Surveillance Valley by Yasha Levine documents how the internet was originally developed in the 1960s as an intelligence-gathering network. Once that network was perfected, it was unleashed onto consumers under the guise of being an educational tool of freely flowing information when in reality it’s an educational tool for the government to gain free information on you. The form of the internet you see today is no accident—it was carefully guided and nurtured by the U.S. government through its university and corporate partners. While you do see some benefit from using the internet, the benefits for those above you are far greater.
What the government has tried to do through the internet is create one giant prediction machine. Rulers are desperate for a crystal ball so that they can become omniscient like God and quickly identify threats to their power. We are “free” to discuss many topics online, but our behavior is carefully monitored. If we are deemed a threat to the state, we will be discouraged or silenced. In the end, I must wonder if the internet really is a good deal.
Silicon Valley and the U.S. government are intertwined
From Amazon to eBay to Facebook—most of the Internet companies we use every day have also grown into powerful corporations that track and profile their users while pursuing partnerships and business relationships with major US military and intelligence agencies. Some parts of these companies are so thoroughly intertwined with America’s security services that it is hard to tell where they end and the US government begins.
The internet was designed as a prediction machine
The Internet came out of this effort: an attempt to build computer systems that could collect and share intelligence, watch the world in real time, and study and analyze people and political movements with the ultimate goal of predicting and preventing social upheaval. Some even dreamed of creating a sort of early warning radar for human societies: a networked computer system that watched for social and political threats and intercepted them in much the same way that traditional radar did for hostile aircraft.
In other words, the Internet was hardwired to be a surveillance tool from the start. No matter what we use the network for today—dating, directions, encrypted chat, email, or just reading the news—it always had a dual-use nature rooted in intelligence gathering and war.
The internet’s predecessor hoped to stop revolutionaries
‘…the computer system would check up-to-date intelligence information against a list of precipitants and preconditions,’ writes historian Joy Rohde. ‘Revolution could be stopped before its initiators even knew they were headed down the path to political violence.’
On June 2, 1975, NBC correspondent Ford Rowan appeared on the evening news to report a stunning exposÃ©. Baby-faced with light blue eyes, he spoke straight into the camera and told viewers that the military was building a sophisticated computer communications network and was using it to spy on Americans and share surveillance data with the CIA and NSA. He was talking about the ARPANET.
DARPA ran a human radar project as well: the World-Wide Integrated Crisis Early Warning System, or ICEWS, which is pronounced as ‘IQs.’ Started in 2007 and built by Lockheed Martin, the system ultimately grew into a full-fledged operational military prediction machine that had modules ingesting all sorts of open source network data—news wires, blogs, social media and Facebook posts, various Internet chatter, and ‘other sources of information’—and routing it through ‘sentiment analysis’ in an attempt to predict military conflicts, insurgencies, civil wars, coups, and revolutions.
The government may know you better than you know yourself. If they see you going down a road which may lead to revolutionary action (at least a revolution they don’t approve of), they will put assets onto you to modify your behavior. Or they will get their partners in the media to write negative articles about you so you cancel whatever masculine meetup you had planned.
Here’s the internet—make sure you use it, slave
…after two decades of lavish funding and research and development inside the Pentagon system, the Internet was transformed into a consumer profit center. Businesses wanted a cut, and a small crew of government managers were all too happy to oblige. To do that, with public funds the federal government created a dozen network providers out of thin air and then spun them off to the private sector, building companies that in the space of a decade would become integral parts of the media and telecommunications conglomerates we all know and use today-Verizon, Time-Warner, AT&T, Comcast.
It’s a common pattern for the elites to profit while subverting you. It’s not enough for them merely to get rich and powerful—they also want to stay rich and powerful. That means that you must be weakened as much as possible, to the point where thoughts about resisting their godless rule never enter your mind.
Silicon Valley companies (and therefore the U.S. government) know everything about you
What does Google know? What can it guess? Well, it seems just about everything. ‘One of the things that eventually happens… is that we don’t need you to type at all,’ Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, said in a moment of candor in 2010. ‘Because we know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less guess what you’re thinking about.’ He later added, ‘One day we had a conversation where we figured we could just try to predict the stock market. And then we decided it was illegal. So we stopped doing that.’
…these companies have turned our computers and phones into bugs that are plugged in to a vast corporate-owned surveillance network. Where we go, what we do, what we talk about, who we talk to, and who we see—everything is recorded and, at some point, leveraged for value. Google, Apple, and Facebook know when a woman visits an abortion clinic, even if she tells no one else: the GPS coordinates on the phone don’t lie. One-night stands and extramarital affairs are a cinch to figure out: two smartphones that never met before suddenly cross paths in a bar and then make their way to an apartment across town, stay together overnight, and part in the morning. They know us intimately, even the things that we hide from those closest to us.
The US government was running a vast Internet surveillance program, hacking mobile phones, splicing into undersea fiber-optic cables, subverting encryption protocols, and tapping just about every major Silicon Valley platform and company—Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon. Even mobile games like Angry Birds didn’t escape the spy agency’s notice. Nothing seemed to be off limits.
…using a specialized interface, an NSA analyst creates a data request, called a ‘tasking,’ for a specific user of a partnering company. ‘A tasking for Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple and other providers is routed to equipment [‘interception units’] installed at each company. This equipment, maintained by the FBI, passes the NSA request to a private company’s system.’ The tasking creates a digital wiretap that then forwards intelligence to the NSA in real time, all without any input from the company itself. Analysts could even opt-in for alerts for when a particular target logs in to an account.
What surprises me is how many people don’t mind being surveilled. If sales of smart home speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are any indication, the average citizen is willing to give up all their privacy for the convenience of saving a few keystrokes a day. Techno-fascism is here in the form of an all-encompassing corpo-government alliance. It maintains an extensive social graph on everyone and is used to nudge us into the hands of harmful spiritual powers and principalities under the guise of consumer capitalism.
The only minor flaw of this book is that Mr. Levine throws out gratuitous anti-racist and anti-Nazi statements as if by compulsion, but that’s a small flaw for the excellent research he compiled that explains how the internet was not at all made for our benefit.
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