Sat Dec 29, 2012, 12:14 PM
WillyT (72,631 posts)
Jacob Appelbaum On Resisting The Surveillance State - FDL
Jacob Appelbaum on Resisting the Surveillance State
By: Kevin Gosztola - FDL
Friday December 28, 2012 7:41 pm
The Chaos Communication Congress (29C3), which organizers describe as “an annual four-day conference on technology, society and utopia,” began on December 27. There have been some exceptional talks given during the event so far. One of the ones worth highlighting is the keynote given by Tor software developer and WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum.
Appelbaum has been someone targeted by the Surveillance State for his association with WikiLeaks. As he describes during his talk, it is “not an easy way to live.” Yet in the first few minutes of his talk, after describing the state-of-the-art data center being built in Bluffdale, Utah, by the National Security Agency (NSA), he says, “Despite the fact that there are these oppressive systems of control and despite the fact that we do now live in a surveillance state,” it may still be possible to “resist the surveillance state and to turn things around if we wish. I think that there may come when that is not true. I don’t believe that time has arrived.”
For attendees (who likely are people who mostly work with technology), he asserts that there are “simple things” one can do to decide if working on something is oppressive or not. “Ask if you are working on a system that helps to control others or if you’re working on system that helps to enable others to have control over their own lives,” Appelbaum states. For example, “if you are working on deep packet inspection that will be deployed on people who do not have a say in it, you are probably working for the oppressor.” He adds one can make a choice. “It is possible to make a living making free software for freedom instead of closed-source proprietary malware for cops.”
However, the cost of resisting the trend of working for systems of controls (like taking a job with Lockheed Martin) is that you could be on the wrong side of the Surveillance State. He shows a clip of Rep. Hank Johnson asking NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander about whether the NSA intercepts phone calls, emails or other communications of Americans. He claims the NSA does not.
Alexander, who Appelbaum says is probably the “most powerful man in the world,” controls the intelligence structure of the NSA. Appelbaum adds, what he told Johnson was “Americans in America, they’d probably be fine, which really doesn’t make me feel good because there are 7 billion people on this planet and just a few of them are Americans. Why should they be treated specially in this regard? So that giant data center that we see, it’s for all of you.” It also is for Appelbaum because he’s associated with WikiLeaks. Appelbaum calls Alexander a “fucking liar” and blasts him for not even bothering to pretend that people outside the US have any value or that they have rights and their privacy is important and their human dignity matters.
He later describes the reality of living in a society with secret police and spying changes that make it impossible for citizens to govern themselves and live freely:
…<The Surveillance State does> it in a way that it is not obvious and it is seemingly impossible to resist. Because these things themselves are secret, it becomes extremely difficult for us to even know where to begin resisting. At its core in the United States where this has gone is we have secret laws with secret interpretations and a total lack of accountability. And fundamentally what these things are is that they are oppressive vanguardist approaches that are vanguard approaches to authoritarianism. They are insultingly paternalistic and allegedly above the law…
This hits on an incredibly important point because when citizens do not know how they are being suppressed or intruded upon, it is impossible for others to discern whether people blowing the whistle or claiming to know about the inner workings of government are in fact correct or lunatic conspiracy theorists.
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