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robertogreco : spying   10

BBC - Blogs - Adam Curtis - BUGGER
"The recent revelations by the whistleblower Edward Snowden were fascinating. But they - and all the reactions to them - had one enormous assumption at their heart.

That the spies know what they are doing.

It is a belief that has been central to much of the journalism about spying and spies over the past fifty years. That the anonymous figures in the intelligence world have a dark omniscience. That they know what's going on in ways that we don't.

It doesn't matter whether you hate the spies and believe they are corroding democracy, or if you think they are the noble guardians of the state. In both cases the assumption is that the secret agents know more than we do.

But the strange fact is that often when you look into the history of spies what you discover is something very different.

It is not the story of men and women who have a better and deeper understanding of the world than we do. In fact in many cases it is the story of weirdos who have created a completely mad version of the world that they then impose on the rest of us.

I want to tell some stories about MI5 - and the very strange people who worked there. They are often funny, sometimes rather sad - but always very odd.

The stories also show how elites in Britain have used the aura of secret knowledge as a way of maintaining their power. But as their power waned the "secrets" became weirder and weirder.

They were helped in this by another group who also felt their power was waning - journalists. And together the journalists and spies concocted a strange, dark world of treachery and deceit which bore very little relationship to what was really going on. And still doesn't."
mi5  uk  government  spying  adamcurtis  history  intelligence  espionage  incompetence  waste  security  bureaucracy  2013  coldwar  edwardsnowden 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The Ecuadorian Library — Geek Empire — Medium
"Cablegate merely kicked the kneecap of the archaic and semi-useless US State Department. But Edward Snowden just strolled out of the Moscow airport, with his Wikileaks personal escort, one month after ripping the pants off the National Security Agency.

You see, as it happens, a good half of my essay “The Blast Shack” was about the basic problem of the NSA. Here was the takeaway from that essay back in 2010:
One minute’s thought would reveal that a vast, opaque electronic spy outfit like the National Security Agency is exceedingly dangerous to democracy. Really, it is. The NSA clearly violates all kinds of elementary principles of constitutional design. The NSA is the very antithesis of transparency, and accountability, and free elections, and free expression, and separation of powers ― in other words, the NSA is a kind of giant, grown-up, anti-Wikileaks. And it always has been. And we’re used to that. We pay no mind.
Well, dear readers, nowadays we do pay that some mind. Yes, that was then, while this is now.


So, I no longer feel that leaden discontent and those grave misgivings that I felt in 2010. The situation now is frankly exhilarating. It no longer has that look-and-feel of the Edgar Allen Poe House of Usher. This scene is straight outta Nikolai Gogol.

This is the kind of comedic situation that Russians find hilarious. I mean, sure it’s plenty bad and all that, PRISM, XKeyScore, show trials, surveillance, threats to what’s left of journalism, sure, I get all that, I’m properly concerned. None of that stops it from being hilarious.

Few geopolitical situations can ever give the Russians a full, free, rib-busting belly laugh. This one sure does.

If Snowden had gotten things his own way, he’d be writing earnest op-ed editorials in Hong Kong now, in English, while dining on Kung Pao Chicken. It’s some darkly modern act of crooked fate that has directed Edward Snowden to Moscow, arriving there as the NSA’s Solzhenitsyn, the up-tempo, digital version of a conscience-driven dissident defector.

But Snowden sure is a dissident defector, and boy is he ever. Americans don’t even know how to think about characters like Snowden — the American Great and the Good are blundering around on the public stage like blacked-out drunks, blithering self-contradictory rubbish. It’s all “gosh he’s such a liar” and “give us back our sinister felon,” all while trying to swat down the jets of South American presidents.

These thumb-fingered acts of totalitarian comedy are entirely familiar to anybody who has read Russian literature. The pigs in Orwell’s “Animal Farm” have more suavity than the US government is demonstrating now. Their credibility is below zero.

The Russians, by contrast, know all about dissidents like Snowden. The Russians have always had lots of Snowdens, heaps. They know that Snowden is one of these high-minded, conscience-stricken, act-on-principle characters who is a total pain in the ass.

Modern Russia is run entirely by spies. It’s class rule by the “siloviki,” it’s Putin’s “managed democracy.” That’s the end game for civil society when elections mean little or nothing, and intelligence services own the media, and also the oil. And that’s groovy, sure, it’s working out for them.

When you’re a professional spy hierarch, there are few things more annoying than these conscience-stricken Winston Smith characters, moodily scribbling in their notebooks, all about how there might be hope found in the proles somehow. They’re a drag."



"But Snowden sure is a dissident defector, and boy is he ever. Americans don’t even know how to think about characters like Snowden — the American Great and the Good are blundering around on the public stage like blacked-out drunks, blithering self-contradictory rubbish. It’s all “gosh he’s such a liar” and “give us back our sinister felon,” all while trying to swat down the jets of South American presidents.

These thumb-fingered acts of totalitarian comedy are entirely familiar to anybody who has read Russian literature. The pigs in Orwell’s “Animal Farm” have more suavity than the US government is demonstrating now. Their credibility is below zero.

The Russians, by contrast, know all about dissidents like Snowden. The Russians have always had lots of Snowdens, heaps. They know that Snowden is one of these high-minded, conscience-stricken, act-on-principle characters who is a total pain in the ass.

Modern Russia is run entirely by spies. It’s class rule by the “siloviki,” it’s Putin’s “managed democracy.” That’s the end game for civil society when elections mean little or nothing, and intelligence services own the media, and also the oil. And that’s groovy, sure, it’s working out for them.

When you’re a professional spy hierarch, there are few things more annoying than these conscience-stricken Winston Smith characters, moodily scribbling in their notebooks, all about how there might be hope found in the proles somehow. They’re a drag."

[See also the response by Cory Doctorow: http://boingboing.net/2013/08/05/how-sterlings-the-ecuadori.html ]

[And this related NPR segment: "Classic Russian Literature Sheds Light On Putin’s Russia" http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/05/10/putin-chekhov-dostoyevsky ]

[Something else that comes to mind:
The recent revelations by the whistleblower Edward Snowden were fascinating. But they - and all the reactions to them - had one enormous assumption at their heart.

That the spies know what they are doing.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/posts/BUGGER ]
politics  wikileaks  nsa  spying  brucesterling  gogol  nikolaigogol  edwardsnowden  russia  cablegate  authority  democracy  hierarchy  power  control  lies  bradleymanning  secrecy  julianassange  cypherpunks 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The Technology Behind Spying : NPR
"According to the FBI, the alleged Russian spies arrested earlier this week sent messages to each other that were hidden in seemingly ordinary image files. The technique they used is called steganography. Dartmouth computer scientist Hany Farid tells Melissa Block that freely available computer programs make it easy for anyone to embed messages in digital photos." [see also: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128262863]
steganography  spying  offtheshelfespionage  photography  classideas  trythis  encryption 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Society of Surveillance | John C. Dvorak | PCMag.com
"Very few schools teach civics or ethics anymore, and apparently few school teachers or administrators know what these terms mean. I have not heard much in the way of outrage by any other schools regarding this practice, which began with monitoring stolen goods and appears to have deteriorated into out-and-out spying and surveillance for fun. What does this tell you about American school systems? They're top heavy with administration and out of touch with reality. No wonder parents want to home-school."
education  schools  ethics  spying  privacy  security  surveillance  johndvorak  tcsnmy  civics  laptops  1to1  1:1 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Four boxes [dive into mark]
“There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order.” — Ed Howdershelt...Soap box? No effect. Ballot box? No effect. Jury box? No effect. I’m not really looking forward to box #4."
freespeech  freedom  politics  government  liberty  privacy  spying  history 
june 2008 by robertogreco
ZEMOS98: Lisa Parks on Satellite Secrets: Between Spying and Dreaming - we make money not art
"Associate Professor of Film & Media Studies at UCSB...author of Cultures in Orbit: Satellites and the Televisual and co-editor of Planet TV: A Global Television Reader...research explores uses of satellite, computer & television technologies in transnati
art  research  spying  surveillance  satellites  television  computers  technology 
march 2008 by robertogreco
things magazine: If we were in charge of administering black budgets and ultra-secret projects
"Imagine swarm of...paparazzibots, programmed to relentlessly home in on Paris Hilton's iPhone...Tomorrow's celebrities...permanently accompanied by unwelcome micro-cloud of buzzing devices...mimicking fly-strewn perimeter of Pigpen from Peanuts."
spying  surveillance  uav  mav  police  robots 
november 2007 by robertogreco
IMSafer scans your kids' IMs for Foleys | News.blog | CNET News.com
"Here it is: IMSafer, a new service designed to protect children using instant messaging from online predators."
software  safety  spy  spying  privacy  parenting  im  messaging  internet  online  children  teens  social  socialsoftware 
october 2006 by robertogreco

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