Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Leak that Broke the Levee: the PRISMatic Face of Unilateral Cyberwar

      Earlier this month, an intelligence analyst working for the CIA named Edward Snowden leaked NSA documents detailing a vast surveillance program titled PRISM, in which such companies as Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and others have been complicit in spying on citizens of the internet with absolute impunity for nearly a decade.
 Now, there is a frantic effort to "bring Snowden to justice," by the Obama administration and the US DOJ; and this is the knee-jerk response the US has employed for whistle-blowers.  Quite possibly the most obnoxious, and ham-handed response one can conjure.  The rationale for spying on everyone who uses the internet is a tough sell, so there hasn't been much debate on the actual topic of the PRISM; rather, the media has primarily focused on the celebrity and evasion of Edward Snowden as he flees extraordinary rendition, extradition, assassination, and character defamation at the hands of the US (and the many assets it employs off the record).

     I wrote in detail about the threat of mass surveillance after Wikileaks published the "Global intelligence files," which contained classified e-mails between private intelligence firm Stratfor, and its contacts and assets, both within and without the US government.  In my article, I showed how intelligence agencies were using data mining techniques to identify dissidents domestically, and create profiles; an activity which is clearly classified as a totalitarian aspect.  It was a technique employed by Mussolini's Brown Shirts, and Hitler's SS.  In fact, many of the same torture techniques and propagandizing have been employed by the US which bear a striking resemblance to the German police state during the Third Reich.

      This leak represents a struggle in ideology.  Humany has reached a point where technology can facilitate a new height of democracy, or a new depth of tyranny; without any gray points in between.  As we currently stand, we're embroiled in the traditions of the past, and the comfort of democracy as we have understood it for the past fifty years.  But over time, economic and political interests are disassembling the rights and freedoms of innocent citizens of sovereign nations.  I won't go into detail here on how this is being accomplished, however, if you want proof, read "The Police State is Coming" which explains some of the legal changes of significance; including but not limited to the TPP, ACTA, and the Patriot Act.  Legal changes of particular note include those pertaining to international trade, international intellectual property and copyright, international US criminality ('enemy combattant') and any laws promulgating a North American Union.  The legal developments are a classic manuever of consolidating power before a big event.  Louis XIV, Hitler, Genghis Khan.. all examples of pre-war consolidators.   So what war is the US preparing for?

      It is my opinion, though it is founded on historical example and documented fact, that the US is preparing for a quasi annexation of Canada within the next decade.  This may sound far fetched, but there are some hints that such a pact is coming into place. There have been nearly a dozen US-led annexations and coups in its history. None of them were motivated by human rights. All were motivated economically.  A good book to read on this topic is Overthrow, a book written by journalist Stephen Kinzer. Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke gravely about the threat of a military industrial complex:

"We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method ..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex."

      But the object of this article is not to speculate on the motives of the US' clandestine desires. Instead, I wanted to shed light on the fact that the most powerful and integrated technology hubs on the internet are compromised, and have all but demanded an all-out boycott.  That's right, time to boycott facebook, google, yahoo, microsoft.. all the patsies of the NSA.  Do your searches in - find another social media outlet, because facebook has no qualms whatsoever with not only selling your information to the highest bidder, but censoring information that its partners find inconvenient.

      I think what is scariest about all this is that its the US doing it.

Here's a country which systematically:

   -   wages unilateral economic and militaristic war

   -   engages in clandestine aggression without recourse or remorse
   -   hijacks and destabilizes the economic system at the sole benefit of its private banks
   -   implements political purchasing frameworks
   -   conceals information of its misdeeds (and conceals that concealment)
   -   commits heinous war crimes
   -   spies on other countries
   -   spies on its own citizens
   -   persecutes protestors and whistleblowers
   -   implements, then openly violates Geneva law

Do you really want these guys watching you?

      Is the convenience of google's search results so convenient you'd trade your privacy?  How about the advantages of Facebook?   It is a choice we will all have to make.  Even blogger is monitored, as a subsidiary of Google. So this very post is hypocritical, but it highlights the choice well. 

      I've already left facebook, and no longer use google search.  I'm in the process of changing my operating system to Mozilla instead of Microsoft as well.  Over time, I will be moving all my documents from Blogger, although this will be the last of the changes.  To be clear, the purpose of boycotting isn't to make Larry Page feel sad cuz we're mean.

     The purpose of a boycott is to provide an incentive to protect privacy. If privacy protection = profit, it will win.  Whatever the shady motivations of the US gov't may be, they will certainly, 100% without a doubt involve massive economic profits - if not exactly now.  You can learn more about how algorithms will be central to economic superiority in my article The Emergent Hive. In sum, computer programs will be worth more than physical materials, starting a computing arms race, which is fought on the fronts of hardware and software. 

  Currently, *exaflop capabilities are projected for the year 2018; both China and Europe, as well as corporate American companies have begun preparations for exaflop systems. Intel is one such company, and one of the first to release a commercially available three dimensional chip array

(*One exaflop represents 1018  "floating point operations per second," which simplified, is the processor speed in a computer.  One exaflop is one thousand times more powerful than the most powerful supercomputer of 2008 [1].)

      Almost one year before MIT released a white paper on convergence, a document entitled "Designing a Digital Future: Federally Funded Research and Development in Networking and Information Technology," written by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology as a report to the President and Congress; describes how "data volumes are growing exponentially," and that "every Federal agency needs to have a 'big data' strategy." Further, the report describes how machine learning and data mining could be valuable tools to turn an ocean of data into an ocean of wealth and power. (By the way, Eric Schmidt of Google signed off on this paper as a member of the President's Innovation and Technology Advisory Committee [PITAC]).

       The report writes that "in many areas, performance gains due to improvements in algorithms have vastly exceeded even the dramatic performance gains due to increased processor speed." They further wrote that:

  "a benchmark production planning model solved using linear programming would have taken 82 years to solve in 1988, using the computers and the linear programming algorithms of the day. Fifteen years later—in 2003—this same model could be solved in roughly one minute, an improvement by a factor of roughly 43 million. Of this, a factor of roughly 1,000 was due to increased processor speed, whereas a factor of roughly 43,000 was due to improvements in algorithms." Our software and hardware are a duality in which processing is an emergent force.  Just as the river shapes the riverbed, and that bank guides the flow of water. They are coevolutionary partners in a feedback loop.  As such, empowering either one facilitates the further advancement of the other.  That makes information on the internet extremely valuable.

      On the topic of privacy, the report states:

"As [Networking and Information Technology] increasingly pervades daily life, systems are storing and processing a greater volume and diversity of private information about individuals. Privacy is a critical issue in all societal applications of NIT – most obviously in areas such as healthcare and electronic commerce, but also in areas such as energy, transportation, and education. Privacy challenges do not and must not require us to forgo the benefits of NIT in addressing national priorities. Rather, we need a practical science of privacy protection, based on fundamental advances in NIT, to provide us with tools we can use to reconcile privacy with progress."

      As you can see, the US government has been preparing to make a move for years now, possibly as long ago as the 70s and 80s when machine learning via neural nets was becoming popular, and ideologies about the internet were surfacing. It provides the perfect framework for control. Think about it; a massively distributed misinformation and surveillance network, which the population purchases and implements on their own dime.  Hitler would have been licking his chops at such an opportunity.

    Despite the ominous warning signs, I'd like to have a hopeful outlook.

      We can use the fundamentals of a free market economic system to shift power wherever we like, as long as we decide as a collective. So I say let's collectively raise our middle fingers to any of the participants of PRISM, up until the point they apologize or at the very least withdraw their participation in the implementation of worldwide tyranny (actually, no apology necessary, just stop the peeping).  Nothing is worth its weight in liberty. That being said, it's clear there's been a blackout, or gag order, or some sort of non-disclosure that these companies have participated in.  Facebook and Google released suspiciously similar statements on the topic of PRISM.  It's obvious they were coerced, probably before and after, but I doubt they put up much of a fight.  It would have been relatively easy for Google to cause a fuss on the topic.  They could have published a little webcomic of someone peeping in a window and smacking their lips like an animal.  

      I strongly suggest you become outspoken on this issue. Leave comments on the main webpages, news media, or link one of my articles if you agree this is an issue people should be aware of. At the moment, the system that is in place is designed to catch terrorists through what is called metadata, which is a macroscopic interpretation of information flowing through the internet; such as many calls being placed to a suspicious location, and likely banking services. 

  But doing nothing is irresponsible, and we can't rely on the American populace to control their government, that is naive and strategically lazy. People need to spread the word, and shake up the House of Commons in Canada, Congress in the States, Parliament in the UK.