Category Archives: Surveillance state

Exclusive: High-Level NSA Whistleblower Says Blackmail Is a Huge – Unreported – Part of Mass Surveillance

It is well-documented that governments use information to blackmail and control people.

The Express reported last month:

British security services infiltrated and funded the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange in a covert operation to identify and possibly blackmail establishment figures, a Home Office whistleblower alleges.


Facebook Users Regularly Treated Like Guinea Pigs

A new Wall Street Journal story probes the frequency and casualness with which Facebook ran experiments with the explicit aim of manipulating users’ emotions. Some commentators pooh poohed the concern about the study, saying that companies try influencing customers all the time. But the difference here is that manipulation usually takes place in a selling context, where the aims of the vendor, to persuade you to buy their product, are clear. Here, the study exposed initially, that of skewing the mix of articles in nearly 700,000 Facebook subscribers’ news feeds, was done in a context where participants would have no reason to question the information they were being given.

While the controversial emotions study may have been Facebook’s most questionable study, it is the tip of an experimentation iceberg.


Noam Chomsky: America’s Real Foreign Policy –  A Corporate Protection Racket

The question of how foreign policy is determined is a crucial one in world affairs.  In these comments, I can only provide a few hints as to how I think the subject can be productively explored, keeping to the United States for several reasons.  First, the U.S. is unmatched in its global significance and impact.  Second, it is an unusually open society, possibly uniquely so, which means we know more about it.  Finally, it is plainly the most important case for Americans, who are able to influence policy choices in the U.S. — and indeed for others, insofar as their actions can influence such choices.  The general principles, however, extend to the other major powers, and well beyond.

There is a “received standard version,” common to academic scholarship, government pronouncements, and public discourse.  It holds that the prime commitment of governments is to ensure security, and that the primary concern of the U.S. and its allies since 1945 was the Russian threat.

There are a number of ways to evaluate the doctrine.  One obvious question to ask is: What happened when the Russian threat disappeared in 1989?  Answer: everything continued much as before.


Peter Van Buren: Shredding the Fourth Amendment in Post-Constitutional America

Yves here. Van Buren continues his examination of what he calls the “post-Constitutional era”. This post focuses on the loss of privacy, a presumption enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Van Buren describes how Fourth Amendment rights have been eviscerated in the post 9/11 era, such as by permitting the surveillance state to pour through millions of records using subpoenas rather than search warrants.


Edward Snowden Testimony at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Snowden’s big messages were familiar: the lack of effective supervision of the US surveillance state, the scope and methods of surveillance, and the ability of citizens to protect themselves if they use strong enough encryption of their data and their communications. But it was striking to see, even in such a formal setting, how seriously European officials took his remarks.


Heartbleed Bug a Catastrophic Hole in Web Security; Webusers Told to Change Passwords

I remember the days when people were worried about using the Internet for purchases because they weren’t convinced their credit card information would be transmitted securely. It now turns out that a version of Open SSL that has been in production for two years, and on which https and other services like instant messaging, e-mail, and other web applications use has a gaping security hole called the Heartbleed bug.