention for a handful of fellow humans. What’s vexing is how to deal with the other few million humans who are not in our tribe…but still in our face.
Subsequently, we inventive mortals have cultivated the astounding ability to simply pretend that other people aren’t there. Our non-tribe members are henceforth bequeathed sub-human status and are hastily disregarded.
Here’s what the noted zoologist Desmond Morris said about this form of universal denial:
“In the busy streets, you develop human traffic skills of amazing dexterity. In crowded buses, trains, and elevators, you acquire a blank stare. You have eyes only for those you know. This enables you to enjoy the varied delights of the big city while mentally re-creating a personal tribe existence.”
But, dear Desmond, what happens when those streets aren’t busy…like, say, during the worst blackout in U.S. history?
We may have eyes only for those we know, but what about when it’s too shadowy to tell the difference?
With our vision impaired enough to create the illusion of intimacy and our vaunted technology no longer at our overworked fingertips, this urban caveman got a taste of a different life and a potentially different culture.
Sure, things returned to “normal” by the next day, but the experience left some of us wondering just what “normal” means.
The last time Mars got this close to Earth was 60,000 years ago…an age when stars were easy to find and one could cause a blackout by simply dousing the fire.
In a mere 280 or so years, the extraterrestrial lady in red will once again be 34,646,418.5 miles away. I wonder what kind (if any) of earthly human culture will be there to greet her.