There is a name for a system of government that wages aggressive war, deceives its citizens, violates their rights, abuses power and breaks the law, rejects judicial and legislative checks on itself, claims power without limit, tortures prisoners and acts in secret. It is dictatorship.
===Surveillance Nation (Victor Navasky, Eric Foner, Patricia Williams)
A government could engage in undetectable targeted repression using metadata. Something like PRISM might be hooked up to a secret civil defense mechanism in which certain people are subject to a couple of extra steps when they apply for a loan, for instance. Our enshrined secret FISA court would hear that those who might be linked to terrorists—albeit in only an exceedingly weak, insubstantial, statistical sense—must be investigated before buying up American real estate. (That could be part of a terrorist plot, after all.) If you are a conservative, please read this paragraph: a misuse of something like PRISM might manifest itself as a slight increase in the difficulty with which conservatives can get credit. The difference would be just slight enough to be almost impossible to document definitively. And yet over enough time, the results would be substantial.
If you are a progressive, please read this paragraph: a misuse of something like PRISM might manifest itself as a slight increase in the difficulty with which progressives can get credit. The difference would be just slight enough to be almost impossible to document definitively. And yet over enough time, the results would be substantial. Metadata systems can turn the kind of broad, almost subconscious mechanisms that have persistently held back African-Americans and Native Americans into a science. It’s been hard to say exactly why certain demographics and neighborhoods seem never to get ahead. Analysis can sometimes be harder than engineering. Metadata as a tool of political power would paint with such a broad brush that you’d barely be able to notice it. If only people who oppose a war are targeted, for instance, a judicious number of hawks would also be drawn into the dragnet. The effect would be slight and statistical, but with the power of compound interest over time. Metadata could perfect plausibly deniable discrimination.
In a sense, it already has. Metadata is a slow, relentless concentrator of wealth and power for those who run the computers best able to calculate with it. The only form of targeting that is absolutely reliable is distinguishing those who run the biggest computers from everyone else. The former group can concentrate tremendous wealth, while the latter group languishes behind. The rise of big computers is a primary engine of the rise of the 1 percent. Therefore, metadata scheming could probably also be applied to subtly align a population with a government over some years. After a decade or two, the political opposition might be poor, divided, cranky and ineffective. The proof is already with us. Young people, weaned on free Internet services that spy on them, seem to have accepted an America in which their financial prospects are reduced, and in which no one should expect “privacy.”
The acquiescence of our young people is historically exceptional and bizarre. In the metadata age, privacy needs a new definition, and it might be “freedom from being profiled.” Or “equity with those who use the biggest computers.” Metadata is a more natural tool for a plutocracy than for a junta. Metadata is not a tiger; it’s a barnacle. But don’t underestimate a barnacle. Tigers are endangered, while the ship of state is becoming more encrusted every day.
==Surveillance Nation (Victor Navasky, Eric Foner,
One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.--Carl Sagan
The Obama administration and proponents of the FCC’s version of net neutrality may be ecstatic at the passing of regulations that make the Internet a public utility on Feb. 26th, but not all FCC members are so sunny in their outlook for the future.
TechFreedom held a fireside chat on Feb. 27th with two FCC commissioners, Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly, and the two of them concurred that the new regulations are far-reaching, largely unchecked and pose a threat to consumer bills and to innovation in the industry.
Ajit Pai openly questioned what the problem was, saying, “There’s never been a systemic analysis of what the problem with the Internet is. In this order, you see scattered niche examples [Comcast and BitTorrent, Apple and FaceTime, others] all of which were resolved, mind you, through private sector initiatives.” He continued, saying that the FCC’s net neutrality regulatory regime is a solution that won’t work in search of a problem that doesn’t exist.” Essentially, this is, contrary to the assertion of activists and others, a vaguely justified power grab by a government agency.
They will reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, and regulate Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like utility companies, or “common carriers,” rather than “information services” that remain outside the agency’s regulatory power. Republican commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly dissented, with Pai explaining that net neutrality is “a solution that won’t work to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
The arrogance of Wheeler and his allies has been evident for some time. The 332-page proposal they approved was never made available to the public or Congress prior to the vote, even as Wheeler ignored pleas by Pai and O’Rielly to do so. “We respectfully request that FCC leadership immediately release the 332-page Internet regulation plan publicly and allow the American people a reasonable period of not less than 30 days to carefully study it,” they said in a statement released Monday.
Wheeler also ignored a similar request Wednesday to testify before the House Oversight Committee, eliciting condemnation from Committee Chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “So long as the chairman continues to insist on secrecy, we will continue calling for more transparency and accountability at the commission,” Chaffetz and Upton said in a statement. “Chairman Wheeler and the FCC are not above Congress.”
Maybe not, but once again Republicans have made it clear they don’t have the stomach for a fight. Despite being virtually assured of yesterday’s outcome, they quietly surrendered, abandoning plans to come up with legislation that would have blocked this power grab. Even worse, they blamed their impotency on Democrats. “The Democrats have been pushed away from negotiating with us,” Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) insisted. He also accused the Obama administration and FCC officials of convincing Democrats not to talk to his party about any proposed legislation until after the vote had transpired.
What ‘net neutrality’ reveals about U.S. government | Personal Liberty
The days of the U.S. as a constitutional, representative government have long passed. Unelected and unaccountable porn-obsessed bureaucrats and paper pushers, mostly nameless and faceless to Americans, run America for the benefit of the multinational corporations and the banksters.
On Wednesday, the head of the Federal Communications Commission, an Orwellian bureaucracy that long ago outlived any usefulness it may have once held, refused to testify before Congress to describe the still-secret particulars of the agency’s plan to regulate the Internet. What’s this: The head of an agency established by Congress refused to testify before Congress? An agency tasked with looking out for the interests of the people refuses to divulge plans that if passed will affect the way every American receives information? This is what passes for representative government.
House Weeper John Boehner quickly took to his Facebook feed to boldly proclaim, “An open, vibrant Internet is essential to a growing economy, and net neutrality is a textbook example of the kind of Washington regulations that destroy innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Federal bureaucrats should NOT be in the business of regulating the Internet. Not now. Not ever.”
He then promptly surrendered, proving yet again he’s all hat and no cattle. Senior Republicans had already conceded they were powerless to halt the agency it created 70-some years ago — just like it’s powerless to halt executive amnesty and executive gun regulations and every other thing it’s empowered by the Constitution to do but which it regularly cedes the power over to an imperial president and the bureaucratic regime.
We have reached an inflection point for the future of the Internet. To preserve the Internet as an open, global platform for rights, development, and commerce, we need principled rules to govern digital surveillance and protect privacy that apply to every government.
Until the summer of 2013, the global movement for Internet freedom had been gaining momentum. A diverse range of governments had formed the Freedom Online Coalition and publicly committed to promoting a free, open, and global Internet through coordinated diplomatic efforts, led by the United States, United Kingdom, and their allies. There was broad recognition at the United Nations Human Rights Council that the same rights we enjoy offline must also apply online.
However, global trust in US and UK leadership on Internet freedom has evaporated ever since former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden began releasing evidence of mass surveillance by the NSA and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). In a blistering critique at the UN in September 2013, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff condemned these practices: “In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy,” Rouseff declared. “The right to safety of citizens of one country can never be guaranteed by violating the rights of citizens of another country.”
Snowden’s revelations laid bare the rift between the stated values of the US and UK and their behavior. Even while championing an open and free Internet, these governments were collecting data on hundreds of million people worldwide every day, including, in the case of the US, Dilma Rousseff herself. To make it easier to spy on people online and identify security threats, they have also surreptitiously weakened Internet security, paradoxically making all Internet users less safe and more vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves.